Why you must check your dog for lumps and bumps to spot the signs of dog cancer early

Posted by Dr Dog. November 28th 2015.

It is not uncommon for dogs to develop lumps and bumps under their fur and, if you find one, it’s not necessarily something to worry about.

It’s easy to fear the worst and presume it may be ‘dog cancer’ but a lot of the time, lumps are simply fatty tumours that are benign, meaning they are not cancerous.

Cancer in dogs is still an issue, though, particularly in older or overweight dogs.

Symptoms are not easy to spot, so you should make an appointment to see your vet.

If you notice that the lump is swelling, if there is any redness or pus, or if the dog is in pain, you should make a visit to the vet a priority.


It is essential to check your dog for lumps and bumps to detect 'dog cancer' early

What your vet will ask you

The main thing your vet will want to know is when you first noticed the lump or lumps. This is why it is important to check your dog’s skin regularly.

Try to get into the habit of checking once a week. An ideal time to do this is while you’re fussing your dog or playing with him or her.

Your vet will also ask if you have noticed any changes in the lump – to its size or shape.

You should also make a note of whether your dog’s behaviour has changed. Has he or she lost their appetite or become lethargic?

Types of dog cancer

Cancer is a leading cause of death in dogs aged 10 and over. The most common types include:

  • Malignant lymphoma – a tumour that affects the lymph nodes
  • Mast cell tumors – a form of skin cancer
  • Mammary gland tumors, or breast cancer
  • Soft tissue sarcomas
  • Bone cancer

Dogs of all ages should undergo regular examinations


The vet will look for dog cancer symptoms and may take a sample of tissue from the lump to send it for tests. You should find out the results in a few days.

If it is found that the cells are cancerous, the concern is that it may spread to other parts of the body.

Treatment options vary, depending on how advanced the cancer is. Your vet may recommend surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, immunotherapy or a combination of these.

Some owners opt for no treatment and instead choose palliative care, using painkillers to improve their dog’s quality of life.

Preventing dog cancer

You can reduce the risk of breast cancer in female dogs by having her spayed before her first heat cycle.

A properly neutered male dog will have no chance of developing testicular cancer.

Some owners also believe the threat of cancer will be lowered by adding vitamins such as C and E to their dog’s diet.

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