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As with humans, dogs also get cancer, particularly as they get older. However, it can be difficult to know if a lump or bump is a tumour, or if it is attributed to another health problem. Likewise, without medical attention, it can be difficult to determine if a lump is cancerous, or if it is benign.
As always, if you notice any lumps, bumps or changes under your pet’s coat you should contact your vet immediately. This guide won’t replace our care and expertise, but it will give you the information you need to spot the warning signs, and hopefully catch cancerous lumps early.
What are Cancerous Lumps?
Cancerous lumps are tumours and growths that develop most commonly in the skin, digestive system and the breast in female dogs. Some lumps and bumps will be benign, such as lipoma, whilst others, such as mast cell tumours and carcinomas are malignant – cancerous.
How to Spot Cancerous Lumps in Dogs
As our pets age it is not uncommon for them to develop lumps in or under the skin, it is important to regularly check your pet over and bring them for a check up if you notice anything new.
The warning signs of cancer in dogs are fairly similar to those in humans, although some can be harder to spot due to your dog’s coat. Regular vets check ups and grooming services will help to catch anything you don’t notice at home.
A large lump might not necessarily be cancerous, it could be something benign like a lipoma. However, it’s always best to get changes like this checked out by your vet.
Sudden Appearance of Lumps
Some lumps and bumps grow over time, but a lump that develops suddenly is a warning sign to visit the vet.
Changes in Size, Colour and Texture
Like in humans, changes to existing lumps could be a sign of cancer. Look for changes in size, texture and colour, particularly if it becomes black or purple.
Discharge from Lumps, the Nose or the Eyes
Some cancerous lumps can produce a discharge which can be sampled to give a better idea of the underlying cause.
What Else Should I look Out For When Checking my Dog?
Sores and Wounds that Won’t Heal
Sores and wounds that persistently don’t heal with time could be a sign of multiple health issues including immune system problems, other infections, or cancer. Some cancers can look like open or non-healing sores.
Significant Weight Loss
If your dog has lost a lot of weight and they’re not on a diet, it’s time to get them checked out. Even if they don’t have cancer, it could be an indication of another health problem.
Chronic Vomiting or Diarrhoea
This is another sign that could indicate various health problems, but is also synonymous with gastrointestinal cancers. Have your dog checked out immediately if they are regularly vomiting or have diarrhoea often.
Weakness and Lethargy
Weakness, lethargy and generally not acting like themselves is a sign of cancer, but also an indication of various other ailments, particularly in older dogs. If you notice that your dog is weaker or more lethargic than usual, it might be time for a visit to the vets.
Common Types of Cancerous Lumps in Dogs
There are various types of benign lumps and bumps that your dog may develop over its lifetime, but the malignant, or cancerous, lumps are the most damaging to your pet. Here are some of the more common types of cancerous lumps that a dog might develop.
- Mast Cell Tumour – Cancer of the immune system and blood cells
- Fibrosarcoma – Invasive cancers that look like lipoma
- Melanoma – Skin cancer
- Squamous Cell Carcinoma – Skin cancer on hairless parts of the body
- Mammary Carcinoma – Breast cancer
- Osteosarcoma – Bone cancer
Is it Time to Call the Vets?
If you’ve noticed a new lump on your dog, or an existing lump has changed size, colour, or texture, then yes, it’s time to call the vets. Knutsford Vet’s friendly team is on hand to help and will get your dog booked in for examination as soon as possible. Call us on 01565 337999.