Overview of Skin Tumors in Dogs
Skin growths are lumps of tissue that are within the skin or can be felt under the skin. Dogs can develop small bumps (papules) or larger bumps (nodules) on their skin. These lumps and bumps are fairly common occurrences, especially in the older dog.
Below is an overview of skin tumors and lumps in dogs followed by in-depth information about figuring out about benign vs. malignant tumors as well as the diagnosis and treatment of treating skin tumors.
Very often the word “lump” brings the word “cancer” to mind. However, there are many other causes of lumps. A skin growth or mass may be a malignant or benign tumor, an abscess, a cyst, a hematoma (blood-filled mass) or a reaction by the skin to an allergen (hives). Lumps are often benign accumulations of fat called lipomas. However, all lumps should be evaluated for the possibility of malignancy.
What to Watch For
Any new lump or bump should be evaluated right away, especially a lump that is rapidly growing, is warm or painful, is ulcerated or bleeding, is irregular in shape or is well attached to the tissues under the skin. Any of the above signs should prompt you to seek veterinary attention.
Diagnosis of Skin Tumors in Dogs
Your veterinarian may take a complete history. Expect to answer the following questions:
A complete physical exam will be done. Your veterinarian will pay particular attention to the appearance of the mass, whether it is hot or painful, whether it is within the skin or under the skin, if it is attached to underlying tissues and where it is located on the body. Additional tests may include:
Treatment of Skin Tumors in DOgs
Treatment depends on the cause of the mass. There is no specific treatment for all skin growths.
Give all medications as instructed and observe masses closely for growth, heat, redness and pain.
If the growth has been removed or biopsied, keep your dog confined to allow for healing. Observe the incision site closely for drainage, swelling, redness, heat or pain.
In-depth Information on Skin Tumors in Dogs
A skin mass or lump can be within the skin, in the tissues under the skin or attached to the skin and underlying tissues. Thus, any proliferation of cells, pocket of fluid or debris, or swelling of the dog’s tissues can cause a mass. The health impact depends on the severity of the cause of the growth and the success in treatment of the problem.
The most common causes of skin growth are tumors, malignant and benign, bruises, infections and other causes.
Malignant Dog Tumors
Malignant tumors are proliferations of abnormal cancerous cells that endanger the dog by either invading nearby tissues or spreading to other areas of the body (metastasis). There are too many types of skin tumors to list here, but some of the more common ones are: