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Lumps, Growths & Tumors on Dogs

01/23/2017 by Colleen Williams
January 23rd, 2017 by Colleen Williams

growth and lumps dogsFinding a lump on your dog can be downright scary! Your first instinct may be to consult your vet; anything that you would classify as a lump, bump, or growth most likely needs a second opinion, as soon as possible. Whether it is benign or malignant, lumps and bumps can occur at any age and for a variety of reasons. The possible explanations for lumps include:

  • Lipoma

These are fatty deposits just under the skin and are pretty common in dogs, and seldom cause problems. They are usually not painful to your dog, and rarely “invade” surrounding cells. Your vet may want to perform a simple needle biopsy to make absolutely sure of the diagnosis.

  • Sebaceous Cysts 

A little bit like our acne, sebaceous cysts are plugged oil glands in your pup’s skin. They usually go away on their own, however a particularly painful or infected cyst will probably need a vet’s attention for antibiotics and even lancing.

  • Other Benign Lumps and Growths

A variety of cysts, warts, ingrown hairs, skin conditions, and blisters, while sometimes tender, all fall in the benign category of lumps and bumps. You can get them removed easily or have them treated in order to get rid of them.

  • Cancer and Tumors

While this is your worst case scenario, a tumor must be diagnosed by a veterinarian after a biopsy and testing. Cancerous lumps can spread rapidly, so time is of the essence. Vets rely on many of the same technologies used by MDs to diagnose cancer in humans, including needle biopsies, CT scans, and radiology to diagnose cancerous tumors. Cancer symptoms include swelling, sores that don’t heal, weight loss and/or loss of appetite, strange odor, and difficulty breathing, eating, or going to the bathroom.


Removal of benign, superficial lumps and bumps relies on a quick in-office procedure, not unlike you would experience at your own dermatologist for something like an ingrown hair or wart removal. If you have to remove a series of lipomas, liposuction may be an option, however some care providers recommend not removing lipomas. Your vet will provide the best treatment option given your dog’s breed, age, and size.

For cancerous growths, your vet will discuss your options for treatment. If it is possible, surgery may be the first step for your dog in order to remove the tumor. From there, cancer treatment for dogs takes the same steps as for humans: chemotherapy and radiation minimize the cancerous growth. There are also experimental treatments on the horizon through DNA and genetic mapping, immunotherapy, as well as acupuncture and alternative therapies.

Pets with cancer historically have not had many treatment options, and vets had to rely on full limb amputations to rid the body of cancerous growths. New technologies help medical professionals to more accurately locate tumors. This means more localized surgeries and lower incidents of amputation. Vets can remove tumors with a small incision or a quick zap of a laser!

New Diagnostics
Digital X-Ray: $150 – $400, depending on the number of views
Endoscopy (camera down the hatch): $800 – $1,000
Biopsy: Up to $1,500
Ultrasound: $300 – $500
CT Scan: $3,000, depending upon how the pet is under anesthesia

New Treatments
Radiation: $500 – $1,000 per session, around $5,000 – $10,000
Chemotherapy: $1,000 – $15,000 for a full course
Cyberknife (Robotic Radiosurgery; target-locked tumor removal): $10,000

New Preventative Drugs
Melanoma Vaccine: $1,000 – $1,500 every 6 months

Learn more about how the Healthy Paws dog insurance plan pays on your actual veterinary bill and covers injuries, illnesses, emergencies, genetic conditions, and much more.


A good rule for pet parents is to know your dog and “take inventory” of their health and body. If you notice something unusual, you’ll be able to answer “was that there before?” and get to the vet to determine if it’s serious or not.

For more information on common dog health conditions that includes both benign lumps and cancerous growths plus their associated costs, please read our Cost of Pet Care report.