Help! My Dog Has A Lump

Updated October 18th, 2020

If you’re a dog owner, it’s almost inevitable that you’ll find a lump at some point. Dogs get lots of lumps and bumps, especially as they get older. How do you tell which ones are more serious?

Later I’ll show you a large gallery of pictures and descriptions of the most common lumps of dogs.

Which Dog Lumps Need Removal?

Some of the ways you can identify a dangerous lump are:

  1. Speed: if a lump looks bigger in only a month it’s growing rapidly
  2. Shape: smooth, round lumps whether on or under the skin are usually worse
  3. Appearance: black, pink or ulcerated surfaces are more worrying
  4. Feel: subcutaneous lumps should move easily between the skin and the body
  5. Position: watch out for lumps on the head, legs and tail (I’ll explain later)
dog skin tumour
Typical appearance of many skin lumps such as mast cell tumours or histiocytomas. Slide shows typical FNA appearance

The only way to know for sure is to take a biopsy. That’s where we take a small piece and get it examined. A biopsy does two important things:

  1. It tells us whether the lump is dangerous or not
  2. It helps us decide how big a surgical margin we need

Common Lumps Of Dogs

So the earlier we see a lump, the more options we have. If you’re afraid of bad news, don’t be; despite the horror stories, a biopsy or surgery isn’t always needed, and most lumps are benign. Your vet can even identify most lumps straight away. Here’s what they are and how we can tell.

See also: Common Mouth Lumps Of Dogs and A Lump Below The Eye

Lipoma or Fatty Growth

What they are: the classic lump under the skin of older dogs. It’s actually a benign tumour of fat cells, and should grow so slowly it takes 6 months to see any change. Most often found on the chest or abdomen.

How we tell: a fine needle aspiration (FNA) gives a clear answer. Never assume a lump is a lipoma unless your vet has done this first.

Treatment: none, usually. Lipomas need removal only when they occur in difficult positions like the legs or armpits. I also take them off younger dogs if they will get huge in a normal lifespan.

See pictures of lipomas and similar lumps under the skin here.

Soft Tissue Sarcoma

dog sarcoma tumour

What they are: fast-growing, locally invasive tumours of connective tissue, common in large breeds.

How we tell: biopsy is necessary. Sarcomas feel just like lipomas and are often mistaken for these if a needle aspirate isn’t done. A clue in this case is the position; lipomas are rarely on the legs.

Treatment: prompt, careful resection with a wide margin. The picture shows a fibrosarcoma on a leg with a standard 2cm margin. I hope you can see why the earlier we check these lumps, the better.

Sebaceous Cyst

dog sebaceous cyst

What they are: a blocked sebaceous gland causes a buildup of hard, cystic material attached to and under the skin. Note in the picture how the skin surface is reasonably normal-looking.

How we tell: a fine needle aspiration is necessary to distinguish from other masses.

Treatment: none, usually. Most sebaceous cysts never cause problems though occasionally they will burst.

Sebaceous Adenoma

sebaceous adenoma dog

What they are: a benign tumour of sebaceous glands, often wrongly called a wart. Very common in Poodles, Maltese, Bichons and their crosses. This one is on an ear.

How we tell: biopsy is necessary, however, the classic appearance and slow growth make us near-certain just by looking.

small sebaceous adenoma

Treatment: most sebaceous adenomas never cause problems, but any that are ulcerated or being licked need removal.

Here’s another sebaceous adenoma, showing what they look like when small.

Papilloma or Wart

canine papilloma

What they are: multiple small lumps often on the face and head. Just like in humans, warts are caused by a papillomavirus; young dogs that get them go to dog parks or day care.

How we tell: biopsy is necessary, however, their classic feathery appearance is hard to mistake.

dog ear warts

Treatment: none. Although they can look terrible, warts should go away by themselves after a few months.

Here are a group of warts on the ear and die of the head. See also: pictures of dog warts in the mouth.

Skin Tag

skin tag dog

Skin tags are very similar to warts except they are usually smooth, long and narrow. They grow extremely slowly and pose no threat. The one pictured is quite large, and unusual in being pigmented, not pink.

Skin tags may start with anything that causes skin damage, such as papilloma virus, injuries, abrasion or infection.

Mast Cell Tumour

What they are: fast-growing, pink button-like lumps which can be well-behaved or very aggressive. MCTs have a reputation for recurring following incomplete removal.

How we tell: your vet can usually do it via fine needle aspiration (see earlier) but sometimes a biopsy is required.

Treatment: should always be removed with a margin depending on the ‘grade’ or severity.

dog nasal infection
Granuloma

What they are: fast-growing, raised red lumps sometimes with a surface crust. Granulomas look like aggressive tumours but are actually a solid form of bacterial infection.

How we tell: sometimes a biopsy is required but we are often sure enough just from inspection.

Treatment: antibiotics, not surgery.

Melanoma

canine cutaneous melanoma

What they are: slow-growing, dark lumps not caused by sunlight. Skin melanomas of dogs need removal, but they are a lot less malignant than human ones and shouldn’t make you lose sleep.

How we tell: there isn’t much else that’s black.

Treatment: removal. Baxter (pictured) gets repeated melanomas. After removing the first few we have been watching his latest set for signs of growth.

Haemangioma and Squamous Cell Carcinoma

dog haemangioma lump

What they are: two tumours caused by ultraviolet damage from sun exposure, common in Adelaide on unpigmented areas of sunbathing dogs. You can see that the one on the dog’s leg has started on a pink area.

How we tell: haemangiomas are red, berry-like masses that bleed easily; squamous cell carcinomas are raised, crusty sores.

Treatment: removal. SCC, in particular, can spread to lymph nodes and cause death if left too long.

Perianal Adenoma

dog anal lump

What they are: benign tumours found especially around the anus or the underside of the tail

How we tell: position and slow growth, plus their strong association with entire males or late desexing (though we occasionally also see them in females and neutered males too)

Treatment: removal, best done as soon as possible given the tricky location. This one is bigger than ideal.

Follicular Cysts

dog follicular cysts

Follicular cysts are rare skin lumps caused by dilation and rupture of hair follicles. Although they may look like tumours, they are benign and usually easy for your vet to remove under anaesthetic.

A Mystery Lump

floppy benign lump

This one we also see frequently. It’s very soft and squishy, has an irregular outline and is extremely slow growing. I have never needed to have one removed or tested.

Phew! There are lots of rarer lumps on and under the skin but I hope you’ll never see them. For example, the other one at the start is a Sertoli Cell Tumour caused by a retained testicle. No dog should suffer from any of even the worst of these tumours if you get them checked in time.

dog cutaneous lymphoma
Epitheliotropic lymphoma

Even rarer is the last one. You can read more about epitheliotropic lymphoma here.

Have something to add? Comments are welcome below and will appear within 24 hours.
By Andrew Spanner BVSc(Hons) MVetStud, a vet in Adelaide, Australia. These help topics are from a series regularly posted on email and Twitter. Subscribe via email here to never miss a story! The information provided here is not intended to be used as a substitute for going to the vet. If your pet is unwell, please seek veterinary attention.

Note: I won’t publish comments of a similar nature to ones that are already present. Therefore, it’s a good idea to check the others first. Please remember that only a visit to a vet can truly tell the identity and seriousness of a lump.

Andrew

173 Replies to “Help! My Dog Has A Lump”

  1. Hi, I have a 15yr female english pointer, 42lbs. Today I found that about 3” from where her tail starts its wider all the way around and hard.

    1. Hi Alicia. That could be a lot of things, but mostly it’s a lipoma in that position. Your vet will be able to tell by doing a fine needle aspiration.

  2. My dog, an 8 year old Shih Tzu has what looks like a large scab on his testicles. It’s painful to him as well. I can’t imagine how he could’ve scraped up his “balls” to get a scab. I’m actually afraid it’s a growth of some sort. Is this something that occurs on male dog parts?

    1. Hi E Jay. We do see infected wounds on the scrotum, and the first thing is usually to put them on antibiotics to see if they go away, plus stopping the licking. If they don’t improve in a week, we start to worry about another cause, like a tumour.

  3. I found a tick on my dogs head I got most of it out but I believe the head was still in it. It’s been about a week since and there’s a hard lump above the skin where the tick was found. My dog is a morkie and he’s 5 months old. Should I be worried about this?

    1. Hi Kait. If it was definitely a tick, then the head will act like a small foreign body and cause irritation. Eventually the dog’s skin will either break it down or expel it. If it gets any worse, it’s best to see a vet. Also, ask your local pet store about tick removal tools- they’re quite cheap.

  4. Hi, my 4 year old golden retriever has a small, shiny, pink, smooth raised bump on the skin above her eye. I just noticed it because it looks like it was bleeding a bit, probably from her scratching it. I intend on taking her to the vet but with COVID, I can’t get her in anytime soon. Does this sound like anything to be too concerned about? I’m guessing it’s probably something benign but would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you

  5. hi. my 13 year old mixed breed has a lump under the middle of her tail. when i first discovered it it was white and scaly but within a few days she began to lick it – and it became bloody. We are in covid mode right now and our vet is seeing few patients. does it sound super scary becuase if it does ill insist he see her.

    1. Hi Stephanie. What you describe will happen whenever a dog starts licking a lump so it’s hard to say what it might be. I’m sorry I can’t give you any more information except to warn you that lumps on the tail quickly become hard to surgically remove if that is needed. How about sending a picture to your local vet? In the meantime, buy or make an Elizabethan collar to stop the licking if you can.

  6. Hi Andrew! Not sure if you are still answering to this but would love a perspective.

    My dog is a 14 (almost 15- god bless) year old Havanese. He has a growth on his left elbow show up about a year ago. We brought him to the vet to get it tested with a biopsy, and it was benign. The vet said she felt it looked like a big blood blister, but when she tried to drain it it re-filled with blood right away.

    Since then the growth has grown outward in size and is bright purple. It looks a bit crusty on the exterior and is soft to the touch. He doesn’t seem to be bothered when we touch it and is acting normal.

    The strangest part of it has been a crusty cone shaped hard tip that has grown from it that is a bit darker than the rest of the growth. We noticed this only about two weeks ago. It has bled only twice and we suspected he hit it on something.

    We sent a photo to the vet but due to covid we can’t bring him in. Would love a second opinion. Thank you

    1. Hi Steph. Stories like yours are a good reminder that the concepts of ‘benign’ and ‘malignant’ are not the only factors in planning around skin lumps. Just as important are its position and rate of growth. This is a good example. While vets will vary in their approach, I never advise leaving a lump on an elbow since it will almost inevitably cause later problems like yours and at that time be a lot harder to remove without complications. Having said this, it can still be done and a Havanese is likely to live for at least another year, making it very worthwhile. In the meantime, all you can do is prevent it from being knocked, rubbed or licked.

  7. Hi Andrew – my 6 year old Min Schnauzer has a sensitive black growth at the entrance of his ear. I just noticed it a couple days ago and he is shying away when I try to look at it. He’s had a history of yeast infections with red paws, but not in his ears that I know of. Should I try treating it with Panalog, or bring him in for an exam? Thank you

    1. Hi Liz. That’s odd- are you sure it’s not a plug of wax and hair? Otherwise, it’s probably got nothing to do with an ear infection and needs a check.

  8. i adopted a jack russell from a shelter he is 13yrs old and he has numerous growths all over his body…the shelter said they are cysts caused from the growth of too many skin cells…he seems to lick/chew only a few that are located on his front leg close to the paw and 2 on his hip area…should i have them removed or keep trying natural remedies?

    1. Hi Jazz. Natural remedies are unlikely to improve lumps or stop dogs licking them. Lumps on legs usually need removal once they start being licked, and I would use the opportunity to check that the other lumps are what you have been told.

  9. Hi
    My standard poodle has a large lump on her tail. It’s bigger than a golf ball and moves quite a bit. The vet checked it and said to leave it because often they have to remove the tail. You mention a lump on the tail and say more later but I can’t find anything in the article about lumps on tails. Is it a challenge to remove lumps on tails because they don’t generally heal because theres not enough skin? I was tempted to get a second opinion about removal. So far it doesn’t seem to bother her. i worry about grooming.

    1. Hi Brigitte. Lumps on the tail are hard to remove because there isn’t enough skin available to close the wound, and what there is is very poorly mobile. Therefore, we always try and remove lumps when small if possible, as otherwise tail amputation may be the only option. In your case, if the lump has a narrow base there is still a chance of removal, or alternatively specialist surgeons can often mobilise skin flaps to close wounds.

  10. Hello, I have a 5 year old American pitbull terrier. She was spayed after her first heat. About 4 months ago I noticed a lump by her last nipple. It hasn’t grown, it isn’t discolored just raised. It is hard and doesn’t move when touched. It is round without borders. Doesn’t seem to hurt when touched and is not hot. I have taken her to the vet they said it was a cyst but I am not so sure. They did not do any testing just looked at it. Should I have her looked at again? She is eating well and does not seem to bother her in the least. Help please.

    1. Hi Eva. Firstly, just because it’s near a nipple doesn’t mean it has to be related to the mammary glands; it could just be any skin lump. Secondly, a lump only usually matters if it is growing, so if it’s staying the same size, then your vets’ advice is fine. If it’s enlarging, I would have it removed just to be sure.

  11. My 7 yr lab has had a small walnut sized lump (hard to medium when felt) for the last 3 yrs. She just starting limping a little. The dog has been very active chasing balls and long walks all of her life. Thinking she might have strained something or am I just making excuses. Saw a vet 3 yrs ago and he said might need a biopsy but she was fine until lately and the limping bothers me.

    1. Hi Barbara. The lump is unlikely to be associated with the lameness. It’s reasonable to judge a lump by its behaviour, so a lump that is stable for three years is likely of no concern.

      1. My vet diagnosed a lump on my dogs shoulder to be a benign cyst after a needle biopsy. It’s been nearly a month and it is now huge, the size of a fist . Should I take him back in for a check up?

      2. Hi Sharon. The speed of growth is actually quite consistent with a cyst, but you had better get another look, even if it’s just to work out what to do with this enormous thing. Good luck.

  12. Hi Andrew, I adopted a Romanian Shepherd dog four years ago, having been a street dog we don’t know his exact age but I felt he was about four years old. Poor Pip suffers from anxiety aggression and taking him to the vet is hell for him. He has to be seen in the car park, is muzzled and desperate to escape. About a year ago we found a golf ball sized lump in his groin and we managed to get him to the PDSA who said he had a floating testicle which had been missed when he was neutered in Romania. We made an appointment to have it removed but when we tried to get him into the car he became so stressed that he actually passed out on the pavement, it was horrible, I thought he was dead. After that I cancelled the op as I would rather he had a shorter life than suffering so much distress. Now the lump is huge and discoloured and I need to make a decision. He is not in pain, is playing (although not as much as previously), and enjoys a short walk, he’s eating. At what point do I make him a one way appointment…I don’t want to hurry him away, I love him more than any other dog I’ve given a home to and I don’t want him to suffer either. What signs do I need to look for please?

    1. Hi Caroline. You can read my advice on making this difficult decision here.
      For anyone reading this in the same situation, although it is not universally done, we supply trazodone plus or minus gabapentin and clonidine for these dogs to get them to the vet.

  13. Hi Andrews my 1 year 4mon German Shepherd mix has a firm hard dark red lump halfway down his tail a little bigger than a pea. The top looks a little crusty and might be leaking. It’s slightly under the skin. Is it a cyst that’s leaking?

    1. Hi Jerry. Very few lumps are actually cysts. Judging by your description, an infection is most likely. I’m guessing your vets will want to start by trying some antibiotics.

  14. My pekignes is 14 yrs. old and had a growth on her nose and she began itching it constantly even making it bleed vet said it was a benign tumor so we had it removed and it growing back fairly fast 1 month and it is half the size it was I was just looking for treatment ideas as we need to have it removed again as it is pushing her nostrils closed and not sure if there there something else we can do for after care to help. After the first surgery we used sulfadin and antibiotics and it was doing fine until we stopped using them after about 2 weeks any ideas would be very helpful and we did not have biopsied the first time .

    1. Hi Joe- you’ve already nailed the problem- no lab analysis. It’s always best to avoid guesswork, especially in such a tricky location. Options are a second wider resection (very bad idea without knowing what your enemy is) or another treatment such as cryotherapy or radiation (again bad idea without knowing if it’s likely to work on this mass).

  15. Hi, my Aussie mix is about 7 yo and when I press on her chess i feel a rounded lump about the size of a nickel attached to her chest under the skin. It is hard and does not move. There seems to be no pain..what can it be?

    1. Hi Rebecca. That’s more of a concern than most because it is fixed in position. Unlikely as it may be, get a vet to do a fine needle aspirate to make sure it’s not a sarcoma.

      1. My 7 yr old boxer/ mastiff mix has large round knot on left lower back and its grown fast last 2 weeks and now she is limping. Is that cancer? Was size of golf ball I looked today and it size of small orange

      2. Hi Michelle. That sounds like either a sarcoma or a mast cell tumour, both of which are common in your breed. Both are quite serious and mentioned above.

  16. My 8 year old chihuahua had a lump on her back above her tail. It grew very slow then it opened up and there was what looked almost like used coffee grounds with white pieces mixed in. I clean it out but it seems to be coming back. Now there is puss which was not there before.

    1. Hi Edward. That sounds like a sebaceous cyst. Once they burst, they often end up getting infected and you’re best to see a vet, who will probably supply antibiotics. In the meantime, salt water bathing to keep the area clean is a good idea.

  17. My 14 year old dog has a tiny pimple like lump about half inch below anus. Think he has knocked it, has dripped a little blood couple times in last 2 days. Doesn’t appear to be sore. Have bathed it and put antibiotic cream on it.

  18. Hi! My dogs developed two weird lumps. One of the side of her nuzzle just under one of her eyes and one in her arm pit. Theyre soft but the middle is indented. They seem to be getting smaller but they’re still there. Should I be worried? I can’t find any described as the middle being in dented like hers.

    1. Hi Kailey. The only time I have seen lumps with an indented or recessed middle is from suspected insect or spider bites. That fits with your history, in that they are the same and appear to be going down. There’s probably no concern as long as they continue to get smaller, but it also depends on how long they have been there and how slowly they are shrinking – bites tend to go down in less than a week for example.

  19. Hi! I have a male yorkshire terrier and for the past couple of days he has been acting strange – licking his bum and being with his tail down. Today I saw a small bump under his tail, it was soft to the touch but can’t really see as he is very frightened from such things. I haven’t gone to the vet yet as my parents are saying that it is nothing and I worry too much. What do you think it could be and would it need treatment?

    1. Hi Viktoriya. Your dog almost certainly has an anal gland abscess. It’s a painful infection that will get worse if he doesn’t get antibiotics. You’ll definitely need to take him to the vet to check.

  20. Hi my 3 year old English Cocker spaniel developed a huge bump in the middle of his shoulders. Vet extracted fluid that was unfamiliar to her with an orange colour. She did not detect any indication of it being malignant and recommended leaving it alone to see what happens in a months time. She said it could have been caused by a vaccine that he had 2 months ago. Should I be concerned and get a second opinion?

    1. Hi Louisa. Lumps like you describe are most often caused by vaccines, but the two month delay would be unusual. It’s possible that in your area you use some different vaccines to the ones I’m familiar with, but if that‘s the cause I would have thought your vet would have seen this before. Having said all this, it’s hard to imagine a serious cause in such a young dog so your vet’s advice seems sensible.

  21. We rescued a Plott Hound around Christmas from a kill shelter in Georgia. She is about a year old. We have no previous medical history. We love Freya but not sure what is going on with her head. She has two spots, they seem to be connected because when one grows the other shrinks?They are pinkish (skin tone in color) The one got a black dot in the center. They are soft to the touch. They do pop and release clearish bloody liquid. Took her to the vet and tried antibiotic ointment, didn’t help. Trying A.C. Vinegar started to get little better but now I think we are right back where we started. They want to get a sample but it is expensive. Wondering if you had any ideas before we go that route?

    1. Hi Joanne. The age of your dog suggests they are unlikely to be growths, and the presence of discharge, a partial response to topical antibiotic and the variability in size suggest infection. Without seeing them I can’t be sure, but for a budget-minded approach I would probably be trying a long course of oral cephalexin antibiotics (usually 3 weeks with a second 3 weeks if they respond). However, your vets are right in advising a biopsy as it’s always the best course of action with unknown lumps.

  22. Hi Andrew
    Thank you for replying
    It has turned out to be an under skin cyst that burst yesterday I’m still giving him the antibiotics though incase if infection

  23. Hi I have an 8 year old Chihuahua that has a round lump underneath his eye and his face was swollen at first i thought he had an abscess on his tooth and vet gave me antibiotics for him the swelling has gone but the lump is still there it feels kind of spongy not hard and doesnt seam to be bothering him

    1. Hi Debra. Without seeing your dog I would tend to agree with your vet. After a tooth root abscess is treated, the lump can persist, especially if the tooth is not removed. Sometimes we can’t be sure a tooth is the cause until we do the dentistry, but if it’s necessary anyway there’s no harm in doing it.

  24. My chihuahua has a black lump on his bum on the left hand side. Doesn’t seem to cause him any problems and not in pain if I wipe. It does sometimes however, bleed?

  25. Andrew i have a 5 month old pressa canario mastiff rottweilder mix he has a round pink lump on the underside of his tail about two inchs from the base ,it bothers him because he doesnt like you touching it it is about the size of a deshelled pennut ,he resently just had the first of two lime disease shots and i never noticed it before that ,any thoughts?

    1. Hi Jarrod. It’s most likely to be a histiocytoma at that age, which is rarely of concern. However, given the tricky location and therefore the consequences of being wrong, I would order a fine needle aspirate for cytology to be sure.

  26. My 13 1/2 year old pit bull lab Has SEVERAL lumps all over, new one under his eye, and this protruding growth that sticks out around his chest area He’s also beginning to wine, I’m getting concerned

  27. I have a 3 1/2 year old English Cream Miniature Long-haired Dachshund, Bella. In the spring, I took her to the vet for a lump on the top of her right ribcage a little behind the front shoulder. (There was no difference or change in the outer skin.) Our vet immediately suggested surgery. He shaved 1/2 of that side, removed the lump, left a drainage tube in for a week, put her on antibiotics and such. $$$$ He said that something (like an insect) had bitten her and it had become an abscess.
    Since then, I have become paranoid about every little lump. When I took her back to have her drainage tube removed, I showed our vet another little lump on the opposite side. He said it was nothing to worry about. But it grew to about 2 inches just like the other one. I knew he would immediately want to do surgery so I didn’t take her back. I put cold compresses on it a couple of times a day and gave her her allergy meds regularly. Soon, it decreased in size and today, you can’t even tell it was there. But now, I feel a similar lump on her back in front of her tail.
    Do you think these are allergic reactions to bites? She doesn’t have fleas but we have tried to eradicate the ant population in the yard! How should I treat these?
    And #2, wouldn’t it have been easier and cheaper to drain the first lump or to drain then do a round of antibiotics or something than than to do such a drastic and expensive surgery?
    Please advise me on how I might possibly protect her from getting more of these and how to treat the one that she now has.
    Thank you!!!

    1. Hi Melana. The fact that these lumps seem to keep appearing suggests there is an (as yet) unidentified cause. I see a lot of lumps removed that might have been better treated another way, but sometimes it’s only in the analysis that this can be worked out. However, from now I would be would suggest you get a better idea of what might be happening, either by pursuing it at your own vet or getting a second opinion. An allergic reaction is possible, but unlikely unless you have something unusual in your yard.

    2. Possibly find a dog dermatologist- sounds like it could be SNP. Canine Sterile Nodular Peniculitis. They start by looking almost like doggy pimples, can spread fast and also grow quick. There are treatments is that is what it is. Good luck!

  28. My 1.5 year old Golden Retriever has a small line up of what feels like round, hard bumps maybe 1 or 2 smaller and one longer thin one that seems to connect to a tendon or something under his skin. You can’t see them, and when you pull up the skin they seem to be attached to the tissue underneath, not the skin layer itself. They’re located where his belly button might be, but I can’t find descriptions of a dog’s belly button that go beyond it being hard to find. Should we see a vet?

    1. Hi Tamara. They sound like knots from residual suture material but that could only be true if your dog had surgery there, e.g. for an umbilical hernia or retained testicle. Otherwise I would definitely see the vet.

  29. I have a three month old Beagle Mix. I felt a lump in left arm pit. The lump is deep inside. I cannot see the lump, but I can feel it. It’s about the size of a Nickle. Keep in mind this lump cannot be seen it can only be felt. We adopted my Beagle at 5 weeks old. She came to us with tape worms she has been treated and cured of that. She also had Giardia which she has been treated and cleared of. I am very concerned about this lump. I can’t see the lump to compare it to pictures. But it’s there I can feel it

    1. Hi Amy. It’s likely to be an enlarged axillary lymph node. This suggests it has been stimulated by local inflammation or infection. Given the health issues so far, I can only guess what this might be (migrating parasite larvae? bite wound?). Get your vet to check if I’m right and assess the other lymph nodes at the same time.

      1. Thank you so much. Yes I made her a vet appointment. I do keep checking her stools to make sure she is clear of worms. I haven’t seen any. So are you saying because of her parasite infection her lump can be from infection? Or are you saying the parasites have moved to her armpit? Parasites are so gross. We got rid of them as fast as medical treatment allowed

      2. Most intestinal worms have a larval stage that migrates through the body. It’s only one idea given the history of your puppy. Your vet will probably have a better one once they have another look.

  30. Hi I have a 14 year old Spoodle, who is generally in good health and still active, but has a few bumps and warts but the one most noticeable is on her lip. Its just on the outside and now about size of my thumb nail. Probably been there and growing slowly for a year or two. It does not seem to bother her, but is now starting to bleed as she often cleans her beard etc on a course mat. It is generaly a pinkish colour. Should I be worried and get it checked out / removed. just worried at her age if surgery would be wise.

    1. Hi Steve. I would always remove masses when they arise near sensitive areas like eyes, mouth, feet, tail and anus. Even if they are benign (as this one sounds likely to be), their position ends up being a problem, as has happened here. Age alone won’t stop you having it removed, something I’ve written about before.

  31. I have a 15 year old Shih tzu, I noticed he had a strange lump on his left side near his hind leg it feels like fat but it’s underneath his skin and is roundish it’s not very visible but it’s definitely something under his skin. It’s worrying me

  32. What would a rice grain sized and textured thing under the skin of the base of my 9 month old dachshund’s penis be? It’s the hardness of a rice grain and is fixed – not moving with the skin.

    1. Hi Joanna. If he was desexed this could be remnant suture material (usually a knot) and therefore no concern. Otherwise, it’s hard to say, and always worth getting checked.

  33. Hi there,

    I have a 18 week tuxedo goldendoodle. He has a small red lump at the very end of his tail. At first we thought it was a bug bite that appeared 3-4 days after we got him. Then it was barely noticeable for a week or 2. The week it’s reappeared even bigger because he licks at it. He doesn’t yelp when we touch it but you can tell it irritates him. Our vet said they have no idea what it is and suggested to amputate 2-3 in of his tail. He’s only 18 weeks from a creditable breeder, we don’t want to amputate part of his tail unless it’s a last result. Any suggestions? I have a picture of it after bathing him which shows it much clearer.

    1. Hi Jen. First, keep in mind that no one can be sure so be careful with my advice. But I would do this:
      1. Apply an elizabethan collar (your vet will fit one) large enough that he can’t lick the tail tip AT ALL FOR 100% OF THE TIME. This is much bigger than for, let’s say, a neutering wound, and therefore you need to make special care that he can access food and water with it on.
      2. Use antibiotics (I would use cephalexin) for as long as necessary, even 6 weeks if you can see improvement
      3. Fold a fresh band-aid type adhesive bandage over it twice a day to protect the tip from trauma caused by wagging into furniture etc (I use these to keep the weight down)
      4. Get a punch biopsy done under sedation and local anaesthetic (this is optional if it appears to be improving- literally two days of the above should show something if we’re on the right track).
      All this is on the principle that it’s caused by tail tip injury and subsequent self trauma. I could be wrong but the reason for trying this first is that even if it’s a nasty fungal infection or tumour, the tail is usually easy to amputate and isolate nasty spreading lesions. Please come back and post the outcome.

  34. Hi. I have 2 Siberian Huskies. The one I am worried about is 7 years old(roughly, he is a rescue)… i’ve noticed 2 small bumps on his neck. the front of his neck –
    not the back. They are small, flimsy to touch almost like a skin tag as in they hang extended from his skin somewhat… they look like some of the photos with the cauliflower like bumps on them(sorry for the tough description)… it is skin colored & hair grows out of them. I have never run into this & I am petrified. please help 🙁 thank you

    1. Hi Alexa. As a general rule, lumps with a narrow stalk that hang are rarely cancer. Of course, you need a vet to look but in the meantime I would not be especially worried.

  35. I have a 12 year old border collie cross who has developed a small lump above his anus. He was deserted as a pup. Yesterday we had a sample sent (fine needle aspiration)for cytology which has come back as inconclusive. Also why is this test done if it tends to give an inconclusive result. We have been told it is most likely a Perianal Adenoma. This lump is very small, and has not got bigger in the past month. I just wanted to get a second opinion and ask if it’s really necessary to operate due to size and that it is causing no discomfort.

    1. Hi Fiona. It’s best to remove perianal adenomas while they are small as they can grow to interfere with anal function. Desexing (neutering/castration) is helpful if not already done as it can help to prevent recurrence. As for the FNA, it is a test that gives us useful results every time for lipomas (see above) and about 50% of the time otherwise so it’s not a bad idea. Sorry it didn’t work for you this time.

  36. my 11 year old golden has a small bump on the top of her head between her ears. It’s either a wart or a cyst. She’s had it all her life. On occasion rarely oh, I have seen it bleeds. Can I freeze it off with a common wart freezing spray.? The size is smaller than a dime. But it sticks up and parts her hair.

    1. Hi MaryLu. It won’t be a wart (see above) and other lumps are not removable with freezing sprays. If she’s had it all her life it’s unlikely to be a problem just as it is.

  37. Hi! I am on vacation right now and not near my vet. I’m very familiar with all of the lumps on my dog. This morning I noticed what looked like either a skin tag or a tick on my dogs leg. I don’t see any legs on it like if it were a tick but she did go walking in a little woods between camp sites. I played with it enough trying to check for legs and a little oil came out of it. After the oil came out, it seems the skin slid back and now it looks like a pink skin tag. I have pictures but cannot seem to add them here. Please help!

    1. Hi Erika. Sorry you can’t send pictures but they are very hard to get a definitive answer from. It’s very unlikely to be a tick because (with good eyesight) you can see the tiny little legs at the end where it attaches to the skin. Most of the time in this situation it is a skin tag or another sort of lump instead. If you don’t live in a paralysis tick area (east coast of Australia) then it’s not an emergency but of course a visit to the vet is recommended.

  38. My 10 year old boston terrier has a very hard non movable lump on his back below his shoulder blades. He has two lipomas but this is much firmer. I’m going to get it checked out but it has me worried. Is it possible that this could be a lipoma too? It’s round.

    1. Hi Andrea. Lipomas can fool us sometimes, but this doesn’t sound like one, especially because it’s firm and non-mobile. Getting it checked out is definitely the best thing to do.

  39. Hi my 6 year old Doberman develop a wart-like lump on her right side chest area, where her right front leg can rub on when she runs. First noticed it about 8-9 months ago, it was very small back then. But now 8 months later it has doubled in size, I measured today at 0.8cm. It light pink in color with some black pigmentation, soft like a nipple (in fact at first I thought it was another nipple!). She doesn’t seem to be bothered by it and it do not bleed or oozes. Her vet doesn’t seem to be too concern about it because she say she can basically pick it up together with the skin and couldn’t feel it attach to anything underneath her skin. So it’s basically just an above the skin lump.

    Do you think it looks worrying? Does double in size in 8 months time consider fast growing? It grows about 0.05cm-0.1cm every 1-2 months, not really noticeable with the growth by eye but I keep a measurement almost monthly.

    1. Hi Kerry. Your vet is right in saying there is probably no urgency in dealing with the lump. That’s because very few skin lumps in dogs will metastasise to elsewhere in the body and this one has a wide margin of skin that can be removed with it. If the local growth is acceptably slow (as it is) then it’s fine to watch them.
      However, in your case I would have this lump removed. The lump does not sound like anything simple, and given that your Doberman is only six years old, you can extrapolate that it will become a problem in time. Although it’s just my opinion, I would rather take this one out while it’s small and possibly also get it analysed just in case another one appears.

  40. Hi, my 8 year old poodle mix has had a lump on his hind leg for about a year & a half. When it first appeared, it was a little smaller than a pencil eraser. We had it checked out, and vet simply told us it did not look serious and to keep an eye on it. Now, it has grown slightly bigger than pea size. It is round, a little squishy, and can be moved around. Slightly pink. My dog never seems to notice it. Now, the vet still doesn’t believe it’s serious but wants to remove it while he cleans my dog’s teeth “just in case.” I am going to another vet to request a fine needle aspiration because I’m worried about MCT. Does this sound anything like a MCT?

    1. Hi Amee. It’s hard to be sure, but it sounds a lot like the mystery lump I’ve described above. The path your vet is suggesting is a common and very sensible one, in removing a lump under another simple procedure just in case it’s a problem. I also like your thinking and getting an FNA first because it’s very hard to ever be certain about a lump without one. However, in your case I think it’s safe enough to trust your vet’s judgement that it’s not an MCT.

      1. Thank you for the response. I did have the FNA done & vet was unable to give me a diagnosis because she got mostly skin cells in the needle. I am having to the bump removed while my dog is having his teeth cleaned in a few weeks. The vet has given me the option to send the bump off for biopsy after getting it removed. Is it worth it? If not cancerous, what else could the bump be? The vet who did the FNA was pretty certain it wasn’t a lipoma or MCT, as she says those probably would’ve shown up with the FNA test. This whole bump situation is driving me nuts.

      2. Hi Amee- good to hear, and yes, FNAs can be unreliable. You can trust your vet’s opinion on whether the lump needs analysis. I would approach the issue by cutting it open after removal and unless it’s an obvious cyst, I would always advise sending it. The only drawback is the $200. Many owners decline this, and that’s perfectly OK too, especially if the vet says they got a good margin around it.

  41. We have a nine year old Golden Doodle. Riley has always had from a very young age, lipomas over his chest and sides. They grow slowly and we have had them checked (FNA) by our vet. Recently we got back from a trip and noticed a large lump that popped out on Riley’s left hip, very large and felt like it had sections. It was soft but firm. A needle inserted brought up blood so my vet assumed it was an abcess. After the first needle drainage, it required additional work which had to be done under anesthesia. He had multiple drains, antibiotics and finally another surgery to open the small incisions. A biopsy was sent twice and the verdict seems to be soft tissue sarcoma. Once the drains and the stitches were out, the skin healed very quickly but the lump/bumps are now three times larger, very firm and although no x rays or MRIs have been done, we are being told it is invasive soft tissue sarcomas and is probably in his bones. Riley is walking easily and asks for his daily walks every day, but he is breathing heavily after a gentle mile and a half. Should we have him put down before he exhibits pain, should we put him through more tests? Right now he sleeps most of the day, occasionally plays, runs, jumps, barks, rolls, and generally appears well. The lumps do not seem to hurt him although they look very bad. He eats very well, begs for treats, has no trouble with eliminations.
    Occasionally he drags his left hind leg or appears to stumble but exhibits no other discomfort. I am unsure if we can or should do more to find out how extensive the cancer is and if he is just not letting us know how much it affects him. Any advice would be welcome. Kim and Vic

    1. Hi to you both. Your story demonstrates the ease with which sarcomas are missed, especially in dogs that have a history of lipomas, which look very similar. Although I have seen it happen a few times, sarcomas actually rarely spread to the bones, and cause most of their harm by local invasion. One of my patients with a similar tumour recently lived for 12 good months after diagnosis. I believe it’s always important to judge the time for euthanasia by their happiness and quality of life, not the appearance of the mass. A good idea in the meantime is to trial some pain medication to see if it helps him.

  42. I have a 8 yr old female Yorkie. She has a small raised lump (smaller than a pencil eraser) right in front of her ear close to the top of her head. It is pink with brown areas. It almost looks like the brown areas are growing on the pink lump. I am concerned about the discoloration. She gets regular massages, so I know the lump is new. Please advise.
    Thank you,
    Jamie

    1. Hi Jamie. It sounds like a sebaceous adenoma (see above). One clue is that you should be able to easily scrape off the brown areas with your fingernail.

  43. I have a 3 yr old Min Pin who just went through her second heat cycle a few weeks ago and I just noticed on her very lower belly on one side, she has a lump. It’s not hard and it kind of feels like liquid. What could this be And is it serious?

    1. Hi Kerrie- it’s probably a cyst in the mammary glands based on her recent season (she could even have a pseudopregnancy- squeeze a nipple and see if there’s milk). If so, nothing to worry about but of course, standard disclaimer… only a checkup will confirm this!

      1. Thank you so much. This is my baby and I was really starting to worry. This eases me a little. I’ll definitely get her checked out.

  44. Hi! We have a 1.5 year old plott hound and first noticed a small red lump on his head in early February. It grew larger and crusted over. Our vet said it is a Histiocytoma, which is benign and usually goes away on its own. However, the growth has opened and it is a bit raw and red now with some crust around the edges still. Our vet recommended putting him out to remove it, but we’re unsure if we should if it is just going to go away on its own? Any help you can give is appreciated! I have a photo but am unsure how to attach it here

    1. Hi Brianna. It doesn’t sound like a histiocytoma now that it has broken open so the advice you received is probably correct. The only other thing I would wonder is whether it might be a granuloma (there’s a picture of one on a nose at the start of this page) I don’t think a photo would help all that much as we are often in the dark over exactly what these things are. Certainly, not all of them need removal but after a period of time (especially on the head without much skin) it’s a good idea to have it removed.

  45. Hi Andrew!
    I have a husky-mixed mongrel and he is around 10 months old. I’ve just found a 5cmx 5cm mobile lump under his fur around his belly area. It is completely covered by his fur, the lump is soft , mobile and not painful. He is otherwise eating well.
    I’ve booked a vet appointment already but just wondering what could it be.

    1. Hi Winnie. It sounds like an umbilical hernia, but if so it would have always been there (possible in a hairy puppy). These are right over the ‘belly button’ area. Definitely worth a check though- let me know the result.

  46. I have a 12 yo mix (I think he has some Pit and maybe some Dane in him). He is about 80lbs. For about a year he has had a soft round lump under this skin on his chest that is not tender and is completely covered with his fur ( so no hair loss). You can kind of move the lump around and it does not seem to bother him. I can’t afford a Vet due to just losing my last one to Mast Cell Cancer and being in debt from that. She was 13 so I am scared. He also has a dark brown bulbous type growth that almost looks like an extra paw pad but it looks like it is very slowly getting bigger. It is outside l, clearly defined and smooth. Doesn’t seem to bother him and is about an inch round (if that makes sense – so like an inch across and an inch length) no pink or anything. Just looks like a large extra paw pad that has very slowly gotten bigger. Any thoughts?

    1. Hi Rikki. The first lump you describe sounds like a lipoma, which is a typically benign fatty tumour under the skin of dogs. It should be mobile, rubbery, and very slow-growing. These are usually okay to watch unless they occupy a position that interferes with mobility.
      The second lump I’m sorry I could not identify from the description.
      Can I stress for both lumps the low cost and importance of getting a vet to check them while they still can be taken out. For example, a mast cell tumour identified via a fine needle aspiration when less than a centimetre in size is almost always removable. In our clinic the cost for such a check is only a consultation fee at around $60.

  47. We have a boxer about 7 years old and has a black bubble that looks like melanoma on the side of his eye. What would you suggest to do?

    1. Hi Louisa – Boxers are very prone to tumours and black pigmentation is suspicious for melanoma. It’s certainly worth getting your vet to have a look.

  48. Hi my Nancy is Chris. My 3 yr old English Staffy has a smooth round lump on the under side of her tail that trails off. I have seen a vet who was supposed to do a biopsy but didn’t get time. However after reading your article I am thinking maybe be best to take the whole tail as it is cartilage and ankored to the bone ? What do you think? It’s close to the base of her tail.

    1. Hi Chris – you are right in saying that it is often necessary to remove part of the tail with nasty lumps in that region. However, there are certainly benign growths that don’t require this so a surgical biopsy is wise first.

  49. We have a 5 month old weimariner. We just noticed a large lump on the top of her head. It is soft ro the touch and doesnt seem to be slowinh her down any. She still eats and plays, but this has developed in the last day or two. Any thoughts? I plan to take her to the vet tomorrow, if at all possible.

    1. Hi Alice. It’s hard to say without seeing it but if the lump is soft and centred exactly over the bony prominence on the top of the skull it may be a seroma caused by impact. I’m only guessing this because you have a five month Weimaraner, just the sort of breed to go knocking their head on the underside of tables! Definitely get it checked though.

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