Lumps (masses) and bumps in our furry friends can be a sudden and stressful thing to notice, unfortunately, lumps are also quite a common finding in pets of any age. Often you will find these lumps or bumps when petting your friend on the couch, or maybe the lump is large and noticeable when you look at your pet. Regardless of the size, when you notice a lump it’s important to let your veterinarian know about it. There are many different causes of lumps and by investigating the cause early we can hopefully treat the lump earlier and prevent any further pain or discomfort.
What kind of Lumps do dogs get?
There are many causes for a lump to pop up in your pet. Some causes include:
Foreign bodies – grass seeds/splinters under the skin
Hives (allergic reactions)
Enlargement of lymph nodes
Skin infection or abscesses
Tumours (malignant and benign)
Reaction to injections
How do we find out what kind of lump it is?
Making sure that we see the vet regularly is the first step to picking up a new lump. This way if you don’t notice it at home your vet has a good chance of finding it for you.
This health check is very important in finding out what kind of lump your dog has. Your vet will note the location of the mass, the size and consistency as well as the colour. We can learn a lot about the lump by investigating these things, as well as how long it’s taken for it to get to this size, and when it was first noticed. Often your veterinarian will want to take a small sample (known as a fine needle aspirate or FNA) of the lump to try identify the cells that are creating the mass.
A FNA is a simple and relatively painless procedure where a small needle is inserted into the mass to collect a few cells which are then prepared onto a glass slide, stained and examined using a microscope. It’s important to note that this examination of cells only gives the veterinarian an idea on which cells are causing the mass and unfortunately isn’t always going to give a (definitive) final diagnosis.
Occasionally no cells will be collected via FNA or the cells that are collected give an inconclusive result. In this case your veterinarian will likely recommend a full or partial biopsy of the mass under an anaesthetic. This sample will then be sent away to a laboratory for further examination and testing where a more accurate diagnosis of the lump can be made.
Treatment of lumps:
After collecting a history +/- a sample of your pets mass, your veterinarian will be able to discuss with you any steps that need to be taken to further diagnose or treat the lump. Treatment and prognosis of the mass is dependent on the cause and will often include medications (antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, or antihistamines) or surgery. If you have any questions or concerns about your pet and their lump we encourage you to ask them during the consultation so that the veterinarian can fully explain your furry friends condition and we can get them back to a happy and healthy life.