Many times dog lovers will be told that their dog’s soft lump is a fatty tumor, and is no problem. The veterinarian is usually thinking about lipomas, benign tumors made of fat that may be genetic in dogs.
This information is not always correct, and sometimes the mistake is life threatening. Although it is true that the majority of soft lumps are benign lipomas, if your dog is the exception, action is important.. Squeezing a lump with the fingers rarely is an accurate way to diagnose.
If the soft lump is actually cancer, and the family has been told it is a lipoma, the four legged family member will walk around with a developing cancer. The humans in the home will be doing nothing about it. This is called delayed diagnosis, and in the area of dog cancer the choice to ignore a soft lump can occasionally spell life or death.
One of the readers of this blog relates a story that is helpful and illustrates this point well. Here is the excerpt from her story:
“Prior to it being diagnosed as hemangiosarcoma, Lily had the tumor for at least 6 months but the regular vet said it was just a fatty tissue. However, once it became larger, we decided to get it biopsied. The tumor was removed without clear margins and we began intraveneous chemo and radiation treatment. During this process, the tumor began to grow in the face of chemo.”
If this soft lump had been tested 6 months earlier, perhaps the outcome would have been different.
Here are examples of malignant dog cancers that can appear as soft lumps under the skin:
- mast cell tumor
With dog cancer being the number one cause of death in dogs, and cancer most commonly appearing as a lump, please be sure to have your dog’s lumps tested (not just “looked at”). Dog cancer tests include fine needle aspirate, different kinds of biopsies, and analysis of other specimens. Testing and treating your dog’s cancer is covered thoroughly in the Guide.
Early detection saves lives!
All my best
Dr. Demian Dressler is internationally recognized as “the dog cancer vet” because of his innovations in the field of dog cancer management, and the popularity of his blog here at Dog Cancer Blog. The owner of South Shore Veterinary Care, a full-service veterinary hospital in Maui, Hawaii, Dr. Dressler studied Animal Physiology and received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California at Davis before earning his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Cornell University. After practicing at Killewald Animal Hospital in Amherst, New York, he returned to his home state, Hawaii, to practice at the East Honolulu Pet Hospital before heading home to Maui to open his own hospital. Dr. Dressler consults both dog lovers and veterinary professionals, and is sought after as a speaker on topics ranging from the links between lifestyle choices and disease, nutrition and cancer, and animal ethics. His television appearances include “Ask the Vet” segments on local news programs. He is the author of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide: Full Spectrum Treatments to Optimize Your Dog’s Life Quality and Longevity. He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Hawaii Veterinary Medical Association, the American Association of Avian Veterinarians, the National Animal Supplement Council and CORE (Comparative Orthopedic Research Evaluation). He is also an advisory board member for Pacific Primate Sanctuary.