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Lump under Dog’s Skin that moves (Hard, Tumors, Bumps)

You are likely to get worried when you discover lump or bumps under your dog’s skin. It is good to know that this is a common dog skin problem that need to be examined and treated by a veterinarian. While old dogs tend to have more of this problem, young ones can also be affected.

Vets have confirmed that most lumps are benign (non-cancerous) that does not pose health threat to a dog. Cancerous malignant growths can also be treated when discovered early enough and make appointment with a vet. Therefore, there is need to regularly check your dog skin for any growth.

What to do when you discover a Lump on a your dog

lump under dog's skin
lump under dog’s skin picture

While grooming or bathing your pet and discover a lump, you should not panic. Take your pet to a room with strong lighting and study the lump. Do not apply any pressure on it. Try to connect on when it started and if the dog has changed behavior in any manner. Visit or call a veterinarian.

Here is important information your vet would want to know:

  • Your dog’s age: Cancerous growths are common in older dogs although can also develop on the young ones.
  • When it the problem begun: Lumps that grow slowly and have been present for a longer time are likely to be benign.
  • The rate at which the lump is growing: Lumps that grow faster are more worrying and a cause of concern and are likely cancerous.
  • The nature of the bump: If it is hard, movable, firmly attached or discharging fluid substance.
  • Which area of the body is affected: Some types of tumors are likely to grow in specific areas.
  • Size and number: Whether the growth is a single lump or several and large or small.
  • The state of your pet: If it associate other symptoms such as weight loss, hair loss or disturbed?

The vet may also want to conduct further examination and diagnosis to determine the cause and type of growth on your canine pet. Further tests may involve the following:

  1. Fine needle aspiration (FNA): A small needle is inserted into the lump to extract cells that will be examined in a laboratory. They are placed on a slide and stained before viewing under s powerful microscope. This process may not need sedation or use of anesthesia.
  2. Biopsy: The vet can also decide to extract a small portion or entire lump that will be examined in the lab. Your pet will be sedated or given anesthesia before the piece is removed. The extracted lump or piece is placed in formalin then sent to the lab where thin sections are examined by the use of microscope
  3. Impression smear: Suitable for lumps that discharge fluid. The vet rub a slide on the lump to obtain a sample of the fluid, it is then stained and studied in the laboratory by a pathologist.
  4. Fungal/Bacteria culture: Fluid is obtained from the growth and taken to the lab to conduct fungal culture or bacterial culture. This can help in detecting if an infection is the cause.

Types of lumps on Dogs (Cancerous and Non-Cancerous)

Lumps can be classified as cancerous or non-cancerous. Cancerous lumps can be benign or malignant. Benign growth stay in one place and does not metastasize or spread to other parts, while malignant lumps spread rapidly too other areas of the body.

Non-cancerous lumps does not pose serious health threat although they can cause discomfort. They can be removed or sometime disappear on their own. Common types of benign lumps include the following:

  1. Lipomas ( Fatty Lumps)
    lump under dog skin
    fatty lumps and tumors

These are non-cancerous fat filled tumors found on dogs. They do not pose any health threat to your pet. Older dogs are more affected with lipomas than the younger ones.

Signs and symptoms of lipomas

  • They appear in form of lumps and bumps
  • Ugly in appearance with round oval shape
  • Forms mainly under the skin
  • They are freely movable tumors
  • Commonly found on undercarriage, on chest and abdomen although can appear anywhere
  • Soft and fat filled

Diagnosis and Treatment of lipomas

Serious physical examination by the vet can give a clue on the type of tumors. Any doubt can be confirmed by Fine needle aspiration, biopsy or microscopic examination.

Lipomas does not pose any heath danger to the dog. However, they can cause discomfort to the pet especially when they grow large. The dog can start biting or scratching at them and therefore need to remove them surgically.

  1. Abscess

These are swollen lumps that result from formation and building up of pus under the skin. Treatment of abscess involves draining out the accumulated fluids and cleaning with antibacterial solution. Prescribed antibiotics by the vet can also see the growth going away.

  1. Sebaceous cysts

Sebaceous cyst forms under the skin when an oil gland is blocked. They look like large pimples under the skin with white or creamy thick substance inside. They can be removed by fine needle aspiration especially when they are causing discomfort. Common on senior dogs mainly on the back.

  1. Warts

Can form on dogs across ages from the puppies to older ones. Warts are caused by a virus called papilloma. Warts can spread through body contact and therefore common among dogs who spend in daycares or dog parks. Warts appear like skin tags or small cluster of bumps commonly on the head or face. They does not pose health threat to the dog and usually goes away on their own without need for treatment.

  1. Hives (urticarial)

This is a skin reaction to allergen such as insect bite or sting. Red bumps, rash or huge swelling like a lump can form. Hives caused by contact allergy or insect bite may disappear on their own. Steroids or antihistamine medications can also be prescribed by the vet.

  1. Histiocytomas

They are ulcerated nodule commonly found on young dogs. Histiocytomas is non-cancerous tumors that appear like a red button lump. Highly possible to away on their own but it is good to have them checked by the vet.

  1. Perenial adenomas

Are begin tumors that commonly grow around the anal region in older non castrated dogs. These kind of lumps can be removed and prevent by castrating your dog.

  1. Granulomas

This type of lumps form as raised red lumps and sometimes have a crust surface or as hard lump under dog’s skin that moves. They should not be ignored since they grow aggressively. Biopsy or FNA can be used by the vet to remove granulomas growths.

  1. Haemangiomas

These are growths on blood vessels or on skin underlying tissues. Environmental factors such as too much sun exposure accelerate the rate of formation. The lumps can become malignant if not checked and removed by a specialist. Surgical incision, biopsy are lab tests are methods of diagnosis and treatment.

There are also different types of cancerous tumors. They are likely to spread at high rate to nearby tissues or through metastasis (likely to spread to blood or lymphatic system hence spread to distant areas. Common types include the following:

  1. Mast Cell tumor

This is a type of cancerous tumor related to immune system. Mostly common in older dogs of above 8 years of age. You cannot easily differentiate mast cell tumors from other types of growth unless you visit a dog specialist who can diagnose and treat them. FNA and biopsy are common methods of diagnosis. The tumor can be controlled or stopped when discovered early enough before it spread to other tissues.

  1. Fibrosarcoma

These are tumors that affect the connective tissue of the skin. They are aggressive growths that spread through local invasion. Fibrosarcoma tumors look like lipomass. Tests and vet examination can bring the difference and hence appropriate treatment.

  1. Melanomas

The growth can be malignant or benign. They appear as dark lumps on the skin. Growth of melanomas is usually slow although can become aggressive when on mouth or legs. Too much exposure to sunlight is directly linked as a cause.

  1. Squamous Cells carcinoma

This type of tumors grow by local invasion and commonly caused by too much exposure to sunlight. They are commonly found on hairless areas of the body such as nose, vulva, eyelids and nose. They appear as raised crusty sores. They can pose health threat to your dog when left untreated. Squamous Cells carcinoma can spread to other tissues or organs, hence causing deformities and pain.

  1. Mammary Carcinomas

Commonly found in female dogs and affects the mammary glands. They are classified as benign or malignant and able to spread to other mammary tissues and organs through the blood or lymph system. Treatment involves surgical removal of the mammary gland and chemotherapy.

  1. Chondrosarcomas

These are bone tumors commonly forms in the nose. Abnormal bone cells growths, unbalanced hormonal stimulation or genetic elements are possible causes. They should be treated before spreading. Surgery and chemotherapy may be used after diagnosis and examination by a specialist.


Always stay vigilant about lumps on dogs. They should be examined by vet to determine if they are benign or malignant. The early the diagnosis the better. Some lumps might be cancerous and pose health threat to your pet.

Additional resources:

Skin Lumps and Bumps in Dogs: pets.webmd.com

Lumps, Bumps, Cysts & Growths on Dogs: petmd.com

Lumps & Bumps in your Dog: animalcare.co.nz

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