One moment you are cuddling with your pet, and the next, you are trying to use Google to diagnose a strange lump – and growing more concerned with each post. Here’s the good news, most lumps and bumps found in cats are dogs are benign (non-cancerous) and can be treated at your pet wellness center.

Diagnosing a Lump

Although most lumps and bumps are nothing to worry too much about, it is still essential to have them checked out at your pet wellness center. Your vet will ask you for some background information, including when you first detected the lump, whether the size and shape have changed, and whether you have noticed any behavioural differences in your pet.

Tissue samples are usually collected to help your veterinarian make an accurate diagnosis. Testing methods include:

  • Skin scrape or impression smear: a small sample is taken from the surface of the lump and examined under a microscope
  • Fine needle aspirate: using a needle, a small sample is drawn from the lump and assessed
  • Biopsy: a minor surgical procedure used to obtain tissue samples that are sent to a pathologist for review.

Testing and correctly diagnosing a lump is essential to determining the right course of action and any next steps to be taken.

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Most lumps and bumps are non-cancerous. Instead, they result from fatty tumors (lipomas), cysts, abscesses, or mast cell tumors.

Fatty deposits, also known as tumors, are generally benign. Typically found in older pets, these deposits are not usually painful. If they are not impacting your pet’s ability to move, they do not need to be removed; however, they can be surgically removed if required.

Cysts and abscesses are common in cats and dogs and can result from blocked hair follicles, pores, oil glands, or bug bites or scratches. These types of bumps will often heal themselves; however, surgical removal and antibiotics may be required in the case of an abscess, where pus from an infection is unable to drain.

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Mast cell tumours are a mass or collection of white blood cells. They can be an indication of skin cancer in dogs but are rarely cancerous in cats. In either case, surgical removal is possible.

A fibrosarcoma is a malignant tumour made up of the uncontrolled growth of cells known as fibroblasts. These tumours most often appear on the limbs. Fortunately, in many cases, fibrosarcoma can be treated with surgery or a combination of surgical methods, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy.