A common belief (especially among the 'dog people') is that Labradors get Lumps. This is a myth that often causes unnecessary concern amongst people who own Labradors.
The myth is that you can cure Labradors of Lumps by getting them lumps. This article will attempt to debunk the myth and explain the facts.
What are Lumps In Dogs?
You’re on the couch, cozied up with your canine buddy, and you feel a bump. You try to remember when you last nuzzled this exact little spot. And before you know it, your mind is racing with questions. Is this lump new? What is it?
Quickly, this leads you to the ultimate concern: Could it be cancer? Without a vet’s expertise or test results, it's easy for our minds to get carried away and think the worst.
Most lumps are fatty tumors, though. These are benign, meaning not cancerous. Fewer than half of the lumps and bumps you find on a dog are malignant, or cancerous. Still, they can look the same from the outside, so it’s hard to tell.
Unless you’re sure about the cause of a lump or bump, bring your dog in for an exam. If you see fast growth, redness, swelling, pus, an opening, or if the dog is in pain, make that appointment even sooner.
The same goes for lumps that are in certain areas, like the face or paws, where surgery -- if needed -- is more complicated, the bigger the growth.
Your vet will want to know:
- If the lump appeared suddenly
- Whether its shape, color, or size has changed
- Whether your dog’s behavior, such as their appetite or energy level, is different.
Often, the vet will remove some cells from the lump with a fine needle. They'll then look at them under the microscope. Sometimes they can tell right away if it’s a fatty tumor.
If it’s too hard to tell, your vet will take a small tissue sample from the lump and send it out for a biopsy. In a few days, you'll find out if it's cancerous. If so, surgery can usually remove the lump.
The bigger concern is if cancer has already spread to other parts of the body. If so, your pet may need radiation or chemotherapy, or both.
Common Types Of Lumps
- Fatty Tumors happen most often in middle-aged or older dogs, especially around the ribs, although they can show up anywhere. They're considered a natural part of aging. Any breed can have them, but larger dogs and those who are overweight are more prone to them.
- A sebaceous cyst is a blocked oil gland that looks like a pimple. When it bursts, a white, pasty substance comes out.
- Warts are caused by a virus and can be found around the mouths of young dogs. They'll go away by themselves. Older dogs might need surgery to remove them.
- An abscess is a buildup of pus under the skin. It can be caused by an infection or a bite from an insect or other creature.
- A mast cell tumor is the most common skin cancer in dogs. They’re most often found in boxers, Boston terriers, Labradors, beagles, and schnauzers.
Common Causes Of Lumps
Your dog’s diet can actually lead to the development of lipoma. Carbohydrates, chemical preservatives, and other toxins found in processed food all contribute to fatty tumor growth.
Water is also an important part of your dog’s diet. If you can, you should avoid tap water because the chlorine can damage your dog’s thyroid and upset its endocrine system.
Drugs and chemicals
When you go to animal hospitals and emergency veterinarians, your dog will get treated for issues like fleas, ticks, heartworm, and other parasites that can harm your dog (the female flea can lay up to 2,000 eggs in her lifetime!).
However, you should avoid treatments that expose your pup to unnecessary drugs and chemicals. In rare cases, these can lead to lipoma growth.
Your dog’s environment is a major source of toxins, especially if pesticides or herbicides are present in your area. Many people are spraying their yards for pests like ants, fleas, and ticks in the spring and summer.
Unfortunately, these sprays can affect your furry friend too. Most experts recommend not using these products in your home or yard if you have pets.
When you walk your dog in a place that’s likely to have herbicides and pesticides, wash your dog’s feet off with soap when you get home to prevent them from licking and absorbing the toxins through the pads on their paws.
What Does a Cancerous Lump Look Like?
Some types of cancer lumps on dogs will develop on the surface of your dog’s skin, which can help owners identify cancer before it reaches advanced stages. Certain breeds, such as boxers and Boston terriers, are especially prone to tumors that grow externally.
One of the best ways to identify a potentially cancerous lump is to evaluate how that tumor feels when touched. Compared to the soft, fatty characteristics of a lipoma, a cancerous lump will be harder and firm to the touch, appearing as a hard immovable lump on your dog.
A lump on a dog’s neck or face may also prompt foul-smelling discharge from the mouth, nose, or eyes, and this smell can be another indicator that the tumor is cancerous.
Ultimately, it’s difficult to know whether a tumor is cancerous just by looking at it. Even your veterinarian will likely need to conduct a biopsy to determine whether the tumor is benign or malignant.
When Do Lumps Develop?
Lumps may develop on your dog at any age. But an older dog is more likely to develop lumps because of the risk factors they may face for cancer or skin issues.
In addition, lipomas and other types of harmless lumps are more often associated with their appearance in aging dogs, although young dogs are liable to develop these growths as well.
Other lumps, such as hematomas, warts, and cancer cells, are more strongly correlated with other health issues that may develop at any stage in a dog’s life.
Pet owners should also keep in mind that, with certain types of lumps like lipomas, the presence of one or two lumps may increase the likelihood of more lumps developing down the road.
When Should Your Dog Visit The Vet?
Typically, hard, immovable lumps that suddenly appear tend to be more worrisome than soft, moveable, or slow-growing lumps, but that’s not always the case for every type of cancer or abscess.
Because lumps on dogs can be difficult to identify and evaluate at home, owners are encouraged to consult their vet and find out if the lump should be tested and identified.
Lumps are likely to develop at some point in your dog’s life. In cases such as cancer lumps or an abscess, early detection and treatment can improve your dog’s quality of life, and potentially save them from serious and life-threatening consequences.