The last thing any pet owner wants to discover on their beloved pet is a lump that they are quite certain wasn’t there before. Regardless of how rational and calm we may try to be, it can be very difficult to keep that horrible “C” word from wandering through your mind. So how do we know when it’s safe not to worry, and when we need to take our pet to the vet?
Following are some of the basic causes behind lumps forming on a pet’s body:
- A lipoma. These are soft, round, non-painful masses of fatty tissue normally found just under the skin. They usually do not invade surrounding tissue or metastasize to other areas of the body, but rather simply grow to a certain size and hang around. However, some lipomas are malignant and can spread throughout the body, while others can grow so large that they become quite uncomfortable.
- A sebaceous cyst. These skin cysts are normally nothing more than oil glands that have been plugged up with dead cells, sweat or clear fluid. In many cases they will rupture and heal on their own, leaving no trace, but others may become irritated or infected and may need to be removed and checked further.
- A sebaceous adenoma. It can sometimes happen that sebaceous glands in the skin develop into tumors called sebaceous adenomas. They don’t normally cause trouble if they are surgically removed early on.
- A melanoma. This is a cancer of the skin, which can often be successfully treated if detected early.
The truth is that it is always a good idea to have your pet checked by a veterinarian if you discover any sort of lump on their body, especially if you think that the lump suddenly appeared and is considerable in size. Even a veterinarian who may be willing to hazard a guess about a lump’s origin and character will usually recommend a biopsy for confirmation. If the lump turns out to be nothing of concern, having a veterinarian tell you so can put your mind at ease so that you don’t continue to worry about it. If the lump turns out to be an indicator of a serious health issue, having it diagnosed immediately after discovering it can help ensure faster treatment. A veterinarian can also explain if surgery, chemotherapy, radiation or some other therapy is most advisable.