All Bumps on Dog Skin do not mean Cancer

By Tess Thompson

While moving your hand over your dog’s coat, you might occasionally feel a bump under the skin. Chances are that if you have been able to locate one, a veterinarian will be able to find a few more since he is skilled and trained in doing so. Dog skin problems are as common an occurrence as feline acne and feline hair loss. Even though these conditions are common, they should not be treated carelessly. Such problems should not be considered as minor conditions of pet hair and coat disorders like canine and cat dandruff .

Spotting a bump on your dog need not be a cause of panic. In most cases, bumps turn out to be harmless mass of fatty tissue. Such non-cancerous lumps like cysts, warts, infected hair follicles and blood-filled swellings can cause discomfort to the dog, but they are localized skin problems that have little impact on the overall health of the dog.

There are many reasons why these bumps appear on dog skin. Sebaceous cysts form due to plugged oil glands under the skin. Cysts that are a combination of dead cells, sweat or clear fluid often disappear on their own.

Warts are benign growths caused by a certain virus. These are usually seen in small dogs and normally appear on lips, tongue, eyelids and the inner lining of the mouth. Long lasting cysts that develop slowly and cause an adequate amount of irritation may need to be surgically removed.

Lipomas are fatty tissue tumors that are mostly benign and harmless. They can increase in size and cause discomfort to your pet, which is why they may also need to be surgically removed.

Other tumors that are normally benign include the following:

  • Granulomas are composed of granulation tissue and appear as multiple nodules of varying size. These tumors generally appear as a reaction to injury, inflammation or infection and are the body’s natural reaction to foreign substances.
  • Fibromas are an uncommon benign tumor of a solitary polyp type nodule. They usually occur on legs, groin, or sides.
  • Follicular cysts are the most common of all the cysts. They usually develop on the head, neck and trunk. The characteristics are solitary, round, appear above or just beneath the skin, may have a bluish color, and are full of thick, yellowish gray fluid.
  • Epidermal inclusion cysts are also the body’s reaction to infection or allergy. These cysts are very small, up to 2 inch diameter nodules, and often contain unusual amount of thick, greasy fluid. Since many tumors are benign does not mean that a tumor can be neglected. There are types of cancerous tumors that pet owners should be aware of:
  • Squamous cell carcinomas are a common malignant tumor. They are mostly seen in dogs that are exposed to sun or have long lasting irritations in the skin. The bumps that this cancer causes take the shape of a cauliflower or crusted ulcers.
  • Basal cell tumors are most often benign but can be diagnosed as malignant. These are single nodules filled with fluid and can be seen in the head, neck and shoulders of adult dogs.
  • Fibrosarcomas are fast growing, invasive, and firm tumors, which can ulcerate. These tend to occur at vaccination or injection sites.
  • Epitheliotropic lymphomas are a rare carcinoma of T lymphocytes and are generally diagnosed in older dogs. They take varied shapes - itchy and scaly redness, ulcers with loss of pigment, single or multiple nodules or oral ulcers.
  • Hemangiosarcomas are malignant and invasive tumors that have reddish black nodules and normally appear on chest or abdomen of the dog.
  • Histiocytosis is a condition of cancerous tumors that can cause extensive hair loss. They have the capacity to affect the entire body system of the dog.

All bumps should be investigated as there is always a possibility that a harmless looking bump or eruption may be cancerous. Careful veterinarians aspirate the tumor fluid or remove a piece of tissue of any tumor they come across. A pathological examination eliminates any doubt whatsoever regarding malignancy.

Ideally, any tumor should be removed surgically. However, if surgery is not an option that you would like to consider for a benign tumor, then a strict watch needs to be kept on the progress of the tumor and action needs to be taken on first sign of change.


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