Lumps and Bumps on Your Dog

When petting your dog, you may notice some type of lump or bump you had not noticed before. Do not worry immediately. There are several options as to what type of lump or bump it is. To help determine the type, a veterinarian will most likely do a needle aspiration where they insert a sterile needle into the lump and collect cells from the bump. They will then look at the cells through a microscope to make a final determination.


The majority of lumps found on dogs are lipomas. Lipomas are soft, round tissue which are not painful to your dog. These are generally present directly beneath the skin and are mostly non-cancerous. They do not often cause any problems and do not require surgery unless they restrict your dog’s normal movements.

There are many dog breeds prone to developing these fatty tumors:

  • Mixed breeds
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Golden Retrievers
  • German Shepherd
  • Miniature Schnauzer
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • Weimaraner
  • Dachshund
  • Dogs with hypothyroidism

Recurrence of Lipomas

Dogs that have had a lipoma in the past are prone to forming more as time goes on. It is also common for multiple lipomas to occur at the same time. It is imperative each lump be checked by your veterinarian, and that your pet have existing lipomas rechecked annually to ensure cellular changes haven’t occurred or has grown in size and is impeding your pet’s movement or function.

Sebaceous Cysts

Bumps may also come in the form of sebaceous cysts. Sebaceous cysts are plugged oil glands in the skin and are also often not a cause for concern. There are also skin cysts which are composed of dead cells or clear fluid; these rupture and heal on their own the majority of the time. The Cocker Spaniel is particularly prone to developing sebaceous cysts.

Causes of Sebaceous Cysts in Dogs 

You should always take your dog to the vet to verify a secondary infection hasn’t occurred, or to make sure the cyst is not malignant. There could be several reasons why your pet may develop a sebaceous cyst:

  • Injury or trauma
  • Insect bite
  • Allergic reaction
  • Inactive folical
  • Swollen hair folical
  • Blocked follicle
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Lack of sebum secretion
  • Genetic predisposition

Cancerous Growths

Cancerous growths on dogs spread rapidly and spread to other parts of the body. Non-cancerous growths generally stay in the same place and do not spread, although you may notice more than one fatty lipoma on your dog in some cases.

How do you know which lumps, bumps or cysts are dangerous and which are not? The only true way to know is by performing a biopsy. Any time you notice a lump, just to be safe, you should consult your veterinarian. As we always say, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

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