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

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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 may be nothing to worry about or it may be something that you should be concerned about. 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.

Here are a couple possibilities of what your veterinarian may do:

  • Complete exam. Your vet will likely perform a complete examination looking at your dog’s eyes, ears, look in the mouth, listen to the heart, and feel the abdomen.
  • Examine the skin mass. Your veterinarian will evaluate the skin mass noting the characteristics described above including size, shape, depth, consistency, location, color and more.  They will also feel your dog all over to see if there are additional bumps.
  • Provide recommendations. Based on the characteristics and location of the tumor, your vet will offer recommendations as to the best approach to your dog’s hard skin bump.  Recommendations may blood work, urinalysis, tissue samples to evaluate the mass, and/or surgical removal of the mass:
    • Assess general health with blood work and urine. Laboratory work including a Complete Blood Count (CBC), Biochemical Profile (sometimes call the blood chemistry), and urinalysis can help evaluate overall health and look for common underlying problems such as infections, anemia, kidney disease, liver problems, diabetes and more.

Additional tests to evaluate the lump may include:

  • Fine needle aspirate (FNA). This procedure involves placing a small needle into the mass and aspirating back cells with a syringe. The cells are placed on the slide that is allowed to dry, stained and examined under a microscope. The cells are evaluated by looking for abnormal cells that can be a sign of cancer.
  • Biopsy. A biopsy is a procedure to obtain a larger sample of a mass for microscopic analysis. A bigger sample is often a better sample. This procedure most often requires general anesthesia.
  • Chest radiograph (x-ray).  An x-ray may be recommended if your dog is showing respiratory symptoms such as trouble breathing or coughing or there is concern that a tumor could be cancerous with possible spread to the lungs.
  • Mass removal. The procedure of a lump removal is also called “lumpectomy”. Removing a mass most often requires general anesthesia.
  • Histopathology.  After obtaining a sample of the tumor or removing the tumor, a sample is sent for additional testing at a laboratory to determine the presence or absence of disease. If the laboratory determines the sample is abnormal, they will identify the type and severity of the disease.

We hope this article helps you better understand what different lumps and bumps on your dog’s skin are, when to see your veterinarian, and what your veterinarian may do to help determine the type of lump.

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