Explaining those lumps and bumps on your pet

By on January 8, 2014

We were recently asked by a number of people about lumps that have appeared on their dogs’ skin. The lumps and bumps have appeared in the middle-to-late years on all three dogs we were told about; all three were medium to large pups, also.

As we researched the topic a bit, we found a very informative article from the Tampa Bay Newspapers by veterinarian Kim Donovan. You can read the entire article at the link below, but we’ve summarized the content, questions and answers for you here. Donovan answered many poignant and common questions about these masses- as a veterinarian of 16 years, she is very credible and knowledgeable on the subject. Read the article here  or find her on her hospital’s Web site located in Seminole, FL here.

Donovan opens her article with the most common question dog owners have about their pets’ strange bumps by saying, “Skin tumors are a common and frequent reason for veterinary visits. About two thirds of skin tumors in dogs are benign (noncancerous) and one third are malignant (cancerous).” That’s good news for dog owners- only one in three of these lumps (skin tumors) are cancerous.

Cats, on the other hand, are more likely to have cancer within their tumors. “In cats, the opposite is true. Malignant tumors comprise two thirds, while one third are benign. Because skin tumors vary in their presentation and behavior, every growth should be identified. For example, the malignant mast cell tumor is called the “great imitator” because it can resemble so many other tumors that are commonly benign.” If your cat appears to have grown an sort of abnormal mass, this is proof that you should act quickly.

It’s unclear to us why there is such a disparity between tumors that present themselves in dogs and cats, but we do find it interesting that all three of our readers who asked about lumps were dog owners.

When you identify a lump on your dog or cat, as we humans would be advised to do for ourselves, the best course of action is to consult a medical professional as soon as possible. There are a few different ways to identify cancer (or simply benign tumors) and the quicker they are found, the higher the likelihood of preventing the spread of cancer cells throughout the body.

“A growth should be tested either by a fine needle aspirate, biopsy, and/or complete surgical excision to determine more information about the growth and what plan of action is necessary thereafter. A fine needle aspirate entails the use of a needle and syringe to remove some cells from the growth. The aspirated cells are then transferred onto a glass slide and stained. By performing this test, a veterinarian can look at the cells microscopically to determine if the cell characteristics are supportive of a malignancy and then suggest the next step to be taken,” Donovan says.

Often, veterinary clinics don’t have the means to test the cells in their own buildings, so these slides are sent to pathologists and other specialists for further lab work.

Once the needle aspirate, biopsy or excision is completed and results are returned to the veterinarians, a plan of action is suggested. “Behavior of a tumor includes whether or not the tumor is one to metastasize (spread to other parts of the body) and how likely or quickly recurrence may occur,” she indicates. Small, benign lumps are again common, and they don’t always need immediate action. If the lump is likely to grow and mobility becomes an issue, removal is the best plan.

Malignant tumors (cancerous ones) are always suggested to be removed. These cancerous lumps and bumps can spread cells throughout the body, causing pain and even contributing to the death of your pet.

An interesting note from the article: lumps and bumps are often large, visible and obviously painful for your pet, but this is not always the case. Many times, groomers who are shaving a dog or bathing a cat will notice oily spots on the animal or nick a small bump with shears. Bleeding often occurs as a result of the latter and pet owners are usually surprised that such a mass could be present on their animal’s skin. However the lumps are identified, take your little one to your local vet and have them complete the necessary tests in order to determine whether you are dealing with cancer, a lump that could cause pain and immobility, or just a harmless little mass.

If you are in need of a vet in Omaha, be sure to check out our directory, partners and friends from our homepage. We trust in all of our partners and sponsors, so you are in good hands when you need help with your dog’s or cat’s strange lumps and bumps.

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