Just about anyone who has owned a dog or cat has been sitting somewhere with their pet, running your hands over their body, scratching them, and pulling your fingers through their hair...when, suddenly, you feel something firm and unexpected...a lump or a bump. Upon closer inspection, you might see something matted in the hair or some type of swelling in the skin. Sometimes the lump is very visible and sometimes you almost have to rub or squeeze the skin in order to realize that there is something there that is not normal.
If you're really lucky, the lump might be a piece of vegetation that has become matted in the hair right next to the skin or even a tick that has become embedded in the skin and then swelled up from feeding on your pet. Lucky, because these usually only require a bit of careful maneuvering to resolve.
However, if the lump or bump is either part of the skin or underneath the skin, your imagination will probably lead you to expect the worst...the anticipation that your pet must surely have some type of cancer. Even though there are many different types of lumps and bumps that are not cancer, the human tendency is to be concerned...and, that's a good thing. Most of the time, it's very difficult, if not impossible, to predict what a growth might be just by looking at it or feeling it...even for your veterinarian.
That's why it's a good thing to have your pet examined when you find a lump or bump and let your veterinarian decide what should be done in order to figure out what it is. Hopefully, after reading this issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats, all of you will be able to approach the discovery of a lump or bump in a more practical, objective manner, without becoming too upset in the process.
- Abscess: A painful collection of pus at the site of a bite or puncture wound.
- Basal cell tumor: Solitary nodule, usually on a narrow base or stalk. Round, normally hairless, and may be ulcerated. Found on the head, neck, and shoulders of older dogs.
- Ceruminous gland adenoma: A pinkish-white dome-shaped growth in the ear canal less than 1 centimeter in size. May become ulcerated and infected.
- Epidermal inclusion cyst: A firm lump beneath the skin. May discharge cheesy material and become infected.
- Hematoma: A collection of clotted blood beneath the skin; often involves the ear flaps.
- Histiocytoma: Rapidly growing dome-shaped (buttonlike) growth found anywhere on the body, usually in young adults.
- Lipoma: Smooth, round, or oblong fatty growth beneath the skin; feels somewhat soft.
- Mast cell tumor: Solitary or multiple growths usually found on the trunk, genital area, and legs. More prevalent in certain breeds, including Boxers, Golden Retrievers, Bulldogs, and Boston Terriers.
- Melanoma: A brown or black pigmented nodule found in areas of dark skin. Growths in mouth and nailbeds usually are malignant.
- Perianal gland tumor: A solitary or multinodular growth in the perineum around the anus. Occurs most often in older intact males.
- Sebaceous adenoma: Also called sebaceous cyst. Smooth, pink, wartlike growth less than 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter. Most common on the eyelids and limbs. Occurs in older individuals (average age 10). Very common in Poodles and Cocker Spaniels.
- Skin papillomas: These grow out from the skin and may look like a wart. Not painful or dangerous.
- Soft-tissue sarcomas: Ill-defined or well-demarcated masses of varying size and location. Often slow growing.
- Squamous cell carcinoma: A nonhealing gray or reddish-looking ulcer found on the belly, scrotum, feet, legs, lips, or nose. May resemble a cauliflowerlike growth.
- Transmissible venereal tumors: Ulcerated, often multiple cauliflower-like growths on the genitalia of both sexes.
- "Warble": Can look like a draining abscess but has the larva of a fly embedded in the lump.
- Embedded foreign body: Can be anything that has punctured the skin and festers there...a splinter of wood or metal, piece of glass or wire.
Right there on the list of the "Top 20 Dog Diseases" (as far as concerning frequency of visits to a veterinarian), following #1 Ear infections, #2 Skin allergies, and #3 Skin infections, is #4...Skin growths/Tumors.
Adapted from: http://www.petplace.com/dog-health.aspx?utm_source=dogcrazynews001et&utm_medium=email&utm_content=petplace_corepage&utm_campaign=dailynewsletter
Of course, the incidence of cancer does increase as a pet ages:
In pets the rate of cancer increases with age. Cancer is responsible for approximately half the deaths of pets over 10 years of age. Dogs get cancer at roughly the same rate as humans, while cats tend to have lower rates of cancer. Some cancers, such as breast or testicular cancer, are largely preventable by spaying and neutering. A diagnosis of cancer may be based on x-rays, blood tests, physical appearance of tumors, and other physical signs. The ultimate test for cancer is through confirmation via a biopsy.
Adapted from: https://www.avma.org/public/PetCare/Pages/Caring-for-an-Older-Pet-FAQs.aspx
Many of those cancers started out as a growth or lump on or under the skin. This is why EARLY detection is so important when you feel a lump or bump on your pet. Have your pet examined by your veterinarian and heed what they have to say. They will explain the logical progression of options available that will provide enough information upon which to make a decision.
If the lump even looks like it might be a tumor, whether or not it might be something as harmless as a wart (papilloma) or a fatty tumor (lipoma), your veterinarian would be doing the proper thing by recommending further evaluation. This would include:
According to Dr. Dubielzig, the best approach to understanding what to do about a lump or bump on your dog is to be vigilant and treat each situation individually. "In cases where vigilance for tumors is part of the animal’s care, such as in animals where a malignant tumor has been removed and the veterinarian wishes to keep abreast of the stage of disease, then every lump should be submitted for histopathology," Dubielzig said. "In other cases where the clinician is sure of a benign diagnosis such as lipoma or a wart-like skin mass then it might be understandable to use discretion. The clinician also has to take into consideration the risk of surgery compared to the risk of health problems from a particular lump or bump."