Noticing a skin lump on your pet is not always cause for alarm, however it is important to be aware that while some masses are harmless, some may be more serious.
What can a skin mass be?
- Benign mass: These are harmless, unless they grow very big and compress important structures or break the skin and cause bleeding. These can include lipomas (fatty masses) or sebaceous gland cysts, both of which usually occur in older dogs. They should be checked by a vet to make sure that they are benign, as some tumors can appear similar.
- Inflammatory lesions: The most common of these are abscesses. Cats that live outdoors frequently get these from fighting with other cats. They are very painful and can make your pet very sick.
- Tumors: Several cancerous tumors can develop in the skin. They most often occur in older pets, but can also occur in young pets. Many cases need surgery to remove the tumor and prevent it from spreading. Your vet will likely want to perform a biopsy of the mass before making any recommendations.
Abscesses in a pet that is well otherwise are fairly easy to treat and involve minor surgery to allow drainage of the pus inside, followed up with antibiotics. Other masses are usually investigated first by examining the pet and doing a biopsy. The easiest biopsy method is with a small needle, which is simple but does not always provide a diagnosis. More invasive methods of biopsy under sedation or anesthesia may be needed for some tumors. Once your vet has found out what the mass is, he or she will recommend further treatment.
So if you see a lump, don’t panic! Just make sure your pet gets a check-up so that any malignant tumors can be caught early.
Did you find any suspicious looking lumps on a different part of your pets body? How did it look and what did your vet recommend? Share your pet's personal experience with us.