An Owner’s Guide to Lumps and Bumps on Pets
When you stumble across something on your pet that wasn’t there before, it can be a very disconcerting feeling. Is it a tick? A discarded piece of bubblegum? Cancer???
Pets often have such thick coats that we neglect to find small bumps until they become somewhat large. Some lumps and bumps on pets are no big deal at all, while others can be worrisome. Be sure you know how to handle your next bumpy encounter.
What Causes Lumps and Bumps on Pets
Lumps and bumps on pets can be caused by a wide variety of things. Once you have taken a closer look and determined that the offending bump is actually part of your pet and not something caught in the coat, we can narrow things down a bit. Some of the more common causes include:
- An abscess (infected pocket, can be large or pimple-like)
- A granuloma (the body’s reaction to something foreign)
- A harmless growth (think skin tags, cysts, or warty growths)
- A cancerous tumor
Many of these things can look very similar to the untrained eye, and sometimes even to a professional eye. Many times additional testing is required to determine what a lump or bump may actually be.
When we are assessing a growth on a pet, we may recommend a full biopsy or a test called a fine needle aspirate to get more information. A fine needle aspirate involves using a small needle to collect a few cells from the area to be looked at under a microscope.
What You Should Do
So what’s a pet parent to do when they encounter a stray bump? Well, first thing is to take a deep breath and relax a bit. Then carry on and do the following:
- Make a quick note of the location of the bump so you can find it again (you may wish to carefully clip the area or mark it in some way if it is difficult to find)
- Take inventory of the size, shape, color, and other distinguishing characteristics
- Determine if it needs to be looked at right away or if it can wait
That last part can be a bit tricky. When in doubt, it is safest of course to have all new growths looked at as the pop up. Many, however, can wait until your pet’s next wellness visit. Be sure to bring your pet in right away, though, if:
- Your pet has a history of cancerous growths
- The area is growing or changing
- It seems to bother your pet
- Your pet is a short-haired dog like a Boxer
- Your dog is more than 7 years old
- Your pet is a cat
Many growths, even cancerous ones, are easily removed surgically. A select few, however, can be invasive and aggressive and may require additional therapy.
In general, though, the more quickly your we find and address lumps and bumps on pets that need attention, the better our chances of a successful outcome. Oakland Veterinary Referral Services is able to work with your veterinarian in pet cancer diagnosis and treatment of all types.
The next time you stumble upon a growth on your pet, you will know that there is no need to panic. You are armed with the knowledge to make good decisions and are in good hands should you need us.