Help! I Found a Lump on My Dog
- First: mark the area with a black sharpie if you have a light colored dog, a silver sharpie for a dark colored dog or, (my favorite) shave the area
- Next: make note of the size of the lump by measuring it and writing it down, you can also take a photo for your records
- Then: schedule an appointment to see your veterinarian
Often people feel lumps on their dog, but are unable to find them again when they come into the vet clinic. Although a good vet can be adept at finding a large lump, and even some small bumps, they do not know your dog’s body like you do and stress and lack of time can make it more difficult for you to locate the area while in your vet’s office. Shaving is my favorite way to help me locate and monitor a lump, because it is the easiest to relocate.
Why should you take your dog to the vet?
- Lumps come in all shapes, sizes and varieties. I have seen everything from large benign lipomas (lumps filled with fat) to small cancerous lumps, cysts and even lumps filled with larvae called a cuterebra laid by a bot fly.
- There is no way to tell by looking at a lump whether or not it has cancerous cells
- Your veterinarian must take a sample of the lump with a needle aspirate or totally excise the lump to diagnose it
- It is important not to squeeze or cut lumps found on your pet because cancerous cells can be released if it is squeezed and contains cancerous cells
- If caught early, a local anesthetic and a skin punch is all that is needed to totally remove a small lump
- If the lump changes in size and shape, it should be rechecked by your vet
Years ago, I found a 3 millimeter lump on my 4 year old dog’s elbow. I had the lump excised by the veterinarian that I worked with and sent it off for histopathology to have it diagnosed, when the report came back it was linked to a lump that also shows signs of cancerous lumps on the kidneys.
Although my dog did not have lumps on his kidneys, we did find through ultrasound, bladder stones and a lump on his spleen both of which required surgery.
If I had not had the lump aspirated with a needle and then removed and sent off for histopathology it could have lead to deadly consequences for my young dog. In the past 6 years, my dog has accumulated over 20 lumps of different sizes and types, all of which are non-cancerous and I have become quite adept at locating new lumps and monitoring old lumps.
- I shave new lumps as soon as I find them; it helps me to monitor them for weeks even after I have scheduled a vet appointment
- I photograph lumps so that I can remember where they are located and I can see if they have changed size, shape or color
- I have my vet make a chart of my dog’s lumps and I keep a copy in my records so if I forget I can look back in his records quickly
- I examine my dog at least once a month and feel him all over while I give him his bath
- I have my dog examined by a vet (since he is over 7 and considered a senior) at least twice a year
- If I find a new lump I make an appointment as soon as possible because I know the sooner we catch a probable cancerous lump and have it excised the better chance my dog has to be cancer free
- I also know that it requires a very large amount of surrounding tissue to be removed if a cancerous lump is found in order to minimize the risk of the cancer returning
I know how frightening it can be to find a lump and hear bad news, I have also seen many benign lumps in my career as a vet tech, so I arm myself with knowledge and I face the problem proactively! Preventative medicine is always better than waiting for a problem to clearly arise. Get to know your dog and his skin, if you find something abnormal mark it so you can find it again and call your vet!
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.