Lumps and bumps are common in all pets and involve all areas of the body. They come in all sizes, numbers and consistencies and behave in a variety of manners. Some appear and disappear, some are there to stay, some are quick to grow and some progress slowly.

Pet owners should be concerned about any lump they notice on their pet. Lumps may be caused by tumors, inflammation, parasites, foreign bodies, abdominal content increase, tissue proliferation and fluid or other material accumulation. Here are some of the common causes of lumps and bumps in pets:

Blunt object trauma, insect bite or sting can induce a localized swelling that resolves spontaneously in a few hours or days. At times the skin will become reddish or bluish due to leakage of blood into the subcutaneous tissue.

Hard welling under the eye often indicates a tooth abscess. These lesions are common in dogs and require extraction of the diseased tooth and antibiotic treatment.

Dogs and sometimes cats may develop a sudden swelling of the ear, called ear hematoma. The lesion feels like a water filled balloon, which might start small and increase in size over the following days. As a matter of fact, it is a blood filled pocket under the skin. The blood originates from ruptured blood vessels following intense head shaking. Ear infections, objects in the ear canal or other irritation are common underlined problems. The treatment is surgery and if left untreated, the ear will become deformed and contorted (cauliflower ear).

Lumps in the throat and neck area may me enlarged lymph nodes and tonsils. Lymph nodes enlargement can be caused by infections (bacterial, fungal and other) or tumors such as lymphoma. Treatment varies depending on the cause.

Lumps and bumps involving the body are very common. Allergic reaction to food, vaccines, medications, bee stings etc. can induce hives, which are multiple small skin lumps covering large areas. Bite wound often develop abscesses, which are pus pockets. They usually require surgical treatment. Fatty and other soft tissue tumors are common in older animals. A precise diagnosis requires biopsy and pathology review. Another common lesions are sebaceous gland cysts or tumors. They sometimes need to be treated surgically, although conservative and medical treatment might be helpful as well. Foreign bodies, including plant material can cause a local reaction and inflammation. Vaccines will also cause similar lesions. In most cases, the vaccine reaction will resolve with time, however, rarely, some cats will develop malignant tumors.

Swelling of joints and limbs are often associated with arthritis and bone diseases. Bleeding disorders and rat poison can cause bleeding into the joints and induce swelling. Bone cysts and tumors are not uncommon in dogs and cats.  X-rays and other diagnostic tests are needed before treatment plans can be formulated.

Mammary gland tumors are common, especially in non-spays females. They can be benign or malignant. Inflammation or benign enlargement of the glands may also occur in cats, dogs and other mammals.

Anal sac disease is fairly common in dogs and less in cats. Impaction, inflammation and abscessation are by far the dominant lesions, however some pets will develop tumors. Intact male dogs are prone to perianal tumors and there is an association between the male sex hormones and the tumor development. Surgical removal of the tumors as well as castration is indicated in these cases.

Hernias may cause ventral and anal area swelling. Hernias usually are internal parts that break through the abdominal or perineal wall and create a lump under the skin. They require surgical correction.

There are many other causes of lumps and bumps in pets. Any lump should be promptly examined by the veterinarian. Early diagnosis is often the solution to cure.

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Yuval Nir
Naperville University Commons Animal Clinic-
1827 Wehrli rd
Naperville , IL , 60565
(630) 544-3333
Veterinarians, Animal hospital