Vetstreet. All rights reserved.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
It’s not pretty, but it’s a fact of life: We all get older. For some of our pets, that means often unsightly, suspicious and definitely disconcerting growths that arise on, in or just beneath the skin. Though often benign, these unwanted
lumps and bumps are never cosmetically pleasing and may well represent problems that are more than skin deep.
But first, a quick primer on the semantics of superficial lumps and bumps: Veterinarians commonly refer to these as “masses,” “tumors” or “growths,” regardless of their provenance or potential cancerous-ness.
No matter what we call them, one thing is clear: Almost all kinds of lumps and bumps appear much more often on older pets ––
dogs, mostly. And lumpy-bumpy skin tumors are so common, they’re listed among the top 10 reasons people take their dogs to their veterinarians.
Fortunately for cats, many common lumps are temporary. For example, cats often get bite wounds and
abscesses sustained while carousing the neighborhood or simply defending their territory from interlopers. Still, lumps on cats shouldn’t be ignored.
Though dogs can get
abscesses, too, for them (and some cats), the range of possibilities tends to be a bit broader. Benign (non-cancerous) superficial masses may include warts (papillomas) and wart-like masses, cystic tumors (fluid-filled masses), skin tags, sebaceous gland tumors (rarely, these can be malignant, or cancerous) and others.
lipomas (or fatty tumors) are so ubiquitous among
dogs (and not so much in cats) they fall into a category all their own. They arise from fat cells beneath the skin and typically present themselves as roughly circular masses. They can sometimes grow quickly –– and occasionally to impressive proportions! Most, however, stay within the smaller range of three inches in diameter or less.
Occasionally, lipomas can infiltrate the tissues around them and become difficult to surgically remove. Another infiltrative variation on these tumors, liposarcomas, are malignant
but relatively rare.
cats and dogs aren’t exempt from
cancerous skin tumors. Mast cell tumors, soft tissue sarcomas, squamous cell carcinomas and basal cell carcinomas (a common skin mass of older
cats) are among the most seriously problematic lumps and bumps. In cats, for example, a relatively uncommon reaction can occur at vaccine injection sites, leading to a malignant
sarcoma. It’s usually best to treat malignant growths as soon as possible.
Why are older pets more likely to grow these lumps and bumps? This is the part we don’t fully understand. It’s clear, however, that the cells of older animals may lose some of their ability to regulate themselves properly, often leading to abnormal tissue growth.
The trouble is, it’s not easy to distinguish a benign lump from a
cancerous one by outer appearances alone. In most cases, a fine needle aspirate or biopsy can help identify the type of growth. So if you see a lump or bump on any pet, older or otherwise, head over to your veterinarian. Though likely to be benign, this is the best way to be sure you’re not ignoring something that may require attention.
More on Vetstreet:
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Take our breed quiz to find your next pet.
Get all the best pet news and information sent right to your inbox!
Thank you for subscribing!
From bringing in your puppy or kitten to
telling your friends about him or her, there
are plenty of ways to make a…
Studies show that therapy dogs are
helping kids recover from anesthesia and
having a positive effect on medical…
Have you heard that kittens can raise
themselves or that it's OK to let cats stay
home alone for long periods of…
Minimize the risk of a bad trick-or-treat
interaction by brushing up on your dog’s
manners before October 31.
Dr. Jenna Ashton shares how to
determine your pet's water intake and tips
for encouraging him to drink more.
If your cat's routine is thrown off by scary
decorations and trick-or-treaters, she
might not be on her best…
The Schapendoes (aka Dutch Sheepdog)
is known for his incredible jumping skills
and cheerful personality.
Parasites are no fun for dogs. Learn how
to protect your canine from heartworms,
hookworms, whipworms and more.
Check out our collection of more than 250 videos about pet training, animal behavior, dog and cat breeds and more.
Wonder which dog or cat best fits your lifestyle? Our new tool will narrow down more than 300 breeds for you.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.