When to Get a Mass Removed from your Dog

Just like humans, dogs can develop lumps, bumps, and growths anywhere on their body. While it’s normal to feel concerned, the reality is that the majority of masses that occur on our pets are either perfectly harmless or can be easily treated. So, how do you know when you should get a mass removed from your dog? Let’s find out.


Are a Mass and a Tumor the Same Thing?

Unsurprisingly, the greatest concern of owners of animals with unusual lumps or bumps is that their pet has cancer. This worry can be exacerbated if your vet uses the word ‘tumor’. However, it’s important to remember that the term tumor can be used to refer to any sort of swelling or lump that develops on your pet and doesn’t necessarily refer to cancer.


Determining the Nature of Your Pet’s Mass

Before your veterinarian decides whether or not to remove a mass from your pet, they will first need to do further investigation to determine exactly what it is. A physical examination can only provide a limited amount of information, so what your vet may suggest is a minimally-invasive diagnostic procedure called Fine Needle Aspirate. This process involves inserting a very thin needle into the growth in order to remove a small number of the cells. These can be evaluated under a microscope to decide what type of cells they are, uncovering the reason for your dog’s lump.


Common Causes of Lumps and Bumps on Dogs

There are many different types of lumps, bumps, and masses that can affect our canine companions. Here are some of the most common causes of masses on dogs and when it’s necessary to get them removed.



These are fatty, benign lumps that are particularly common in overweight dogs. Lipomas may be recommended for removal if they become particularly large, uncomfortable, or get in the way of your dog moving around.



These are swollen lumps that contain pus and are caused by infection. They generally require draining and cleaning, which will treat them and enable them to disappear. In some cases, your dog may also need antibiotics to ensure that they don’t return.


Sebaceous Cysts

These hard lumps form under the skin and are the result of a blocked sebaceous gland. Lumps can become red and sore, and they may seep a creamy-colored fluid. They are most often seen in older dogs in the middle part of their back, and they should be left alone to resolve themselves unless they become infected.




These very small nodule-like bumps are often seen on younger dogs, particularly on the limb area. They usually resolve themselves, but biopsy is essential since they do look like some types of cancerous tumors. They also look similar to granulomas, which are raised red lumps with a surface crust. Most granulomas will need to be surgically removed.



Dogs can get warts too, and they can occur at any age. They look just like skin tags or can be made up of several small lumps on the surface of the skin. Warts can be highly contagious so if your dog regularly mixes with others (such as at a boarding facility or daycare center) they are more likely to develop them. They can be left for your dog’s body to fight the virus naturally, after which they will go away. However, if they are causing your dog discomfort or irritation, your vet may recommend that they are removed.



Melanomas in dogs aren’t actually caused by exposure to UV light and are far less malignant than human varieties. In fact, they can be benign or malignant and appear as dark, slow-growing lumps on the skin. Your vet will almost certainly remove them surgically.


Squamous Cell Carcinomas

These tumors develop on hairless areas and look like crusted sores. They are caused by sun exposure and should be removed as quickly as possible since if they are left, they can lead to pain and deformities, as well as spread to other areas of the body.


Malignant Masses

Any lump or bump that is found to be malignant will be removed as quickly as possible to prevent any growth to nearby tissues, or metastasis (where tumor cells use the bloodstream to reach other areas of the body). In some cases, dogs with malignant masses will need further treatment in the form of chemotherapy or radiotherapy to prevent further spread.



If your dog has an unusual lump or bump, it may likely be completely harmless but we strongly recommend that you don’t take any chances and contact us to schedule an appointment for evaluation as soon as you can. Call Van Lue Veterinary Surgical in Oviedo, Florida at (321) 348-6300 today.

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