Fatty Cysts in Dogs

Pet parents common ask questions about fatty cysts in dogs. Fatty Tumors, also known as lipomas or fatty cysts, are amongst the most common tumors that occur in dogs. Most fatty tumors are under the skin, in a space referred to as the subcutaneous space, which lies between the skin and muscle. The skin over the mass is generally normal in appearance.

Fatty tumors are generally soft although can be firm if they develop under deeper tissue layers. They can be movable or attached and are generally round in shape. Fatty tumors can vary in size but can grow to become very large. Some can be the size of an egg and others as big as a basketball. Some fatty tumors can be over 14 pounds in weight when surgically removed. Fatty tumors generally grow slowly. Dogs that tend to get one fatty tumor will tend to get more as they age.

Figure legend: Fatty cyst from a dog. This fatty cyst, also known as a fatty tumor or lipoma, was surgically removed from the body wall of an 8-year-old Labrador Retriever. This fatty cyst weighed 8 ½ pounds.

Fatty tumors are most common in middle-aged to older dogs. Fatty tumors can occur anywhere on the body but are most common on the chest and abdominal walls, legs, and armpits (axillae). They are more common in overweight dogs and occur about twice as often in female as compared to male dogs.  They can occur in any breed but are most common in Labrador Retrievers, cocker spaniels, dachshunds, Weimaraners, miniature schnauzers and Doberman pinschers. Lipomas can also occur in cats but are much less frequent.

How to Determine if the Mass on Your Dog is a Fatty Cyst

If your dog has a lump or mass, the best way to help determine the underlying cause is a fatty cyst to see your veterinarian. They have the experience to help you identify the type of tumor and provide recommendations for treatment or additional care. Your veterinarian may provide the following:

A complete examination. Your vet will look at your dog’s eyes, ears, listen to the heart and lungs, and feel the abdomen to evaluate the size and shape of the kidneys, spleen, intestines, bladder, and liver.

  • Examine the skin lump. Your vet will evaluate the skin mass noting the size, shape, depth, consistency, location, color, and more. They will also feel for additional lumps, which can be common in some dogs that develop fatty tumors. Most fatty tumors develop around the neck or over the body wall such as the rib cage or abdomen but can occur anywhere on the body.  The skin over the lump is generally completely normal without any sign of infection or pigmentation.
  • Provide recommendations. Based on the location of the tumor, size, ulcerations, and signs of infections, your vet will provide a recommendation as to the best approach to the fatty cyst.  They may recommend to evaluate the mass with a Fine needle aspirate (FNA), Biopsy, or recommend mass removal (often called “lumpectomy”).  Most times a fine needle aspiration can diagnose a fatty cyst on a dog.

Treatment of Fatty Cysts on Your Dog

No treatment is required for most fatty cysts. Fatty tumors are not malignant but can grow so large that they interfere with function or can break open and become infected. For example, they can occur in the armpit causing difficulty in a dogs ability to walk.  Some tumors can occur on the abdomen or chest way making it uncomfortable for a dog to lie down. Other tumors can become ulcerated and infected. In these cases, surgical removal is recommended to optimize comfort.

Figure legend: This fatty cyst was surgically removed and is sitting on the surgery table on the left. As you can see, it looks like a big ball of fat. This fatty cyst was removed from the right inguinal region in this 10-year-old Golden retriever. It was interfering with how this dog was walking and therefore was removed.

Other Types of Cysts

Some pet owners may confuse a fatty tumor with a sebaceous cyst. A sebaceous cyst is a small sac containing an accumulation of secretions produced by the sebaceous glands. They can appear as small bumps that break open and drain a thick white to yellow cheesy substance. Some pet owners may believe this cyst is “fatty” and refer to this as a fatty cyst. Sebaceous cysts are generally small – less than 1 inch in size. For more information – please read sebaceous cysts in dogs.

Other Causes of Large Bumps on Dogs

There are several additional causes of large bumps on dogs besides fatty tumors. Other large bumps in dogs may include:

Small Bumps on Your Dog

Some fatty tumors on dogs are small but many can grow to be very large. Learn more about What Small Bumps on Dogs Can Mean?

What Large Bumps on Dogs Can Mean

Large bumps on dogs are common and can be a concern to pet parents. A skin bump in dogs is also referred to as growth, mass, lump, or tumor. Sometimes large skin bumps are felt during routine grooming or petting at home or can also be found by groomers during bathing and grooming.

A large bump in a dog can be anything from a bruise, a benign mass, to a malignant tumor. We will give you some common causes for large bumps in dogs and provide suggestions to help you keep your dog healthy. The biggest concern of pet owners is that the large bump on a dog could be cancer.

Causes of Large Bumps on Dogs

What one person may consider large may be very different from another and may depend on the size of the dog. For example, a 3-inch mass on a 5-pound Chihuahua may be huge relative to the same mass on a 140-pound Mastiff dog. For the purpose of this article, a large bump on a dog is over a couple inches in size.  There are many causes for smaller bumps.

Below are some possible causes for large bumps on dogs:

  • Large scabs – A scab is a rough, dry crust that forms as a protective barrier over a healing cut, laceration, puncture or wound.  Some scabs are small but some can be quite large depending on the underlying cause of the wound. Often clipping hair to evaluate this area can help determine if the problem is a tumor or a healing wound. Learn more about home care of a laceration in dogs.
  • Abscess – An abscess can appear as a large lump. An abscess is a localized pocket of infection that contains pus. Abscesses are caused by bacteria, parasites, or foreign material under the skin and develop quickly. They will generally break open at some point and drain.  Your veterinarian may need to evaluate the lump, lance the abscess in some cases, and provide pain medications and antibiotics. The most common cause for an abscess is an infection caused by a bite wound.
  • Hematoma – A hematoma is a large bruise. Most often this is associated with some trauma such as hit by a car or other type of trauma. Bruising can also occur from abnormal bleeding disorders. Learn more about bruising and bleeding in dogs. Dogs can also get hematomas in their ear flaps from shaking their heads which can be secondary to an ear infection. For more information, please read aural hematomas in dogs.
  • Fatty mass – Fatty tumors, also called lipomas, are amongst the most common bumps that occur in dogs. Fatty tumors generally soft but can be firm if they are under a layer of muscle. They can be movable or attached. They vary in size but can become very big. For example, a Labrador retriever recently had a lipoma surgically removed that was attached to his right rib cage that weighed over 14 pounds and was a little bigger than a basketball. Fatty tumors are not malignant but can grow to become large and interfere with a function such as walking. Learn more about Fatty cysts in dogs.
  • Lymph nodes – Some skin lumps are lymph nodes that can be felt under the skin. A common spot for pet owners to feel large lymph nodes are under the chin around the jawline. These lymph nodes are the “submandibular” lymph nodes. There are different causes of lymph node enlargement that can include anything from local infections to cancer.
  • Benign mass – There are several types of benign skin masses that can become large in dogs.  Some are listed above such as abscesses or fatty tumors. It can be impossible to tell the difference between a benign and a malignant lump without additional testing.
  • Malignant tumor – There are skin tumors that can be malignant. Some can occur in certain areas such as the mammary chain which can be mammary gland tumors.  Tumors of the testicles can also occur.
  • Organ tumors – Tumors of the liver or spleen can occur but generally aren’t obvious by most pet owners. However, some pet owners notice when their dog lays on their side that the abdomen looks distended or appears abnormal. They may even feel an abnormal bump. For more information about a lump that can occur on the spleen or liver – go to Hemangiosarcoma in Dogs.

How to Determine the Cause of a Large Bumps on Dogs

If your dog has a large bump, the best way to help determine the underlying cause is to closely examine the bump. Many times shaving the hair around that area is a big help to allow you to examine the bump and surrounding area. This may be best done with the help of your veterinarian.  Your veterinarian may perform the following:

  • A complete exam. They will want to look at your dog’s eyes, ears, listen to the heart and lungs, and feel the abdomen.
  • Examine the skin bump. Your vet will evaluate the skin bump noting the size, shape, depth, consistency, location, color and more.
  • Provide recommendations. Based on the location of the tumor, size, any signs of infections, your vet will provide recommendations for the best approach to your dog’s skin mass.  They may recommend an additional test to evaluate the mass such as a fine needle aspirate (FNA), biopsy, or mass removal (lumpectomy”).

Common causes of large bumps on dogs include:

Small Lumps on Dogs

Some dogs may have small lumps. Common small tumors include Mast Cell Tumor, Melanomas, and Histiocytomas. Learn more about What Small Bumps on Dogs Can Mean?

Causes of Pulmonary Edema in Dogs

Cardiogenic causes include any of the diseases of the heart that allow the accumulation of fluid in the lungs. These are typically those that affect the workings of the left side of the heart, as it’s this side’s failure that’s inextricably intertwined with the accumulation of fluid in the lungs.

Consider these, several of its more common causes of cardiogenic pulmonary edema:

  •   Chronic valve disease (especially of the left atrioventricular or mitral valve)
  •   Dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs

The following comprise the most common of pulmonary edema’s non-cardiogenic causes:

  •   Cancer of the lungs
  •   Electrocution
  •   Head trauma
  •   Seizures
  •   Acute lung injury
  •   ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome)

What to Watch For

Dogs with pulmonary edema typically present with signs consistent with lung disease, including the following:

  • Coughing
  • Difficulty breathing (increased respiratory rate or effort)
  • Blue tongue and/or mucous membranes
  • Weakness
  • Collapse

Diagnosis of Pulmonary Edema in Dogs

Physical examination, including listening to the chest with a stethoscope (auscultation), is a necessary first step. Abnormal lung sounds consistent with pulmonary edema (wet, crackly sounds) are typically observed, though these can sometimes be obscured by the loudness of a heart murmur or other abnormal cardiac sound. If a cardiogenic cause is suspected, careful attention to heart sounds is crucial, though these may not always be present.

To confirm and definitively diagnose pulmonary edema, chest x-rays are typically taken. These will elucidate any areas of fluid accumulation within the lungs.

Abnormalities in the heart that may be related to the pulmonary edema’s underlying causes may or may not be visible on chest X-rays. For this reason, an echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart) is strongly recommended for pets suspected of suffering from a cardiogenic cause.

Standard tests for all pulmonary edema patients also includes a CBC, blood chemistry screen and urinalysis.

Treatment of Pulmonary Edema in Dogs

Treatment of pets with pulmonary edema depends to a large extent on its cause, as treatment of any underlying disease is the primary approach in all cases. Nonetheless, there is a set approach to treatment that involves a three-pronged strategy:

  • Patient stabilization: Most pulmonary patients arrive in distress. They are typically treated with oxygen therapy and drugs to help them relax so they can properly oxygenate their tissues.
  • Resolution of the edema: Treatment with diuretics and other drugs can help remove the fluid from the lungs (temporarily, at least).
  • Treat the underlying cause: This three-pronged approach always culminates in treating the causative disease. Without this step, there can be no expectation of long-term survival.

When the cause of pulmonary edema cannot be isolated, or when it’s deemed untreatable, there are nonetheless some well-established methods to help control the accumulation of fluid in the lung tissue. Diuretics are the mainstay of treatment in these cases, as are other drugs to help control other issues associated with the underlying disease.

For example, most cardiac diseases in pets are considered manageable but not curable. These chronic illnesses may require long-term therapy with diuretic drugs along with any additional drugs to control the heart disease itself.

Veterinary Cost

The veterinary cost of pulmonary edema varies depending on the cost of the underlying disease’s treatment. In general, however, treatment of an acute event (such as trauma) is less expensive than the long-term treatment of cardiac diseases, which may cost hundreds of dollars a month in medications alone.

Prevention of Pulmonary Edema in Dogs

As many of its underlying causes are either inherited or traumatic, pulmonary edema is generally not considered a preventable condition. Nonetheless, many dogs with underlying heart diseases can be successfully managed so that their conditions never progress to pulmonary edema (except, perhaps, in their very last stages).

References for of Pulmonary Edema in Dogs

  • Goodwin JK, Strickland KN. The emergency management of dogs and cats with congestive heart failure. Vet Med 1998;93:818-822.
  • Hansen B, DeFrancesco T. Relationship between hydration estimate and body weight change after fluid therapy in critically ill dogs and cats. J Vet Emerg Crit Care 2002;12(4):235-43.
  • Muir WW, DiBartola SP. Fluid therapy. In: Kirk RW, ed. Current veterinary therapy VIII. Philadelphia, Pa.: WB Saunders Co, 1983;33.
  • Sisson D, Kittleson MD. Management of heart failure: principles of treatment, therapeutic strategies, and pharmacology. In: Fox PR, Sisson D, Moise NS, eds. Textbook of canine and feline cardiology. Philadelphia, Pa: WB Saunders Co, 1999.
  • Ware WA, Bonagura JD. Pulmonary edema. In: Fox PR, Sisson D, Moise NS, eds. Textbook of canine and feline cardiology. Philadelphia, Pa: WB Saunders Co, 1999.

 

What Does a Black Lump on a Dog’s Skin Mean?

Pigmented lumps or black lumps on dog skin can cause pet parents to panic.  The concern often stems from how human medicine has educated us about our dangers of skin cancer. This is correct as just as with people, dogs can also get skin cancer.

One cause, and the most dangerous cause, of a pigmented lump or bump on the skin, can be a Melanoma in Dogs. First, let’s look at all the possible causes of black lumps in dogs and then we will offer additional information about melanomas.

Causes of Pigmented or Black Lumps on Dogs

There are many possible causes for pigmented or black lumps bumps on dogs. They may include:

  • Tick – A tick can be confused by a pigmented lump or black bump. Ticks are irritating arthropods that prey on dogs and attach themselves to the skin as they take their blood meals. Veterinarians commonly remove ticks from dogs that were mistaken as small-pigmented skin lumps. Learn more about how to remove a tick in a dog.
  • Scab – A scab is a rough, dry crust that forms as a protective barrier over a healing cut, laceration, puncture or wound.  Scabs can be large or small and are often pigmented.  Clipping the hair and careful close examination can usually reveal that it pigmentation is a scab and not a tumor.
  • Foreign body – Something caught in the hair next to the skin can be mistaken for a pigmented lump.  For example, this can be dried chewing gum, food, or a plant burr.
  • Insect bite – An insect bite such as from a wasp, bee, or spider can cause local skin inflammation that appears as a pigmented bump.
  • Puncture – A puncture can appear as a black bump in dogs. Punctures can occur from trauma or from a bite wound from another animal.
  • Abscess – An abscess is a localized pocket of infection that contains pus. The skin over the abscess is generally abnormal in color that can range from red to bruised/black. Punctures or bites can turn into abscesses. Clipping and cleaning the area will often reveal if an abscess is the underlying cause of the skin pigmentation.
  • Wart – Canine viral papillomas, also known as dog warts, is one of the most common causes of small lumps in dogs.  They are generally raised and look like small pale cauliflower bumps. Most warts are pale in color although when infected or traumatized, many will appear dark from the inflammation or blood. Some dogs will also lick these lesions, which causes additional pigmentation to the wart and the hair around it. This is most noticeable in white or light haired dogs. These benign masses are generally not a concern but can break open, become nicked during grooming, or become infected. For these reasons, some dog warts are surgically removed.  Surgical removal is curative although more often form on other parts of the body.
  • Histiocytoma – A histiocytoma is a small raised lump that primarily occurs on young dogs under three years of age. They most often occur on the face and legs.  Some dogs will lick at histiocytomas which can cause a pigmented appearance. These are benign and often spontaneously resolve.
  • Blister – A blister is a small fluid-filled bubble on the skin most often caused by friction, burning, or other damage. They can appear as pink raised lesions or have pigmentation if there is blood inside the lesion.
  • Cyst – A sebaceous cyst is a small sac containing an accumulation of secretions produced by the sebaceous glands. They can appear as small bumps and are considered benign. These can become infected and open. They can be red or appear pigmented. Most sebaceous cysts do not require treatment.
  • Hematoma – A hematoma is a bruise that can be blue to black in color. Most often this is associated with some trauma such as hit by a car or other wound. Bruising can also occur from abnormal bleeding disorders. Learn more about bruising and bleeding in dogs.
  • Mast cell tumor (MCT) – Mast cell tumors account for approximately 20% of all skin tumors that occur in dogs.  They are commonly lumps in or just under the skin. Some dogs can have multiple masses that occur at the same time. MCT can occur anywhere on the body. Some MCT cause dogs to itch or lick which can cause discoloration of the mass.  Some dogs can have additional signs of illness such as weight loss, vomiting and/or diarrhea from the compounds released by the tumor. It is important to diagnose this type of tumor early and have proper treatment.
  • Malignant melanoma in dogs – This is a type of skin cancer that affects pigmented cells known as melanocytes. Because the underlying cells are generated from pigmented cells, the masses are generally brown or black in color. Tumors of melanocytes occur anywhere on the body including areas in the mouth, mucous membranes, and nail beds. Many melanomas are known to grow quickly and can spread to organs such as the lymph nodes, liver, and/or lungs.  It is important to diagnosis this type of pigmented tumor as soon as possible. There are various treatment options available including a DNA tumor vaccine.

How to Determine the Cause of a Pigmented Lump on a Dog

If your dog has a pigmented lump, the best way to help determine the underlying cause is to closely examine the lump. Your veterinarian may provide the following care during an appointment:

  • A complete examination of your dog looking at the eyes, ears, listening to the lungs and heart, feeling the lymph nodes, and feeling the abdomen to evaluate the size and shape of the kidneys, liver, spleen, bladder, and intestines.
  • Examination of the black skin lump. Your vet will evaluate the skin mass noting the size, shape, depth, texture, location, and color. Shaving hair around that area will help evaluate the pigmented lump and surrounding skin. This may be best done with the help of your veterinarian.
  • Provide recommendations. Based on the size, location of the mass, pigmentation, and suspicion that this lump could be cancerous, your vet will provide recommendations as to the best approach to determine the cause of the skin mass.  They may recommend evaluating the mass with a fine needle aspirate, biopsy, or mass removal often called “lumpectomy”.  If their level of concern about the mass is high, they will recommend sending a tissue sample to a laboratory for histopathology.

Treatment of Black Bumps on Dogs

Treatment recommendations will be determined by the underlying cause of the bump. An abscess may be draining, tick removed, and skin infection treated with antibiotics. For pigmented skin masses that are determined to be skin cancer, recommendations will depend on the type of cancer.  Possible treatments may include some combination of surgical removal of the pigmented bump, radiation therapy, and/or immunotherapy.

What Small Bumps on Dogs Can Mean

Small bumps on dogs are very common and can be a concern to pet parents. A skin bump is also referred to as mass, lump, growth, or tumor and these terms are often used interchangeably. Sometimes small skin bumps are felt during routine grooming or petting at home or can be found by groomers during bathing and grooming.

The concern is that a small bump on a dog could be cancer. Small bumps on dogs can be on the skin or under the skin. A small bump on a dog can something caught in the hair, a tick, insect bite, scab, puncture, blister, abscess, cyst, pimple to a small benign mass, or a malignant tumor.

Below is a list of some of the common possible causes for a small skin bump on a dog:

  • Foreign body – A foreign body can be on the skin such as something caught in the hair next to the skin can be mistaken for a small skin lump.  This can include anything from dried chewing gum, a plant burr, small rock or stick, mulch, food particles, or just about anything else.  A foreign body can also be in or under the skin such as a B-B pellet.
  • Tick – A tick can be confused by a small lump. Ticks are arthropods that prey on dogs and attach themselves to the skin as they acquire a blood meal. Veterinarians commonly remove ticks from dogs that were mistaken as small skin bumps. Learn more about how to remove a tick in a dog.  Also learn more about the danger of ticks in dogs.
  • Scab – A scab is a rough, dry crust that forms as a protective barrier over a healing cut, laceration, puncture, or wound.  Clipping hair and cleaning the area can identify if the small bump is a scab.
  • Insect bite – An insect bite such as from a bee, wasp, or spider can cause local skin inflammation that can appear as a small lump. Some bites can become infected.
  • Puncture – A small puncture can appear as a small skin bump in dogs. Punctures can occur from bite wounds or jabs from sharp objects. Punctures can form into abscesses that can also be mistaken for a skin bump.
  • Cyst – A sebaceous cyst is a small sac containing an accumulation of secretions produced by the sebaceous glands. They can appear as small bumps and are considered benign. In most cases no treatment is necessary. Sebaceous cysts will sometimes break open and a thick white to yellow cheesy substance will drain. If the decision is made to biopsy the cyst, complete surgical removal is performed and is curative.
  • Wart – Canine viral papillomas, also known as a dog wart, is one of the most common causes of small lumps in dogs.  They often look like small pale cauliflower or flesh colored raised bumps. These benign masses are generally not a concern but can break open, become nicked during grooming, or become infected. For these reasons, some dog warts may be surgically removed.  Surgical removal is curative although more can form on other parts of the body.
  • Skin tag – A skin tag, also known as an acrochordon or fibroepithelial polyp, is a benign growth that arises from the skin. They are commonly removed when they interfere with function. For example, skin tags that develop around the mouth can are accidentally bit when chewing or ones that dangle from the legs or abdomen which can be caught on something and break open.  Surgical removal is curative.
  • Histiocytoma – This is a type of small bumps that occurs primarily on young dogs under three years of age. Histiocytomas most often occur on the face and on the legs or paws. These are benign lumps that spontaneously resolve.
  • Blister – A blister is a small fluid filled bubble on the skin caused by friction, burning, or other damage.
  • Fatty mass – Fatty tumors are also called lipomas for fatty tumors. They often begin a small soft skin bumps but can grow to become larger. Learn more with this article Fatty Cysts in Dogs. (INSERT LINK)
  • Skin infection – A skin infection can appear as a skin mass, lump or tumor. Conditions such as pyoderma can cause raised red inflamed bumps. There are generally multiple lesions and is rarely isolated to one bump. Antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications are common treatments.
  • Benign mass – There are numerous causes of benign skin masses.  Some are listed above such as skin tags, dog warts, and cysts.  Many growths can appear the same and impossible to determine the type of tumor without additional laboratory testing.
  • Skin cancer – There are skin tumors that can be cancerous.  A common skin cancer in dogs is squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) that can result from sun exposure. SCC may appear as a skin bump that is red, white or grey in color. They are often malignant and require surgical removal. Tumors may develop on the nose, legs, and/or paws. Other types of cancer include Mast Cell Tumor or Melanomas.  Learn more about skin cancer in dogs.

How to Determine the Cause of a Small Lump on a Dog

Small Skin Lumps on Dog

What to Do if Your Dog Has a Skin Tag

There are many kinds of canine skin bumps, growths, lumps, tumors, and “tags”. Some skin tumors in dogs are benign (noncancerous) and some skin lumps are cancerous. A dog skin tag is a type of skin growth that can occur anywhere on the body but are common on the face, head, neck, elbows, and/or chest. Skin tags are common in humans and also commonly occur on the face, head, face and upper chest. Dog owners frequently have questions about dog skin tags wondering if they are cancerous, a problem that can turn cancerous, or no problem at all.

Below we will discuss what is a dog skin tag, how to determine if it is a dog skin tag vs wart, how to tell a skin tag from a cancer bump in dogs, and steps for dog skin tag removal. Before deciding if a skin tag is a problem or not, let’s look at exactly what is a dog skin tag.

The medical terms for a skin tag is an acrochordon or acrochorda (pleural) and is also known as fibroepithelial polyp. A skin tag is a small flap of skin with a small base often about the size of a grain of rice but can be bigger or smaller. Some dog skin tags can be the size of a grape or even larger and appear to “dangle”.

Dog skin tags most often occur around the face, head, neck, armpits, elbows, and eyelids, but can occur anywhere on the body. Some deep chested large dogs will get clusters of skin tags over the chest area.

A true skin tag is generally painless and harmless. They generally do not change over time into something cancerous.

They are often diagnosed when combing or brushing your dog. They are easier to see on dogs with dark hair coats as they are often pink, fleshy, and protrude brightly. It is common for some pet owners to mistake a skin tag for an attached tick.  Collars, leashes or grooming procedures such as combing or brushing your dog, can irritate dog skin tags.

Why Do Dogs Get Skin Tags?

You may be wondering…“Why do dogs get skin tags”?  The cause for skin tags is largely unknown although but is considered to be genetic. There are some breed predispositions such as they are more common in bulldogs, boxers, and Great Danes although they can occur in any breed. Dog skin tags appear to be more common in dogs as they get older. Dogs that get skin tags will often have more than one.

Dog skin tags are most commonly diagnosed by your veterinarian after examining the growth. The classic appearance of a dog skin tag is a small raised soft piece of skin with a small base often referred to as a pedicle. It should not be ulcerated, inflamed or bleeding unless it is being irritated by a collar or by grooming.

Skin tags in dogs are not dangerous. Dog skin tags are generally permanent and do not regress. Generally, the only way they go away is by surgical removal.

If your dog has a skin tag and it is red, inflamed, draining, pigmented, then please see your veterinarian. Either the skin tag it is infected or not an actual skin tag and a different type of tumor or cancer.

Dog Skin Tag vs. Warts — What’s the Difference?

Is it a dog skin tag vs wart? This is a common question that dog owners ask.  Dog skin tags can appear similar to warts but there are differences. Warts, like skin tags, can grow anywhere on the body and dogs that get one will generally get more.

The biggest difference between a skin tag and a wart is the appearance of the bump. Skin tags generally are small, soft, thin, flesh-colored, floppy, and have a stalk or pedicle base.  You can generally move a skin tag back and forth with your finger. Warts, on the other hand, are thicker and attached to the skin over a broader area. They are generally flatter. Warts, known by the medical term as viral papillomas, are benign, non-cancerous tumors caused by a virus in dogs and other pets. Warts are more common in young dogs and often are around the mouth commissures of the lip or are in the mouth. Learn more about Canine Viral Papillomas (Dog Warts).

Another common question pet owners ask about dog skin tag is “How do you prevent dog skin tags?” The answer is that there is nothing you can do to prevent dog skin tags.

Can Skin Tags Turn Into Cancer Bumps on Dogs?

Can a dog skin tag turn into a cancerous bump? The answer is no. Skin tags are considered harmless and are not considered “precancerous”.

Sebaceous Adenoma in Dogs

There are several types of skin tumors that develop from the skin and adnexa (the parts adjoining the skin). The most common tumor is the Lipoma, commonly referred to as a “fatty tumors” and the second most common is a tumor arising from the sebaceous glands called sebaceous adenomas.

The sebaceous glands produce an oily substance called sebum, which lubricates the skin. The ducts of the sebaceous glands empty into hair follicles. A different problem that can occur in dogs that arises also from the sebaceous gland is a Sebaceous Cyst, but is less common in dogs.

Overview of Sebaceous Adenoma in Dogs

The development of sebaceous cysts is thought to develop from an obstruction of the follicles, leading to abnormal accumulations of sebum.

Sebaceous adenomas are benign tumors that originate from the landular or ductal tissue. In dogs, they are common on the head, neck, back, eyelids and limbs. They are generally hairless protrusions firmly attached to the skin. They can have the appearance of cauliflower.

Sebaceous adenomas develop more often in dogs as they get older and are most common in dogs over the age of 7 to 8 years. Dogs that are prone to sebaceous adenomas tend to get more sebaceous adenomas as they age.

What to Watch For

Sebaceous adenoma can turn into sebaceous adenocarcinoma, which is a malignant tumor.  Please monitor your pet for any changes in the sebaceous adenoma that could suggest a malignancy including rapid growth, changes in color, or ulcerations.

Diagnosis of Sebaceous Adenoma in Dogs

The diagnosis of a sebaceous adenoma in your dog will largely be based on the history and examination of the mass. Veterinarians can often diagnose sebaceous adenomas be physically looking at it.

Dog owners often mistake a sebaceous adenoma with an Acrochordon or Fibroepithelial Polyp in Dogs (commonly referred to as a dog skin tag) or with Canine Viral Papillomas (commonly referred to as dog warts).  This article may be helpful in the section that tells you how to tell a skin tag from a wart.

Your veterinarian will ask questions about your dog’s mass that may include:

  • How long has the mass been there?
  • Is there only one mass or are there others?
  • Has it gotten larger or smaller or changes in appearance?
  • Does the mass appear to be attached to the underlying skin?
  • How fast is it is growing?
  • Have there been any recent injuries or injections?
  • Are there any changes in your pet’s behavior, such as eating less, weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea or lethargy?
  • Are there any other lumps, tumors, masses, or growths?

A complete physical exam will be done and 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, if it is ulcerated, and where it is located on the body.

Additional tests may include:

  • Fine needle aspiration. A diagnosis can often be made by placing a small needle within the cyst and suctioning some cells out of it with a syringe. Microscopic evaluation of the cells will often be suggestive of a sebaceous adenoma.
  • An aspirate of the mass with a small needle may be done to collect cells for staining and examination under a microscope (cytology). This test usually requires no anesthesia and often leads to a diagnosis.
  • If the mass is ulcerated or draining fluid, a microscope slide may be touched to the fluid to make an impression for microscopic examination. This is referred to as an “impression cytology”.
  • A biopsy may be taken to send to a veterinary pathologist for examination. The biopsy may involve removing the entire mass or removing a piece of the mass.
  • A piece of tissue may be submitted for culture if infectious agents such as bacteria or fungi are suspected.

Treatment of a Sebaceous Adenoma in Dogs

If the growth is diagnosed as a sebaceous adenoma, no treatment is required.  However, some sebaceous adenomas break open, bleed, become infected or are irritated by leashes, collars, halters and/or grooming procedures. Some sebaceous adenomas are close to the mouth and become damaged when eating. Another common location is on the eyelid that can cause the mass to rub on the eye potentially causing corneal ulcerations. In these cases, surgical removal of the sebaceous adenoma is recommended.

Sebaceous adenoma can be removed surgically by removing the mass with a wedge of underlying skin to ensure the entire mass is removed.  Surgery can be performed under general anesthesia however some sebaceous adenomas can be removed using local anesthesia such as lidocaine.

Here’s Why Dog Knee Problems Exist

Dog knee problems are common. There are a few different causes. Two of the most common causes are a luxating kneecap, commonly referred to as a luxating patella or patellar luxation, and the other is a cruciate ligament tear, commonly referred to as an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear. The focus of this article is to understand more about dog knee problems including how the dog knee joint works. We will discuss patellar luxation, treatment options, and costs for treating this disease.

First, it is important to know about the dog knee joint to better understand the common problems and treatment options.

What You Need to Know About Your Dog’s Knee Joints

Your dog’s knees are located on the back legs between the thigh bone (femur) and the lower leg bones (tibia and fibula).  The dog knee joint is also called the “stifle” joint.

Between the upper and lower leg bones is a kneecap, commonly called the patella. When the knee functions normally, the patella slides smoothly in a groove called the trochlear groove over the femur. There are strong ligaments in the knee at the top, bottom and on the sides. Ligaments attach thigh muscles to the kneecap on the top end and ligaments attach the patella to the tibia (also called the shin bone) on the lower end.  There are also ligaments on each side of the knee called the medial and lateral patellar ligaments. The ligaments on the inside and the outside of the knee help keep the patella smoothly riding in the groove.

Problems can occur when one of the ligaments tear, when a fracture occurs to the bones above, below or to the kneecap itself, or when there are genetic defects in the development of the knee joint such as an abnormal groove where the kneecap rides.

All dogs have a risk of a knee injury but certain breeds are predisposed to the different genetic problems. Small breed dogs are more predisposed to a luxating patella and larger breeds are predisposed to ligament tears. However, any knee problem can occur to any dog.

Here are a few breed predispositions:

  • Breeds predisposed to Fractures – Breeds that run free and unrestricted are at higher risk of trauma, such as being hit by a car.
  • Breeds predisposed to Luxating Patella – Patellar luxation is common in Yorkshire Terriers, Dachshunds, Pomeranians, Toy and Miniature Poodles, and BostonBulldogss. It is also seen occasionally in other breeds including Lhasa Apsos, Cocker Spaniels, Chow Chows, Bedlington Terriers, Australian Terriers, Japanese Chin, Shar-Pei, Tibetan Terriers, and Labrador Retrievers.
  • Breeds predisposed to Cruciate Ligament Tears – Cruciate ligament tears can occur in any breed but predisposed breeds include: Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, German shepherds, Newfoundlands, Bernese Mountain dogs, Bullmastiffs, Chows, American Bulldogs, Akitas, and rottweilers.  For more information and details on cruciate ligament tears – go to Ruptured Cranial Cruciate Ligament (ACL) tears in Dogs.

Signs of knee injuries in dogs can vary. In some dogs, knee problems are identified on routine exams by your veterinarian and others are obvious by lameness.

Knee problems or injuries are the most common reason a dog will limp or be lame on a rear leg. Lameness can be constant or intermittent. It is common for dogs with a cruciate ligament injury to be persistently lame while some dogs with a luxating patella will have intermittent lameness or even seem to “skip”. Some dogs experience little discomfort and are relatively asymptomatic. In fact, some dogs seem unaffected and are diagnosed because their owners feel the kneecap pop in and out, such as when their dog is on their lap.

The best way to keep knee joints healthy is to keep your dog at an ideal weight. Obesity puts dogs at risk for injury and subsequent arthritis.  Additionally, if your dog hasn’t exercised for quite a while, don’t let him get extreme exercise. Prolonged inactivity followed by excessive exercise can be associated with knee injuries.  Because patellar luxation is considered a genetic condition, breeding dogs with this condition is not recommended.

One more thing about dog knee joints – injury to the knee can be very painful. Your veterinarian will commonly recommend pain medications that may include nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (commonly referred to as NSAIDs). Commonly used NSAIDs include carprofen (also known as Rimadyl® or Novox® among others), Meloxicam (Metacam®), Derocoxib (Deramaxx), Grapiprant (Galliprant®), Etodolac (Ectogesic®), or Tepoxalin (Zubrin®).  These medications are commonly given with other pain medications including Tramadol or T-Relief (also known as Traumeel).

What is a Luxating Patella in Dogs?

A luxating patella is a condition in which the patella (kneecap) no longer glides within its natural groove in the femur. It is also referred to as a “patellar luxation” or “trick knee”. When the knee becomes displaced to the inside, it is called “Medial Patellar Luxation (MPL) and when it is displaced to the outside, it is called “Lateral Patellar Luxation (LPL)”.  The luxation can vary in degrees from mild and intermittent to severe when the luxation is permanent.

15 MORE Human Over-the-Counter Drugs Safe for Dogs

Some human drugs are dangerous and can even be fatal when given to dogs. When a dog develops a health problem at home such as vomiting, diarrhea, or coughing, many pet owners want to know what they can safely give their dogs at home before taking their dog to the veterinarian.

Not only is important to know which medications are safe but also which medications are available to you without a prescription. Drugs you may obtain without a prescription are referred to as “OTC” drugs which means over-the-counter. OTC drugs are available at most pharmacies such as Wal-Mart®, Walgreens®, CVS®, Target®, and/or online pharmacies and drug stores.

Below are 15 more over-the-counter medications (OTC) that are commonly used in humans and can be used safely in most dogs.  For the first 15 over-the-counter medications (OTC) that are commonly used in humans and can be used safely in most dogs, please visit this article: 15 Human Over-the-Counter Drugs Safe for Dogs.

Allergy Medications (con’t)

16. Cetirizine (Zyrtec®)

Cetirizine, commonly known by the brand name Zyrtec®, belongs to a class or drugs known as antihistamines, similar to Benadryl. It is commonly used in dogs with allergic symptoms such as inflamed and/or itchy skin.  In cats, Cetirizine is more commonly used to treat inflammation of the nose and sinus. Many pet owners prefer Cetirizine over Benadryl because of its longer lasting effects.

A common dose used for dogs is 0.25 to 0.5 mg per pound of body weight. Therefore a ten-pound dog would get 2.5 to 5 mg total dose and a 50-pound dog would get 12.5 mg to 25 mg total dose. Common OTC pill sizes are 10 mg.

For more information on how to safely give Cetirizine in dogs.

17.  Chlorpheniramine (Chlor-tabs® or Chlor-Trimeton®)

Chlorpheniramine maleate is a type of anti-histamine drug commonly used in dogs with allergies to control itching.  Human formulations include Chlor-tabs®, Aller-Chlor®, Chlo-Amine®, Chlor-Trimeton®, and various generic preparations. A common side effect is sedation and therefore is occasionally used as a mild sedative.

Chlorpheniramine is contraindicated in dogs with glaucoma, lung disease, heart disease, high blood pressure and prostate gland enlargement.

Chlorpheniramine is available in 2 mg, 4 mg, 8 mg, 12 mg and 16 mg tablets and as a 2-mg/5 ml oral syrup.  Most dogs take 4 to 12 mg (total dose) orally. Learn more about how to safely dose Chlorpheniramine in dogs.

18.  Fexofenadine (Allegra®)

Fexofenadine, commonly known as Allegra or Telfast, is an antihistamine drug that can be used to control itching and other signs related to allergic conditions. It is important only to use products that indicate the active ingredient is Fexofenadine. Formulas containing Fexofenadine and pseudoephedrine, such as Allegra-D can be toxic to dogs so please be VERY careful. Make sure if you give Fexofenadine to your dog, that Fexofenadine is the ONLY ingredient. Learn more about how to safely give Fexofenadine to your dog.

19.  Loratadine (Claritin®)

Loratadine, commonly known as Claritin or Alavert, is a type of antihistamine drug commonly used in dogs to control itchy skin. Loratadine is typically considered less sedating than other antihistamines. Learn more about how to safely dose Loratadine.

Pain Medication

20. Traumeel (T-Relief®)

T-Relief is an over-the-counter homeopathic medication commonly used to pain and inflammation associated with arthritis and musculoskeletal injuries, such as with arthritis, sprains and traumatic injuries.

T-Relief contains a combination of plant and mineral extracts. It has gained popularity in veterinary medicine as an alternative to the class of drugs called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (commonly abbreviated as NSAIDs) because of its good results with minimal to no side effects.

T-Relief is available in the forms of tablets, drops, injection solution, ointment, and gel.  Learn more about how to safely dose Learn more about how to correctly dose Traumeel (T-Relief) in your dog.

T-relief is commonly used with other pain relieving drugs. When combined with other drugs, it can sometimes allow you to use lower doses of medications associated with more side effects.

21. Zeel

Zeel® is a homeopathic medication used to treat pain and inflammation often associated with musculoskeletal injuries, such as sprains and traumatic injuries, and as supportive therapy in pain and inflammation of the musculoskeletal system such as with arthritis in dogs and cats. Like T-Relief, Zeel® has gained popularity in the United States an alternative to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NASID) to treat pain and swelling.

Zeel® is available in the forms of tablets, ointment, and drinkable ampules. Zeel® can be used in conjunction with other pain medications and is sometimes used in conjunction with another homeopathic medication called Traumeel (T-Relief). It can be used safely with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID’s), steroids, and other pain relief drugs.

15 Human Over-the-Counter Drugs Safe for Dogs

Some human drugs are dangerous and can even be fatal when given to dogs. When a dog develops a health problem at home such as vomiting, diarrhea, or coughing, many pet owners want to know what they can safely give their dogs at home before taking their dog to the veterinarian.

Not only is important to know which medications are safe but also which medications are available to you without a prescription. Drugs you may obtain without a prescription are referred to as “OTC” drugs which means over-the-counter. OTC drugs are available at most pharmacies such as Wal-Mart®, Walgreens®, CVS®, Target®, and/or online pharmacies and drug stores.

Below we will give you information about 30 over-the-counter medications (OTC) that are commonly used humans and can be used safely in most dogs.

We will include information about stomach medications which can be used in dogs with sensitive stomach or vomiting, drugs to treat diarrhea, pain medications, drugs for coughing, drugs that can be used to treat dogs that have allergies and are showing symptoms such as itching, medications to use on dogs that get car sick, and a safe eye product.

It is recommended that you work with your family veterinarian before giving any medication to your dog.

Human OTC Stomach Medications Used in Dogs

  1.     Famotidine (Pepcid®)

Famotidine, commonly known by the brand name Pepcid® among others, is a histamine H2 receptor antagonist that decreases the production of acid in the stomach. It is frequently used to treat stomach problems such ulcerations and for pets with nausea or are prone to vomiting.

Famotidine is the most commonly used in this class due to its improved mechanism of action and length of action.  Famotidine has largely replaced previous generation drugs, such as Cimetidine and Ranitidine. We will discuss these medications more below.

Famotidine is available in both injectable and oral tablet sizes. Common oral sizes include 10 mg, 20 mg, and 40 mg. A common OTC size is 10 mg. A common dosage is 0.25 mg to 0.5 mg/pound once to twice a day.

For example, a 10-pound dog would get 2.5 mg to 5 mg total dose or ¼ to ½ of a 10 mg tablet.  A 20-pound dog would get 5 mg to 10 mg per dose which would be ½ to 1 10 mg tablet.

Here is more information on how to safely dose and use Famotidine in dogs.

  1.     Ranitidine (Zantac®)

Ranitidine, commonly known by the brand name Zantac among others, is a histamine H2 receptor antagonist that decreases the production of acid in the stomach. Like Famotidine listed above is commonly used to treat stomach problems such ulcerations.

Ranitidine is available in both injectable and oral tablet sizes. Common oral sizes include 75 mg, 150 mg, and 300 mg. Here is an article on how to correctly dose and use Ranitidine in dogs.

  1.     Cimetidine (Tagamet®)

Cimetidine, commonly known by the brand name Tagamet® among others, is the oldest common histamine H2 receptor antagonist drug that decreases the production of acid in the stomach. Cimetidine is less commonly used due to the development of new and better drugs in the class of histamine H2 receptor antagonist.

However, in a pinch, some pet owners have this medication in their homes and can use Cimetidine. Famotidine (also known as Pepcid and discussed above) and Ranitidine are known as Zantac and discussed above) both have fewer drug interactions with longer activity.

The risks associated with Cimetidine mostly evolves around its interaction with other drugs. If your dog or cat is on other medications, it is better to choose a newer generation histamine H2 receptor antagonist such as famotidine (Pepcid) discussed above that does not have those same possible adverse effects from drug interactions.

Learn more about how to safely dose Cimetidine in dogs and drug interactions that you should know about.

  1.     Calcium Carbonate (Tums®)

Calcium carbonate, commonly known as Tums®, is an antacid and oral phosphate binder. It is commonly used as a calcium supplement in dogs with chronic hypocalcemia and to treat hyperphosphatemia associated with chronic renal (kidney) failure. Calcium carbonate can also be used as an oral antacid and for conditions such as esophagitis and/or gastroduodenal ulcerations. However, calcium carbonate is uncommonly prescribed as an antacid as there are stronger and more effective antacids.

There are many oral calcium carbonate products available in chewable and regular tablets in common sizes are 500 mg, 750 mg, and 1000mg. There is also oral suspensions 1250 mg/5mL.

The dose most commonly used in dogs as an antacid is 0.5 grams and up to 5 grams total dose orally every 4 hours as needed.  Small dogs can receive 500 mg, medium sized dogs 750 to 1000 mg and larger dogs 2000 mg.