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?
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.
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?
Some vets will remove them (as a matter of fact the woman I mentioned earlier did have her dog’s lump removed), while others prefer to adopt a “wait and see” attitude. This can be for a number of reasons including the location of the lump, as well as the age and medical condition of the dog. 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 ever found a lump on your dog? Was it benign? What course of action did your vet take? Sharing helps others so please leave your comment in the box below.
I would like to invite you to join Senior Dog Care Club, my Facebook group for senior dog parents. There you will find lots of helpful tips and advice, a place to ask questions and share experiences. I look forward to welcoming you.