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What do lumps mean on dogs?
Dogs are susceptible to developing a wide range of issues as they age, though one of the most common occurrences in older dogs are lumps and bumps. Owners may assume that every new bump on their dog is a tumor or cancer, but in reality, lumps and bumps can appear for a variety of reasons.
New bumps can be caused by ingrown hairs, cysts or an overgrowth of fatty tissues. The latter issue is the most common and is known as lipomas, or warts. Sometimes these issues will show up as just lumps under your dog's skin, while other times the bumps can be on the surface of the dog's skin, causing painful cysts that can discharge fluids. Other times, these lumps can be a sign of something more serious such as cancer, so with any new bumps, the best idea is to bring the dog to the vet for an evaluation.
Most vets can easily tell if a new bump is just lipomas, but they'll likely still run tests to confirm the lumps aren't cancer. To test this, the vet will perform a needle aspirate to take out some cells from the lump. The lump tissues will then be sent to an outside laboratory where medical professionals can examine the cells. In other cases, a surgical excisional biopsy may need to be performed. In this scenario, the dog will need to go under anesthesia while the surgery is performed. If the test comes back negative, there is no real need to do anything else for the bump as they fatty tissue will not cause the dog any harm. However, if the test shows cancer, the vet will likely discuss various treatment plans with you to pick the best option for your dog.
Even if the test comes back negative, it's important to check for new bumps frequently – similar to checking for new moles or changes in moles on your own body. There are also other ways in which you can help your aging pet age more gracefully, starting with keeping its joints in good health. Consider starting the dog on a joint enhancing supplement that contains glucosamine for dogs to help keep the cartilage surrounding the joints strong. Switching out your dog's current treats for a variety like Greenies JointCare Dog Treats also improves joint health. If it is in pain due to arthritis, the vet may prescribe pet drugs like Metacam.