Our customer asked:
My 13 year old, 24kg bitch greyhound has a tumour growing on her front ankle joint. It cannot be removed surgically because she has a heart condition and the vet worries about her surviving the anaesthetic.
My worry is that constant licking has caused the tumour to open an wonder what can be given to stop it happening. The joint is a difficult area to bandage and I am reluctant to impose a lampshade or muzzle on her for any length of time.
Would you recommend a Bitter Spray, and can it be sprayed directly on to the tumour, which is about the size of a marble?
Tumours like this tend to ulcerate spontaneously even without licking, though repeated licking will make it worse. An occasional lick probably helps to keep it clean and is a good thing though. It might be possible to cover the tumour with an old sock over the paw and joint. Possibly you can fix the sock at the top with a small bandage above the joint. It is best if air can circulate beneath the covering, so it is just their to prevent trauma to the skin surface.
If none of the above is possible then the bitter sprays, such as Bitter Apple, are intended to be sprayed onto damaged skin and should not cause any harm. Alternatively you might find that something like Otodex Skin Cream helps the skin surface to repair, but you will have to stop her from licking it off.
If you cannot get anywhere with all this things, then just bathing with salt water (one teaspoon to a pint) several times a day will help to keep it healthy, though it might never heal properly.