Lumps & Bumps

Why Does My Dog Have Skin Lumps? What Are These?

You’re petting or scratching your best furry pal, when your fingers discover a lump under his fur that wasn’t there before.

Is it a fatty deposit, a wart, a blood blister, an infection, a bug bite... or something much worse?

The only way to know is to bring your pet to his veterinarian.

Some of the More Common Causes of Skin Lumps

Cysts - Often rupture and heal on their own. Some will become chronically infected or irritated and may need to be removed by your vet. Unfortunately, some of these cysts may develop into tumors, but removal generally solves the problem.

Lick Dermatitis - happens when a self-licking dog creates a hairless and sometimes raised lesion, usually on the leg. Often caused by boredom or anxiety, this wound won’t heal until the dog quits licking, which means discovering the cause for the behavior and treating it, as well as the wound.

Allergic Dermatitis - an allergic reaction showing up as small bumps or blisters on skin areas that are sparsely haired. Once the cause is discovered (such as topical antibiotics, metals, chemicals or plant irritants like poison ivy) and removed, the dog should heal. Steroids and antihistimines may be used to encourage healing.

Calluses - formed when bony pressure points are chronically irritated. Most common in large breed dogs, calluses can be minimized by providing softer bedding and padding.

Fungal Infections - can be caused by a number of organisms, most often found in soil or bird droppings. Antifungal medications can heal most of these infections.

Bug Bites – Biting fleas, mosquitoes, chiggers, ticks and spiders can leave irritated and itchy bumps on the dog’s skin. Some, like spider bites, can also be very painful. Repel these pests with medicines provided by your vet; severe itching can be controlled with steroids and antihistamines. It helps if you can find the causative insect, but your vet most likely will be able to determine the cause from the look of the bumps.

Hookworms - can cause red bumps on the feet, rough foot pads, abnormal nail growth and itching. The dog must be treated for intestinal infection to kill the worms.

Mites - cause Sarcoptic mange, which causes intense itching. The dog will scratch and bite itself, and hairless patches will develop, often covered in crusts, papules or scales. Medication is needed to cure this.

Nevi - usually benign bumps, small, firm and often showing in groups on head and heck. They may indicate an underlying disease, and are often surgically removed.

Warts - are benign and usually see in puppies. They usually resolve on their own; if not, cryosurgery will remove them.

Blood Blisters - often occur in dogs with ear infections, especially in dogs with pendulous ears. These blisters, or hematomas, may resolve on their own, or may need to be drained.

Infections - many different organisms can cause skin bumps, some of which will ooze or be pus-filled. It’s best to bring the dog to the vet for a diagnosis to determine the cause of the infection and the proper medication to promote healing.

Lipomas – common fatty deposits that form under the skin and are usually harmless. Lipomas tend to be soft, rounded and not painful. Dogs don’t seem to be bothered by them, unless they grow extremely large. They tend to stay benign…but sometimes a lipoma turns malignant, and begin to spread throughout the dog’s body.

Does My Dog Have Skin Cancer?

Some lumps do turn out to be cancerous, but there’s no way to know for certain with examining the cells under a microscope. It’s important to get a simple needle biopsy done for a solid diagnosis. If your dog has a cancerous tumor, surgery is most likely required. There are some cancers that are not operable, and you and your vet will need to decide the best and most humane course of action at that point.

As always- bring your pet to his veterinarian if you see something wrong with him. It can save his life.