There are all kinds of lumps and bumps your dog can have occur in their lifetime. Don’t worry though fewer than half of the lumps your dog will have in their lifetime will be cancerous. Most of the lumps will just be fatty tumors that usually cause no harm to your pet. Some lumps will go away on their own, while others may need some more serious treatment. Treatment can add up rather quickly on your pet so be aware of what treatments cost.
One of the most common lumps your older dog may encounter are Lipomas. These are fat filled tumors that are usually slow growing. They are usually non cancerous. Lipomas can be round, oval shaped, grow under the skin but aren’t painful to your pet. Lipomas usually aren’t threatening to your pet but your vet may want to remove them if they grow too large, or start to limit your dog’s mobility.
Another lump that is found in dogs less than six years of age are Histiocytomas. These are red button lumps usually found on legs. They are found to be a reaction of the immune system to protect from skin cancer. These lumps usually go away on their own and don’t need any kind of treatment.
Sebaceous cysts are plugged oil glands in the skin. This is like a pimple on your pet. They usually go away on their own, but they can reoccur. If one of these cysts pop they can cause ooze out white thick pus. They may be tender, but usually don’t cause any other harm.
An abscess or a pocket of pus is squishy, can cause pain, growth under the skin. This will need to be drained by a veterinarian, sterilized, rinsed, and antibiotics prescribed for your pet. These are caused by a bite wound from an insect or other animal, or a penetrating wound from grass or twigs.
Melanoma can be either malignant or benign growths. Benign growths are usually easily treatable with removal. Malignant aggressive melanoma usually grow around the mouth and on the legs.
MCT or mass cell tumors are the most common form of skin cancer in dogs. Usually found in dogs older than 8 years old. Most common in Boston Terriers, Labrador retrievers, Beagles, or Schnauzers.
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Diagnosing lumps can be done a few different ways. If you feel a bump or lump on your pet you will want to take them to the veterinarian to get them looked over. Your vet will want to do a full physical exam. They may ask you how long your pet has had these lumps, have you noticed any others, or has the shape, color or size changed. Your vet can perform a fine needle aspiration. This is when they will take a needle to suck out some of the cells, place them on a microscope cell and look at them under a microscope. If the lump discharges some fluid your vet may do an impression smear. The vet will then be able to examine the discharge. A biopsy of cells can be done if the cause of the lump is still unclear. As well as taking a culture of cells to the lab and having the lab test for bacteria or viruses.
Once the cause of the lump is found out there are multiple ways that they can be treated. The most common way is a lumpectomy. This is a surgical procedure where a doctor will remove the entire lump. A partial removal can be done, when it is either too hard to get all of the lump or only part of it needs to be removed. Cryosurgery is another choice, where extreme cold, like liquid nitrogen, is used to remove a lump or bump that is usually very superficial. Radiation therapy may be suggested when surgical removal can’t be done. Chemotherapy along with radiation may be prescribed if your pet has malignant tumors. Other treatments can be hyperthermia, laser therapy, photodynamic therapy, antiangiogenic therapy, metronomic therapy, gene therapy, immunotherapy, or multimodal therapy. Treatment for your pet can be costly.
Lumps and bumps happen to dogs. If you see that your dog has grown an unusual bump, taking them to a vet is best to get it properly diagnosed. It can be hard to tell just by feeling what the bump truly is and if it is harmful or not. Some non threatening bumps can be very similar to malignant tumors. Getting a proper diagnosis may give your dog more life with you.