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What is That Lump or Bump on My Dog?

Reviewed by Dr. Bill Saxon DVM, DACVIM, DACVECC on Wednesday, June 17, 2015
Posted January 26, 2015 in Dog Diseases & Conditions A-Z

Dog scratching himself

From supermodel Cindy Crawford with her signature beauty mark on her face to a little poodle with a mole on her ear, plenty of people and lots of dogs have skin lumps and bumps. If your dog has warts, moles or beauty marks, how do you know which ones are nothing to worry about and which ones require attention?

Your dog can develop bumps from infection or allergies that are benign or harmless. But he can also develop permanent, abnormal growths of skin cells or tumors. In fact, according to Merck Manuals, tumors affecting the skin or the tissue just under the skin are the most commonly seen tumors in dogs. Luckily, the majority of skin tumors in dogs are benign, but you still need to be vigilant since early detection of the malignant ones is always best when it comes to treatment and a cure.

How can I spot abnormal lumps and bumps?
First, how obvious the appearance of any new growth on your dog’s skin is will be pretty dependent on your dog and his haircoat. If your dog starts licking or scratching at a new lesion, that will draw your attention to it. And if you have a short-coated dog a good look all over (remember ears, lips, gums, arm pits, groin and toes) is going to be pretty easy and should be part of your normal routine. But if you have a shaggy dog with long or thick hair, a thorough dermatological exam is going to be much harder. In those cases, examining the skin as the hair parts while you are brushing it will help you to see down to the skin itself. You can also feel for bumps. Going slowly and meticulously over your dog with a light touch of your fingertips can reveal surprisingly small growths.

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Mike has more than 35 years of experience in companion animal veterinary practice and is a valued member of IDEXX’s Pet Health Network team since 2013.