Finding lumps or bumps on our pets can be a worry. There are many reasons for them to appear. They may be small or large, soft or firm, covered in normal skin, or be bleeding. They may appear suddenly, grow slowly, or grow rapidly. Although the majority of lumps and bumps are harmless, it’s nearly impossible to tell if a lump is serious just by looking at it. Don’t ignore them, wait for them to get bigger or to change before you see a vet. Most lumps cause few problems for our pets, however it is possible they may be irritating, painful, or be a sign of serious illness. Some lumps can be life threatening if left untreated.
After an examination your vet may want to perform a test on any suspicious lumps. This may involve a relatively simple fine needle aspirate (FNA) to collect cells, or a biopsy (surgical removal of a part or the whole lump) to be sent to the lab for a diagnosis. Ultrasounds or x-rays are sometimes required to see how the lump forms under the skin, or if it has spread to other parts of the body, as with some cancers. What we see on the surface may be just the ‘tip of the iceberg’. Lumps and bumps can also involve organs or bones.
Once the diagnosis is made your vet will be able to give you an appropriate treatment plan and prognosis for your pet. Your pet’s health and wellbeing will be considered in all cases. Many lumps will simply need monitoring; others will require extensive surgery to remove large areas of tissue.
Occasionally some pets will need medical treatment (chemotherapy) after surgical removal of the lump. Veterinarians are now even able to make special titanium implants to replace bone tissue removed because of a lump (tumour).
Regardless of the cause, most lumps and bumps can be successfully managed, so check your pet regularly, and if you find a lump or bump, book an appointment with your vet.