Why a Dog Lump Should Be Tested for Cancer

A dog lump isn't always benign, so it's important to regularly check for them and get them tested.

According to the National Canine Cancer Foundation, 3 out of 10 dogs will develop cancer. In fact, 50 percent of all dogs that die after their tenth birthday succumb to some form of dog cancer. Those that receive early treatment are either cured or have years added to their lives.

Checking Your Dog for Lumps

Regularly check your dog's skin for discoloration and growths. If you find anything, make a note of it and then keep checking that area. An insect bite usually clears up within a few days. If it doesn't contact your vet. Lumps should be checked as a precaution, especially if they seem to have appeared overnight and grow rapidly.

With many tumors on a dog, benign lumps are easily removed and are not cancerous. If you do receive word that the tests showed canine cancer, treatment will start immediately.

Process of a Dog Lumpectomy

The first thing your veterinarian will perform is a standard exam. During this exam, he'll check the size of the dog lump and see if it causes your pet any pain. He will next use a small needle and remove some of the cells from within the mass to see if any cancerous cells are visible. This needle aspiration is not always accurate. Most vets will suggest having a biopsy, also known as a lumpectomy, to tell for certain.

With a biopsy a portion of the dog lump is removed surgically. The entire mass and tissue surrounding it is removed and sent to a lab for testing. This will provide results on whether the mass is benign, usually fat deposits, or with the occasional dog, malignant. If a lumpectomy is ordered, the veterinarian will collect blood samples to make sure the dog is healthy enough to handle the anesthesia.

The lumpectomy begins by sedating the dog. The area around the lump is shaved and disinfected. Next, anesthesia is used to keep the dog asleep and pain free while the surgery is performed. The anesthesia is given via a mask that is held over the dog's muzzle.

A scalpel is used to remove the mass and surrounding tissue. Blood vessels to the dog lump are cauterized or tied off and the lump is then removed. With a large dog lump, reconstructive surgery may be necessary to close the hole. The remaining incision is stitched up and then covered with a bandage. Most dogs will require a cone (Elizabethan collar) around their neck to prevent them from licking and scratching at the healing wound.

Caring for a Pet that Underwent a Lumpectomy

Once you bring your dog home, give your pet all required medications. Do not allow your dog to return to normal exercise routines until the wound has had time to heal. Strenuous exercise too early can lead to torn stitches and additional surgery if lump extended into the muscle.