Pet Cancer Awareness Month: What to Know When Looking at Lumps

veterinarian with dog














Most pet owners know the stomach-dropping feeling of finding a lump on their animal, and it’s easy for our imaginations to jump to the worst-case scenario. It’s important to know that less than half  of the bumps and lumps you find on dogs are not malignant, but that certainly doesn’t mean you can ignore the issue. Seeing as November is Pet Cancer Awareness Month, we thought we’d offer a slight bit of insight into the different types of lumps and bumps pets can develop. With that said, we always say it’s always best to get your veterinarian’s professional opinion.

Sebaceous Cysts.

These are superficial, liquid-filled bumps caused by clogged oil glands and typically rupture on their own but, in some cases, can require surgical removal. They do occasionally develop into tumors called sebaceous adenomas which rarely present bigger health issues. Most pet owners are aware if this is something their pet is prone to.


A commonly encountered painless lump that is typically benign. These lumps stay in one place after growing to a certain size and don’t usually require removal unless they impede your pet’s mobility.

Mast Cell Tumor.

While some of these tumors may be benign, they’re usually malignant and should be monitored closely. Look for any changes in size, color, and shape, as any rapid changes in these characteristics can be indicative of a mast cell tumor and should be looked at right away. Common malignant tumors include:

  • Abdominal tumors, which can be hard to detect from the outside. Look for diarrhea, weight loss, bloody stool, and indications of stomach pain.
  • Mammary tumors, which are most common in unspayed females and will be found in the mammary wall.
  • Skin cancers, which are the most common; look for unusual red or black spots on the skin, small lumps on the spine, skull, or pelvic region, or sores that won’t heal, typically near their head.
  • Other lumps and bumps your pet can develop but rarely cause health issues include:


Most commonly found around the mouth, warts are caused by a virus and will typically go away on their own but older dogs may require professional removal.


Hematomas are basically large blood blisters that form around the site of a recently injured area.


An abscess is a pus-filled sac that forms around a wound to aid in healing.

It’s important to take time regularly to give your pet a good rub down so that you can monitor any new developments and consult your veterinarian as necessary. Remember that feeding your pet a quality diet along with regular exercise can play a paramount role in the prevention of these popping up.

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