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Featuring Demian Dressler, DVM and Susan Ettinger, DVM, Dip. ACVIM (Oncology), authors of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide

Does my dog have cancer? What NOT to rely on!

Updated: December 11th, 2018


Glad to see so many readers these days! Thanks everyone.

I have noticed that there are some misconceptions about dog cancer floating around that perhaps could be clarified a little bit. Specifically, there are things that people are looking at to deduce that their dog’s lump is NOT cancer…but the problem is that some of the reasons (to support a theory that their dog’s growth is “fine”) are not valid.

Here are some classics in the area of:

What Not To Rely On With Certainty

1. Your dog’s behavior.  Dogs can have pretty serious health problems and still walk around, eat, be in no apparent pain, etc.  Malignant tumors may not show any overall body signs whatsoever.  Anyone heard the phrase….”the doctor found a lump in my breast?”  Let’s think about this for a minute.  The doctor found a lump.  The woman was totally unaware there was a lump!!  This tells us that you can have a life- threatening cancer going on that is utterly without any overall signs.

2. How the lump feels and looks on a physical examination at the vet’s.  Okay, all of us vets have been guilty of feeling a mass and proclaiming the diagnosis (Fatty Tumor! Cyst! Adenoma! or whatever).  Folks, the reality is this: a very high percentage of masses with that feel and appearance actually are what they feel like and look like.  But, not all of them!  If I see 20 dogs with a soft mass under the skin that feels like a fatty tumor, I would not be surprised if one or two were not. I have encountered growths that for all the world feel like fatty tumors (lipomas) and turned out to be mast cell tumors or hemangiopericytomas (nerve sheath tumors), or even sometimes hematomas (blood pockets from some kind of impact or trauma).

Both of these (exam findings and your dog’s behavior) are unreliable.  Yes, sometimes we can get a high probability of a diagnosis and everyone is comfortable playing the odds.  But consider this:  how many of us wear our seat belts and how many of us wreck our cars?

Take home message: make sure you are aware that if you opt against a fine needle aspirate (see the last blog) or a biopsy (see the entry about Bjorn), you are playing an odds game that is not 100% versus 0%.  Some of the dogs with masses that look like they are benign growths and will fool everyone.  They come back to bite us later.

Best to everyone,

Dr Dressler


Discover the Full Spectrum Approach to Dog Cancer

Leave a Comment

  1. Susan Kazara Harper on June 23, 2015 at 7:56 pm

    Ronda, Can you find another vet to consult? It doesn’t sound like you have a vet who is listening to you. The first lump could possibly have been a cyst that burst, but multiple lumps like that could be a variety of things. May even be a topical reaction to something. A vet should at least be able to do an easy biopsy on one. No one responsible would try to diagnos onilne. You need a vet who will work with you toward the health of your dog. Good luck!

  2. Ronda on June 8, 2015 at 8:08 am

    My dog has lumps all over his body he had one on his chest when I first noticed it it was very small within a couple days it was about 2 inches round I took him to the vet and she said they don’t operate for cosmetic reasons so before I could get another opinion the lump got as big as a baseball and burst.Next thing I knew he was getting lumps all over about 2 inches in diameter on the top of his skin .The vet doesn’t want to do anything I believe he has cancer and she will not tell me.

  3. Susan Kazara Harper on December 30, 2014 at 9:05 pm

    Hi Gemma,
    It could be anything from a local infection to yes, cancer, but before you get worried and scared, go to the vet. Even if it’s a bad diagnosis, your dog may not be acting any differently. When they get to the point that they seem to be in pain, it can mean it’s quite advanced, so you really want to catch this soon. Stay positive, make the appointment, and get it taken care of. You will feel much better. If you leave it alone the odds are that it will not improve, and may get much worse. Take courage and get it checked. Good luck!!!

  4. Susan Kazara Harper on December 29, 2014 at 6:38 pm

    Judy, If this 11 year old dog has only recently started showing allergy symptoms, it may be an environmental irritant. Especially as her paws and snout are affected… the areas that are in contact with the ground. What has changed? Carpet? Under floor heating? New furniture, new cleaning products, new laundry products? Chemicals are EVERYWHERE, and often our pets, who are in contact without shoes and clothes like us, can suffer a reaction. Really think of every detail, even outside. Any changes there? Take a breath and decide when the smptoms started, then think of every possible thing that may have changed in her environment. Take that list and pick one thing at a time to eliminate, or to keep her completely away from. Bathe her irritaed areas in warm water with diluted vinegar to clean any residue. I’ll bet you can detect the problem, then you can help her. If you leave it the odds are that she’ll get worse with the itching, and it may even spread to her mouth and nose as she’s trying to soothe herself. Good luck!

  5. gemma on December 25, 2014 at 8:53 am

    My mum dog has had a small spot on his neckline he was checked over and they said just keep a close look at it, he had it for a about a year, now over last week it got bigger and has burst with weeping blood but he dont seem to be in pain but looks sore and its swollen around it what coukd it be ?? X

  6. paintr49 on December 18, 2014 at 11:05 pm

    I have an 11 year old welsh corgi. She has been having allergy problems, first chewing her feet red, then her ears have begun to itch as well as her snout. It’s all red and she’s loosing her fur the cortisone shots don’t work anymore and my doc wasn’t to do a biopsy. I’m wondering why? also I’m afraid of the cost. I’ve spent about $500.00 on her in vet bills just in the last month. Any suggestions to make the allergy better? I can’t afford to keep going to the vet. Thank you

  7. Susan Kazara Harper on December 11, 2014 at 9:26 pm

    Mar, Can you contact the Sam Simon Foundation and let them know you’re worried about waiting based on her symptoms? They may be able to advise, or move things up. Don’t worry about what you did or didn’t do in the past. Take care of today and your girl. If she seems in real discomfort and you can’t contact the foundation, then yes, get her to a vet to try to help manager her symptoms please. When you take a breath and step back inside yourself, you’ll be able to make clear decisions. Good luck to you both!

  8. Nelson on December 10, 2014 at 8:07 pm

    Our 10 yer old German Shorthair female has two lumps we found today. One is in her armpit and the other is on a breast nearby. She also has some weird-feeling tissue in her jowls. We don’t have much $ to spend at a vets office. Do you think she’s got cancer of some type? The lumps have appeared very recently.

  9. Shorkie on December 3, 2014 at 5:29 pm

    I Have A 1 year old female shorkie.. & she has a few lumps growing on her stomach/chest…are these her breasts or something else?

    • Susan Kazara Harper on December 3, 2014 at 10:33 pm

      Hi Shorkie,
      You will only know for sure by going to your vet. We cannot really make any comment or determination online. If they are regularly spaced and consistent top to bottom and side to side, with an even number, they could be her breasts/teats/ etc. (Several terms used). But you need more information to know whether what you see is normal for a one year old dog. Good luck!

  10. Susan Kazara Harper on November 25, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    Hi Naomi, become your own expert. Tell the vets what you want and expect from them. You hire them and pay for their services. The love and empathy come from you, and you can use the vet’s diagnostic expertise, along with your own knowledge as you become an expert in this journey, to make the best decision for your girl. Please don’t give up.

  11. Patty on November 17, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    My sisters dog has a mass near his anus. Vet did not explain, just that he was “sick” and she can’t breed him. Is this possible ?

    • Susan Kazara Harper on November 18, 2014 at 7:46 pm

      That’s not goof enough Patty. Any vet worth his or her degree would do a test and get a biopsy to determine whether the mass is malignant, and then explain what can be done. Absolutely it is advisable not to breed from any dog with a lump because if it is cancer it can possibly give the pups a higher possibility of developing cancer. But more information is needed for the health of the male dog. Good luck!

  12. Susan Kazara Harper on November 5, 2014 at 7:31 pm

    Hi Virginia,
    You sound worried about the glands, and I would be too. Have you directly asked your vet to test the lumps for cancer? Sometimes it’s difficult to be direct when we’re dealing with an expert in their field. But you want to know. You might want to write down questions in advance of your next visit, or get the practice on the phone and ask these questions…
    ? Is it possible that the lymph nodes are cancerous?
    ? Can we test them for cancer?
    If you don’t feel you’re being heard, be prepared to either ask to be referred to a specialist, or just find another vet yourself. It’s completely within your rights, and I suspect that this will gnaw at you until you really know what’s going on. You know something is not right with your boy, and you’re the one who can take action to help. Deep breaths. Find your answers.

    • doglover on December 29, 2014 at 3:46 am

      Our Golden had the same lumps…it was Lymphoma. Good luck with your furbaby. We’ll pray it’s treatable.

  13. Virginia on November 5, 2014 at 10:42 am

    HELP!!! I have a 9 year old Maltese who has had swollen lymph nodes in his neck with no other symptoms for about 4 months now. I took him in right away and the vet put him on an antibiotic for 3 weeks. Took him back for a re-check and they were still swollen. The vet gave him another week on the antibiotics. Went back, still swollen, then the vet did a blood test and found low thyroid levels and nothing else. The vet gave him some medication for the thyroid and said to bring him back in 6 weeks for another blood test. The lymph nodes are still swollen, not huge, but still there and the vet doesn’t seem concerned? I did notice while on the antibiotics, the swelling would fluctuate daily and the vet had never seen that before, but still not concerned. Now that he has been off the antibiotics, the lymph nodes stay the same size. About the size of a good size gumball.

  14. Naomi on November 2, 2014 at 2:37 pm

    Hey guys. I really need help because my 9 year old terrier mix (not completely known) had a lump in her breast about a year ago. She was fine and completely active, so we let it be because financially we couldn’t get her much help. A few months ago (about March or April), she had to have surgery because of the lump making her feel extraordinary pain. The doctor said it was probably due to the pressure caused by the liquid the lump was producing as the teat would have some clear liquid being released. She had to have the whole gland removed just in case and the doctor told me to continie palpating after she heals to check for more lumps. She was fine until two days ago when I felt several small circular lumps all over her lower pairs of mammary glands. She’s not feeling pain, but I’m worried about it. The last surgery was so traumatic on her that I don’t think she could last another. As well as her being so old. Please contact me if you can to try and help me figure out what is going on. My email is naomikungu@gmail.com. she was never spayed, and has never had puppies, which seriously increases her rates of cancer. Please help.

    • Susan Kazara Harper on November 2, 2014 at 9:20 pm

      Dear Naomi, I know how scary this is. But you’ve got to take some deep breaths. It’s really best to get her to the vet and ask him or her to check these new lumps. It may not be the same thing. While the idea of more surgery or treatment is worrying, until you know what you’re dealing with there is no point wasting all the energy on fear. In addition to this, you need to get her nutrition absolutely the best you can. I don’t mean by spending a lot, but by feeding her real food. The Dog Cancer Diet has wonderful suggestions for foods which are not only beter for her, but can actually help her body fight back. The diet is in the Dog Cancer Survival Guide book, and you can also go to http://www.dogcancerdiet.com and download the majority of information. Food is the foundation of health, so you can get busy with this. If a procedure is recommended for her, remember that last year the lump was very big and painful. It sounds different now, and she may handle things differently. But it’s your job to keep her calm and happy. She’ll only be that way if you are. It’s hard, but we owe it to our pups. Please make thay appointment, and we’re all wishing you both the best.

      • Naomi on November 3, 2014 at 3:11 am

        One of the biggest issues i have at the moment is that i’m living in Kenya. The vets here are even worse than those in the US when it comes to dismissing cancer patients as write-offs and not even bothering to check a lump for malignancy. After the last surgery, the lump was thrown out instead of being tested. I feel as though I will end up taking her to the vet, end up being told that there are too many lumps, and that since she is going to end up being in pain soon, that they should just put her down. The doctors here aren’t trained in empathy for pets.

  15. Tazsara on August 17, 2014 at 1:57 pm

    My dog has lumps and bumps all over his body.He had a lump on his chest that I was concerned about.I took him to the vet she said dogs get bumps when they are old.This lump was getting bigger and bigger I kept taking him back and she said it was nothing to worry about.It finally burst well now she was concerned.She didn’t test it or tell me what it was but I have to put him down.

    • Susan Kazara Harper on August 17, 2014 at 2:20 pm

      Woa…… Tazsara, my goodness this is so hard. Is your dog still with you or have you let him go?

  16. Susan Kazara Harper on August 7, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    Hi Carol,
    Your dog’s lump might just be a fatty lump. Or not. And the old wisdom used to be “wait and watch”. But Dr. Dressler puts it this way… if you woke up one day and had a huge lump on your stomach, which didn’t seem to be attached to her body, and your felt fine and well, would you go to the doctor? If he said to just leave it and watch it, would you leave it and watch? Would you want to know what the lump was?
    So, do you want to know what it is? Then the easiest option would be to get a fine needle aspirate. It’s an easy procedure that can usually be done without even sedating your dog. Dr. Ettinger wrote a wonderful blog about this subject, at https://www.dogcancerblog.com/blog/lumps-on-dogs-when-to-get-them-checked-by-a-veterinarian/ Please take a few minutes to read it. Good luck. We are all hoping that you get your girl checked and the results are good.

  17. carol on August 5, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    my dog has a hugh lump under her stomach it doesnt seem to be attached to her body ,she seems well in herself,she is a very hungry dog always looking for food the vet told me that its nothing to worry about if we want surgery aslong as she healthy they will remove im worried that she might get worst if shes messed with

  18. Izzy on July 18, 2014 at 4:14 am

    My dog has a large mass on her right front elbow. It has burst through the skin, and is bright pink/red. It has smaller lumps growing off of that. I know if i take her to the vet, they will say to euthanize her. She is still very active, but the mass is prohibiting her movement.

    • Susan Kazara Harper on July 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm

      Izzy, You are worrying yourself by anticipating something that hasn’t happened. First,only your vet can help determine what those lumps are, and until you know, you can’t know what to worry about, or what can be done. It might be very simple. Second, your dog, is YOUR dog. Your vet is merely paid to give you professional information, which you can then use to make decisions for your dog. You are in charge. If you do nothing, it will probably get worse. Then you’ll feel bad that you waited. Make an appointment Monday morning, and go find out what is going on. Help your girl by getting her help. Good luck!

  19. amburn puppy on July 9, 2014 at 7:07 pm

    Hey my dog is 9months old, he is a minture dashand. He has lump on his left paw, i poked it with a needle blood came out ,then i pulled a scab off it. I have bandaged it up. What could it be?

    • Susan Kazara Harper on July 17, 2014 at 2:26 pm

      OK, quit poking your dog with a needle. But seriously, it could be a simple abscess, there’s no way to tell on a blog and even if there were, your best bet is vet care. Even simple irritations and abscesses can become infected. Get to your vet sooner rather than later, and the “fix” will be simpler. All the best!

  20. Susan Kazara Harper on June 22, 2014 at 11:34 am

    Hi Jenny,
    You’re right to make the vet appointment, and I understand your concern. But don’t waste energy on worry, the only thing that will happen is you’ll lose sleep. You’ve described the chain of events really well. Have these as notes: Date___ Tri Heart, Date___ Pet Armor, Date___ camp, etc. And today if you can, please take a photo of the bumps, and put something like a quarter next to them in the photo so the size and proportions can be seen. With all this information your vet will be in a good place to work on a diagnosis. Well done for feeding your boy good foods! and good luck with the appointment! Remember, no worrying, OK?

  21. VixJ on June 19, 2014 at 7:04 am

    My 2 year old Italian Greyhound has recently developed several (~7) small lumps about the size of peas on one of his back hindquarters, on the outside, just above the leg. They don’t itch or cause him any pain. I have an appointment with the vet next week but I can’t stop thinking about what they might be? 2 weeks ago he had his monthly Tri Heart pill, then 1 week ago I put Pet Armor between his shoulder blades but didn’t use the whole bottle.. I usually use advantix instead but that is what I had in the house at the time. Last weekend I took him to camp and he ran around with the other family dogs. I didn’t notice the bumps until 2 days after camp, and I usually notice everything, so they appeared suddenly. I hope it isn’t anything too serious! He has always eaten Blue Buffalo for small breeds and his special treat of the month has been grass fed Buffalo Tails, but he doesn’t eat anything else – except a table scrap or two of chicken or what not 😮

  22. Susan Kazara Harper on June 2, 2014 at 8:02 am

    Hi there,
    You don’t say where the skin is…. on her belly, around her mouth, around the toes…? If there is a change in the skin coloring then yes, it may indicate that something’s going on. Westies as a breed do tend toward sensitive skin, and one of the signs may be the skin turning black. It could mean a sensitivity, an inflammation, etc. If the area is around the mouth and gums or the toes, it’s slightly different. You’ve done well to catch it early. The best thing to do is to make an appt with your vet. Hopefully it is something you can easily manage. If you have photos of her showing the area which has changed, grab them, take a current one as well for comparison, and have an idea how long it’s been between the two examples. If you get a diagnosis of skin sensitivity, they may relate it to diet, and in that case please really learn about and make decisions around ‘real food’ nutrition for her. But that’s step 2. Step 1 is, get to your vet. Good luck!

  23. Poppy on June 2, 2014 at 12:48 am

    Has my dog got skin cancer my westie bitch her skin is pink but it is now going black

  24. Terry leigh on May 21, 2014 at 10:39 am

    My 11 year old german shepherd has a tennis ball sized lump on her mammary gland second up from her rear. It grew very fast, a matter of months. First it was firm, then soft and squishy and is now very hard. We have chosen not to have it treated due to her advanced age. When we notice that life has no enjoy,emt left or she is in to much pain we will help her cross to the bridge.

  25. Heather on February 15, 2014 at 3:33 am

    Hi, we have a 10 year old beagle intact male. Back in November or there abouts we noticed he wasn’t using his tail anymore and if bumped, yelped in pain….then shortly after that, he started having accidents in the house and was having trouble deficating. We took him into see the vet, they diagnosed him with uti and arthritis. Gave him amoxi for uti and rimadyl for pain. Took him back in two weeks, no change, uti had not improved, he quit eating regular kibble, was having more accidents. They gave him another antibiotic which did no good, more pain meds and put him on glucosamine for joint issues……After another two weeks, we tried a third antibiotic which helped the uti finally!! He is still having accidents, legs/paw are swollen, one side worse than other, Vet has aspirated the one leg and couldn’t find any cancer cells…….He is in pain as he really cannot walk much at all. He eats some, refuses most meds and is just not himself. Vet says she cannot confirm he has cancer but has a “gut” feeling. We as his loving family are torn as to whether or not we put him down without knowing what is truly wrong with him. Any advice for me would be greatly appreciated.

  26. Evee on January 29, 2014 at 5:42 am

    Hello my dog is 13 years old she has a very large lump in her breast. The nipple on her breast also looks infected. What could it be??!!

    • Susan Kazara Harper on January 29, 2014 at 10:17 am

      Hello Evee,
      It could be anything from a localized infection from a scratch to cancer. Please get her to your vet to be checked as soon as possible. Hopefully it will be a quick, easy fix and you’ll both feel better. Good luck!

  27. SBR on November 25, 2013 at 10:04 am

    How big are lymph nodes on a 60-70 lb dog supposed to be?
    Background: My 10 year old Husky/Boxer mix had a tennis ball sized growth on her leg. We chose not to send it off to testing due to the extra cost and due to the fact that it would not change out decision on her treatment. Right after her surgery I found two other lumps on her body. Very small dime size (they have not grown and are hard to find even though I know they are there). It has now been about 6 months since her surgery. Yesterday I noticed that her lymph nodes under her jaw on both sides of her throat are both swollen. To me they feel huge. They each are about 1 inch thick and two inches wide. I’m pretty sure they are not supposed to be that big. You can’t tell they are big from looking at her as her skin is saggier with old age. Once I saw how large they were other things that she was doing started to click. She is not nearly as active as she once was but that is probably age related. But I have noticed that she has trouble eating now. She used to finish her food every single time as quickly as possible. Now she will eat some but usually just sits by it to make sure none of our other dogs get her food but it takes her a long time to eat. We thought it was because our neighbors were feeding her as she didn’t seem to be losing weight and was instead quite plump looking. However, here recently (in the past month) she seems to be looking slimmer and maybe that is why I noticed that her neck looked big and so checked her out.
    I can’t take her to the vet until Saturday and am worried about her. I actually don’t even know if the vets around here will be open on Saturday due to Thanksgiving.

    • Susan Kazara Harper on November 25, 2013 at 12:41 pm

      Hello, The size of the lymph nodes you’re describing on your dog are most certainly larger than they should normally be. That combined with the other changes you have noticed indicate that a vet visit is the wisest thing you can do. Until you know what she may be dealing with you can only worry. Please call your vet office before the Thursday holiday to ask what their hours will be… they may very likely be open on Saturday, or be able to recommend a vet’s office that will be open. Please don’t wait. There is so much you can do with good nutrition and supportive supplementation even if you decide not to use conventional treatment, but until you know what you’re dealing with it’s all theoretical. Good luck.

  28. Mariann on August 17, 2013 at 7:47 pm

    I have a 7 year old yellow lab named Coors and two weeks ago we noticed he was having trouble defecating and it was softer than usually and not much was coming out and there was blood. Two days later nothing was coming out anymore just drops of blood. He went about a week like that and still no feces just blood even after the vet gave enema’s and laxatone and pumped him with fluids. Brought him home and he started to vomit a little bit and still only blood would come out when defecating and he would have to go a lot. He has been straining this whole time too! Took him back to doctor for ultrasound and they said they did see several spots in his bowel that was suspicious and looked like it may be cancer. He had a Needle Aspriration done the other day and I am awaiting results and I asked again what they saw. They told me that there was one big tumor that was blocking off his bowels so no feces was getting through. I finally got some feces to go through by feeding him cream of chicken soup with a can of water some kibbles and 3 to 4 teaspoons of mineral oil. Its not much coming out but something is better than nothing. It is still bloody and he hasn’t vomited in a few days now. I am just wondering if this sounds like cancer to you?

  29. Yasmene on August 15, 2013 at 1:51 am

    My dog has these Masses that keep filling up and popping the area keeps getting bigger, my Vet says she has never seen anything like this and thinks it my be cancer. Because of it’s size surgery is not a option. And wants me to put her down. Could these masses that keep filling up and then popping be cancer?

    • doglover on December 29, 2014 at 3:42 am

      my cousins dog has the same type ! She’s a cocker spaniel and the vet tells her it’s common with cockers….adding small sprinkles of tumeric to the food daily is having a positive affect on the spots.

  30. Katherine on March 26, 2013 at 10:47 am

    My 11 yr old male aussie was diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma two months ago in his rectum. The mass protrudes now and has grown and while his appetite is good and he still enjoys his ride in the car he is licking it more and more. I have rimidyl but I don’t like giving him much because of the contraindications. Is there something else I can get that may relieve his discomfort? I am after quality of life not quantity. Or should I just give him the rimidyl daily?

    • Dr. Demian Dressler on March 26, 2013 at 4:23 pm

      Dear Katherine,
      That sounds pretty sore. I assume debulking is out (no palliative surgery??) The problem of course is the mass itself, which needs to be removed to create relief, as pills usually will not do this. Essentially the question is what can be done about the cancer itself, not about the licking. Conventional Options: surgical removal, standard chemo, low dose chemo (metronomic) with things like low dose Palladia or cyclophosphamide/piroxicam/doxycycline, all under veterinary supervision. Other options: Apocaps, K-9 immunity, low dose oral Neoplasene along with a medicine like mirtazapine to prevent upset tummy with oral neoplasene, also under vet supervision. The basic issue is we need to reduce the number of tumor cells as opposed to trying to suppress irritation. could try prednisolone/tramadol and don’t forget good old preparation H, which can help a bit. Discuss with your vet and take a look at this blog: https://www.dogcancerblog.com/blog/an-overview-of-what-else-can-i-do/ which discusses other full spectrum steps too.
      I hope this helps
      Dr D

  31. Tara Mo on February 14, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    My 4 year old great dane was diagnosed with bone cancer back in late July. Brcause of his large size he was not a good candidate for amputation or limb saving surgery. Anyway here we are in February qhich is way longer then what time frame the vet gave us and we know we are getting closer. He has recently started licking his tumor constantly and is now getting red and alittle weapy. Why is he doing this? Is this a sign he is ready to move on? Torn on what to do. I dont want him to suffer and is he trying to say he wanrs the fight to stop?

    • Dr. Susan Ettinger on February 24, 2013 at 9:15 am

      I am sorry about your dane. If he is licking the site, it may be painful, inflamed or infected. Is he still weight bearing? I’d check in with your vet and consider an X-ray.
      All my best, Dr Sue

  32. Grant on February 8, 2013 at 7:03 am

    Hi my dog went to the vet today his 9 and they said he has some small floating lumps inside his rectum I understand that cancer lumps usually don’t feel like that his left gland on his bum cheek was swallown as well but went Dow. After the vet done something inside do u think the lumps spud like cancer he is not passing blood or having trouble going to the toilet please any info would be great

  33. Kristin on January 30, 2013 at 6:58 am

    Dear Dr.D.
    My 8Year old boston terrior has a small lump slightly near his armpit. It has never changed in size in many months. My vet still wants to do a lumpectomy.My concern is couldn’t that make things worse? What if it is a cancer? Couldn’t that make it spread? No, I would never want my baby to suffer but don’t think I could handle the cost of treatment.
    I’m sick over this..so scared of what to do.

    • Dr. Susan Ettinger on February 8, 2013 at 5:33 pm

      Cancer is a scary thing but there are many different cancers and making a diagnosis is key to helping your pet. I recommend finding out what it is before it gets too big for surgery. You could start with an aspirate or a small biopsy so you know what it is before surgery, and that allows the vet/surgeon to prepare for the right type of surgery. I know you are scared, but knowledge is power.
      All my best, Dr Sue

  34. chrissy on January 3, 2013 at 10:24 am

    My dog is 3-4 years old, black lab mix. I got her a year ago, and she was spayed at that time (in the shelter). Six months later she had an abscess at the spay site. When they opened her up, they saw she had never fully healed and there was a significant amount of scar tissue and infection. The vet removed the scar tissue and drained the abscess and fixed her up. Everything seemed to heal really nicely – barely even a scar. Now, eight months later, there is a small bump beneath the skin, in the same location. The bump moves with the skin and does not appear to be attached to anything underneath it. It is about half the diameter of a pea and has a bluish tinge. I brought her to my vet tonight, and was told it was a cyst or scar tissue – which can both have this bluish tint. My vet is often very cautious (we have already done two aspirates this year), but she did not feel an aspirate was necessary at this time,and told me that it is so small she doesn’t think that she would even be able to pull anything out on an aspirate (it is so small I had trouble finding it to show her). She said I can do warm compresses several times each day and that it may get smaller/go away. I’m concerned, because I don’t want to wait on it if it is cancer. I do like my vet, and she has provided very good care over the past year, but I am frustrated. Is it possible for a mass to be too small to successfully aspirate? Obviously I will keep an eye on it and if it gets any bigger we’ll be back in the office, but I can’t stop myself from worrying about it right now. For full disclosure, I have had bad experiences with cancer (in human loved ones) in the past, and I work in cancer research (again, for humans), so I think everything is cancer until proven benign. But, you say all lumps/bumps should be aspirated, so I don’t feel I’m being totally unreasonable…am I?

    • Dr. Demian Dressler on January 29, 2013 at 5:46 pm

      Dear Chrissy,
      this could indeed be something benign, but I feel you are being reasonable and a lump is not normal. Why don’t you just communicate with your vet that you would really like her to get it checked out, if for no other reason than to be safe? Nothing wrong with that.
      Dr D

  35. Shauna on December 13, 2012 at 7:52 am

    My dog is a 7yr old westie btw, sorry for the spelling mistakes above its predictive text on iPhone…… Basically she either has some kind of cyst or a Tumour I think i should send it for a biopsy to get some closure though? The cyst has been removed now.

  36. Shauna on December 13, 2012 at 7:47 am

    Hi there, my dog was recently diagnosed with a cyst but my vet is unsure as to whether it may be a runout or not he thinks its a sebaceous cyst but so you reccomend I pay the money to have a biopsy now before the labs close for Christmas or wait to see if it heels?

  37. jen on November 15, 2012 at 10:42 am

    I have a 5 year old boston terrier a male, we noticed that he had a small lump on the side of his neck, the vet said it was a fatty tumor about 5 months ago. But know the lump on the side of his neck keeps growing and its a size of a baseball now and its a size of a baseball. I was wondering if you could explain why its growing so big. And should we get it removed?

    • Dr. Susan Ettinger on November 24, 2012 at 5:35 pm

      If the aspirate was not confirmatory, get a pre-surgical biopsy so you and your vet/surgeon know what it is before surgery. That allows the vet to prepare for surgery and how big the surgery needs to be.
      Check out the post on my nurse’s dog – helps explain why apsirates and biopsies are so important.
      All my best, Dr Sue

    • Dr. Demian Dressler on November 27, 2012 at 11:55 am

      Jen, you need to get the lump tested to see what it is.
      Please call your vet ASAP.
      Dr D

  38. Ayanna on October 28, 2012 at 8:26 am

    My dog is a 7 years old and she has a lump by her nipple. Shes had it for about 2 years and it has gotten bigger. Recently, it has gotten to be about the size or 2 quarters next to eachother. The nipple it is closest to has started to bleed on and off. Can anyone tell me what it can be? I will be taking her to the vet in 2 weeks.

  39. Ana on July 25, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    Hi my dog has the same similar problem as Pamela but my vet said it’s most likely a cyst it’s not that big but it’s noticeable and now it spread to the next nipple and now i found a soft lump around her arm pit I am pretty sure she was abused she is a rescue and was used for breeding at the moment she is spayed and has all shots she is in great shape but nothing bothers her she doesn’t even pay attention to them . So should I do dr why is it spreading like this ?

    • Dr. Demian Dressler on August 1, 2012 at 2:03 pm

      Dear Ana
      I would get proper medical care. Get the lumps tested and/or removed by a vet.
      Dr D

  40. Genevieve on July 17, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    I have a sweet female three year old (supposed) golden lab/collie mix named Goldie. My neighbor down the street had to return to Hawaii two weeks ago quite suddenly for family reasons. He said they quarantine animals, plus he didn’t know if he would be able to take care of Goldie anymore. He was going around our neighborhood asking everyone to adopt her. I lost my much beloved 19 year old black lab Jelly Bean last September and wasn’t feeling ready yet for another dog in the family, but I wasn’t ready to turn away a lovely girl in need either. He told me she was a rescue dog and that she was overdue for her vaccinations. He also offered money toward shots but said he didn’t have the time to take her in for them. I said no thanks that she was my dog now and my responsibility. So I called and got a lucky cancellation and took Goldie straight to my vet for a check up and all her shots. She was just terrific there, friendly and at ease, and best of all checked out in top health.

    Today, while I was finishing up a better summer haircut for her with the clippers I noticed that her tail narrows down to almost nothing then ends in a big bump about the size of a chickpea. I think Goldie was so thickly hairy down there (extreme woolie lamb butt) that my vet might not have been able to feel the bump when she examined her tail. I can’t tell if the bump an old injury or what. It doesn’t seem to hurt her when I handle it -like no different to her than the rest of her tail. Her skin there doesn’t appear to be broken or discolored.

    Anyway, I tried the email address my former neighbor left for me asking whether her tail had been injured at some point (like maybe that was part of why she was a rescue?) but my emails are returning as undeliverable. I have no other means to contact him. It sounds really stupid but I don’t think I even asked his name. I now realize that I never got her old vet records or tags or even know what vets she saw here (or if she saw one at all.) The whole thing just happened so fast. I took hold of Goldie’s leash then her ex-owner made a beeline to the airport. She was a big surprise for my husband when he got home let me tell you, but he married a girl who loves dogs, so what did he expect?

    I have an appointment with my vet again on Thursday but wonder if there is anything I should do before then- like if I should take her as a walk-in to the emergency animal clinic. I already called and asked the vets office to pencil us in if someone cancels. My husband says we should just keep an eye on the bump and if it doesn’t change shape or size or whatever we should wait until Thursday to have our usual vet examine it and do the tests. I worry though and would appreciate any advice. I’ve only known Goldie for two weeks but I love her all there is.

    To anyone else out there who gets in the position of adopting an animal on the fly like I did, remember to ask about vet records/tags etc. It may save you more worry than you can imagine.

  41. Pamela dibble on April 22, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    Hi. My dog has been constantly liking her lower two nipples and today I noticed that when touching that area there is hard tissue in that area and is spred up to the next nipple. What could this be?

  42. Sandra on April 18, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    Dr. D, I have 14 yr old mixed lab who had a nerve sheath tumor removed from front leg on elbow. It grew back in 6 months got big as an egg, red woken warm then broke open. Dr did dose of steroid, then antibiotics. Some puss formed , fluid was leaking out. Vet did another dose of different antibiotic which seem to rid of the puss.she gave me a scrub to put on it to keep clean. Meanwhile 2 weeks later tumor has continued to grow and is quite split open turning black and smells really bad. Can’t do another surgery as there is not enough skin. Is it possible to debunk or is it too late. Would antibiotics do any good. I am using essaic capsules, homeopathy, herbals. What should my next step be? Started using benadryl / Tagamet which is supposed to shrink tumors. Have you heard of this?

    • Dr. Demian Dressler on April 20, 2012 at 6:09 pm

      Dear Sandra
      so sorry to hear about this.
      I would consider amputation. If not possible, you will need to step up your supplement strength big time for this. Have you read the Guide? These are tough tumors. You will need to use, under veterinary supervision combination apoptogens (apocaps, neoplasene), possibly low dose palladia, dog cancer diet, beta glucans for immune support, as a minimum to get any headway.
      I hope this helps
      Dr D

    • Darlene F. on October 17, 2012 at 10:50 am

      I have a black lab that is 9 years old,,, he has a mass on the right side of his anus.. I had the vet look at it a while back and he said as long as it didn’t prevent him from going to the bathroom, to let it alone,, well it has grown 4 times the size and the dog has started chewing it,,, it bleeds profusely… I have to say my home looks like someone was killed!! how can I get this to stop bleeding??

  43. jodie on February 12, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    the others*

  44. jodie on February 12, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    My dads labradoor bitch is 12 years old nearly 13.
    She has got lumps all over her body, some small and some really really big, and it looks like she is loosing weight. the lump under her body ( near her nipples) is very very hard and it is probably bigger that the size of a tennis ball now, the thers are not as big but are also hard to. my dad is scared to take her to the vets as he doesnt want her to be put down.

    Can you please help me..??

    Thanks jodie.

  45. Laura Lo Monaco on February 8, 2012 at 9:50 am

    Dear Dr. Demian Dressler,

    Two weeks ago I brought my Basset Hound Charlie in for a regular check up because he has glaucoma. I bring him in every few months to get his pressure measured. To my surprise, in his last visit the vet noticed he has two swollen lymph nodes in his legs/groin area. He did a needle aspirate on it and the results showed that there is nothing abnormal. I want to be happy about the news but I can’t help but still worry because I know that needle aspirates can be inconclusive. Does this mean he is free of cancer? His blood work also came back normal. Just a little low in calcium. He also has a mild ear infection in his ear. What other reasons other than cancer and infection can his lymph nodes be swollen? Could it be because of his ear infection. The vet checked him again last week and the lymph nodes were softer. The vet wants to check him every 3 weeks to see if they have got any bigger or if he gets anymore swollen Lymph nodes. Is a needle aspiration pretty accurate in diagnosing lymphoma in a dog? The vet says sometimes the needle aspirate only gets the good cells and not the bad cells. That’s why he would like to check him regularly. I wish my mind can be set at ease. I’m desperate for answers. If he does have it, I choose not to treat him with chemotherapy. I think it would just make him suffer more and would just be selfish on my part to keep him around longer for me even though I know eventually what the outcome would be. I would rather him live as happy as he can and as soon as I notice he may be suffering, I will have him put down. I hope it’s not the case though.


  46. Sarah H on January 1, 2012 at 10:53 pm

    Dr D
    I was patting my dog (Bichon friese/toy poodle) when i found a small lump on her skin ( was on her side by rib cage). It feels hard and when i had a closer look it had a red dot on it, as if it could be a bite or something. She keeps licking it when i have a look of it so shes aware its there. Do you thing its anything to worry about?


    • Dr. Demian Dressler on January 4, 2012 at 5:01 pm

      Dear Sarah
      the best thing for your dog is to have the mass tested at the vets.
      Dr D

  47. Nolan Hodges on December 16, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    Dr. D,

    I was playing around with my 8 yr old black lab today, and found a quarter size lump on top of his rib cage. His behavior has not changed, but My grandmothers dog had signs of this in the past, and it did not end well. Should I get him into the vet and get it checked out to be sure?

    Nolan and Rebel.

  48. MARIA on December 2, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    Oh and I forgot to mention they are soft too.

  49. MARIA on December 2, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    My dog has 3 little moveable bumps under his skin on his chest. Is this something that is alarming or is it safe to just watch? He is already under care from his vet for elevated liver enzymes and is on a liver pill and is on the soft food from hills for Liver issues. He is is really active still and eat and drinks well. Thanks!

  50. debbie ranfield on November 28, 2011 at 11:59 pm

    hi my 8 year old rottie had her toe off a few months ago the vets said it was probably cancer although no test was done, she now has a huge lumo at the top of her leg, the vets has no said thats probably cancer in the lymph glands and theres nothing they can do :/ no tests are being done and i just feel like there just leaving her to die, is there anything that can be done if she has got cancer in the lymph glands ? thankyou debbie

    • Dr. Demian Dressler on December 4, 2011 at 4:36 pm

      Dear Debbie
      If it seems like the vets are not responding, I would definitely seek a second opinion to get you the care your dog needs! There are a variety of questions in the Guide you should ask as well to help clarify what is going on (ask your vet…). I hope this helps
      Dr D

  51. wend on November 27, 2011 at 10:12 am


    My dog had a tumour (lump) removed by one of her nipples. Since that over 1 1/2 years ago she has been fine – except yesterday i noticed a lump on her rib – it can only have been there for 2 days max – as I do daily checks.

    Shall I get her to the vets asap?

    • Dr. Demian Dressler on December 4, 2011 at 4:40 pm

      Dear Wendy-
      yes, always better safe than sorry…
      Dr D

    • Dr. Demian Dressler on December 10, 2011 at 6:18 pm

      Dear Wend
      In a word,
      Dr D

  52. Pamela on October 29, 2011 at 8:57 am

    I gave my cocker a bath today and the water looked like blood all in it I did notice a tumor of someking on or near his but, is it cancer and is that why the water looked all bloody. You couldn’t even see the water thrue it it was like it was coming out of his skin. Thanks Pam

  53. Michelle Delaney on October 14, 2011 at 1:05 am

    My Golden Labrodor 8 years old was today diagnosied with possible cancer from a dark black lump that appeared on his right paw right hand side, the vet has checked the growth and given a preliminary diagnosis – the initial tests show cancer cells – further tests to come next week – reading through the research tonight i see similar to what my vet described. I know we all have loved ones come into our lives for a reason and yes we must loose them but my real question is how do you say goodbye when that day comes? Because I just dont know that I can?

  54. ana on September 3, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    I found out yesterday that my little 9 yr old dog Rafi has a amlignant tumor growing on his backside, to the right of his tail and close to his anus. He was at the vet 30 days ago for an allergy shot and the tech that took his temp did not notice anything. Neither did the vet that examined him. I took him to the vet yesterday because he would not stop licking his behind. The tech that took his temp this time noticed it immediately, it is very big, seems to have grown in only 30 days. The vet did a needle aspiration and told me that it was a tumor and that it did not appear to be curable. The tests have been sent out to a Pathologist, will know more Tuesday. How can she know that it is not curable and that my dog will die of it just from a needle aspiration? She is referring me to UT knoxville vet hospital to see a specialst. I a devastated. Thank you.

    • DemianDressler on September 6, 2011 at 8:43 pm

      Dear Ana,
      let’s take it one step at a time. The important thing right now is to see what the pathologist says. Some tumors can be removed, some can only be managed with treatment…it really depends on the type of tumor we are dealing with here.
      Keep us posted, okay?

    • Beverly on September 15, 2012 at 9:53 am

      My 6yo Itilain Greyhound recently developed a grape sized knot covering the bottom of his anus. He still has regular bowel movements and does not pay attention to it at all. It is not hot and doesn’t look inflamed and hasn’t grown. Odie continues to play, eat and sleep like normal .I am having trouble getting money for the vet and I don’t know what to do since they require payment up front. Does this sound like cancer or a simple cyst?

  55. Sherrye on September 3, 2011 at 9:52 am

    Two months ago a large mass rapidly began to grow on my 10-year-old daschund mix. The vet shaved the area as it had turned black and appeared to have dead skin cells. He also shaved the area around the mass as it was red which the doctor feared would also result in dead skin cells. Also, there was edema at the bottom of her belly. Cancer was considered, but the doctor there was a possibility that it was a snake bite. He began treatment with steroids, pain killers and an antiobiotic along with pepsid to protect her stomach. While administering the medications, he advised me to apply warm compresses several times a day. The next morning after treating her with meds and warm compresses, I discovered that the mass was completely gone. All that remained was a 3-4 inch circle of raw skin where the mass had fallen off. After that I was advised to continue the meds, to change bandages daily with pure honey applied to the non-stick pad next to the raw skin. Also, each day I was to give her a hydro massage with warm water from the skin spray nozzle. Within 2 1/2 weeks, it had healed up beautifully!!! Only a small scar remained, but the skin around the scar was puffy and soift. It has been 2 weeks and the soft puffy tissue has turned into a hard 6-inch mass. She is scheduled to have surgery to have the mass removed in a few days. Last night the mass opened at the bottom and is now bleeding. I am so confused and so scared. I love my Lucy VERY MUCH. SHOULD i CONTINUE WITH PLANS FOR SURGERY? Does this sound like cancer? I feel like this mass is going to fall off like the other one, but more than likely another one will return. I am desparate. The surgery is going to cost $1200-$1800, which will devastate me financially, but I have to do what is necessary to help my Lucy!

    • DemianDressler on September 6, 2011 at 8:41 pm

      Dear Sherrye, I must say that I would listen to your vet’s advice at this stage. Might consider a culture as well to see if there are resistant bacteria in there, as well as a biopsy to rule out cancer. Keep us posted. I hope this helps

  56. abby on August 20, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    My little boston terrier has just been diagnosed with cancer… the lump is on his back leg, and it has probably tripled in size in the last 6 months. He wont stop licking at it, which has made it not a lump anymore, but its actually indented, and theres lots of blood and puss. He seems to be acting normally, but my vet wont wont do the surgery (he says its too risky) and the specialitsts want anywhere between 1500 and 2500 to remove the tumor. How long do they usually have to live after being diagnosed, or do i put him down (which i cant bear to think about) before the cancer eats away at his organs? And how long might that be?

    • DemianDressler on August 24, 2011 at 6:27 pm

      Dear Abby,
      in the Guide we talk about supplements and other treatments that might help.
      I would consider Neoplasene as one option, along with apoptogens, under veterinary supervision.
      I hope this helps,
      Dr D

  57. allan on August 19, 2011 at 10:05 am

    Dr Dressler,

    6 year old Westie with a lump on back. They aspirated it it has come back a little bit and lap said no cancer cells butr could be inconclusive. What would you do next. The fuid was lik a dark brown fluid.

  58. Natasha on August 16, 2011 at 6:09 pm

    Dr. Dressler,
    A few days ago i was playing with my dog and i felt a small, abnormal bump on my dogs side, near her rib cage. She is a 9 year old German Shepard, turning 10 in a few days. Today, 8-16-11, i felt the bump again while grooming her, but the bump was even bigger than i remember. Is this something serious? Or perhaps there isn’t enough information? She also, lately within the past month, has been rubbing her face against the cough with lots of force and has been scratching her ears a lot. I don’t know if this has anything to do with the bump or if it’s even related, but i am really worried.. I plan on taking her to the Vet in a few days.. If you could give me some insight on what you think her situation is, i would greatly appreciate it.. Thank you.


    Natasha L.

  59. Heather on August 15, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    My 7 year old dog has a malignant neurofibroma on her left leg. It was removed once, grew back and then was removed again. Now it grew back and is larger than it ever was before. We have looked into several treatment options none of which we are completely comfortable with. These treatment options include-1. Amputation, 2. Radiation, 3. Neoplasene Treatment (alternative medicine). She has not been bothered by the growth and continues to run, play, eat and enjoy life. 1. Amputation seems drastic but another surgery to remove the tumor may not be a possibility because it will grow back and will not get to the root of the problem. Another surgery may also compromise the use of her leg and there may not be enough skin to close the wound. 2. Radiation is extremely expensive to afford at this time and is not guaranteed to work. I have researched the success rates with radiation and neurofibromas and it has not proved to be very convincing. 3. Neoplasene treatment seems somewhat more affordable upfront but the continuing costs could be more than radiation. Based on our research, it also seems quite cruel and difficult for a dog to endure not only with the initial treatment but the continued medication possibly throughout her lifetime. I am hoping to find feedback, suggestions, success stories, ideas, anything that will help our pet life a full, happy and hopefully healthy life!

    • DemianDressler on August 17, 2011 at 6:43 pm

      Dear Heather,
      these are tough. You are dealing with common frustrations of canine cancer.
      Honestly, in the end, the amputation usually is the best choice, along with diet, apoptogens, immune support like beta glucans or modified citrus pectin, brain chemistry modification through life quality enhancements, and the other steps in the Guide. In my hands these are the best options for cases like yours- amputation, oral supplements (under veterinary supervision) and life quality efforts.
      I hope this helps,

  60. Jessica on August 8, 2011 at 1:12 am

    I recently noticed a lunp just under my 10 years old dogs teats. It is lumpy, like lots of hard little bubbles under her skin. Im just wondering what it might be?

    • DemianDressler on August 17, 2011 at 5:14 pm

      Dear Jessica,
      I have some concern here. Dogs get breast cancer like humans do. They start as “lumps”. Please bring your dog in to the vet to get it checked out at least. Sooner is better!

  61. Amy on July 24, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    DR. D,
    Back in april i had an emergency C-section done on my dog. Since than she has lost weight to the point her ribs are sticking out no matter how much I feed her. She has been eating grass daily and now today she started vomiting blood! The Emergancy vet is not answering the phone and I was wondering with all the googling I have done that has brought up stomach cancer induced ulcers if that actually might be the case? I am taking her to the vet in the am, but id like your opinion.

    • sherry dennis on September 12, 2012 at 7:26 am

      my dog fine needle aspiration had blood in it what does that they want to amputate but my dog is 17 years old i just want the tumor removed cause i do not know if he will handle loosing his back leg well i have many mixed emtions i just do not know what direction to take please help i need some sort of suppport from people who has been threw thsi my no 505 227 1808

  62. Melina on July 13, 2011 at 11:23 am

    Dr. D,

    I have a dog whom I took to the vet, due to a large “ball” on her tail. The vet is actually a low cost clinic in houston…the vet tech who took her in immediately said it was a tumor and 5 minutes later he came out saying it was a tumor and my dog’s tail needed to be amputated. Well, they gave me an option of a biopsy but they reccomended the amputation plus blood work before the surgery.

    My questions is, keeping in mind finances, should I go ahead and let the vet amputate my dogs tail or should I just put her to sleep?

    My concerns are, what if I amputate my dogs tail and she still doesnt get cured. I have felt some little bumps on her back near the tail. My dog has lost weight and doesnt seem to be eating right. Plus she is always laying down, not active. The day I started giving her the antibiotics they gave me at the clinic, I noticed she vomitted. Also, she is always licking her tumor and it seems she might even be bitting it.

    It’s awful to not have the money to cure my dog right away with no doubts. What are your opinions about my dogs situation.



  63. Gary Lee on July 12, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    Dr. D,

    My small dog (female, age 12, 27 lbs) had a very small “pimple” on her side which was painful to her when I would touch it. It never became larger until last week I saw a scab on it and that she was bitting at it. I went to the local (ugh) vet and he said he could remove it. The next day I brought in Daisy who was given a local and a little bit to knock her out for a couple minutes. He said it turned out to be larger than he thought, but that it’s out and there should be no more problems with it. It took 4 staples to close the cut. That was last Thursday, 7 Jul. Daisy has been sick ever since. From diarrhea to constipation (she cried when she tried to poop), restless, nervous, her appetite is much lower now, her energy is almost gone from a very active, healthy dog. Daisy is not herself anymore. And to top this off, the vet DID NOT send that tumor to a lab for testing. REFUSED TO DO IT even when I said DO IT!

    I’m about ready to find another vet around here and dump this quack before he does any more damage to Daisy! This will be the THIRD vet I’ve dumped due to incompetent, money hungry (“let’s do more tests….”) and shoddy work. This is northern Wisconsin so you can understand. I’m from NYC and LA and those places have TERRIFIC vets!

    What can I do in the meantime for Daisy? Something is wrong and it all started with the “surgery.”

    The local vet just removed a marble-sized tumor from my dog’s side – but did not send it to a lab for further tests. Why did he refuse to do this? Since this minor surgery 6 days ago, my dog (age 12, 27 lbs) has been sick and restless and nervous. She no longer eats properly and lacks much of her normal energy. She continues to look at me saying, “Something is wrong. Help me.” The other 2 vets in this area are even worse than this quack. Nobody likes this guy and I believe he was kicked out of another town’s vet clinic near here because of his attitude.

    This is northern Wisconsin so it’s easy to understand the poor class of doctors, dentists and vets around here. They all try to sell you stuff, but then don’t do a good job treating your pets.


    • DemianDressler on July 13, 2011 at 10:56 am

      Dear Gary,
      I would ask if he still has it in a biopsy jar somewhere. Take the sample and bring it to another vet and travel if you have to so it can be submitted for biopsy. Hopefully it is benign. If he does not have it, the best we can do is monitor for regrowth and follow up with X-rays and blood testing periodically to make sure we are okay over the next couple of years. How often is quite difficult to say, but I might suggest follow up every 4-6 months.
      Meanwhile I would expand your search radius to for another vet if you are planning on getting a second opinion, even if it takes a couple of hours, so you can get this present problem addressed. Hopefully it is some mild discomfort and will resolve, but it is hard to say precisely if that is true.
      I hope this helps

  64. Emily on July 10, 2011 at 9:22 am

    My dog has a massive black,purple and red bruise around 2 of her nipples. It has come really suddenly. I spoke to a vet who said it could be a form of cancer or a ‘fake’ pregnancy. So I am really worried understandably. So is there anything you can suggest? Thanks.

    • DemianDressler on July 13, 2011 at 11:24 am

      Dear Emily,
      This would suggest you should have your vet look at it, for the same reasons you would want this checked on a human body. There are a variety of problems that can present like this.

    • Tianna on September 8, 2012 at 3:54 am

      Dr D
      I was grooming my 8 year old chow mix when I found a strange growth on the outside of her right back leg. The growth looks exactly like a dogs nipple. Should I be worried? She’s always licking and biting it. I tried to look it up online but most websites had nothing that looked like my dogs growth. Should I take her to the vet to have it removed?


      • Dr. Susan Ettinger on September 12, 2012 at 3:54 pm

        Hi Tianna,
        You are correct, the best place to start is a visit to your vet for an exam and either an aspirate or biopsy.
        All my best, Dr Sue

  65. Nicolene on March 28, 2011 at 2:41 am


    Yesterday when i looked at my dog, i saw that he had some swelling on his chest, when i touched it, it felt like a sak of water, so when i moved the hair i saw that he had blood under his skin in that hole area. i know he did not get hurt, so could that be cancer or some kind of diseace

    • DemianDressler on April 6, 2011 at 8:47 pm

      Dear Nicolene,
      please take your dog to a vet. A hole in the skin with blood does not sound good, and definitely deserves medical care right away.
      Dr D

  66. Kim on February 5, 2011 at 6:06 am

    Dr. Dressler,
    I recently found a lump on my dog’s neck and am waiting anxiously for results from the fine needle aspiration. The vet says it could either be inflammation, infection, or cancer. My dog’s neck is very pouchy right now and the skin is very streched out. My other dogs keep smelling his eyes, ears, butt, and especially, his droopy neck. If it’s true that dogs can “smell” cancer, is this a clue that my dog has cancer? Or would my other dogs also be sniffing him if he was sick from an infection? Thank you for any insight you might be able to offer.

    • DemianDressler on March 8, 2011 at 9:28 pm

      Dear Kim
      although dogs do sniff a lot, it does not always mean that we have cancer. Sometimes open wounds or infections are common causes of sniffing as well. I hope that the aspirate results turned out okay.
      Dr D

  67. Sheryl on January 16, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    We recently found a hard throat lump (jaw area) on our 12 year old lab mix. Along with other symptoms. Swallowing issues, hoarse barking, gagging with clear fluid, lethargy. All of this came on very sudden. We immediately took him to the Vet. The Vet said, it is most likely Lymphoma. They did a fine needle aspirate. The results came back negative for cancer. The Vet said, hyperplasia? Something with the Lymph Nodes being inflamed. They put him on a ten day cycle of antibiotics. The lump is still there. He still has all those other symptoms. Also, his personality has changed. Stares at walls, doesn’t look at you when you call his name. I’m scared he is dyeing. Could they have made a mistake with the test results?

    • DemianDressler on March 8, 2011 at 9:11 pm

      Dear Sheryl,
      it is important to repeat the fine needle aspirate. I would also discuss doing a culture of specimen, with blood and urine tests as important parts of this work-up.
      Dr D

  68. Debra Villalobo on October 10, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    hey there Dr Dressler, Our black lab Charlie had a tumor, which I supposed was a lipoma, having had a golden with a similar situation, years ago. As a nurse, it was considered unharmful and benign, yet in only a few weeks , this tumor is out of bounds in proportion of what it once was and has been for months. It actually looks like the scarphoid tumors on an old horse I help take care of that stretch the skin and bleed, but it has happened very fast and though we have an appointment on Tuesday, I am very concerned and (as I did through my own cancer treatment five years ago)want to ask the right questions. Charlie is 12, not sure, found him in a ditch with blisters on his mouth) had him at least ll years. He has had a good life, we love him very much, he’s not the smartest, but he is loyal.

    • DemianDressler on October 13, 2010 at 4:57 pm

      Dear Debra,
      the critical thing at this stage is to get the mass assessed, at the bare minimum with a fine needle aspirate, so you are armed with the information you need to make decisions. Bring your Charlie to a vet promptly please!

  69. Kathryn Krueger on August 17, 2010 at 3:45 am

    Dr. Dressler
    Good Morning, I have a miniature mix poodle he weights 32 Lbs. He will be 10 years old in Oct. He develop a lump beween his front legs when he was about 6 years old. When it was the size of a ping pong ball I had the vet do a Aspirate. He said it was a fat cell. The cell started to get larger so in March of 2010 I had a different vet do another aspirate, again this vet also said it was a fat cell. However, today 8-16-10 it is even larger. Do you think I should find a specialist vet? Or am I just so worried about Paws I’m over reacting? Like you said the dog shows no signs of a health problem. Please advise. Thanks Kathy and Paws

    • Terra on September 4, 2012 at 6:48 pm

      I have an almost 14 year old chow mix. About a month ago she had surgery to remove her spleen due to having a football size tumor inside. She made it through the surgery with no problems and recovered well. The tumor was sent for testing and results came back saying it was benign. Now she has completely recovered and seems to be feeling better than ever. Removing the tumor seemed to make her feel younger. She is also quite thinner than she has been in a long time and I think because she is so thin it was easier to spot a lump on her neck. The lump is on the inside, under her skin, in the throat area. It is about tennis ball size. After doing some research I found that this lump may be near her lymph nodes which might indicate that she has lymphoma. However, I am wondering if this lump could also be due to something that happened when she was given anesthesia. I am also wondering if the blood work the vet did before surgery would have indicated that my dog has lymphoma. I know that I should take her to the vet but she has always gotten really stressed out when I take her to the vet and now that she has had the surgery she is even more scared and nervous. I hate to put her through all of that stress so soon after her surgery. Whatever the diagnosis may be, I don’t think she could go through another surgery so soon after having surgery.I don’t think this would be healthy for a young dog, let alone a 14 year old dog. Can you help with any of these questions and concerns? Thank you.


  70. Kathryn Krueger on August 17, 2010 at 3:42 am

    Dr. Dressler
    Good Morning, I have a miniature mix poodle he weights 32 Lbs. He will be 10 years old in Oct. He develop a lump beween his front legs when he was about 6 years old. When it was the size of a ping pong ball I had the vet do a Aspirate. He said it was a fat cell. The cell started to get larger so in March of 2010 I had a different vet do another aspirate, again this vet also said it was a fat cell. However, today 8-16-10 it is even larger. Do you think I should find a specialist vet? Or am I just so worried about Paws I’m over reacting? Like you said the dog shows no signs of a health problem. Please advise. Thanks Kathy and Paws

  71. Kathy on June 26, 2010 at 7:47 pm

    Dr. Dressler,
    Our 9 year old golden/chow mix had a little lump on her right side for a while. i had mentioned it twice to vets but they did not seem inclined to worry. It got a little bigger and then seemed much bigger, especially after we got her groomed and she didn’t have as much hair over her side ! It hasn’t seemed to bother her but I think recently she hasn’t been lying on that side much. We took her to the vets who did a needle biopsy. She,the vet, said that there was something in there she wanted a better look at and sent it to some other lab and 2 days later said there were just some “inflammatory cells” but didn’t really mention any fat cells that I would think she would if it were a lipoma.. We’re calling up for another appt,Monday, would this just be a lipoma? Wouldn’t there be cancer cells instead of inflammatory cells if it was something else??I’m just still worried !
    Thanks, Kathy

  72. Bev on May 6, 2010 at 4:20 am

    Dr. Dressler,
    I would like to know how common it is for a dog to have the ability to smell cancer in another dog? I am aware that dogs over the years have proven that they can smell cancer in humans, but do you have any knowledge or any information on dogs – that have grown up together and live together- that are able to detect cancer in eachother??. I am convinced that my girl Basset smelled the cancer on my boy Basset and had been trying to alert us to his illness for several months. I work in Forensic Psychology and I have been researching this topic – partly because it affected my family personally, but now I am driven to find and understand an answer. Thank you.

    • Dr. Dressler on May 16, 2010 at 11:39 am

      Dear Bev,
      great question. There are no studies on this as far as I know. However, my belief is that it is very logical to assume that dogs are able to smell cancer in other dogs like they can in humans. Dogs are models for human cancers these days due to the similarities, and I see no reason why a dog would not be able to smell a similar condition in another dog to what it could detect in a human.
      My two cents…
      Dr D

      • Gerry on August 26, 2012 at 7:17 pm

        Is it possible to have a tumor sticking out ,that is cancerous around her anus, be lanced or popped? she had one that went down and grew hair over then like overnight it popped back out, getting large and smelling bad. Any suggestions?
        Thank you

    • Rajane on August 31, 2012 at 1:39 pm

      I’m very worried about my dog, I’m only 13 but my dog is an outside dog. He has a VERY large lump..or bump on the top of his paw. Everytime I go on the portch outside to see him there’s blood EVERYWHERE. It continues to get bigger and bigger.. I’m not entirely sure if its cancer or not. But I know it isn’t good.

      • Dr. Susan Ettinger on September 7, 2012 at 4:20 pm

        Hi Rajane,
        It is very reasonable to be concerned, especially if the mass is bleeding. The best thing to do is have your parent bring the vet to the dog for an exam and likely an aspirate to start. That is usually the 1st step to see if it’s a tumor, or hopefully something mo benign. Either way, try to get the dog to a vet soon.
        All my best,
        Dr Sue

  73. Michele on December 15, 2009 at 12:37 pm


    I’m so sorry that your baby has been diagnosed with cancer. It is heartbreaking. However, there are resources available.

    You say you are in the Houston “region” so I assume you mean Houston, Texas region. I am aware of two facilites with oncology specialties in the area….Gulf Coast Veterinary Specialties, http://www.gcvs.com, is in Houston and Texas A&M University Veterinary clinic, which is not too far away.

    GCVS helped my dog so I am more familiar with them. Your vet will need to refer you to GCVS. If he won’t I would find another vet who will. There are a number of vets in the Houston area.

    I don’t mean to advertise for any particular group but I hate for anyone to delay information gathering and potential treatment for their pet.

    Sometimes regular vets are not aware of all the latest treatment options. Oncology specialists can provide up-to-date treatment options as well as the benefits and risks of each and provide a specific treatment plan for your dog if a treatment exists.

    Also, there are holistic vets that can provide a holistic treatment plan.

    I’m glad I did the research and got a referral to an oncologist because now my dog is in remission.

    Good luck to you.

  74. pierre turmel on December 15, 2009 at 10:48 am

    hi Dr Dressler, I have an italian greyhound that has been diagnosed with cancer. He has two growth near his lungs. The vet told me that because there are two growths, there is no point having surgery or even try to treat it. I just cannot give up until I feel that I have done everything in my power to cure him . I was wondering if there are any trial treatment available or research study somewhere.
    I am in the houston region but will do whatever necessary to find anything worth giving a try.
    Thanks for any help

  75. paula on November 12, 2009 at 8:48 pm

    Hi Dr. Dressler, I am a ped. neurology nurse and always get a second third opinion as well as check my med ref. info. My twin sister and I live together and have lost both a horse and 1 mixed breed very lg 15 year old dog. Also had a feral cat whom I had to euthanize at 19 years of age! We moved and had to find another vet. Would you believe that after an exam and x-ray she did a 7 min. exploratory, DID NOT biopsy or even do basic labs but told my sister Gabbie was full of cancer and should be put down immediately so as not to suffer. She had NO CHANCE TO SURVIVE! Like most lay people, she believed the doctor and Gabbie was gone no more than 3 hours after first being seen. I’m 99% sure that this was to quick and/or the wrong Dx. By the way, a consult with an oncologist wasn’t even hinted at. I wish I had been there to have stopped this. Any toughts?

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