Many pet owners have experienced (or will experience) the stress of discovering an unidentified lump or bump on their pet.  You may have already done so.  Often, it’s a completely surprising finding; noticed when petting your pet or after a trip to the groomer.  Either way, it can provide a great deal of anxiety not knowing whether your pet may have developed cancer.  There are several factors that can help to determine whether a lump or bump should be treated with more concern.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is the lump red and inflamed?
  • Does it bleed?
  • Has it grown rapidly or does it seem to shrink and grow?
  • Is it painful to the touch?

What should I do next?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, there could be more cause for concern.  However, the absence of these factors does not necessarily mean a lump is harmless.  A visit to your veterinarian is recommended to get you the peace of mind you need.  She will be able to provide you options to identify what the lump may be and whether it is something you should be worried about or not.  If necessary, she will may also be able to remove it entirely.

In addition, your vet will be able to measure the size of any lump or growth and map out multiple lumps in the medical record if there are multiple present.  This helps to track whether any of them are changing over time.  You can also do this yourself at home.  If you are looking for lumps and bumps, be sure to check in the mouth, around the anus and in the mammary tissue as these are some common places for more serious, cancerous masses to develop.  Your vet may also recommend blood testing, an x-ray or an ultrasound to look for possible spread of a cancerous mass.

And, if you do find a lump, the general rule is, the sooner you have it checked the better.  Once a cancer spreads (or “metastasizes”) it is much harder to treat or cure.  Removing a mass before it gets big reduces the chance of metastasis and makes the procedure easier and less painful for your pet.

Hopefully this post has helped to provide some guidance about what to do if and when your pet develops a new lump or bump.  If you still have questions, reach out to your family vet to schedule a consultation; regular visits are the key to a long and happy life.