Written by: Alison Laurie, Senior Consultant, Crown Vets Inverness
As your pet gets older you may notice more ‘lumps and bumps’ appearing over his body. Although, thankfully, a lot of lumps are actually harmless and benign, it is impossible to tell exactly what sort of lump your individual pet has just by looking at it. Usually some tissue samples are required for a definitive diagnosis of what the lump actually is.
There are many different things that can cause skin or tissue swellings, from severe bruising/bleeding under the skin (a haematoma), wart lesions, cystic growths (e.g. Sebaceous cysts), abscesses, ‘things’ attached to the skin (e.g. external parasites ‘ticks’!) and also abnormal tissue growths, which can be benign or malignant lumps.
If you find any unusual lumps, bumps or swellings on your pet you should ask one of our vets to check over these. Although a lot of lumps are harmless, some can be dangerous to your pet if is left untreated. Of particular concern here are some skin cancer lesions for example melanomas or mast cell tumours. Some malignant cancers can sadly make your pet very unwell if the cancer then spreads to other body tissues and organs. If your pet has an unusual lump and he is also showing signs of illness for example weight loss, sickness, tiredness, lethargy, excessive drinking, then it is very important for you to arrange an appointment to have this lump checked out and also mention any symptoms of illness to the Vet. The Vet will examine the lesion and will also thoroughly examine your pet to check for any other signs of illness and will make sure that there are no other obvious external growths present.
If concerned your Vet then will take some samples from the lump/s to try to establish what sort of lump this is. Taking a tissue sample from a lump can be as easy as taking a few cells from the growth with a needle and syringe. This is known as a ‘fine needle aspirate’, or, it may be advised that it may be necessary to take an actual piece of the lump, a biopsy, under an anaesthetic for a diagnosis before any surgery is attempted. These tissue samples are generally examined carefully at an external pathology Laboratory. Once your Vet has the results and knows what the ‘lump’ is, they will then be able to advise on the best treatment for your pet from there.
If you are at all concerned about any lumps or bumps please do contact us for a thorough check up and advice.