Veterinary Viewpoint: Benign lumps and bumps

·4 min read

It’s not unusual for cats and dogs to develop some form of lump or bump as they age. Some will be benign and can easily be removed, while others may be more of a concern and will require a more extensive diagnosis and treatment plan.

Some lumps and bumps may form as scar tissue after an injury. If the scar tissue does not interfere with the pet’s use or lifestyle, the condition is generally left alone.

However, if the scar tissue impedes the animal’s movement or duties, treatments such as laser and shock wave therapy may prove useful in reducing the size of the scar.

Animals do get warts and cysts. These are benign bumps and may be removed surgically, especially if they irritate an area of the body. We recently had to surgically remove some warts that were rubbing on a working dog’s harness. Once removal is complete, healing might leave a minor scar, but the irritation will be gone.

Any persistent or fast-growing lump should always be examined and often biopsied, as serious tumors such as mast cell and malignant squamous cell carcinomas may appear similar to cysts and warts. A simple procedure called an aspiration can be performed in the office to determine the origin of the lump and its seriousness. The sample tissue or fluid is sent to a lab for analysis.

The majority of lumps and bumps are of little concern. However, if they continue to grow or are in a location that restricts movement or affects the overlying skin, they can cause irritation for your pet. Even if you suspect the lump is benign, it’s always good to know for certain, so that serious problems can be caught early.

Common types of lumps and bumps found in cats and dogs include:

Lipomas which are fatty lumps that generally sit just below the skin’s surface and are usually soft and pliable. They vary in size, but they can grow to be fairly large and can appear anywhere on the body. They should always be checked especially if they are fast growing.

Abscesses are injury sites that become a pus-filled lump. Animals can develop abscesses as the result of foreign bodies under the skin, bites, or from other forms of trauma. These areas are very painful and hot to the touch. Abscesses should be treated by your veterinarian so that they do not become systemic and cause secondary complications.

Hives also form multiple lumps that are usually caused by an allergic reaction to food, insect bites, or some form of contact allergen. Since cats and dogs are covered with hair and fur, they may not be visible but will be able to be felt. Sometimes hives appear in more obvious areas such as the face, ears, nose, and between the toes. If they condition does not clear up in a few hours, contact your veterinarian since the condition may progress into anaphylactic shock which can affect their breathing.

Cysts are common on cats and dogs. They are formed when the sebaceous gland that produces oil to maintain your pet’s hair or fur gets clogged. This blocked gland caused small swellings under the skin that can become infected. Most cysts will burst and heal on their own, but some may need to be drained or surgically removed.

Adenomas of the Perianal Gland are common in dogs, male dogs being most susceptible, although females can also be affected. These lumps are usually slow growing and appear next to the skin of the anus. In males, castration and removal of the mass is the standard treatment.

Skin tags and warts rarely cause problems other than cosmetic unless they are in an area where they are irritated easily such as for grooming. When necessary, treatment usually involves removal.

Granulomas are raised red bumps that may be topped by a crusty formation. They can be found under the skin feel firm to the touch. These should always be checked as they look like aggressive tumors.

Haemangiomas are benign tumors most often affecting dogs by interfering with the blood vessels and soft tissues. These tumors require a biopsy to rule out the possibility of Haemangiosarcomas a very aggressive cancer that has a high mortality rate.

Parasites can also cause lumps. Ticks leave behind lumps when they are removed. Bees and other insects can also cause bumps.

To be safe, any lump or bump that appears on your pet should always be examined.

Dr. Joanna Bronson of Bronson Veterinary Services, located at 452 W. Central Road, Coldwater. Contact her at (517) 369-2161 or visit www.bronsonvetservices.vetstreet.com.

Dr. Joanna Bronson
Dr. Joanna Bronson

This article originally appeared on The Daily Reporter: Opinion