What are lumps on pets?
Lumps on pets are more common in older pets, however, younger animals can sometimes get them as well. They are often harmless, but sometimes they are a sign that something may be wrong. Don’t ignore lumps that you find on your pet.
It is recommended that you check your pet’s body on a regular basis. This will allow you to become more familiar with what’s normal, and recognise any changes that occur.
Checking for lumps on pets
You can check for lumps on your pet by running your fingers through their coat starting with the head, back, sides, chest, belly, and down the legs. If you feel something unusual, notice a new lump or notice that a lump has changed in size and shape, we recommend that you have it looked at by your local Greencross Vet.
Although most lumps are harmless, some can be very dangerous if left untreated.
What kinds of lumps are there?
Lipomas – or fatty lumps
Lipomas are probably the most common lump found on dogs and are more common in obese pets. These are benign cancers that can grow quite slowly and rarely spread. In some cases, they may need to be removed.
Cancer – mast cell tumours
Mast cell tumours are a type of cancer that can take on many different appearances. It is difficult to tell if and when they change from benign cancer to malignant cancer, so all mast cell tumours should be removed.
Breast cancer – mammary tumours
While some lumps in the mammary glands in female dogs can be harmless, others are amongst the most aggressive forms of cancer. In male pets, mammary lumps are often particularly nasty. In most cases, surgical removal of mammary lumps is advisable.
Warts are more common in older animals and look like a small tag of skin attached to the coat. They can be irritating and in some cases require removal.
These are swellings filled with a creamy matter, often seen in older pets and found in the middle of the back. Sometimes the swellings become quite red, but normally do not cause any problems other than soreness.
Histiocytoma are a red button like lump that are usually found on young pets. They usually go away as rapidly as they appear, but it is best to have any lump checked by your vet.
How can I tell if a lump on my pet is cancer?
You cannot tell whether a lump is cancerous just by looking at it. Your veterinarian will examine the lump to see if they think it is suspicious. They will also examine your pet to see if they are healthy and if there are any other growths present.
Biopsy examination is the best way to diagnose whether a lump is harmful or not. This involves putting a needle into the affected area to collect cells or cutting off a small piece of the lump while your pet is under anaesthetic. Once diagnosed, your vet will advise you of the best possible treatment (if treatment is required at all).
Types of cancers – benign or malignant
Benign – benign lumps may grow bigger but usually, do not spread. Some growths may cause issues depending on where they occur. If they restrict movement, cause discomfort, or affect your pet’s breathing, they will need to be removed.
Malignant – malignant lumps are more aggressive lumps which grow and can spread through the body and affect organs like the lungs and liver. Malignant growths must be removed before they spread elsewhere.
What are the treatments?
In most cases, treatment is as simple as removing the lump. However, if the lump is malignant, your vet will need to make sure that cancer hasn’t spread to other parts of your pet’s body. X-rays, ultrasounds, and other diagnostic procedures may be required, and a longer treatment course could be the result.
A final word on lumps and bumps…
A watchful eye is rewarded. Noticing changes in your pet’s health, including the appearance of lumps and bumps on their coat, can lead to early diagnosis and successful treatment. Always check with your veterinarian if you notice any changes, or if you have any concerns about your pet’s wellbeing.