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To the Edior,
A little less than two years ago, we rescued our dog Gunner. He's a male chocolate lab. We are uncertain as to his true age, but we believe he is approximately 5 to 6 years old. He is the most loyal friend, my walking companion and a true kind soul.

A year ago this past February I took him to the vet for a routine check-up. All seemed just fine. As I was leaving, I mentioned to my vet that Gunner had an odor about him. I couldn't understand why because I have him groomed every two months. Immediately the vet looked...deep.....into Gunners mouth. He discovered a growth on the left rear of the tongue. That growth was removed and biopsied and ended up to be Amelanotic Melanoma. Cancer. Today the cancer has spread to the lungs. We still walk every day. He goes on as usual, but I know he has been on loan to me from God.

When was the last time your vet looked..deep...into your pet’s mouth? When was the last time your vet did a regular check-up of your pet’s mouth? When was the last time you did a smell test of your pet’s mouth for an odor? I never did. In all the 71 years I have had dogs...I never did that. I didn't know to do it. I didn't have a reason to do it.

I believe every veterinarian should routinely check their patient’s mouths...if they are not doing so already. I wish I could urge all pet owners to do the same....but..... that can be difficult and..sometimes dangerous..so I recommend you let your vet do the checking. But, you can keep your eyes open to any odors or changes in their eating habits, ie; "chomping" when they eat; difficulty in swallowing; not eating at all or becoming messy when they eat. These could be signs of an oncoming or already existing problem. (On the other hand...and to be fair.....it also could mean he or she is just a messy eater. )

Anyway, to all you wonderful veterinarians out there......please add mouth checks to your list.

Terry Vahila and Gunner
Malvern, Ohio


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