If you encounter a lump beneath the surface of your dog's skin, you may be worried or upset. Most common in older dogs, subcutaneous lumps may be large or small and always should be examined by a qualified veterinary professional. Though troubling when encountered, most lumps are benign in nature.
Types of Lumps
The most commonly diagnosed lump is a lipoma, a noncancerous fatty tumor that is round or oval in shape and moves freely beneath the skin. Though not typically harmful, it can cause discomfort if it develops in a sensitive area. Infiltrative lipomas are an aggressive form of lipoma that require surgical removal, according to PetMD. Sebaceous glands in your dog's skin can become clogged with oil or hair to create sebaceous adenomas. Other lumps that may occur include warts and hematomas, or blood blisters.
When visiting the veterinarian for a diagnosis, be prepared to answer questions about your dog's eating habits, behavior and the lump itself. The veterinarian will examine the lump and perform a series of diagnostic tests for analysis. A needle aspiration, microscopic evaluation of the cells and biopsy of the tissue will help your vet determine what kind of lump is present, and how it can be treated, according to the Pet Health Network. In the event that a tumor or mass is diagnosed as malignant, a CT scan can help determine if cancer has metastasized to different areas of the body.
Treating the Lump
Depending upon which kind of lump is present and the age of your dog, your veterinarian may recommend surgical intervention, or may do nothing. If the lump is a small benign lipoma, removal won't be necessary. If the lipoma is large, however, or if it is in a spot that irritates your dog, surgical removal may keep him comfortable. If cancer is present, the veterinarian may suggest chemotherapy once the primary mass has been removed, according to the website PetMD. Radiation therapy may be employed for certain types of invasive tumors and is utilized along with surgical removal of the tumor.
If your dog is diagnosed with lipomas, he may not need surgery, but you will want to keep careful watch over the mass to document any changes or growth. PetMD recommends a monthly check of your dog's body to find any potential differences or new lumps. If your dog is recovering from cancer, any new lump should be brought to the attention of the veterinarian, to rule out the further spread of the disease.