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Uploaded:2019-03-07
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Cas, the Arctic fox, had to go in for emergency surgery. Here's what happened and what our options are for his future. He's a very good boy.

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Hi everyone.  I want to give a quick thanks to CuriosityStream for supporting this episode, and you can go to curiositystream.com/animalwonders to learn more.

We're in the middle of winter right now, and that means that our handsome and curious arctic fox, Cas, has his full winter coat in all its fluffiness.  He's pure white, except the tip of his tail, which has a tiny bit of grey.  He's actually right over there, hanging out in the corner with his favorite bone.  

I love seeing Cas so happy and in all his winter splendor, which is why I was so upset when we discovered something was very wrong.

(Intro)

Now, we're in an animal space right now, so you're gonna be hearing a lot of interesting noises.  We have a red fox in the other room over there and he's making some nice chomping noises, so excuse these random things you'll hear here and there.

So this is what happened.  During our morning rounds checking on all the animals and saying good morning to all of the diurnal critters, Taylor heard Serafina, Cas' roommate, making a big commotion and saw something that looked like an injury on Cas' underside.  She immediately let me know and I rushed over to see what was wrong.

I quickly separated the two foxes to get a better look at what had happened to Cas.  It was pretty difficult to make out the situation because of his incredibly thick fur, but it looked serious enough that he needed to go to the vet clinic as soon as possible.

The wound was positioned near his lower belly area and I was really worried that it was an injury to his digestive tract.  I got him in his crate and we drove straight to Dr. Card, our veterinarian, who was waiting to help him however she could.  

We got a mask on him, gave him some sleepy gas, and once he was asleep, the vet tech was able to shave his fur away from the area and reveal the wound.  We were all so relieved to find it wasn't on his abdomen, but instead, it was on the inside of his knee and thigh.

His glorious winter fluff had been hiding a large tumor that had grown on his right knee until it became visible through his fur.  Now, a tumor isn't good, but it's much less of an emergency than a wound to his digestive tract would have been, so Dr. Card worked on removing the tumor and we sent it off to the lab for testing.

Cas got 21 stitches to complete the surgery.  He also got a full exam, which he aced.  Besides the tumor, he's in great health.  Cas did have some trouble coming out of anesthesia.  He was very dizzy and took longer to reorient himself than usual, but once he was steady on his feet, he was given the cone of shame so he wouldn't be tempted to touch his stitches.

He couldn't be with Serafina the red fox, because she'd definitely bite and pull at the cone and want to smell his surgery site and Cas really just needed to rest.  He also needed to be housed on a cleanable surface so he couldn't just come back out here on his regular dirt floored space, so we set him up in a quarantine space where he spent the next two weeks recovering, and his recovery went perfectly.  Hey buddy.  

The surgery site stayed clean and healthy and he got his stitches out without a hitch.  The one thing we had trouble with was getting him to take his antibiotic and pain medication.  He just refused to eat them when we hid them in his favorite treats, so we had to get creative.  I crushed the pills, mixed them with peanut butter, loaded it into a tiny syringe, and then squirted it into the side of his mouth.  

Try as he might, you just can't spit out peanut butter.  After 10 days of waiting, we finally got the results on the tumor.  Thankfully, it's benign and slow-growing.  Unfortunately, the chance that it will continue to regrow in the same spot is high, but since it grows so slowly, there could be a long time before we'd have to remove it again.

We have a couple more options as well.  Depending on how quickly it grows back, we may need to take into consideration radiation therapy, though that would entail a 12 hour drive round trip.  The last option is to remove the area where the tumor's growing.  Since it's all through the skin, the only way to get all the compromised tissue would be to amputate his whole back right leg.  This is less than ideal, so it's the last option on our list.

For now, Cas has been reunited with Serafina and they're so happy to be back together.  To be honest, it was rough having them separated.  They both wanted to be with each other so bad.  When Cas finally came home, Serafina gently smelled his leg and then ran away screaming in excitement.  Cas joined in with his own happy screams and then promptly went into his favorite corner to continue making progress on his tunnel where he left off two weeks before.

From now on, Cas will be getting a full palpation of his entire body regularly, even though he doesn't enjoy it.  The reason we didn't detect the tumor sooner was because Cas doesn't like being touched, so we limit our touching to just his back, chest, and neck areas, mostly just so we can get his harness on and off when he comes out for walks or presentations.  Also, his fur is so dense that during the winter months, it's not easy to simply feel for lumps.  He's basically one big lumpy fluffball.  Since he doesn't like being touched, we'll be pairing the experience with something he does enjoy, so we can make it less stressful and more enjoyable.

I am so relieved that Cas is back to his old self and he's back with his best friend Serafina.  I'm glad that this health scare is something we can manage and it won't affect his quality of life and I'm grateful that our veterinarian is ready to take on whatever challenge comes our way.

Thank you everyone who was worried about Cas with us and for all the support we received during his recovery, and thank you for letting me share another adventure.

I call every new experience an adventure because I think that's exactly what it is.  Adventures can be good or bad, but they're mostly a bit of both.

If you'd like to continue going on adventures with the animals, be sure to like this video and subscribe to our channel and we'll see you next week.

Now, I love the animals we have on Earth today, but I also like learning about animals that existed long ago, like dinosaurs.  I recently watched this video with my son called "The Rise & Fall of T-Rex".  It has a great way of explaining the extinction event that helped us understand what the individuals might have experienced on that horrific day, and you can find it on CuriosityStream, who is the sponsor of today's video.  They're a subscription streaming service that offers over 2,000 documentaries and non-fiction titles, from some of the world's best film-makers, including exclusive originals.  Get unlimited access starting at just $2.99 a month, and for our audience, the first 30 days are completely free if you sign up at curiositystream.com/animalwonders and use the promo code 'animalwonders' during the sign-up process.

(Outro/Credits)