What is this lump on my dog?

Lumps are always a topic that is met with trepidation, the burning question – is it cancer? To even get close to those kinds of answers, your veterinarian will almost definitely need to perform some in-consult testing. Whilst you provide some love and support to your pet, the clinician will introduce a fine needle into the lump to collect some cells. These cells will then have a special stain applied in the clinic’s laboratory, and be viewed by the veterinarian – all during your consultation (at modern clinics)! 

Your clinician may be able to identify the lump at this point, if not they may suggest further testing. Ultimately though, the best place for most lumps is pretty much anywhere BUT on your dog.

Here is a very brief snapshot of some common lumps you might notice on your dog;

  • Lipomas

    “Fatty tumours”, “adipocyte tumours”, “fatty cysts”

    This is a very common lump in middle-aged to older dogs, they are usually soft to touch and can be moved around under the skin. The good news is that they are usually benign but can grow into the muscle or important nerves and blood vessels, so they can become a real problem.


  • Sebaceous adenomas

    Often confused to be warts. These little cauliflowers are super common on older dogs, and unfortunately, some dogs really get the lion’s share when it comes to these guys. The good news is that these are completely benign tumours of the oil glands in the skin and unless they are irritating your dog, or at risk of being traumatised, they’re really not a worry.

  • Sebaceous cyst

    These are firm, smooth lumps found within the skin, and when cut open they spew out their gooey white insides. Not a problem unless they become infected or irritate your dog. If they are ‘popped’ like a pimple, they tend to recur, surgical removal of the cyst wall is required for permanent removal.

  • Histiocytomas

    A common lump found on top of the skin of the face and legs in young animals, usually between 1 and 2 years of age. The great thing about these little guys is that they pop up real-quick, and for most dogs, they disappear all on their own!

  • Mast Cell Tumours

    A pesky little tumour that can just about mimic all of the other skin lumps. They are common lumps, especially in short-faced breeds like boxers and pugs, and can be nasty news. These are the very reason why we need to test every lump (even after we remove the lump!).

Every lump is lumpy, and it’s no easy task to accurately identify which is which (I mean… even us vets need to do some serious testing and examining to figure it out). 

Lumps are common, but that definitely doesn’t mean they’re normal. You should treat any lump on your pet as you would treat one on yourself – take them to their doctor to check and make sure everything is ok!   

Dr. Vicky Wade