Lumps and bumps; what to do; when to worry

img_2460I’ve had some cases of dogs with growths this week and thought I might share some tips with you that might save a life or two!

First up was an old male crossbreed who hadn’t been neutered. He had a lump on his behind that the owners had meant to get checked, but they kept putting it off. By the time the little doggy was up on my consulting table, it had unfortunately grown to an inoperable size. However, all might not be lost.

Common things are common. The secret about lumps and bumps is that, as a humble vet, we actually can’t tell you what the diagnosis is just by looking. Possible diagnoses range from horrible life threatening aggressive cancers, to benign harmless cysts. Without doing a biopsy we are just guessing. More on that in another post.

However we can narrow down a list from size, location, blood supply, ulceration, breed, age of dog and rate of growth. This is where we sometimes have to pop on our detective hat; because a large proportion of clients can’t afford the histopathology fees needed to properly diagnose these cases.

So back to our problem. The most common cancers of the back end in older entire male dogs is the perianal adenoma. These are a consequence of not neutering the dog; and neutering your dog eliminates the risk of these almost entirely.

There is a ray of hope with this case. At the moment the tumour is not bothering the dog. It is, however, growing slowly. There is a chance that neutering the dog and giving some hormone therapy might stop its growth and it might even shrink. If it shrinks it might get small enough to remove.

My second case this week came as a surprise to the owner. Her Labrador was having an acupuncture session for his arthritis when suddenly she felt a lump. It’s hard, very dark in colour, and must have grown very rapidly to go unnoticed.

We elected to book in this dog without delay and we surgically removed the lump today. It’s sitting in a pot of formaldehyde as I write in a postbox in Kinnegad. It will be analysed in a technical laboratory and we will be told what it is, whether we got it all, the likelihood of recurrence, and the likelihood of spread. In this case, I am hoping for an excellent outcome due to taking prompt action.

The take home message here is that some lumps and bumps can sometimes be the result of aggressive cancers, and so it’s a good idea to get your vet to look and assess whether they should be removed.