Dog skin tumors can be benign or malignant, but they should all be inspected and not ignored. The Chase Away K9 Cancer community encourages you to carefully inspect your dog’s body once a month. They recommend the 14th of each month. By doing this monthly, you should be able to pick up any changes in lumps and any new lumps sooner than later. And sooner is almost always going to result in a better outcome.
If you find a new lump on your dog, ask your veterinarian to check it for you just to be sure it’s harmless. Mast cell tumors and malignant melanoma can look like a harmless mole, but they’re cancers that need treatment.
If your veterinarian says to keep an eye on it, note the size, color, and texture if possible. Write down what you see and take a picture of it. Then, when you check back in a month, you have an objective set of criteria to judge any changes. Report changes to your veterinarian. Cancerous lesions need treatment immediately, but even benign tumors may interfere with your dog’s quality of life if they become too big and cause problems with mobility.
Skin tumors can be some of the easiest masses to detect as they are superficial. These include sebaceous gland tumors and mast cell tumors. Internal tumors such as liver tumors or splenic tumors can be harder to detect. Your veterinarian may be able to palpate an abnormal size of these organs, but it can be difficult for owners.
Some lumps that turn out to be mast cell tumors can swell under your touch and turn red and warm. Other lumps may grow slowly and feel smooth. Many of those are benign fatty tumors or lipomas.
Name that Tumor
If your dog has had a biopsy done, the name of the removed tissue can give you an indication as to benign or malignant. Masses that end in “oma,” such as adenoma, tend to be benign tumors. Masses that end in “carcinoma” or “sarcoma” are generally malignant. The rule isn’t 100%, though, as lymphomas can be quite malignant, but it is a helpful guide.