Skip to content

Healthy Dogs

Skin Lumps and Bumps in Dogs: What You Should Know

Font Size
A
A
A

You’re on the couch, cozied up with your canine buddy, and you feel a bump. You try to remember when you last nuzzled this exact little spot. And before you know it, your mind is racing with questions. Is this lump new? What is it?

Quickly, this leads you to the ultimate concern: Could it be cancer? Without a vet’s expertise or test results, it's easy for our minds to get carried away and think the worst.

Recommended Related to Dogs

Obedience Training for Dogs

Many people can’t imagine life without dogs. We admire and adore them for their loyalty, unconditional affection, playful exuberance and zest for life. Nevertheless, dogs and people are very different animals. Although officially “man’s best friend,” dogs have some innocent but irksome tendencies-like jumping up to greet, barking, digging and chewing-that can make it downright difficult to live with them! To make the most of your relationship with your dog, you need to teach her some important...

Read the Obedience Training for Dogs article > >

Most lumps are fatty tumors, though. These are benign, meaning not cancerous. Fewer than half of lumps and bumps you find on a dog are malignant, or cancerous. Still, they can look the same from the outside, so it’s hard to tell.

Unless you’re sure about the cause of a lump or bump, bring your dog in for an exam. If you see fast growth, redness, swelling, pus, an opening, or if the dog is in pain, make that appointment even sooner.

The same goes for lumps that are in certain areas, like the face or paws, where surgery -- if needed -- is more complicated, the bigger the growth.

Your vet will want to know:

  • If the lump appeared suddenly
  • Whether its shape, color, or size has changed
  • Whether your dog’s behavior, such as his appetite or energy level, is different.

Often, the vet will remove some cells from the lump with a fine needle. She'll then look at them under the microscope. Sometimes she can tell right away if it’s a fatty tumor.

If it’s too hard to tell, your vet will take a small tissue sample from the lump and send it out for a biopsy. In a few days, you'll find out if it's cancerous. If so, surgery can usually remove the lump.

The bigger concern is if the cancer has already spread to other parts of the body. If so, your pet may need radiation or chemotherapy, or both.

Types of Lumps and Bumps

These are common in dogs:

  • Fatty tumors happen most often in middle-aged or older dogs, especially around the ribs, although they can show up anywhere. They're considered a natural part of aging. Any breed can have them, but larger dogs and those who are overweight are more prone to them. Usually, no treatment is needed, unless they give the dog pain or cause trouble with moving around.
  • A sebaceous cyst is a blocked oil gland that looks like a pimple. When it bursts, a white, pasty substance comes out.
  • Warts are caused by a virus and can be found around the mouths of young dogs. They'll go away by themselves. Older dogs might need surgery to remove them.
  • An abscess is a buildup of pus under the skin. It can be caused by an insect bite or an infection.
  • A mast cell tumor is the most common skin cancer in dogs. They’re most often found in boxers, Boston terriers, Labradors, beagles, and schnauzers.

Today on WebMD

bulldog in party hat
Breeds with longevity
Doberman Pinscher Clipped Ears
The facts about ear cropping and tail docking.
 
dog with duck in mouth
Which are considered smartest?
boxer dog
What are their health issues?
 
Pit bull looking up
Article
Pets: Is My Dog Normal
Slideshow
 
Dog scratching behind ear
Slideshow
dog catching frisbee
Slideshow
 

Love your pets, hate your allergies?

Get tips for relief.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Dog Breed RMQ
Quiz
Lady owner feeding dog
Slideshow
 
pooldle
Slideshow
bulldog in party hat
Slideshow