I’ve found a lump

One of the most common reasons pet owners call mobile vets like me is because they’ve found a lump on their pet and they’re worried…

If you’re worried about a lump on your pet, I hope this blog will be a useful guide to help you decide on the best course of action.

Reasons for an urgent visit

If a lump is sore then you need to arrange a consultation quickly. Why? Well one reason for soreness is infection and prompt treatment of infections is important to stop them getting out of hand and becoming a major problem. If a pet chews or scratches at a lump they often make it many times worse. Prompt action to find and treat the root cause is the best way forwards.

A rapidly growing lump is also cause for concern. It might be a specific type of infection called an abscess. Abscesses are especially common in cats who like to get into punch ups with neighbouring cats. In this case your pet might need to be sedated in hospital so we can drain the abscess and get control over the infection. And of course a rapidly growing lump can be the warning sign of more serious malignant disease.

Less Urgent Lumps

Many lumps on our pets do turn out to be benign and nothing to worry about… But to be honest if you find a lump on your pet we always suggest a visit from one of our mobile vets.  We suggest this because if lump is malignant, the earlier we deal with it the more chance we have of a good outcome.

Sometimes we can tell by looking  at a skin lump that there is nothing to worry about. For example lots of older dogs get cauliflower-like warty lumps which cause no health problems. And in younger dogs skin growth called histiocytomas can look quite nasty but go away on their own in a few weeks.

Under the skin lumps

If a lump is under the skin surface we often opt to take a fine needle aspirate. This means taking a few cells out of the lump using a needle and putting the cells on a slide for a veterinary pathologist to view. Fine needle aspirates are great in that they are a very minor procedure for your pet, but sometimes the results are not fully reliable. If this is the case we might then have to take a biopsy of the lump to get the full answer.

One of the common under-the-skin lumps we see is the lipoma. This is a fatty lump most common in chubby middle-aged to older Labradors and Golden Retrievers. Unless a lipoma is large and causing problems (like growing under the front leg and making exercise difficult for example) we generally opt to leave them be.

Another common lump which is not so nice is the mast cell tumour. Mast cell tumours show themselves in many shapes and sizes. They are unpredictable in their behaviour and often spread quickly. If we diagnose one of these we will talk to you in detail about the best type of surgery for your pet.

And to wrap up…  the bottom line on lumps is this…

If you find a lump on your pet arrange a consultation in the next week or so. If the lump is red and sore, growing really fast or if your pet is chewing at it call me as soon as you can and arrange a visit within the next day or so.

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