Did you find a new lump on your dog?

Did you find a new lump on your dog? What should you do? What types of lumps are dangerous? How are they diagnosed? What are treatment options?

To identify what may be the cause for a lump, make an appointment with your veterinarian.  First, some background information is needed:

  • What is your pet’s age and breed?
  • How long has lump been present?
  • How quickly is it growing? Months? Years? 
  • Is it bothering your pet?
  • Has your pet had any lumps identified previously?

After completing an examination, assessing the size, location and depth of the mass as well as the presence of other masses, your vet has several tools to help identify the type of mass.

  • Fine needle aspiration (FNA) – A small needle is inserted into the lump to remove a few cells which are placed onto a slide to be examined under the microscope.
  • Impression smear – If the lump excretes any fluid, your vet may rub a slide onto the lump and examine the contents under a microscope.
  • Culture – If the lump contains fluid, the fluid could be sent to a lab to culture and check for infectious agents.
  • Biopsy – All or part of the lump may be removed and sent to a laboratory, where it is examined under a microscope by a specialist using special staining. This is considered the most accurate diagnosis and can be best for determining prognosis and future plan.

Lastly, your veterinarian will discuss recommended monitoring or treatments for each lump.

Here is a list of a few more common skin lumps and bumps.

  • Lipomas (Fatty tumors) happen most often in middle-aged or older dogs, especially around the ribs, although they can show up anywhere. Any breed can have them, but larger dogs and  overweight pets are more prone to them.
  • Sebaceous cysts are hard, cystic material under the skin that form due to a blocked sebaceous gland (oil gland). They appear as swellings with a creamy material inside them and can become red, sore or infected.
  • Sebaceous adenomas are tumours of sebaceous glands that appear as multiple wart-like growths. They’re more common in woolly-haired older dogs like Poodles, Maltese and Bichons. Vets can often diagnose these lumps by just looking at them due to their classic appearance and slow growth. 
  • Histiocytomas are an ulcerated nodule (or red button-like lump) often found in young dogs, particularly on their limbs. 
  • Mast cell tumors are the most common skin cancer in dogs. The most common breeds to find them in are Boxers, Boston Terriers, Labradors, Beagles, and Schnauzers. Their appearance can vary greatly and are often mistaken for other lesions. Surgical removal is almost always indicated.

Early detection and treatment is paramount for cancerous tumors. Depending on the vet’s assessment some lumps may require treatment while others can be monitored over time. So snuggle and pet your doggies often and if you find any lumps or bumps, get them checked.