My Dog has a Lump on its Skin, What is it?

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Published: 11th January 2011
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They can occur both on the trunk or on the limbs, and though they are completely benign, occasionally they can become so large that they are a nuisance to the dog and only then is surgical excision necessary. More common in cats than dogs. Some cancers attack the skin, while others may attack the bones, blood, organs and even the connective tissue. When presented with a skin tumor, a veterinarian has 2 issues to deal with.

What is the difference between benign and malignant tumors?

Surgical excision is usually curative if good margins are achieved, and those cases with incomplete margins benefit from post operative radiotherapy to kill the remaining cancer cells. The medical science that studies cancer in animals is called veterinary oncology and veterinarians that specialize in cancer diagnosis and treatment are called veterinary oncologists.

Basal Cell Tumor


Therefore, owners of such dogs should meticulously examine their dogs skin at periodic intervals to search for any suspicious lumps.
It is a well defined, well circumscribed mass with a soft rubbery texture to it. If a mast cell tumor is squeezed it will therefore release histamine and cause a wheal reaction on the skin. Histiocytoma

The lipoma is the most common subcutaneous tumor in dogs. These are not tumors, they are harmless, well marginated stable skin growths that are present at birth, but can grow in old age.


2 Is further treatment required once it has been removed

They are not tumors, but accumulations of sebum within the gland due to a blocked duct, which can often be resolved by squeezing it.

Usually seen in juvenile dogs around 18months old, though can occur at any age. Surgical excision is curative.

Some squamous cell carcinomas are very difficult to remove though, such as a nasty infiltrative form which occurs on the nasal planum. Mast cell occur naturally in the skin, performing an important function in releasing histamine and heparin in response to various allergic stimuli. Warts and Papillomas

Skin lumps are very common in dogs. Cancer is not just one disease but several. This is a common malignant tumor in both cats and dogs. Sebaceous Cysts

It usually occurs on relatively hairless non pigmented skin and can be triggered by long or repeated exposure to UV light. Surgical excision or cryosurgery with liquid nitrogen is curative.

They are slow growing and a very common occurrence in older overweight dogs.

If a mast cell tumor is confirmed on a fine needle aspirate, it should be surgically excised as soon as conveniently possible. However, higher grade tumors tend to be aggressively invasive and complete excision is not always feasible. Histamine can also cause vomiting so affected dogs may present with upset stomachs.

Mast cell tumors do not have a specific appearance. Mast Cell Tumors


They tend to be moveable over underlying structures and are slow growing. They grow rapidly over about 6 weeks to a maximum size of around 2cm, and are domed hairless lumps within the skin that can ulcerate. 1 Is it a type of tumor that requires surgical removal


Squamous Cell Carcinoma

This is proliferation of the sebaceous tissue mentioned above to form cauliflower like warts that may become traumatised, ulcerate and bleed. Sebaceous Hyperplasia

The key step for the veterinarian is to differentiate histiocytomas from mast cell tumors (see later), which can be easily done via a fine needle aspirate.

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