The unusual health benefit of a pet pup

There has been much written about the benefits of pet ownership regarding the mental and physical wellbeing of humans.

We have all heard the heart-warming stories involving assistance and rescue dogs and the heroic feats they perform, but it came as somewhat of a surprise to be face to face with a local hero in my consulting room.

It came as somewhat of a surprise to be face to face with a local hero in my consulting room.

Jake was at the surgery having his general health check prior to his booster vaccination.

Starting at his head and working towards his tail, I eventually went to check his testicles for abnormalities, but he was castrated as a youngster. Nothing unusual in that, except for the story that followed.

When Jake was presented as a new puppy for his check-up, it was noted that he had an inguinal (groin) hernia on one side and on the same side his testicle was missing. The hernia would need repairing and the retained testicle would be best located and removed as it would be more prone to cancerous change.

Testicles begin their life situated just as ovaries in the female, behind each kidney. Unlike ovaries, which stay put, testicles migrate towards the groin, through a small canal, which takes them exterior to the abdomen and they come to rest in the scrotum. They should have arrived by the time the pup is presented for its first vaccination, around eight weeks old.

The testicle’s descent can be interrupted at any stage, giving rise to a condition called cryptorchidism-unilateral, or bilateral, inguinal or abdominal. The retained testicle doesn’t develop properly, remains hotter than it should and so cancer may develop later. This may be benign or malignant, and sometimes gives rise to feminisation syndrome.

Jake underwent surgery, recovered well and has continued problem-free ever since.

Due to the attention being made to Jake’s delicate problem, his owner’s son, then in his 20s, admitted that he ought to see the doctor because he had a similar problem. As a baby his cryptorchidism had been noted, but was never followed up. When a teenager he had avoided discussing his condition so the situation may have remained, with possible disastrous results, had it not been for Jake.

One operation later, both man and dog are doing well, and Jake is a very special family pet.

By Jane Barwick-Nesbit, Director