When people find lumps on their pet, they often panic. It’s easy to assume the worst. And then they often avoid finding out more.
So what should I do if I find a lump on my pet?
Any lumps should be checked by your pet’s vet as soon as possible.
Not every lump or bump on your dog will be a tumour. Some superficial bumps may be warts, infected hair follicles, haematomas (blood blisters) and others are just sebaceous cysts on dogs that are simply plugged oil glands in the skin and usually nothing to worry about. Skin cysts often rupture on their own, heal, and are never seen again. Others become chronically irritated or infected, and should be removed and then checked by a pathologist just to confirm what they are. Some breeds, e.g. Cocker Spaniel are prone to developing sebaceous cysts.
When your pet has been examined by your veterinary practitioner he/she may recommend a Fine Needle Aspirate; for this your pet may need some sedation whilst the vet inserts a fine needle into the growth, withdraws some cells, puts them on a slide and they are then analysed under the microscope. Another possibility is a biopsy, where a small section of the growth is removed and again analysed. For this procedure your pet may need sedation and local anaesthetic or a short general anaesthetic. Finally your vet may recommend removal of the whole mass and sending it to the laboratory for analysis. This would be done under general anaesthetic.
Following FNA and biopsy, it may be recommended to remove the whole growth. There can be a great benefit in then sending the whole mass to the laboratory to ensure it has all been removed. The histopathologists will then report on the kind of cells contained within and their likely behaviour e.g. tendency to recur or likelihood of spreading to other parts of the body.
Fifty percent of dogs over the age of 10 develop cancer at some point. However cancer can be benign (good) or malignant (more serious). The earlier a diagnosis is made the more options for treatment are available and potentially a better outcome.
In conclusion – a tip! Take a good surface inventory of your dog today, (don’t forget the mouth, mammary glands and under the tail!) then at least once a month from now on. If you find any imperfections, firstly, make a note of the size and location of the lump, secondly make an appointment with your vet to get it checked out and thirdly, take heart in knowing that modern veterinary medicine has some very effective remedies for almost all of these lumps and bumps.