Lumps and Bumps in Older Dogs

 

lumps and bumps in older dogs

Lumps and bumps in dogs are not unusual, and most of the time are nothing at all to worry about.

You know when you’re sitting on the couch relaxing, slowly petting your dog and then you feel a lump? You know when your heart skips a beat, you get that nauseous feeling and the word “cancer” fills your every waking moment?

I do!

The good news is, most lumps are just fatty tumours, benign and nothing to worry about. I think that’s very encouraging, but I also strongly advise you to get it checked sooner rather than later. First of all it will put your mind at ease, and the earlier something is caught, the better the chances of curing or at least managing it.

Most lumps are just fatty tumours, benign and nothing to worry about, but check them out to be sure Click To Tweet

The most common type of lump found in senior dogs are lipomas or fatty tumours

The most common lumps are called lipomas or, as the layperson refers to them, “fatty tumours.” They are masses under the skin and a natural part of aging. Most of the time nothing needs to be done, however they can grow larger and depending on where they’re located on the body, may cause problems such as impeding movement for example.

If a dog has one mass, they will likely develop multiple masses and although there’s a good chance they’ll be benign, each one should be checked just to be sure.

Infiltrative lipomas invade muscle tissue and may need to be removed.

Liposarcomas are malignant and can spread to the bone and other organs. Although rare they do happen, and this serves to emphasise the importance of checking each new mass that develops.

Some prep work before the appointment

It would be helpful to your vet if you could provide the following information:

  • When did you first notice the lump?
  • Have you felt or seen a change in size, colour or shape?
  • How long has he had it?
  • Has your dog exhibited any changes in behaviour lately – eating habits, sleeping more, restless, lethargic…

What happens at your appointment?

Your vet will use a very fine needle to remove some cells to see under the microscope in the office. It’s possible he will be able to diagnose it immediately, otherwise a sample will be sent to a lab for analysis by a pathologist. It usually takes a few days for results, unless there’s a cause for concern and he may be able to put a rush on it.

If those results are inconclusive, surgical removal of the mass may be required for a more thorough analysis.

Waiting can be tough

I know how tough waiting can be, and I know you think it’s easy for me to say not to jump to conclusions and assume the worst, but I’ll say it anyway. Most are benign, and as a matter of fact I was at the local vet the other day and bumped into a neighbour with her elderly dog. She had found a lump and was there to get the biopsy results, which were fortunately benign.

Treatment options

Your vet may have already booked you in for an appointment to discuss results or will call you. Either way he will have decided on the best course of action based on those results.

If the lump is benign there isn’t usually a reason to remove it, unless it is causing your dog discomfort or restricting movement for example. Of course if it turns out to be cancer, the concern will be if it has spread to other parts of the body. A CT or MRI may be needed to get a clearer picture of the mass and its location. Surgery, chemo, radiation or all three may be necessary.

To remove a lump or not?

Plenty of vets will remove lumps, as a matter of fact the woman I mentioned earlier did have her dog’s lump removed. Here is an enlightening post by Dr Karen Becker called “Why I Don’t Remove Lipomas – Unless They Do This.”

Keeping on top of things

If your dog has lots of lumps and bumps (I’ve known quite a few old dogs like that!), your vet will want to keep track so he can quickly find any new ones or recognise changes in existing ones. A chart of their locations is the way to do that.

Through regular grooming, massage and petting sessions, you will be quickly aware of any changes to the size and shape of existing lumps, and the development of new ones.  

An alternative point of view

I’m very interested in alternative medicine both for myself and my pets, and I came across this truly fascinating article “Lipomas and Other Canine Lumps and Bumps.” Written by Dr Stephen Blake, a vet who practices alternative medicine in San Diego California, he discusses the causes of lipomas and offers treatment options as well. I recommend you set aside time to read it.

Lumps and bumps in dogs – conclusion

There’s a lot of good news in this article don’t you think! Most lumps and bumps in older dogs are nothing to worry about, and from a holistic point of view there’s a lot we can do to prevent them from developing in the first place.

For more information you can refer to this article “Fatty Skin Tumors in Dogs

Have you found lumps on your senior? Were they benign? What course of action did your vet take? Did he discuss possible causes? Sharing helps others so leave comments in the box below or on my Facebook page.

Hindy Pearson
Helping people care for their senior dogs
I am a certified dog trainer and pet care consultant, specialising in working with rescue dogs and first time pet parents. I foster and adopt senior and special needs dogs, and advocate for shelter adoption of all animals, particularly older dogs and cats. I am currently working on a spay/neuter program in Spain.

8 Comments

  1. Golden Daily Scoop

    We just went through this with our oldest dog, Miley who is 8 years old. Found a lump last week and she had it removed yesterday. It certainly took me by surprise but we are remaining hopeful for good news next week.

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      I’m sorry to hear that, but lucky you found it when you did and it’s out. I do hope you get good news next week. Let me know.

      Reply
  2. Jenna Hughson

    Lumps and bumps have always scared me. Even though lots of them are nothing, until we know that for sure, I get so worried if I see one!

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      I know what you mean Jenna. When I saw that tiny little bump on Red my first instinct was to panic. Luckily it was nothing but you’re right, we panic until we know.

      Reply
  3. Carol Bryant

    We have blogged quite a bit about dog lumps and bumps. As a dog mom who had a Cocker with a bump that ended up being cancer, we are super diligent about any new growth. Off to the vet for aspiration is our rule.

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      That’s a great rule to have. Hopefully you noticed the bump quickly. One day I was petting one of my cats and discovered a huge lump in his neck. I pet him all the time, there’s no way that thing was there long. I immediately took him to the vet and that was cancer as well. Now I’m even more crazy diligent than before.

      Reply
  4. Lori Hilliard

    My own dog, Soldier, will be eighteen years old next month and has so many fatty tumors that we’ve taken to affectionately calling him “Lumpy Boy.” Fortunately, his vet says they are all benign and don’t require removal. The veterinarian said that at Soldier’s age and with his enlarged heart, the anesthesia would be more dangerous than the lumps. So we continue to carefully monitor them and consult with his veterinarian. So far, no pain or discomfort.

    And thank you for writing a blog that focuses on senior dogs – senior pets are my special passion, and your information is so helpful for senior pet owners.

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Hi Lori, how wonderful you’re still sharing your life with Soldier at 18!! Great news that his lumps are nothing to be concerned about. Even though anesthesia is safer these days, why take a risk if there’s no benefit. Thanks I’m glad you think the information is helpful. I can’t stand the way seniors are viewed, so I’m making it my mission to change perception. They’re my passion too and I wish I was able to take more home. I’ve just been fostering 2 young dogs and while I’m thrilled I have found them homes, I don’t get that same “soul satisfaction” as when I bring an old dog home.

      Reply

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