Caitlin UltimoPet Parenting / Pet Stories

K-9 Unit Bloodhound’s Road to Recovery From Cancer

As part of the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office in Tennessee’s K-9 unit, Ethel the Bloodhound saved dozens of lives with her superior sense of smell. Bloodhounds are among the top 10 dog breeds with this exceptional ability that allows them to make for very good detectives. In fact, their sense of smell is so strong that they can catch a scent trail that’s up to 300 hours old. From hunting down criminals to tracking down missing persons, Ethel comes from a long line of K-9 unit police hounds that have served their communities.

So, when her owner and handler, Deputy Michael Romans, noticed a suspicious lump on his loyal Bloodhound’s snout, he knew he had to act fast. After having several tests done, Ethel was diagnosed with stage 1 nose cancer in dogs, or nasal adenocarcinoma. With Michael’s love and support, Ethel underwent radiation treatment at BluePearl Hospital in Sandy Springs, Georgia. The emergency veterinary care unit at BluePearl is a board-certified team of specialists and emergency clinicians. This state-of-the-art facility in the Atlanta area houses the necessary advanced equipment needed to treat complex illnesses like the dog cancer Ethel was battling.

Ethel had 16 radiation treatments within five weeks at the Sandy Springs Hospital under the care of Dr. Nathan Lee, a board-certified radiation oncologist. The procedure was painstakingly delicate. Every dog cancer treatment required Ethel to be put under anesthesia while a machine strategically applied high-energy radiation to the tumor from various angles, slowly removing the abnormal growth. Luckily, the dog cancer in Ethel’s nasal passage had been diagnosed early and had not spread to other parts of her body.

This type of cancer in dogs is usually found more often in older dogs, and it can develop without cause. Early detection through regular exams and checkups will help prolong your furry friend’s life. Telltale symptoms of cancer in dogs for include an abnormal swelling or growth, sores that don’t heal, loss of appetite, bleeding or discharge from body orifices, and weight loss.

The survival rate for dogs that undergo radiation therapy procedures is about 60 percent with most dogs having a very good long-term prognosis. As one of those brave survivors, Ethel’s life has definitely changed since her surgery. Though she is no longer a part of the K-9 unit on the police force, she is currently enjoying her free days visiting her neighbors and spending time with the community that she served for so many years. This lucky Bloodhound is enjoying life and is well on her way to recovery.