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A Guide To Understanding the Lumps and Bumps On Your Dog

Dogs get lumps and bumps, it happens. They rough house or get injured while playing a sport. They get older, their body changes. It’s easy to not think much about a little bump or lump under the skin. But do you know how to tell if the lump is something you should be concerned about? Some owners wait too long to take their dog to the vet, which can make matters worse and sometimes cost them their dog’s life.

Daily Checks

The number one problem with lumps and bumps on a dog is that many owners are not even aware that they are there. This is especially true on long haired breeds, where you cannot necessarily see something under the skin. Your daily grooming regime is a great time to check your dog’s body for anything unusual or suspect. If you take your dog to the groomer’s, you still need to be feeling their body and checking for anything that the groomer may have missed. Nobody knows your dog better than you; it’s your responsibility to keep them healthy.

Common Lumps & Bumps

The following is a list of common ailments than cause lumps on your dog to appear, in ascending order of seriousness. Keep in mind, however, that the level of discomfort or seriousness is going to vary from dog to dog and situation to situation.

  • Knots in the muscle area. Though, not commonly seen, dogs can get muscle knots just like humans.
  • Allergic Reaction. Bright, red bumps accompanied by itchy, dry, flaky skin is usually a sign of some type of allergy, either food or environmental.
  • Skin Tags & Moles. Older dogs often get skin tags and moles that get bigger and bigger, forming rather large bumps on the dogs skin.
  • Bumps from trauma. If you see your dog sustain an injury to a paw, leg, or face, sometimes swelling can happen, causing a bump to form (like when you hit your head and you get a lump).
  • Seroma. A clear fluid build-up after a tissue-removal surgery; common after spays.
  • Benign Tumors. Sometimes called a “fatty tumor.” As dog’s age, they develop fat deposits that feel like lumps under the surface of the skin. They are usually somewhat soft and movable.
  • Malignant Tumor. A Cancerous tumor. These usually feel harder than benign and are not moveable.  Only a biopsy can tell you for sure if it is malignant or not.
Early detection and removal of lumps can lengthen your dog's life.
Early detection and removal of lumps can lengthen your dog’s life.

So When Should You Go To The Vet?

As you can see, there are really no “safe” lumps. Unless it goes away after a day or two, you should have any lump or bump found on your dog checked out by a vet as soon as possible. An exception might be if you know your dog has skin tags already, and another one is forming, it might be safe to just wait a few weeks. Follow your gut, if you think you need to get it check out, get it checked out.

If it looks like your dog may have allergies, you can try limiting their diet or restricting their environment exposure (no grass for example). However, playing the guessing game is going to take you a lot longer and may end up costing you more money in food switching that the vet and allergy test would have. Plus, living with allergies is no fun so your dog will thank you for a quick solution.

Any type of lump or bump under the skin should be check by a professional who has the knowledge and resources to know for sure if anything is wrong. Remember, early detection of cancer may mean the difference between years and weeks to your dog’s life span.

About the Author

Based in Tustin, Calif., animal lover Kristina N. Lotz is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA) and works as a full time trainer. She also owns her own custom pet products company, A Fairytail House, where she makes personalized collars, leashes, beds, keepsake pillows and blankets, and anything else your imagine can think up. In her spare time, she trains and competes in herding, agility, obedience, rally, and conformation with her Shetland Sheepdogs.


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Written by Kristina Lotz
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