It's About Pets
Pet Health

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Lumps and Bumps

Finding a lump or a growth on your animal companion can be a bit unnerving. So often, the first thing that comes to mind is cancer. Your concern for your pet may be justified when you find a bump, lump, or growth that has not been there before. Usually you will find these things in the skin or soft tissues just underneath the skin. Occasionally, an astute pet owner will feel an abnormal swelling in the pet’s abdomen. Any such finding warrants a trip to your veterinarian for further evaluation.

Lumps or swellings can be anything from bug bites to potentially dangerous cancers. It is often difficult to tell exactly what the problem is just by looking and feeling the lump from the outside. Sometimes your veterinarian can give you a pretty good guess as to what it is based on your pet’s history, the behavior of the growth, and our physical examination. Depending on what he thinks, your veterinarian may treat the growth with medications, have you watch it for awhile and see if it changes, or may recommend additional testing to help him move towards a diagnosis. It is in your pet’s best interest to have the most informed opinion possible so you can make a good decision regarding your animal’s care.

Here are some thoughts to keep in mind about lumps and bumps in our animal companions:

  • Statistically, the majority of lumps in dog skin will be benign. However, the behavior of any given lump cannot be predicted, each must be treated individually. Any new growth deserves careful evaluation. Never assume that it is benign.
  • Lumps in cat skin have a greater chance of being malignant and therefore deserve special, immediate attention.
  • The annual physical exam is a great opportunity for your veterinarian to look for lumps and bumps in places you may not notice, like the area of the lymph nodes, inside the oral cavity, or in the abdomen. Detecting such abnormalities early on in the process gives your veterinarian the best opportunity to make a qualitative difference in the course of the disease.
  • Certain cancers can and should be prevented. For example, spaying your female dog before her first heat virtually eliminates the incidence of breast cancer later on. Likewise, neutering your male dog or cat eliminates the incidence of testicular cancer. Dogs and cats with white fur and pink skin on their nose, eyes, and ears are more prone to skin cancer in these areas and should not be out in the sun during peak sunlight hours.

So next time you are cuddling your pet and feel something out of the ordinary, call your veterinarian. He’ll do everything he can to ensure a good, long, happy life for your precious pet.