Not a day goes by in which I don’t think about my father. I wish I could just text him questions I have, crazy experiences that have taken place in the clinic, or even the photos I have taken of patients (all with owner permission, of course). Sometimes the circumstances which lead to various patients presenting to me are well warranted such as a patient who has not eaten for four days or is vomiting blood or has worms in her stool. Other times, the presenting complaints I hear are not necessarily as pressing or worrisome. For example, I noticed a weird growth on my dog’s belly. Can you check it? After close inspection and finishing my physical exam, I am forced to go outside and explain to the owner that what they are looking at is simply part of their dog’s normal anatomy. Ummmm, that’s a nipple.
While it may seem embarrassing, and as much as I’m sure that my father would be rolling around laughing if I told him the story, I like to keep the conversation with my clients professional and educational. As funny as it sounds, it is true that some nipples can be deceiving: there can be asymmetry, dogs with different number of nipples, and mammary tumors exist. In that particular case, I did not feel a fine needle aspirate was indicated, but it is never a bad idea to check with a veterinary professional, no matter how small or large is the perceived issue an owner has. That said, a telehealth consult could have saved them from having to visit!