Finding a lump or bump on your dog can often be a worrying experience. Although older dogs are more prone to these, younger dogs and pups can also suffer from these too. We cannot stress enough, any lumps and bumps should be checked and treated by a qualified vet as soon as possible after discovery.
A lot of the lumps and bumps you will find will be benign, meaning they are non-cancerous however some of them can be malignant. The older the dog, the higher the chance of the lump being malignant. Early detection is very important and will usually vastly increase the chances of curing your dog.
How does a vet identify the type of lump your dog has?
A few different options are available for identifying the type of lump your dog has. You vet will decide on the best course of action.
Impression smear – should the lump be discharging fluid your vet may take a sample of this and then send it to a laboratory for examination.
FNA (fine needle aspiration) – a small needle is inserted into the lump to extract some cells which are then examined in a laboratory. You dog may need sedation for this method.
Biopsy – if the above methods have not taken a successful amount of cells or not been able to diagnose the lump type, the vet may need to take a biopsy of the lump. This is performed under a sedative or anaesthetic.
Benign (non-cancerous) lumps
A benign lump essentially does not have the ability to be able to spread to other parts of the body apart from the site it is currently located. Most of these will cause little to no concern to your vet although some will continue to grow, in which case they can create further complications. Removal will be considered at this stage.
Lipomas (fatty lumps)
Malignant (cancerous) lumps
Cancer cells act the same way in dogs as they do in humans. Malignant lumps grow and spread through the body, affecting vital organs such as the lungs, brain, liver and bones. Unlike a benign lump, these can spread locally and destroy the nearby tissue. If your dog is diagnosed with one of the below lumps then a vet will advise you of the best course of action in terms of treatment.
Mast cell tumours
Fibrosarcomas (soft tissue sarcomas)
Squamous cell carcinomas
Mammary carcinomas (breast cancer)
It is extremely important that malignant lumps on your dog are surgically removed as soon as they are identified to prevent further spreading.
With the above lumps, surgery and chemotherapy is almost always used to try and treat the cancer. Your vet will also want to check other areas of the dog to see if the lump has metastasised – essentially spread to other areas. This process is called staging and ensures that the best treatment is offered for your dogs condition.
Other treatments available
More treatment options are available for your dog, depending on the dogs age, the size of the lump and the location. Your vet will advise the best treatment for your dog.
Partial removal or debulking
Ticks and dogs
Depending on the areas that your dog plays and walks in, they can contract ticks. A tick will essentially attach itself to your dog and suck blood from them.
A red crater will appear on the skin of the dog afterwords. A ‘tick crater’ will show that a tick has at some point been attached to your dog. A tick will usually attach to the face, neck or ears of your dog but they can also attach to other areas of the dogs body. A tick crater will feel like a lump on the skin of your dog.
If you discover a tick crater you should examine your dog and remove them as quick as possible. Paralysis ticks are life-threatening, so be mindful to keep an eye on your dogs behaviour after this. If you notice a change your should visit your vet immediately.
You should consult with your vet to find out the type of ticks that are prevalent in the area you live in and the signs to look out for.
Finally, if you find a lump on your dog you should always get it checked by your vet. Early detection is critical in ensuring that your dog can be cured.