I Found a Hard Lump on My Dog — What is It?

Suddenly feeling a lump while petting or grooming your dog can be quite the surprise, likely causing dismay, if not outright shock.

A lump (also referred to as a mass, growth, bump, or tumor) can occur anywhere on the body and come in all shapes and sizes. Some hard lumps on dogs can be benign and others malignant. In this article, will review the possible causes for hard lumps on dogs and offer recommendations for what you should do.

How to Describe a Lump on a Dog

There are many ways to describe a skin lump on a dog. The size, shape, texture, color, location, depth, and rate of growth are all characteristics that can help determine what kind of lump it is and what level of concern you should have.

Ways to describe a hard lump on a dog include:

These tumor characteristics can help guide your veterinarian as to what the hard lump on your dog may be. For example, many dogs get fatty tumors that can occur anywhere, but are soft and commonly attached to the body wall. Fatty tumors are rarely firm and are uncommon on certain locations, such as on top of the head. A large tumor that involves the mammary chain (breast) can be suggestive of cancer.

Another factor that is commonly considered when evaluating the cause and concern for a tumor is the age of the dog. Some hard lumps are more common in young dogs such as Histiocytomas. While young dogs (under three years of age) are more likely to get histiocytomas (especially on the face and extremities), they can happen to dogs of any age in just about any location. Other types of tumors are more common in an older dog, such as mast cell tumors, lipomas, skin cancer tumors, and breast cancer.

What Is this Hard Lump on My Dog?

Most dog owners worry that a hard lump could be skin cancer. Skin cancer in dogs encompasses a broad category of tumors that includes any uncontrolled growth of cells of the skin or associated structures such as glands, hair follicles, and supportive tissues (fat and connective tissue). The skin is the most common site of cancer in dogs. Skin cancer frequently occurs in dogs between 6 to 14 years of age, but can occur at any age.

Some common tumors that appear in or on the skin in dogs include:

What Should You Do if You Find a Hard Lump on Dog?

If you find a hard lump on your dog, the best thing to do is to see your veterinarian to help you determine what it is. It is often impossible to positively diagnose the underlying type of tumor without laboratory testing. Your vet can make recommendations to guide you on treatment options.

Common Examinations and Recommendations

Additional Testing

Diagnosing the condition may require a variety of tests and exams, which can become costly. Pet insurance may be able to help. Click here to learn more.

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