A lump under a dog’s skin doesn’t mean a dog has cancer and you shouldn’t be alarmed if you find your pet has developed one. However, lumps under the skin aren’t always benign, so it’s important to regularly check your dog, and if you find a lump have it tested.
According to the National Canine Cancer Foundation, 3 out of every 10 dogs will develop cancer at some point in their lifetimes. It may surprise you to know that approximately 50 percent of all dogs that die after they’re 10 years old will pass away as a result of some form of dog cancer.
If a dog is lucky enough to have an owner who is vigilant about its health, a dog receiving early cancer treatment can be cured or have years added to its life.
As a responsible dog owner, you should check your dog’s skin every few weeks for any growths. If you find one, keep close watch on it for the next week or two and see if it increases in size. It could be something as simple as an insect bite which will go away in a few days. If the lump persists or grows larger, make an appointment with your veterinarian. Any lump that seems to have suddenly appeared overnight and grown rapidly should be checked to be safe.
The vet will examine your dog, checking the size of the lump and testing to see if it causes your dog any pain. The vet will remove some of the cells in the lump using a small needle so as not to hurt the dog. The purpose of this procedure is to see if any cancerous cells are visible. However, the needle aspiration is not always accurate so most vets will want to perform a biopsy on the lump to check for cancerous cells.
The vet will surgically remove a portion of the lump and the tissue surrounding it. It’s then sent to a lab for testing. The results will tell the vet whether the lump is just a fat deposit or whether it’s malignant. If it is malignant the vet will have to remove it.
If a dog has cancer, the surgical procedure it will undergo is not complicated. First, the dog is sedated, then the area around the lump is shaved and disinfected. The dog will be given anesthesia to keep it asleep and pain free while the surgery is performed.
The doctor will use a scalpel to remove the lump and all surrounding tissue. Blood vessels feeding the lump will be cauterized or tied off, and the lump is then removed. The incision is stitched up and covered with a bandage. Most dogs will have a cone placed around their neck to prevent them from licking and scratching the wound as it heals.
Cancer is more easily treated in dogs than it is in humans. Caring and loving your pet requires you to always be on the lookout for any lumps or masses under its skin that could indicate a serious problem. Never ignore a lump that is increasing in size and hope that it will go away with the passage of time.