My dog has a lump, what should I do next?

When can lumps occur, and why? 

There are several reasons that lumps may occur in your dog. It may be inflammation from an allergic reaction or infection, perhaps something has got stuck, like a splinter or an infected abscess if it contains pus. It could also be caused by trauma such as a fall, or it could be a tumour. Don’t let this panic you – some tumours can be non-harmful skin masses which are not dangerous and easily removed. 

The main factors your vet will want to know about the lump are: 

  • Size: Is the lump small or large, and is it changing in size? 
  • Texture: Is it soft/hard to touch, and is it mobile under the skin? 
  • Location: Where is the lump located, and are there other lumps? 
  • Appearance: What is the colour and shape of the lump? 

A good understanding of these factors will help your vet recommend an investigation or treatment plan 

What can I do while waiting for my vet appointment? 

Make sure your pet is comfortable by providing soft bedding if the lump is sore to lie on. You may also place a cold compress on the lump if it looks inflamed. It’s important to make sure your dog isn’t scratching or biting the lump, covering it with a sock or bandage can help.   

Look for any sudden changes, such as rapidly increasing signs of discomfort, if the lump bursts, or any sudden change in appearance such as an increase in size. Any of these may mean you need to get your dog to the vet more urgently. 

How can I prepare for the appointment? 

Your vet will need to ask you some questions to understand the cause of the lump. Some of these may include:  

  • Has the lump changed in shape, size or texture? A lump that is rapidly changing may be more serious and need testing. 
  • Is your dog aware of the lump? Your vet wants to know if your dog is itchy or uncomfortable around the lump. This can help them choose an appropriate treatment. 
  • Has your dog been eating, drinking and toileting as normal? Your vet wants to know if there are any other problems that may be linked to the lump. 

You may also find it helpful to take daily photos and measurements of the lump, in preparation for the appointment, so your vet can compare any changes over time. 

What will be the most likely steps your vet will take? 

Your vet will feel the lump and perform a clinical exam to check for other lumps or any other symptoms that could be associated. After assessing the lump, your vet may decide it is benign and recommend monitoring, or they might decide further tests will be needed to confirm the cause of the lump. These tests could be a small sample using a needle, which the vet can then look at under a microscope. Otherwise they may take a biopsy to be sent off and examined, or they might decide to use imaging to further examine the lump and surrounding area.  

If you want to know more about what to expect when you go to the vets, check out our blog here.