Long Beach Animal Hospital Informational Articles

Tegu Oral Tumor

Reptiles get tumors in numerous locations in their body. This page describes how we treated an oral tumor, called a squamous cell carcinoma, in a Tegu. Squamous cell carcinomas also occur in mammals, especially the ears of white cats that are exposed to the sun. We have a page describing this disease in a cat.

Click on any photo to enlarge it.



This is the Tegu upon presentation to our office. This growth had been present for several weeks according to the owner. In reality, it was probably growing on the inside of the mouth for a much longer period of time.


We anesthetized it (you can see the breathing tube in its windpipe) and assessed the degree of involvement. As expected it went deep into the oral cavity.


We used cautery to remove it since this location has an extensive blood supply and cautery minimizes bleeding both during and after the procedure. The appearance of the mouth is much nicer with the tumor removed.





The cancerous tissue was submitted to the pathologist for analysis. It is a squamous cell carcinoma, a malignant tumor. Due to the aggressive nature of this tumor there is a high chance that it will recur in this spot, although usually it does not spread to the rest of the body.

This is the actual report we received from our pathologist. It is from a doctor that specializes in reading tissue samples from reptiles.

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Heart Disease

The purpose of the cardiovascular system (heart and blood vessels) is to provide the cells of the body with oxygen, nutrition, and essential fluids. It also helps these same cells rid themselves of waste products, and distributes hormones and enzymes to allow for normal physiologic processes. It is even a big part of temperature regulation.All of this is no small feat when you consider the fact that the cardiovascular system must supply these needs to a body that contains billions of individual cells.

The cardiovascular system is very complicated and does not lend itself to a simple explanation and categorization of its functions. Therefore, the sections on physiology and pathophysiology are a little complex, but if you get through them it will help in your understanding when we talk about specific diseases along with their diagnosis and treatment. You may need to go through them more than once. You might notice that we repeat important concepts, and from different angles.

Hopefully this will help put it all together.You can bypass all the background information and go directly to specific diseases like HeartwormCardiomyopathy, and Valve disease, the most common heart diseases we encounter. We also have a summary page on Heart Disease if you find this page contains more detail than you need. It will give you background information but in a condensed format.

This page has actual pictures of the heart and the organs of the chest. Most people will not be bothered by their graphic nature, and will actually find them fascinating. The mechanisms of heart failure in the dog and cat are very similar to humanoids. The explanation of congestive heart failure applies directly to people in many cases. The main drugs used to treat heart failure are almost identical in people and animals.

Heart disease and its diagnosis is complicated stuff. We commonly call in our cardiologist Dr. Fred Brewer to assist in many cases. He specializes only in cardiology, and has extensive knowledge that he is willing to share.

Here is Dr. Brewer explaining heart sounds to one of our externs


We work on a wide variety of species that get heart disease in addition to dogs and cats. This guinea pig has heart failure.


This is the heart of a 50 pound dog. It is about the size of your fist. You can easily see some of the coronary arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle in the same manner that the heart supplies blood to the rest of the body.

The pericardium has been removed for better visualization

This is a ferret heart, obviously much smaller. You can see the pericardium, the layer over the heart as it is pulled away.

Rocky Walker 21218 Ferret Gastric tumor Picture of normal pericardiumThe heart starts beating before birth, and continues until death. Think of how many beats that is in the lifetime of any living organism. Lets have fun with math and play with some basic numbers:

Average heart rate in a cat- 150 beats per minute

This is 9,000 beats in one hour

This is 216,000 beats in one day

This is 78,840,000 beats in one year

This is 788,400,000 beats in 10 years.

Many cats have a heart rate greater than 150 beats per minute, and live much longer than 10 years. They will have over a billion heart beats in their lifetimes!

Later in this page we will be referring to the right heart and left heart, which might give you the impression there are two hearts. There is only one heart- we do this only because it helps to understand the flow of blood through the heart.

Glossary of heart terminology

cardiac– pertaining to the heart aerobic– dependent on oxygen for normal physiology
arrhythmia– irregular heart beat anaerobic– not dependent on oxygen for normal physiology
murmur-abnormal flow of blood through the heart valves anemia– low number of red blood cells
atrium-two of the smaller heart chambers systole– when the heart muscle contracts and ejects blood to the arteries
ventricles– two of the larger heart chambers diastole– when the heart relaxes after systole and fills up with blood
hypertrophy-abnormally thickened heart muscle ascites- fluid buildup within the abdomen
cardiomegaly- an enlarged heart pleural effusion– fluid buildup within the thoracic cavity
pulmonary edema– fluid buildup within the lungs polycythemia- excess number of red blood cells
myocardium– the heart muscle microcardia– a small heart

We will repeat this terminology throughout this page to help you eventually get your Latin down pat. Just as it starts making sense we will add more later!

Follow the links to continue on with our heart page:

Vascular Anatomy & Physiology

Heart Anatomy & Physiology

Causes and Symptoms of Heart Disease

How We Diagnose Heart Disease

Cardiac Diseases and Treatments

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Selous 2015

Siwandu Camp

This is a luxurious camp with gourmet food and a personal chef. Its ideas for small groups, honeymooners, and special occasions

Upon arrival you are greeted by an enthusiastic and professional staff


Accommodations are excellent



You eat overlooking a lake


At the end of a morning game drive or walking tour they surprise you with breakfast in the bush


The walking tours are great with expert guides who show you all the little details you don’t see when driving in a safari vehicle

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You can eat on a pontoon boat with a personal chef



This huge Baobob tree is over 2,000 years old. Poachers would hide in a hollowed out section of Baobob tree to elude the park rangers. The locals thought they were witches because they seemed to disappear out of thin air. The park rangers were not fooled and eventually caught them


The guides preparing our boat for a 4 hour lake excursion



These highly territorial and powerful animals are the cause of many human deaths in Africa. They feed on land at night, getting between them and their escape route back to the water is not advised. On the water you take a risk in a canoe as you float past their individual territories. They can bite a canoe in half.

We were in a reasonably large boat with an outboard engine and a guide that knows the lay of the land, so we were able to get close to them and get some good shots before we had to make a quick getaway. I wanted to stay until they got closer but the guide was having none of that.

The cows with calves always kept a wary eye on us. They were not the ones we had to worry about.


The bull of each group would come out to challenge us as we motored past them



They would jockey for position, submerge, and then appear somewhere near us


If we did not leave the area they would approach us partially submerged



A threat display would come next


If that did not deter us they would charge us ready to bite the boat



This is crocodile country as evidenced by the skull at the reception area


When you get out of the boat and walk around you see skulls in the sand


These crocodiles did not seem particularly aggressive, although we never got close enough to find out.








African Fish Eagles









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Wild dogs of Tanzania


Wild dogs are endangered with extinction in Tanzania (they number 2,000 in the whole country. They are usually found on the move, and as such can be difficult to photograph. We were lucky to catch them while they were resting. The next goal is to catch them while hunting.

As was to be expected, we first came across them while their pack was on the move


When they stopped running they did some bonding



Lucky for us they settled down for a rest








After an hour they were on the move again, this time to a waterhole for a drink





That’s the last we saw of them


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Tanzania 2015

My 8th time to Africa.  In addition to another great trip to the Serengeti we visited the Selous in Tanzania. You can see details of my 7 prior Africa trips in the Wildlife Photography section of the LBAH web site.

In the first half of the trip we went back to Lake Ndutu in the Serengeti. After the Serengeti we went to the Selous

Our next Africa trip is in 2017, this time to Botswana or Zambia. On that same trip we are thinking of going to Cape Town and cage diving with the Great Whites. You are welcome to join us, let us know in advance so we can accommodate you and your group.

Our group was one of the best  yet. Click on the picture below and see them in action in the Serengeti and the Selous.

Upon arrival


At the Serengeti entrance


Serengeti Wildlife

We saw the usual cast of characters in the Serengeti along with with plenty of predators. A few of our hundreds of good photos are on this page.

Wild Dogs

It took me 8 trips to Africa to observe Wild Dogs. What made it even more unusual is the fact we saw them twice on this trip, once in the Serengeti, and once in the Selous.



Cubs at Play

There are two separate lion pages. The first one is lions at play, especially with the cubs. The second page is a large male lion interacting with a clan of hyena

Click on the cubs below and watch  some of their behavior


Lion-Hyena Standoff

Click on the lion picture below for a standoff
 between a large male lion and a clan of hyena




They are daytime hunters, so you get plenty of opportunity to watch them in action. They can be difficult to photograph, and seem to enjoy waiting until the light is bad for photography to do their hunting.

Click on the picture below to see them hunting


Selous Wildlife

The Selous is a vast wildlife area in Southeastern Tanzania. To get there from our camp site at Lake Ndutu we had to fly back to Arusha, through Zanzibar, then Dar Es Salam, and finally onto the airstrip at Siwandu Camp. The vehicles used here are different than in the Serengeti, but the guides are still awesome.

This is our guide Niven, ready to take us from the bush airstrip to our camp


The Siwandu camp is quite luxurious


There are many waterways and our guides knew them like the back of their hands


Click on the hippo below to see our photos from the Selous


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