Aging Dogs: Are Tumors a Concern?

Tumors aren't uncommon, especially on aging dogs. The truth is there are many different kinds of lumps, cysts and tumors that dogs will develop in their later years, and not all of them are malignant.

Though cancer is often the first thing on an owner's mind when he finds a lump on his dog, it may or may not be cancer. It's important a veterinarian examines any growth that develops. A lump on your animal is not necessarily a serious medical condition.

Not All Tumors Are Malignant

As dogs grow older they will develop various health conditions and, for many dog breeds, tumors are a common occurrence in their later years. Certain breeds are prone to specific kinds more so than others, and many of these tumors are benign. Some of the most common in all dogs are mastocytomas, or mast cell tumors. These can appear as benign or malignant and are often treatable with surgery or other treatments. Often times, lumps or tumors that are found on dogs may also be lipomas, which are simply fat deposits under the skin that do not present bigger problems beyond a little discomfort.

There are a wide variety of benign lumps on older dogs, such as sebaceous cysts, which are just collections of dead skin cells. Ingrown and infected hair follicles, hematomas and simple bug bites can all manifest themselves into large growths that could alarm dog owners but pose no threat to the health of their dog.

Diagnosing and Treating a Lump

With older dogs, any lump or tumor does pose the threat of cancer, but these tumors can be benign or malignant. There are a number of cancers that dogs are prone to, and the key is finding the tumor early and diagnosing it. Some will metastasize, spreading to other parts of the body, or they may stay in one place, and grow larger.

In any case, there are a number of options available to diagnose and treat both types of cancerous tumors in dogs, but it starts with careful and consistent checking of your dog's body on a regular basis. If there are any lumps detected, take note of their composition; whether they are hard or soft, if they are discolored and if they make the dog uncomfortable. Never assume the lump should be ignored, especially in older dogs, as they are more prone to developing medical conditions which need immediate attention.