LUMPS & BUMPS
Many dogs and cats get lumps and bumps in their lifetime. There are many different types. Some are benign/not a concern and can be monitored; and some can be severe life-threatening cancers. At times, some “benign” lumps can actually still cause problems in the pet and need to be addressed (if they are getting large, interfering with movement, or in a tricky-to-remove location that may be easier to do when smaller).
Lumps or bumps that are clearly a problem and need evaluation right away are ones that grow rapidly, change in how they feel/look, grow and then shrink in size, are painful, oozing, changing color, or in troublesome locations bothering the pet. Others may not be quite as obvious that they could be a problem, but you should still have them looked at by a doctor. There is a common skin cancer in dogs called a Mast Cell Tumor which can start out looking like a simple, less concerning mass, but is actually a cancer that often has a much better outcome if addressed when small! In some instances, the Mast Cell Tumor can look and feel like a benign fatty lump or look like a bug bite that swells up and down.
A relatively simple and minimally invasive technique to check some of these lumps and bumps is with a needle cytology. In many instances, we can give an idea if it looks like a benign fatty lipoma or cyst or a more concerning cancerous Mast Cell Tumor. Sometimes, we are not able to identify the cells but may seek the aid of a pathologist or recommend to surgically remove the mass for a full biopsy. You should keep track of your pet’s lumps and bumps and take them to a veterinarian for evaluation when you find a new/changing one so we can help determine the best route of treatment!