A sudden swelling on your pet’s perfect skin can be concerning. What could it be? Do you need to worry? Is it an emergency? Pet lumps and bumps can be scary, but not all of them are cause for alarm. If you find an extra friend on your pet, Animal Internal Medicine & Specialty Services is here to help you sort out what’s going on.
Good Looking Out
As an owner, finding pet lumps and bumps can be scary; but many times they are not anything to be concerned about. The cause of a lump typically falls into one of three main categories: an infection or abscess, a reaction to something foreign or abnormal in the body (a granuloma), or a tumor. A tumor is a cancerous growth that can either be benign (harmless) or malignant (aggressive).
It is important to have any new lumps or growths that you find checked out by a veterinarian at some point. Some can wait until your next appointment, but others need to be looked at right away.
When do you need to bring your pet in right away? Be sure to have the area examined immediately if:
- The area seems painful
- The lump is noticeably growing or changing
- The area seems firmly attached
- The area is red or appears irritated
- The bump is bleeding or has another type of discharge
- Your pet is a short-haired breed prone to cancer (Boxers, Pit Bulls, etc.)
- Your pet has been previously diagnosed with cancer
It is always better safe than sorry when it comes to having a lump or bump checked out. For many serious types of growth, the sooner we diagnose what is going on, the better the prognosis for treatment.
When Pet Lumps and Bumps Go Bad
When you bring your pet in to have a lump examined, we are looking at several things. The location of the growth is often relevant as well as how it feels and what tissues it appears to involve. These factors can help us hone in on a diagnosis. The relative size, shape, and location will be recorded in your pet’s medical record for future referencing
Many types of pet lumps and bumps can appear very similarly. Often a fine needle aspirate is obtained to gain more information. An FNA involves obtaining a sample from the area with a small needle. The cells that are collected are then examined under a microscope. Sometimes this give us more information about what type of growth your pet may have and what treatment is warranted.
We may recommend the removal of some lumps or bumps due to their location or other characteristics, even if they appear benign. A large benign growth in the armpit can impede movement, while a benign growth on the eyelid can irritate the cornea.
Histopathology, or biopsy, may be recommended if the lump or bump is suspected to be cancerous or is not responding to treatment as expected. The tissue is collected surgically then sent to a pathologist to examine. The pathologist can often give us information about the type of growth, its aggressiveness, whether all affected cells were removed, the likelihood of metastasis (spread) to other locations, and overall prognosis.
The next time you are petting Fido and find a lump or bump, try not to panic. Set up an appointment at your earliest convenience to get it checked out by your regular veterinarian. No matter what it is, early action ensures that you get the best possible outcome for your pet. If your pet’s bump turns out to be something that needs extra attention, don’t forget that our expert staff is always here waiting to help.