Q: In the past year, my 11-year-old female cockapoo has been getting a lot of bumps or tumors on her skin. They don't seem to be causing her any problems except when the groomer accidentally clips one of them, causing it to bleed. However, I am afraid that there may be a chance of cancer getting started. Should I have them all removed or do I have anything to worry about? Is it possible that these growths are normal?
Andrea Emery, Seal Beach
A: As a dog gets older, it is very common for multiple skin growths to develop. Fortunately, the majority are benign warts or papillomas, which are often unsightly but cause no real harm. However, increasing age also seems to increase the risk of developing malignant skin tumors. It would be a wise idea to have your dog examined by your veterinarian and have any suspicious masses removed surgically and sent in for a biopsy report. If there are any masses that are constantly being traumatized by clipping, it may be of benefit to have them removed to prevent future problems or infection.
Q: I would like to get a pet, preferably a puppy, for my in-laws for Christmas. Do you have any suggestions as to which breeds are better suited for apartment life? What about temperament and health care? Are there any breeds that seem to get sick less than others? I am asking early enough to allow me time to look for the right pet.