We have all been there... One minute you are patting your dog’s belly on the couch and the next you’ve hit panic mode as you’ve come across a lump that you’ve never felt before. Thoughts start rushing through your mind. Is it cancer? Why didn’t I notice it before? Will he be OK? Your mind goes to the worst possible scenario and from the size of a pea to the size of a football, we see lumps and bumps of all kinds. Some can appear overnight and others take months or years to grow, depending on what they are. So I’m here to help break it down for you.

If your pet is under 12 months old and a small lump has appeared overnight it’s unlikely to be anything cancerous. It could be an infection, inflammation, an allergic reaction or a small foreign body e.g grass seed in your pet's skin. If your pet is over 1 year old the possibilities broaden and do include tumours both benign and malignant. The most common skin tumour is the Mast Cell tumour and they can appear as anything... From small, raised, furred lumps to large ulcerated masses anywhere on the body. They all require surgery if the patient is otherwise healthy and some even need to go on to have further treatment such as radiation and chemotherapy. On the other end of the scale, a Lipoma is a benign, fatty tumour which is a non-aggressive, locally invasive tumour. These are also very common and usually take months or years to grow, so often we see these in patients over 5 years old.

So essentially, it takes putting the whole picture together to best determine whether you should be worried or not. To ease your worry get to the vet and have the lump checked out. Your vet will take a small sample with a fine needle to assess the cells from the mass under the microscope and determine whether the lump is an infection, inflammation or a tumour. However, it may take the removal of the whole mass as an ‘excisional biopsy’ to determine the exact nature of the lump and this is made by a pathologist in an external laboratory. 

It is always best to check your pet’s coat and skin often, this is made easier if you are applying a Grooming Cream or Nose and Paw Butter daily. You will be more closely in touch with what is normal looking skin for your pet and be able to pick up any changes. Early detection is always best and you are the starting point! 

If your pet does require surgery then the Dr Zoo range again comes in handy. I will often use the Dr Zoo Irritable Skin Cream around the stitch site to decrease redness and irritation postoperatively and the Natural Dry Shampoo is a great option as your pet cannot have a bath while he has stitches in and this usually for at least 10 days. So plenty more reasons here to keep patting and giving extra cuddles to your fur babies, you may even be saving their life!