How To Check Your Dogs For Lumps & Bumps

Our dog's are family, period! And we will do anything in our power to keep them safe and healthy. And while we ensure to feed them well and exercise them every day, we should also be doing regular health checks for any lumps and bumps that might arise. 

Remember, if you find a lump on your dog, it's very unlikely to be anything sinister, but it's always wise to do these checks regardless and get any lump checked.

Different Types of Lumps

Abscesses - pus filled swellings caused by infection.

Cysts - harmless, fluid filled pockets that often appear quickly, feel soft, and change size and shape over time.

Haematomas - blood filled swellings, usually caused by an injury or sometimes (much more rarely) a clotting problem.

Skin tags - soft, skin lumps that look similar to warts, usually attached to the body by a small stalk and grow larger over time.

Warts - knobbly, uneven, pink/white coloured lumps that are often slow growing and have hair coming from them.

Benign tumours - despite being a type of tumour (a group of cells growing out of control), benign tumours are slow growing and don’t spread to the rest of the body. Benign tumours don’t usually cause problems unless they get in the way of other body parts, cause irritation or become infected. The most common benign tumours in dogs include:

  • Lipomas - fatty skin lumps that often start very soft and become firmer as they grow. Lipomas are usually slow growing, but can become very large.
  • Histiocytomas - histiocytomas are a common in young dogs. They tend to be red, round and angry looking, come up very quickly, but then disappear after a few weeks.

Malignant tumours - malignant tumours are cancerous growths that often grow quickly and spread to other parts of the body. Common malignant skin lumps in dogs include:

  • Mast Cell Tumours - a skin tumour that often grows quickly and spreads to other parts of the body. Mast cell tumours vary in appearance and often grow and shrink in size.
  • Squamous Cell Carcinomas - a type of skin cancer most common on the ears, nose, mouth, toes, scrotum and anus.
  • Melanomas - a very dark (often black) skin lump common on the face, body, feet and scrotum.

*source: PDSA

Checking and Monitoring

It's wise to check your dog regularly for any new lumps. You'll need to feel instead of just looking, especially if your dog has thick fur. 

  • Use gentle pressure
  • Run your hands over their: back, chest, belly, legs, wait, arm puts, and head
  • Make sure to work your fingers under then fur and over the skin

Should you find a lump or swelling, take a photo, make a note of how big it is (use a ruler or compare it to a coin) and get in contact with your vet. Every lump should be checked, even if your dog already has some.

If your vet has asked you to monitor a lump, take photographs and measure it every couple of weeks. It can also be helpful to make notes about the following:  

  • Its shape and size
  • Its texture (smooth or knobbly)
  • How hard/soft it is
  • Whether it’s causing pain or not
  • Whether it bleeds or weeps

Measure your dog’s lump(s) every couple of weeks and keep a record. If the lump changes, book a check-up appointment with your vet. 

 

Conclusion

We know how worrying it can be to find a lump on your dog but it’s important to remember that there are several different types, many of which won’t cause problems or can be easily treated. Always have new lumps checked by your vet, even if they look harmless and especially if they have appeared quickly or are causing problems.