Authored by: Dr. Lindsey, DVM
So you find a lump on your dog or cat, what could it be? What should you do next? Is it serious? These are all common questions I get from pet owners. Lumps can be quite worrisome. They come in all shapes, sizes, and consistencies. Pets can get lumps at any age. Just because your pet has a lump doesn’t mean it’s automatically serious.
First, it’s important to do regular skin checks on your pet monthly. They will like the extra pets and rubs, and you can check for any lumps. If you find a lump, make a note of where it is so you can keep tabs on it. It can be beneficial to take a picture of it since lumps can change over time. Also, keep track of the
size of the lump as this can be helpful to your veterinarian.
Next, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to have the lump checked out. Since it can take several weeks to get in with veterinarians sometimes, monitor the lump’s size and shape weekly or every other week. If your pet is bothered by the lump, you may want to try to get in with a vet as soon
as possible. The veterinarian may want to do some tests on the lump such as a fine needle aspirate. A fine needle aspirate is where the veterinarian will put a needle into the lump and get cells out of it to look at under the microscope.
Sometimes the veterinarian will want to send the microscope slide with the cells on it to a lab where a specialist will look at it under the microscope. A fine needle aspirate is a good first step, but your veterinarian may recommend a larger piece of the tissue needed for a diagnosis. If this is the case, the veterinarian may recommend either taking a larger biopsy with a scalpel blade or they may
recommend removal of the whole mass to have it sent to the lab specialist. This is more invasive than the fine needle aspirate and the pet will likely need anesthesia.
There are so many different types of lumps that I won’t go into them today, however, remember that not all lumps are serious. Once the veterinarian diagnoses what the lump is, they can recommend treatment options. Many lumps may be able to just be monitored for any changes in size and shape. In general, we veterinarians don’t like lumps that grow quickly so early detection and therefore early treatment is the key to a positive outcome.
Even if a lump is diagnosed as serious, pets can have great outcomes with early diagnosis and treatment.
Dr. Lindsey graduated from Colorado State University in 2009 and works in general practice, shelter medicine, and more recently as a civilian contractor veterinarian for the Army. She is also certified in acupuncture and resides in Palm Springs, CA.