You Found a Lump on Your Pet. Now What?

Don’t panic. Lumps and bumps happen.

If you felt one while petting your dog, before you do anything else, take a deep breath. It’s easy to get worked up, especially if you consult the internet. Don’t. The important thing is to stay calm so that your dog doesn’t feel anxious. Then, take action.

Examine the lump

Sometimes, what feels like a lump at first, might be as simple as a scab. Brush aside your dog’s fur so that you can see the spot. Does it look like it’s above the surface of the skin? Is it soft or firm? Movable or attached? Jot a few notes of your initial impressions to be prepared for the next step. Mark the date in your notes so that, as you await an appointment with your vet, you can monitor changes and how quickly they occur.

Call your vet

Let them know where the lump is located, how long it’s been there, and whether or not it’s changed since you initially spotted it. Relay all the details from your initial examination. Some factors may affect whether or not your vet will squeeze you in for an urgent appointment.

Prepare for the appointment

Before you head off to your vet’s office, examine the lump a second time. Have you noticed any changes in size, shape or color since your first look? Has the skin started to peel? If there are changes, jot those in your notes. Also, think through your dog’s behavior: Has she been drinking more water? Urinating more or less frequently? Has her appetite changed? Anything out of the ordinary that you’ve noticed should go in your notes and to the vet. It’s better to cover more bases than to miss an important detail.

Your vet will probably poke the lump with a needle to get a sample. Some vets analyze it in house; others send the samples out. Regardless, you’ll get an idea of the contents of the lump, and then can formulate a plan, if necessary.

Finally, check your dog regularly

Many lumps and bumps are benign, like fatty bumps called lipomas or injuries. However, get in the habit of conducting a full-body scan of your dog on a regular basis. Use slight pressure to check your dog from nose to tail. Your dog will probably enjoy the massage, while you check for any spots. As dogs age, lipomas become more common, so it’s important to note their locations so you can identify anything new that pops up.

Meet the Author: Maggie Marton

Maggie is a writer and author, whose first book, Clicker Dog Training: The Better Path to a Well-Behaved Pup was published by Open Air Publishing. When she's not writing (or reading books about grammar), she teaches writing courses to college students and professionals who want to nail down the basics of communication. Outside of work, she hikes, throws dinner parties, plays with her three dogs and cat, and travels as much as possible.

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