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Lumps on Dogs, What is Wrong?

dog at veterinarian officeLumps on Dogs, What is Wrong?

Lumps on dogs is not something that I wanted to talk about today. The reason I am talking about it is that my dog, Freckles, has a lump that appeared about half way down on her tail.

The first second after discovering it was panic, then I realized that it could be nothing to worry about. I picked up my phone and made an appointment with her veterinarian to have it checked out.

Questions the Veterinarian Will Ask

  • When did you notice the lump?
  • Has the size, color or shape changed?
  • Has your dog’s appetite or behavior changed?
  • Is it bothering your dog?

Testing the Lump

Your veterinarian may want to run some tests, depending on the lump. Some lumps will just need draining if it has fluid inside, and other lumps may need to be surgically removed. If you need help finding a veterinarian click here.

I took Freckles to see her veterinarian to check on the lump on her tail which turns out to be an abscess. That was a big relief! Her veterinarian drained the fluid from the lump which was filled with blood and pus, and she got an antibiotic shot.

Types of Lumps

There are two major categories of lumps, benign and malignant. Benign lumps don’t grow or grow very slowly, they don’t usually change and are harmless. Malignant lumps can be very dangerous as they can grow and change quickly, spread and cause death.


Lipomas are fatty lumps that are common and noncancerous. They usually occur on dogs that are middle-aged or older. Most lipomas are left alone and do not become a problem. If the lipoma is large, it can make your dog uncomfortable and it should be surgically removed.

Sebaceous Cysts

Sebaceous cysts occur when the sebaceous gland, which is an oil producing gland, becomes blocked and a cyst forms. These cysts are filled with a white liquid and they will require surgery to remove it. Draining it is just temporary, and it will return.


Hematomas form around an injury when a blood vessel bursts. These lumps will fill with blood and can be painful. See your veterinarian for the proper treatment. To read more about hematomas at PetMD, click here.

abscess on dog's tail


Abscesses form around wounds caused by injury. The lumps are really sacs of pus that form to fight off infection by bringing white blood cells to the area. These form as a natural part of your dog’s immune system.

In the image to the right, you can see the abscess on Freckles’ tail. In just one day after seeing the veterinarian, it looks much better and is healing nicely.

Mast Cell Tumors

Mast cell tumors are growths that are raised above the skin and need to be checked by your veterinarian immediately. Your veterinarian can run some tests to determine if it is malignant and the proper treatment.

Common Malignant Tumors

Abdominal Tumors

You can’t see or feel most abdominal tumors and they are not common. Some symptoms are diarrhea, weight loss, bloody stool and abdominal pain.

Mammary Tumors

This is the most common malignant tumor that veterinarians see are in female dogs that have not been spayed. If you find a lump in the mammary area, see your veterinarian immediately. Dogs that are spayed as puppies or young dogs reduce the chance of mammary tumors to almost zero.

Testicular Tumors

A male dog that is not neutered can develop testicular cancer. Changes can be noticed in the shape or size of the dog’s testicles. Neutering a male dog will prevent this cancer.

Skin Cancers

A variety of skin cancers can occur in dogs especially where the fur is thin. If your dog has a sore or lump that grows or changes in appearance or a sore that doesn’t heal, see your veterinarian.

basset hound in bed

My sweet Freckles sleeping on the porch

As you can see lumps on dogs are usually harmless and nothing to worry about. You should always see your veterinarian if you find a lump on your dog and have it checked out. Check out these travel accessories at Amazon to keep your dog safe in your car.

I was very relieved to find out that Freckles’ lump is harmless. This is very good news. Then came the bad news, as her veterinarian discovered that she has developed a heart murmur.

Several months ago she had a good checkup and her heart was strong. I did not expect to hear that she has a heart murmur. The murmur could remain the same or it could get worse.

It’s at the lowest grade for a heart murmur, so we are going to keep a check on it. She is getting up in age and will celebrate her 11th birthday on April 6th, 2017.

Leave a comment below or share a story about your dog. The information on this website is not intended to replace the advice of your own veterinarian, dog trainer, or dog behavioral specialist.




  1. I had a male doberman that I found a lump on his neck when he was approximately 3 years old. Took him to the vet and found out it was cancer. Took him to Guelph University Animal Hospital where he underwent 26 weeks of chemo. He went through the chemo like a champ. Some dogs get really sick, he did miss a couple of meals but that was it. They said the chemo would give him probably two more years. He ended up dying from heart failure at almost 12 years of age.
    So if you find a lump have it checked immediately. If we hadn’t had that lump checked he would have died years before he did.

    • Alice

      March 9, 2017 at 6:13 pm

      That is a wonderful story. I know you are glad you took him to the vet as soon as you noticed it. It’s amazing that he did well with the chemo and lived so long! I didn’t talk about it in my article, but I had a Basset Hound many years ago that had breast cancer. She had surgery and lived to be 12 years old. Early treatment makes a difference! Thank you for your comment.

  2. I’m glad Freckles was okay and doing well. It may not have been the post you want to write, but it certainly has a lot of information that may help others. Thanks!

    • Alice

      March 21, 2017 at 5:22 pm

      Thank you for your comment. I’m glad Freckles is okay too! I really hope it can help someone else who has a dog with a lump, so for that reason I’m glad I wrote it too.

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