Dear Dr. Forsythe: I was doing an exam on my dog the other day checking for ticks, lumps and bumps. While looking at her throat area I noticed what I thought was an Adam’s Apple. Do dogs have these or is it something I should worry about? Sign me, Worry Wart Mom
Dear Worry Wart: It’s very good that you take the time and make the effort to look carefully at your dog and feel her for lumps and bumps. Unfortunately, if you feel something that is unusual that you weren’t expecting, it can be worrisome. Kudos to you for writing in and asking about that “lump” that seems like an Adam’s apple. Dogs in fact do have an “Adam’s Apple.” It is called the larynx and sits in the front of the neck below the chin. Depending on several factors, the crichoid cartilage, the part of the pet’s swallowing apparatus that you can feel on palpation, can protrude a lot and resembles a firm mass.
The neck is a special region. There are vital structures such as the esophagus and trachea that run down the length of it, as well as large vessels that supply the brain with blood. The neck is a vulnerable body region since it is not protected by a bony cavity the way the chest cavity, abdominal cavity and skull are. So if a pet develops a new swelling in the neck region, there is a potential that this could indicate a major health issue. Factors such as hydration or being overweight can change the feel of the anatomy in the neck.
I don’t think you need to worry about what you felt. It was probably the cartilage in your pet’s throat. However, if this area grows significantly or changes in size, you would do well to have it checked. Generally pets that have a medical problem associated with the neck region have trouble swallowing or show other clinical signs of pain. Lymph nodes in the neck can swell up if they are reacting to an active infection in the body and often when the teeth are dirty and need to be cleaned. Thanks for being such an attentive pet lover and asking about something on your pet that many other people were probably wondering about as well. – Dr F.
Dear Dr. Forsythe: I got my Labrador neutered when he was six months old. However, yesterday he was playing with the neighbor’s dog and I could have sworn I saw testicles. How can it be that he still has testicles when I know he was neutered a year ago by a very good vet. Thank you, Confused
Dear Confused: There are two very common times when neutered dogs are confused for “in tact” males. The first is immediately following the surgery to be neutered. After the dog’s testicles are removed at the time of the operation, serum and lymph fluid can collect in the scrotal sac for a few days and harden up as the body tries to reabsorb the material. Although the testicles are no longer present, the hardening fluid gives the appearance of being in tact.
Once the neuter site has completely healed, most male dog’s scrotal tissue recesses and no longer hangs down as it did prior to the surgery. However, many “fixed” male dogs still exhibit a dominance energy when they are playing with other dogs. While this playing (or “humping”) is going on, the area at the base of the dogs penis, the “bulbis glandis” can swell up and appear as two lumps at the base of the penis. With in tact, mating animals, the swollen glandis is what allows a male and female dog to “tie” to complete a successful breeding. In the case of your Labrador, I’m sure that you are seeing some excitement in the base of the penis rather than testicles. Soon after the excitatory “play time” is over, you will find that the swelling dissipates and the pet is back to normal. Dogs, like people, have amazingly dynamic bodies that do shift and change “with the mood.” Thanks for your inquiry. It sounds like you have a lively, healthy, wonderful dog. – Dr. F