Lumps and bumps on your pet

By Kellie Tickner, Orchard Hills Veterinary Hospital Administrator

WHILST lumps on pets are more frequently seen in older pets, they can also appear on younger animals too. But what do you do if you find that lump or bump on your pet?  Sometimes, they are harmless, but every so often they are a sign that something else may be happening. 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. Although some lumps may not cause a concern, some can be very dangerous if left untreated.

What kinds of lumps are there?  

• Lipomas (fatty lumps) – Lipomas are the most common lump found on dogs and are more common in overweight pets. These are benign cancers that can grow quite slowly and rarely spread. In some cases, they may need to be removed.

• Mast cell tumours – Mast cell tumours are a common type of cancer that can take on many different appearances Some breeds of dogs may be more commonly affected, but all breeds can suffer from
mast cell disease. Mast cell tumours are potentially very serious and
early detection and diagnosis is the key.

• Mammary tumours (breast cancer) – While some lumps in the mammary glands in female dogs can be seen, others are amongst the most aggressive forms of cancer. These lumps must be checked immediately by your veterinarian.

• Warts – 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.

• Sebaceous cysts – These are swellings filled with a creamy matter, often seen in older pets.  Often the swellings become quite red, but normally do not cause any problems. 

• Histiocytoma – Histiocytoma are a red button like lump that are usually found on young pets. They usually go away in about 2-3 months. However, it is important to monitor these for changes.

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 and recommend the most appropriate testing moving forward. They will also examine your pet to see if they are healthy and if there are any other growths present.

Biopsy is the best way to diagnose whether a lump is harmful or not. This involves putting a small needle into the affected area to collect cells or by sampling the lump while your pet is under anaesthetic. Once diagnosed, your vet will advise you of the best possible treatment.

Is the lump benign or malignant?

Benign lumps may grow but usually, do not spread. Some growths may cause issues depending on where they are located. If they restrict movement, cause discomfort, or affect your pet’s daily activities, surgical removal is often recommended. 

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.

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. If you notice any changes, or if you have any concerns about your pet’s wellbeing, please call the team at Orchard Hills Veterinary Hospital on 4736 2027.