There are many different types of lumps that a dog can develop, most are benign (meaning non-cancerous) but a small proportion of lumps can be cancerous.
Once you have noticed a lump on your dog, it is important to take note of how it looks.
Questions to ask include:
- Is it hairless?
- Is there a colour change to the skin?
- Is it irregular or rounded?
- Does it hurt your dog if you touch it?
But the only way to find out for sure what sort of lump your dog has is by a visit to the vet.
At the clinic, your vet may ask questions about the lump and how long you have noticed it for.
Then, depending on where the lump is, they may take what is called a fine needle aspirate. This is a needle sample of the cells that make up the lump. These are looked at under the microscope to determine what sort of cells they are.
Sometimes this is diagnostic enough to say if the lump is benign or not and helps to determine what to do - whether that is to monitor the lump for any changes or for surgery to remove it.
If the needle aspirate is not diagnostic or if the lump is in an area where it is not safe to place a needle, a biopsy under sedation may be performed - a small segment of the lump is taken for further testing at a lab. When a lump is removed it will likely be sent for further testing to ensure all the cells have been taken and therefore reducing the chance it will grow back.
It is important to get a vet to check any lump on your dog as soon as possible as early intervention usually allows for the best outcome.