Your Guide to Lumps and Bumps on Dogs

How can you tell when the lump on your dog is serious?

We all get them from time to time. Bumps and lumps on the skin seem to appear from nowhere. There’s usually a simple explanation that means they’re harmless enough.

For dogs, it’s a similar story. Our pets, however, have coats that can make bumps on dogs’ skin easy to miss. So what should we be looking for to ensure there’s nothing amiss? And when is it time to worry?

Find out as we run through some of the common types of lumps and bumps on dogs.

Different Kinds of Lumps and Bumps on Dogs

There are 2 main categories- those that are benign (not spreading to distant parts of the body) along with those that are malignant – generally meaning they’re more dangerous. It is worth noting that a benign mass is still called a “cancer” – even if it wont spread or otherwise cause problems. Sometimes, it can be hard to tell them apart so a vet may need to take a sample of cells to make a diagnosis.

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Common Skin Issues

Before moving on to some better-known tumors, here are some common issues on the skin that are likely to crop up in any dog’s lifetime:

Abscesses: Sometimes painful, pus-filled swellings due to an infection.

Cysts: Harmless, fluid-filled pockets that often suddenly appear quickly, often from a hair follicle. They feel soft and can alter shape and size over days and weeks.

Hematomas: Blood-filled swellings, typically due to an injury.

Warts: Knobbly, uneven, pink & white colored lumps often with hair growing from them.

Skin Tags: Typically attached to the body by a small stalk, these can look similar to warts.

Benign Tumors

These tend to be slow growing and don’t spread to the rest of the body. They won’t normally cause problems unless they obstruct parts of the body, causing irritation or infections.

The 2 most common benign tumors are:

Lipomas: Often seen on the trunk and legs, lipomas are fatty skin lumps that tend to develop in older, overweight dogs. They can get quite large and appear in several locations.

Histiocytomas: Common in young dogs, these tend to appear red, round, and angry-looking. They’ll flare up quickly but then go away after a few weeks.

Other benign tumors include:

Sebaceous Gland Tumors: Common in older dogs, they’re small, round, and black in color usually appearing on the eyelids of larger breeds.

Meibomian Gland Adenomas: Forms at the edge of the eyelid and can lead to conjunctivitis.

Epulis: Smooth fleshy, pink lumps often on stalks found in the mouths of dogs.

Perianal Adenomas: Common in older, unneutered male dogs, these often grow from oil glands near the anus.

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Malignant Tumors

Relatively uncommon in puppies, malignant tumors are generally dangerous growths. They can invade a dog’s tissue and spread to their organs.

5 of the most common malignant tumors in dogs are:

Mast Cell Tumors: Typically affecting older dogs, these growths can appear anywhere. Although they can vary in look, most appear raised and soft or firm.

Fibrosarcomas: Common and fast-growing, they tend to appear on the trunk and legs.

Basal Cell Carcinomas: These are growths that appear flattened or raised and can show up anywhere on an older dog’s body.

Squamous Cell Carcinomas: A kind of skin cancer typically found on the mouth, nose, ears, toes, anus, and scrotum.

Melanomas: Very dark skin lumps often seen on the face, body, feet, and scrotum.

Checking and Monitoring for Lumps on Your Dog

When you see a list of lumps with scary-sounding names, it’s understandable to feel overwhelmed and worried. The best care you can give your dog is to check them regularly for lumps and bumps.

You might need to feel around a bit, particularly if your dog has thick fur. If you come across a swelling or lump, take a picture or video and write down how big it is. A vet should always check all lumps, even if your dog had some already. This is especially important if the lump changes in any way.

You can help by making notes of the following:

  • The shape, texture, and color of the lump
  • Whether the lump feels soft or hard and if it bleeds or weeps
  • Any pain your dog may be experiencing due to the lump

The more background information you can give your vet, the better. It’s going to help them make a diagnosis and recommend the right course of treatment.

Main Causes for Concern

You should have your dog checked out straight away if you find a lump that’s hard or firm to the touch and irregularly shaped.

Should you observe a change in any existing lumps or bumps in terms of size, texture, or color, it’s definitely time to seek help. Many lumps and bumps are harmless but it’s always best to get them examined.

Diagnosing Lumps on Dogs

A vet will examine your dog and talk to you about the history of the lump. They may then take a sample of cells that they can study under a microscope.

They’ll get the sample by taking an impression of the surface of the growth, using a syringe and a small needle. They might also remove a small tissue sample, known as a biopsy, with your dog under local or general anesthesia.

Trained veterinary pathologists can analyze these samples to make a diagnosis. Your vet will then be able to decide on the appropriate course of treatment and give you an idea of the prognosis.

Common Treatments for Dog Lumps

There are many options, all of which will depend on the diagnosis. Treatments can include:

  • Doing nothing invasive and simply monitoring for changes
  • Removal of the lump or bump using freezing or laser therapy
  • The surgical removal of the lump
  • Chemotherapy and radiation therapies

Get Any Lumps and Bumps on Dogs Checked Out!

The sooner you can get a lump examined by a vet the better the outcome is likely to be. That’s why the biggest favor you can do your dog is to be on the lookout for any skin problems that are unusual.

If you have a photo or video, that’s even better. Talk to one of our highly-trained and experienced vets today about any concerns you may have. Book a slot right now!

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