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

Lumps or Bumps Around Dogs Eyes or Ears? Here’s How to Check

Updated: March 20th, 2020


Checking for bumps around dogs eyes is important because some cancers go unnoticed for a long time. Here’s how to check gently and thoroughly.

If you’ve found a lump or bump around your dog’s eyes or ears, and it’s been there for one month or more or is 1cm in diameter, make sure you check it out with your veterinarian.

But all of us, every single one of us, should be doing a monthly check of our dogs for lumps and bumps. That’s because cancer is the #1 cause of death in dogs now, and ALL of our dogs are at risk of developing it. Early detection starts with you, at home, doing a monthly run-through. This article will focus on checking your dog’s eyes and ears, but you can also learn how to check the mouth, torso, legs, lymph nodes, anal glands, and testicles for other cancers that are often found at home.

Keep an Eye on It

Most dogs aren’t comfortable with direct eye contact. That’s just their nature. So if my boy has a weepy eye or I suspect there may be a problem, of course he will hesitate to let me have a good look. He may also not want my vet to peer even closer.

But it’s important that I keep an eye on his eyes.  He needs them healthy and happy, right?

I always use a calm approach as I stroke his head and work from the side, to examine him, not the front.

If I need to clean the eye area, I always only use products with my vet’s approval, making sure I know the correct procedure.  This gives me a wonderful opportunity to make sure his eyes are healthy.

To help keep your dog bright eyes and alert, here is a checklist of signs to watch for:

  • Dulling, discoloration or clouding of the eye surface
  • Tiny red lines across the eye
  • Inflammation, or reddish color in the normally white area
  • Any bulging of the eye
  • Discolored discharge
  • The appearance of any bumps or lumps in or around the eyes

If you see a bump or lump, keep in mind that developing nasal tumors can produce these symptoms around the eyes. Dr Dressler’s post Diagnosis of Nasal Tumors gives more specific information.

Listen Up

Long or short, tall or floppy, dog ears are deep caves of the unknown.  They can accumulate anything from wax, water, seeds, mites, scratches, thorns, ticks or infections in those wonderful ears.

To check my dog’s ears I use my frequent stroking to gently rub the base of each ear. As I judge his comfort with that, I turn his ear out so I can look inside.  When I have to clean out excess wax, I only use the techniques and cleansers that my vet has approved.  I never stick my finger or anything else into the ear itself because I don’t want to cause a problem.  Yet I can observe and again if it helps I will take a photo if I see something I think should not be there.  Mast Cell Tumors (MCT) can appear in the ear as well as other areas of the body, so catching anything early is always the best.

For more useful tools and information, get a copy of the Dog Cancer Survival Guide

What to Do If You Find a Bump or Lump on Your Dog

If you do find a lump or bump, please stay calm, and consult your vet.  Congratulate yourself, because you have done your job as your dog’s champion. Cancer is the #1 killer of our dogs, but early detection is the most powerful tool we have to change those statistics. The Dog Cancer Survival Guide is an invaluable resource, and sharing this information with family and friends means that more doggies will live longer lives.

Happy Tails!

Leave a Comment

  1. Debra Greenwald on May 6, 2020 at 4:43 am

    I found. Up in the corners of her eye brows she only 1-yr 4 months

  2. Wendy on January 2, 2020 at 3:58 pm

    My 5 year old Chihuahua is constantly getting little red dry bumps inside his ears. A anti fungal cream usually works, but now one of his eyes, around the eye not the eye itself is red and watery. He also seems real lythargic. Could it be an alergy?

    • Dog Cancer Vet Team on January 3, 2020 at 7:40 am

      Hello Wendy,

      Thanks for writing and we’re sorry to hear that! As we’re not veterinarians here we can’t offer you medical advice. It would be a good idea to take your boy in for a check-up to find out what’s going on. They will be able to find out what might be causing the bumps and recommend a treatment plan 🙂

    • Antonette on May 8, 2020 at 1:30 pm

      Wendy my chihuahua has the same thing that you describe I don’t know what it is but if you have any info please let me know

  3. Dorothea on August 6, 2019 at 4:19 am

    I found a bump in my dog!s ear. The newer vet at my beloved vet’s office wanted to “keep an eye on it” because in an ear aspirating it would cause it to bleed a lot. Keeping an eye on it is “the devil”. I sent them an email that said I did not feel comfortable with that. I mean so what it bleeds some. Long story short the cells were “granulated” which I understand to be cancer or on its way. Aspirate everything. Waiting kills. My dogs look a little funny with their recent “war wounds”, but both had those mast cell cancer looking cells removed, and both are here to continue to boss me around. Good article.

  4. Anne Sharpe on April 10, 2019 at 7:47 pm

    My puppy has a small bump, not on his eyelid, but above her eye, covered with her fur. Right in the middle of it are several thick, dark hairs almost like sharp bristles. What causes this and what might the treatment for this condition?

    • Mary Greenwald on August 6, 2019 at 7:06 pm

      That sounds like a Dermoid. Google but for pictures. We noticed something strange with my Rottie’s eye when he was about 12 weeks. A friend who is a Vet Tech called it a Dermoid. It will get bigger as it a genetic deformity of the eye. His had lashes too! We had it surgical removed when he was around 10 months as it was causing him to not close his eye all the way. He can still see out of that eye but I think his peripheral view is not 100%

  5. Julie Wahl on March 2, 2019 at 11:23 am


  6. Zach on November 9, 2018 at 11:14 am

    It might be a stye

    • Dog Cancer Vet Team on November 12, 2018 at 6:59 am

      Hello Zach,

      Thanks for writing. We’re not veterinarians here in customer support so we can’t offer you medical advice. As Susan writes in the article above, those symptoms around the eyes can be produced by developing nasal tumors– she provides a checklist for signs to watch for in the event that you do find a lump/bump.

      As Dr. Sue writes in this article, if a dog has a lump larger than 1cm or it has been there for over than a month, get it checked by a vet ASAP. She also writes that, “Most of the time the lumps are benign … but when they’re not, the longer you wait to get them checked out, the worse the situation becomes.”

      Dr. D also writes something similar in this article. Vets can’t usually diagnose what a lump or bump is just by looking at it or squeezing it, it’s best to get it checked and get the data you need to determine what it is.

      We hope this helps! 🙂

      Warm wishes!

  7. Krystal Monteith on September 13, 2018 at 9:20 am

    My 9 year old chi has brownish red bump on eyelid doesnt cause him pain but it grows

  8. Emmalouise Rowberry on November 30, 2017 at 12:04 pm

    My dog has a large white lump and a smaller red lump next to his right eye, what shall I so, because he has had them before and they went away with no treatment a few days later but these one have stayed longer than usual?

  9. Emmalouise Rowberry on November 30, 2017 at 12:03 pm

    My dog has a white large lump and a smaller red lump next to his right eye, what shall I do

  10. mwcorgilover on February 21, 2014 at 12:39 pm

    “dog ears are deep caves of the unknown” ……… Ain’t THAT the TRUTH?! LOL!

    • Anne Sharpe on April 10, 2019 at 8:00 pm

      The bump, covered in fur, is small above her eye with a few thick, dark, sharp hairs right in the middle that actually stuck my finger. What might the bump be?

      • Dog Cancer Vet Team on April 11, 2019 at 6:17 am

        Hello Anne,

        Thanks for writing. Unfortunately, no one can tell you what the lump is just by looking at it. Your vet will have to do a fine needle aspirate to determine what it is 🙂

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