Finding a lump on your puppy’s tummy can set off alarm bells. There are a lot of reasons for dogs in general to have lumps, but many of the more common reasons, such as the fatty cysts, or lipomas, that often occur in older dogs, are rare in puppies. There are a few causes, however, that are specific to puppies, most of which aren’t life-threatening. To be on the safe side, always consult your vet after detecting a lump on your furbaby.
The most common cause of lumps appearing on puppy bellies is an umbilical hernia. This type of lump appears on the abdomen in the spot where the umbilical cord was attached. Sometimes, after the umbilical cord is broken off, fatty tissue escapes through the opening and becomes trapped by the body wall. Small umbilical hernias about the size of the tip of your pinkie are nothing to worry about and can be repaired when the puppy is spayed or neutered. Larger hernias, however, carry the danger of the puppy’s intestines slipping through the opening and becoming twisted or strangled. Your puppy should be seen by a vet right away.
Hiatal hernias can happen in a dog of any age, although they commonly occur in puppies less than a year old. This type of hernia appears at the opening of the diaphragm when the dog’s stomach pushes through the opening. The cause is often hereditary, although trauma can cause it to occur. Other symptoms often occur with this type of hernia, including coughing, vomiting, loss of appetite, weight loss, shortness of breath and excessive salivation.
Abscesses, Bites and Stings
Other common and less worrisome reasons for bumps on your puppy include bug bites and stings. Sometimes, these become infected and form an abscess. Puppies can develop boils from sleeping in wet or dirty bedding. If the lump appears red, swollen or is painful to the touch, it might be infected and might require medication to treat the infection. A puppy with allergies also might develop hives that are noticeable on their bellies and other areas where the fur hasn't fully grown in.
Of course, the most upsetting possibility is that a lump turns out to be a tumor. Some tumors and cysts are benign, meaning that they don’t contain cancer. However, some lumps do turn out to be cancerous. Because the more common benign types of cysts, such as lipoma or histiocytoma, generally occur in older dogs, it’s important to have any tumor-like growth on a puppy or young adult dog examined by a veterinarian right away.
Jean Marie Bauhaus has been writing about a wide range of topics since 2000. Her articles have appeared on a number of popular websites, and she is also the author of two urban fantasy novels. She has a Bachelor of Science in social science from Rogers State University.