Finding a lump on your pet can be scary. All lumps should be checked by a veterinarian, especially if your pet acts lethargic, seems to be in pain, has a drastic change in habits, or keeps licking or rubbing the lump. Your vet will assess the location, size, firmness, duration, and may use a needle to aspirate the lump and examine the cells under a microscope. Take a look at these frequently asked questions and some photos to see if you have cause for concern.
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When used with the words polyp or tumor, the term "pedunculated" means "a growth on a small stalk." This can be anything from a small skin tag to a larger growth anywhere on the body. These usually benign lumps can often be easily removed. However, there are some that can cause problems for your pet.
Some types of pedunculated polyps or tumors can grow inside the body. They run the risk of becoming strangulated (or twisted) and cut off from the blood supply of the body. This can cause cellular death, internal infections, and other problems within your pet's body. Your vet can diagnose a pedunculated polyp or tumor, to determine if any treatment is needed.
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A histiocytoma is a benign skin tumor usually seen on younger dogs, often three years old or under. This type of skin tumor usually has a bright red button-like appearance and can appear overnight. On most dogs, they are most often found on the head, neck, ears, and front limbs (though they can be present in other places).
Histiocytomas tend to be less than 2.5 cm in diameter. They rarely cause pain and often spontaneously disappear without treatment in 1-2 months. Based on the location of the histiocytoma, a dog may not even be aware of the tumor. It is important to prevent your dog from rubbing, licking, scratching, or biting the tumor. This will help prevent inflammation, infection, and bleeding. If you notice one on your dog, take note (and photos) of its location, size, and color for your vet. Work with your vet to set a course of action, if necessary.
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Benign fatty tumors called lipomas are one of the most common types of lumps found on pets, especially older dogs and overweight females. Additionally, certain dog breeds may be especially prone to developing lipomas, including Doberman pinschers, schnauzers (miniatures), Labrador retrievers, and mixed breeds. They can also appear in cats and horses, but not as often as in dogs.
Usually, lipomas are found just under the skin, but they can be locally invasive, meaning they have grown together with muscle or connective tissue. Most vets will perform a needle aspiration to determine and confirm that the lump is a lipoma. Once confirmed, many vets will use a "watch and wait" approach to treatment, continuing to check the lipoma at regular intervals and decide if it needs to be removed. If it is a particularly large lump, especially if it is located under a limb or in another location that will interfere with movement or function, the vet will likely choose to surgically remove it sooner rather than later.
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Tips for a Productive Vet Visit
If you are taking your pet to the vet for a suspicious lump or bump, it is best to be prepared ahead of time to have a productive vet visit. Your vet will likely want to know some basic information about the lump.
- When did you first notice the lump? Did it seem to appear suddenly?
- What was the initial shape, color, and size, and if any of these details have changed since the first discovery?
- Have there been any significant changes to your animal's behavior, appetite, or energy recently (or upon noticing the bump)?
When you first discover a lump or bump, it can be helpful to take a photo of it (along with a ruler or other measurement reference point like a fingertip). Share the photo with the vet. This can be one way to easily monitor the lump to see if the size and shape are changing.