Mast cell tumors arise most commonly in the skin. They develop from a normal component of body tissues called the mast cell that play a role in the process of tissue repair by releasing inflammatory mediators. Malignant mast cell tumors can spread to the lymph nodes, spleen, liver and bone marrow. Mast cell tumors are among the most common tumors of dogs, accounting for approximately 20 percent of all skin tumors. The cause of mast cell tumors is unknown.

Dogs that develop mast cell tumors often are older (usually 8 to 9 years of age), although they can occur in dogs of all ages. The most commonly affected breed are bulldogs but Labrador retrievers, Chinese shar peis and Bernese mountain dogs seem to have an increased risk.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:

  • Mast cell tumor is generally diagnosed by needle aspiration and microscopic examination of the cells. Biopsy of a mass is also diagnostic. Once diagnosed or suspected, dogs with mast cell tumor should have chest and abdominal x-rays and possibly abdominal ultrasound looking for spread of the tumor. Biopsy of regional lymph nodes and aspirate of the spleen would also be beneficial.
  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. Surgical removal of skin tumors is often curative if the surgical margins were wide and it hasn’t spread to other organs. If the mast cell tumor has spread, radiation and/or chemotherapy may be recommended. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.


What to Watch for*:

  • Round, raised masses in the skin
  • Lack of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Black tarry stools due to bleeding in the upper intestinal tract

Please notify us if you notice any of the above signs or if you have any questions!

Dear Valued Clients

During these challenging times, there have been some unforeseen changes at The Big Easy Animal Hospital. I cannot express enough my sincere apology for any inconvenience you have experienced at The Big Easy during these times. As we strive to make the practice safe to protect everyone including you, your family, and our Big Easy team and their families, I’ve decided to make certain changes while we are under this pandemic. These changes will be temporary.


Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday:
Walk Ins: Check-in starts at 9:45am.There are a limited amount of patients we can accept. Our receptionists will be happy to assist you with options to help guide you and your pet(s).)


Saturday Hours

Saturdays will be TECHNICIAN APPOINTMENTS only. These will include boosters, bloodwork, nail trims, certain diagnostics, etc. There will not be a veterinarian on site. While I understand these changes can be inconvenient, I have listed local veterinary clinics that we have contacted and are open to see walk-ins throughout the week and Saturdays as well. For life threatening emergencies that occur outside business hours, please contact the following 24-hour animal hospitals below.

Please, be safe and healthy.

Thank you all for your understanding. -Aileen Ruiz, DVM


24 Hour Emergency Care:


Pittsburgh Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Center

807 Camp Horne Road
Pittsburgh, PA



4224 Northern Pike
Monroeville, PA

VCA Castle Shannon Animal Hospital

3610 Library Road
Pittsburgh, PA

Veterinarians Accepting Walk in Care:

Penn Animal Hospital

2205 Penn Avenue

North Boros Veterinary Hospital

2255 Babcock Blvd



Contact Us

You have Successfully Subscribed!