If you happened to find a lump under your dog’s skin, you must have immediately thought of the worst. Although it may seem like it must be something vile and you already started to picture your dog in chemotherapy, rest assured that more than half of these cysts turn out to be perfectly benign. However, this lump could be a malign, early form of tumor or cancer.
Therefore, it is imperative that you go and see a vet, as there is no way of knowing what it could be without a histopathological analysis. Do not be frightened by the sound of this word, as usually, this comprises of a needle biopsy, a simple biopsy done by a needle, without an anesthesia. The cells are then sent off to further analysis. Only when the vet specialized in pathology checks these cells can it actually be certain without any doubt what the nature of this lump is.
Most frequently, the lump in question it is something that is called a Lipoma. This is by far a most frequent lump that vets locate on dogs.
If the lump in question is soft and moveable, they don’t hurt when touched, and perhaps there are more than one of these lumps on various parts of the dog’s body, it very well might be a Lipoma. They are mostly present just under the skin, but occasionally, they are attached to deep connective tissues, that is, between muscles.
A lipoma is usually benign and does not invade other cells, but may occur in greater numbers. That is because essentially it is just a fat deposit, a lump of fat. In these cases, if they remain the same size and do not cause any harm to any organ (for instance, if they obstruct breathing or clot lymph nodes), they are left alone, without any surgical intervention needed. However, if they seem to grow rapidly into huge bumps of fat, as then they may obstruct some processes of the organism, or found in sensitive areas, then they are surgically removed.
An invasive lipoma is a reason you need to do a thorough check up any time you discover a lump on your dog’s body. Keep track of all changes on your dog’s body because if you did a biopsy of two, three or four lumps and they turned out to be perfectly safe, that does not have to be the case with the fifth one. Invasive lipoma is a reddened, rapidly growing mass, usually detected growing on the gums. In this case, a surgical intervention is needed as soon as possible.
Sebaceous cysts, even though they may sound as something dangerous, are just clotted oil glands in the skin. These cysts are usually lumps of dead cells, even sweat or clear fluid. Usually, there is no need for concern, as they often pop on their own and disappear without a trace. After that, they rarely reappear on that spot again.
However, in some cases, they may become chronically irritated or infected. In this case, they should be surgically removed and a biopsy should be done, in order to determine the nature of the cyst. They are mostly benign, and some breeds of dog may be predisposed to have sebaceous cysts (for instance, Cocker Spaniels)
Other non-cancerous lumps
There are several other lumps that you may encounter under your dog’s skin – cysts, hematomas (blood clots), infected hair follicles, warts, even ticks –and that may seem as onsets of tumors or cancer. Consult your vet to properly deal with these conditions.
Cancer is indeed a more severe condition, but cancer can be malign or benign as well, and one cancerous condition can even combine properties that malign and benign. Benign lumps tend to stay in one area, that is, they do not metastasize and corrupt other cells and tissues. They can, however, grow to be really big, and in that case, they need to be surgically removed if possible.
Cancerous lumps and tumors that may be in the form of a lump are the following:
- Mammary gland tumor – A mammary gland is a gland that produces milk. Symptoms of this tumor may be:
- A single, or several masses in the mammary glands, lumps that grow gradually
- External loss of tissue mass on the surface of the skin over the mammary tissue.
- If the mass moves, it may be that this tumor is benign, opposed to a mass fixed to skin or body wall, which implies the tumor is malign, or possibly cancer
- Cutaneous Lymphosarcoma -Physical symptoms of this cancer are:
- External symptoms – enlarged lymph nodes that do not hurt
- Internal symptoms – swollen spleen and liver
Highly dangerous and hard to detect as dogs do not show any alarming signs of being ill on its onset. This is a most common tumor in dogs, usually of lymph nodes, spleen and bone marrow, but can attack other tissue.
Dogs between 6-9 of age are usually affected, and following breeds are more prone to develop it – Bull Mastiffs, Basset Hounds, Saint Bernards, Scottish Terriers, Airedales and Bulldogs, and more rarely Pomeranians and Dachshunds.
- Fibrosarcoma – A tumor found in the connective tissue of the skin. The lump is under the surface of the skin, found mostly on limbs, but can be found on trunk as well. This tumor affects mostly large-breed, middle-aged and old dogs.
- Malignant melanoma – Can be found anywhere on the surface of the body, but mostly in the mouth area. Its shape and form can variate, but usually, it is a solitary tumor, from a quarter of an inch to several inches big. It may gray, brown or black, but may be colorless, as well. It is usually hairless and may become ulcerated.