What Are These Lumps, Bumps, and Growths on My Pet?

It is worrisome to find a lump, bump, or growth on your pet. However, abnormal growths on top of, within, or just below the skin are commonly discovered in dogs and cats. Finding one does not necessarily mean bad news. Knowing what to watch for, and what you can do if you find one, is essential. That’s what I’ll go over in this article.

Benign Lumps, Bumps, and Growths

There are different types of lumps, bumps, and growths that you might find on your pet. When you find one, your first thought might be that it is cancer and panic. However, some types are benign (non-cancerous) that a veterinarian can easily remove. Here are some of the most common types that you may find on your pet and what to do about them:

Skin Tags

These are harmless growths that often pop up from the skin’s surface on a stalk. Like people, pets can have a single skin tag, or clusters on their chest, legs, face, back, armpits, or other areas.

Skin tags can develop in any breed, although they are more common in large-breed dogs. Since these bumps are benign, surgical removal is rarely necessary unless your pet begins to chew or scratch them and causes them to bleed.

Lipomas (fatty tumors)

These fatty tumors are not cancerous. They are usually soft and moveable and are generally just under the skin.

They can grow to be quite large, but they often don’t require any treatment unless they make it difficult for your pet to walk or move in some way.

Sebaceous Cyst

A sebaceous cyst is essentially a big pimple on your pet’s skin. These bumps are clogged oil glands in the skin that are harmless to your pet, although they can become inflamed and sore if they rupture. If they rupture, they have white to cream-colored cheesy-looking material in them.  If they rupture under the skin, they can cause significant inflammation, soreness and sometimes become infected.

Sebaceous cysts generally don’t require surgical removal unless they keep clogging and rupturing or causing irritation for your pet. Otherwise, a medicated shampoo can help reduce their frequency and severity.


This type of bump is a benign tumor commonly affecting pets under a few years of age. They look like small, firm, button- or dome-like bumps on the surface of the skin. These benign masses originate from the immune cells that provide protective immunity to the tissues in contact with the outer environment. They most frequently occur on the face, ears, feet, and front legs.

They typically go away in just a few months or less. However, if a histiocytoma doesn’t go away on its own, surgical removal can take care of it.

Schedule an Appointment

Of course, you do not need to remember all the above technical names. But I hope the information puts you more at ease if you’ve seen these on your pet.

Whatever type of growth you might find on your pet’s body, you should schedule an appointment right away to have it diagnosed. Lumps and growths are in the “better safe than sorry” category when it comes to the health of your pet. Suppose one does turn out to be cancerous. In that case, you want to give your pet the absolute best chance at survival by getting it diagnosed fast and treatment started early.

If you have questions about how surgery might go for your pet, you can check out our webpage on surgery. Or you can give us a call any time, and we will do our best to provide you with any information you might need.

How to Check for Lumps, Bumps, or Growths

The fur on your pet normally makes it difficult to see any bumps, lumps, or swellings. For this reason, you need to run your hands over their entire body, feeling for anything out of the ordinary. Check inside their mouth if you can do so safely. We advise that you do this check at least once a month.

Also, when you bring your pet to us for their regular checkup, your veterinarian will check for any abnormal growths. If we find any, we will explain the procedure for diagnosing what type your pet has.


Finding lumps, bumps, or growths on a pet can be a stressful experience. Remember to stay calm and contact us to schedule an appointment or ask us any questions about what you’ve found. Whether it requires treatment or not, we hope to give you some peace of mind.


Dr. Kim Stewart
College Hills Veterinary Hospital

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