Many dog owners automatically assume that any skin growth is a sign of cancer. In reality, most of these lumps are harmless and not cause for alarm. However, you won't be able to distinguish the harmless lumps from the bad ones on your own, so you should always report any unusual skin growths to your veterinarian.
Lumps, bumps, and lesions
The lumps that dogs develop can be the result of an abscess, a cyst, or a malignant or benign tumor. They can also be hives, caused by an allergic reaction or fatty deposits called lipomas. These fatty lumps are simply a clump of fat cells concentrated in one location and form a bump under the skin.
Eyelid lumps are usually benign, however it's a good idea to have them surgically removed as rubbing the eye can cause infections.
Warts are another type of lump you might come across on your senior dog. Depending on the wart's size and/or where the wart is located on your dog's body, your veterinarian may choose to leave it alone or surgically remove it.
What should you do if you find a lump?
Regular grooming and massage offer excellent opportunities to check your dog for any unusual lumps and bumps. If you come across a lump on your dog that you hadn't noticed before, or if your dog has an existing lump that has changed in size, or suddenly started bleeding, report it to your vet immediately.
When you take your dog to the vet, he or she will perform a complete physical exam. If your vet feels that the lump could be a tumor, a biopsy may be taken which will be sent to a veterinary pathologist for examination. In the event that the lump is cancerous, your vet may recommend surgery and other therapies.