AIMSS_iStock_000005781697_MediumYou are enjoying some quality time with your furry companion snuggling on the couch. As you run your fingers over him, suddenly you feel something that shouldn’t be there. It’s a lump, right behind his ear. Before you panic, take a deep breath and read on to learn what you need to know about growths on dogs.

Types of Growths on Dogs

It isn’t unusual for our canine companions to develop a lump or bump during their lifetimes. Lumps and bumps are often growths of some kind, but they can also be an abscess (an infection) or a granuloma (the body’s reaction to something foreign).

Growths on dogs also fall into two main categories:

Benign – Benign means harmless. Benign growths may include cysts, warts, skin tags, and lipomas (fatty tumors). They do not, in and of themselves, cause a pet any health problems, but if they are in an unfortunate location or growing quickly they may need to be addressed.

Malignant – Malignant growths are what we think of when we hear cancer. They tend to affect the tissues nearby and can spread throughout the body. Malignant growths need to be removed and sometimes require additional treatment.

Sometimes we can determine what a growth is by performing a fine needle aspirate. During this procedure a small needle is used to take samples from the growth to be examined microscopically. While this is not the same as a biopsy, it can give us valuable information about what types of cells are present.

When to Worry

So when do you worry that a lump or bump might need medical attention? We recommend having any new growth examined in a timely fashion, however some growths on dogs are more urgent than others. You should have your pet looked at right away if:

  • The growth seems to be changing
  • It is growing quickly
  • The area around it seems to be red or irritated
  • Your pet is acting sick otherwise
  • Your dog is a short-haired breed such as a boxer or pit bull
  • Your pet has a history of cancer

While many growths on dogs will turn out to be benign, if your pet is diagnosed with a malignant tumor, Animal Internal Medicine and Specialty Services has a cutting-edge oncology department that is here to help you.

While no one wants to hear that their pet has cancer, we have the most up to date diagnostic and treatment options so that we can help your pet.

Lumps and bumps are often a part of life, and most pet owners will have a scare at some time or another. It is best to err on the side of caution and have any new growths on dogs checked out. Many are harmless, but when they are not having a good defense is the best offense. We are happy to help you provide the best care possible for your pet.