Are My Dog’s Lumps And Bumps Normal, Or Is It Cancer?

Let’s face it, we all—humans and animals alike—get more lumpy and bumpy with age. But unlike us, our pets can’t point out a lump and ask, “Is this normal?” It’s up to us to be on the lookout for growths under or on our pet’s skin. And when we do find a lump or bump while grooming or petting our dogs, it’s an understandable response to be alarmed. That’s not a bad thing—it’s wise to be both aware and cautious if you detect a new or changing lump.

Dog bumps can be a simple lump, lipoma, a sebaceous cyst, or something more serious like a mast cell tumor. It’s important to take your dog to a vet as soon as you notice any bumps on or under the skin. Your vet will be able to perform a biopsy to provide you with peace of mind or a diagnosis and the necessary treatment steps.

What Is the Bump on My Dog’s Skin?

Many different types of bumps can develop in dogs, but a few are more common:

  • Lipoma
  • A sebaceous cyst
  • A mast cell tumor

Lipoma in Dogs

Lipoma is a harmless or benign (non-cancerous) fatty tumor. It is usually soft and can be easily moved around. While they are relatively slow-growing and don’t usually pose a health threat to your pet, they need to be monitored for changes in size so that they don’t limit your pet’s mobility. Lipoma is most often diagnosed when an owner brings their pet to the vet after feeling a lump.

What Causes Lipoma in Dogs?

There is no clear cause for lipoma in dogs, but it is more commonly seen in dogs that are older and overweight. The development of lipoma is also believed to be genetic. Certain dog breeds are more susceptive to lipoma like:

  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Cocker Spaniels
  • Beagles
  • Weimaraners
  • Dachshunds
  • Miniature Schnauzers
  • Dobermans

How to Treat Lipomas in Dogs

Most lipomas never cause any problems. If the lipoma grows and affects your dog’s mobility, surgical removal is an option. Large lipomas can also shrink with weight loss, so a diet plan might be recommended to help control your furry friend’s weight.

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Sebaceous Cysts in Dogs

Sebaceous cysts are caused by blocked oil glands or hair follicles and are usually harmless to your pet. They are generally whitish and look like large dog pimples. They may resolve on their own if left alone, but if an infection or inflammation occurs, they may need to be removed.

What Causes Sebaceous Cysts in Dogs?

Sebaceous cysts can pop up on dogs for several reasons, including:

  • Sebaceous gland blockage or buildup
  • Genetics
  • Injury to the skin
  • UV ray damage
  • Inflammation or infection

Genetics also play a role in most dog cysts, including sebaceous cysts, with certain dog breeds being more susceptible like:

  • Boxers
  • Shih-Tzus
  • Doberman Pinschers
  • Yorkshire Terriers
  • Schnauzers
  • Basset Hounds

Mast Cell Tumors in Dogs

A mast cell tumor (MCT) is a cancerous tumor most commonly found in the skin and subcutaneous tissue. Unfortunately, MCTs don’t have a typical look and feel. They may be big or small, soft or hard, flat or raised.

What Causes Mast Cell Tumors in Dogs?

There’s no clear answer to what causes mast cell tumors in dogs. They can sometimes be genetic, as they’re more commonly found in dog breeds like Labrador Retrievers, Boxers, Bull Terriers, and Boston Terriers. A certain protein mutation called KIT is also associated with MCT development in dogs. Hereditary and environmental factors have also been known to contribute to MCTs. 

Symptoms of Mast Cell Tumors in Dogs

Mast cell tumors in dogs are typically diagnosed when an owner feels a lump on or under their dog’s skin and takes them to the vet for a diagnosis. Symptoms vary depending on what organ is affected by MCT. These symptoms can include:

  • Appetite loss 
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Dark stool
  • Lethargy
  • Pale gums

How to Treat Dog Mast Cell Tumors

A biopsy of the tumor can confirm whether or not a dog has an MCT. If your dog has a tumor, surgery is typically the best route. In addition to surgery, chemotherapy is often used in worsened cases.

Because benign and cancerous skin lumps can easily be confused, consult your veterinarian to determine which type of lump or bump your dog has developed. After a physical examination, your vet may recommend a simple needle aspiration as a first step in diagnosing a tumor. Your vet will extract some of the lump’s cells to examine on a slide under a microscope. The procedure is quick and easy and usually relatively painless for your pet.

Your vet may be able to tell from the microscope whether the lump is just a fatty lipoma, or if it has enough questionable cells to warrant further examination with a more in-depth pathology review, a biopsy, or removal.

When it comes to any lump or bump on your dog’s skin, don’t take a “wait and see” approach. Benign masses may become too big to easily remove, and if the mass is cancerous, then early detection is crucial when it comes to treatment and a cure.

The veterinarians at PetWellClinic® will be happy to examine your pet’s lumps and bumps. We can also perform a quick and easy needle aspiration of the mass if you both determine it to be necessary.

Find the PetWellClinic nearest to you!

PetWellClinic is dedicated to being here for pet owners. Our hours of operation extend into the evenings and weekends, and our clinic environment is built with your pet’s comfort in mind. Talk to your PetWellClinic veterinarian to learn more about the services we provide. 

PetWellClinic provides convenient, affordable veterinary care for pet owners. PetWellClinic has locations and services built with convenience in mind. Stop by with your pet anytime! No appointment necessary.

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