Lumps & Bumps

Most of us spend some time stroking our pets on a daily basis and this is good practice for picking up changes. Running your hands down your dog’s body daily provides us with up to date information on any lumps and bumps.

What should you do if you find a lump?

Many lumps are just fatty tumours. They are benign, so not cancerous.

The difficulty with lumps is that many cancerous lumps look the same as benign lumps. For this reason it is better to take your dog in for a consultation to make sure.

Rapid growth, redness, pus, or pain would indicate that a more urgent consultation is required. The area where the lump is situated also needs to be considered for example a lump on the face or the paws means that if surgery is required it will be more complicated as the lump grows, so a vet visit earlier rather than later is best.

Some of the things that you should record for your vet visit include:

  • Has the lump appeared suddenly?
  • Has the shape, colour or size changed?
  • Has your dog/cat’s behaviour changed in any way such as appetite or activity
  • Take a photograph of the lump/bump when you first notice it

What will the vet do?

Initially, the vet may remove some cells using a fine needle (often called a fine needle aspirate). The vet will then analyse these cells under a microscope. In certain circumstances, the vet can determine if it is a fatty tumour immediately. If the vet is concerned that there are any suspicious cells that require further testing, he/she may take a small tissue sample (biopsy) of the lump and send it away to a Laboratory for analysis. This biopsy is often done under sedation but may require a short anaesthetic depending on the area it is situated.

The result of this testing usually takes a couple of days. If the results show a form of cancer, surgery may be recommended to remove the lump. In some cases, your vet may recommend some other diagnostic procedures such as ultrasound or radiographs be performed before surgery to look for any spread of the cancer.

Once the lump has been diagnosed, your vet will give you the treatment options. Even when a lump is diagnosed as cancer, your dog can still have a good outcome if the lump is treated early and aggressively.

Some of the more common lumps include the following:

Benign Tumours (non-cancerous) 

  • Lipomas are fatty tumours that affect mostly middle-aged or senior dogs. These are considered a natural part of aging and dogs that carry a little extra weight are more prone to them. They are formed from fat cells under the skin or in the muscle tissue.
  • Histiocytomas are pink and fleshy skin growths that look like a button and usually develop in dogs under two years
  • Sebaceous cysts appear like a little bag of fluid and are blocked glands typically found in older dogs
  • Viral Papillomas are known as warts and are often found around the muzzles of young pups. These are contagious and are passed through direct contact or contaminated items such as feeding bowls.
  • Skin tags often grow where the dog’s skin rubs together. They are an overgrowth of the connective tissue in the skin.
  • Abscesses are common lumps where there is a build-up of pus under the skin, this can be caused by an infection or bite.
  • Meibomian gland tumours are slow-growing lumps that form at the edge of the eyelid and can become inflamed, irritated, or ulcerated.

Cancerous Tumours

  • Mast cell tumours are the most common forms of skin cancer in dogs. These are rapidly growing tumours and although their appearance can vary, most are raised.
  • Squamous cell carcinomas are usually found on the surface of the skin or under a nail. They appear as a firm, raised, irregular and ulcerated area.

Early detection is most certainly one of the most important elements to ensure that your dog lives a longer, healthier life!

Make an appointment with Otaki Vets today, to assess any lumps you have detected. Give us a call on 06 364 6941.