Lumps and Bumps…Should I be concerned?

Have you ever found a lump or bump on your dog or cat?  Did you get concerned and wonder if you should bring him or her into your vet to have them evaluate it?  There are many causes for lumps and bumps on your pet; some common causes include fat, tumors (benign and malignant or cancerous), cysts, infection (abscess), allergic reactions, and swelling from injury or hernia.  Here are a few tips on when you should bring them in sooner rather than later to have it looked at:

  • Is it fast growing?               
    • Have you noticed the lump or bump growing over the past month? If so, it is growing rapidly and should be checked.
  • Is it painful?
    • Does your dog or cat seem painful when they move or you touch the lump or bump? If so, it should be checked.
  • Is there drainage from it?
    • This may be a sign of an infection or inflammation. Your veterinarian should check this sooner, rather than later. Drainage can look bright red (blood), yellow-green (puss), straw-colored (serum), or a combination of these.
  • Does it grow in size and then shrink?
    • This is common of a type of tumor called a mast cell tumor. These tumors release histamine, which cause them to swell and, possibly, itch.  If you have concerns about your dog or cat possibly having one of these, it should be checked out by your veterinarian.

Once your vet has looked at the lump or bump, there are a few things they can do to try to get a better idea of what the lump or bump may be.  Most commonly, a fine needle aspirate (FNA) will be performed to try to collect some cells from the mass to look at it under the microscope.  Once evaluated, it may give them an answer as to whether or not you should be concerned about the mass.  If the cells look like they may be cancerous, your vet may recommend a biopsy or to have it surgically removed.

But remember, even if a lump or bump doesn’t fit this criteria, if you are concerned, please bring them in to be seen by your veterinarian!

By: Veterinary Intern – Alex Bush