Lumps in older dogs

Lumps in older dogs

Our furry friends can suffer from various maladies throughout their lives. From mild infections to severe diseases affect our pets. Pet owners are usually quite alarmed when lumps appear on large dogs. This is usually a very common symptom of a tumor. Although there are different types of lumps, they do not necessarily have to be cancer.

In any case, we must immediately go to the vet to have our pet examined. Next we will talk about what lumps in dogs can mean and the different types that exist. In all cases, it is best to discover the pathology as early as possible in order to treat it. To do this, dedicating some time every day to your pet to caress it and play with it will help us to detect any anomalies that it may present.

Lumps in older dogs
Lumps in older dogs

Basic Questions About Lumps in Older Dogs

When a lump appears on our pet, we must think about several questions about it. The answers will be very useful to the veterinarian when he begins to examine the animal by observation and palpation. After visiting a specialist, being clear about these answers will speed up the entire initial diagnosis process. Once at the clinic, the vet will be able to ask a series of more specific questions to find out what pathology the animal is suffering from.

big questions

Most likely, he will first ask us if this is the first time that our dog has presented that lump. There are certain pathologies that cause lumps to appear from time to time. Also, they can result from some kind of skin inflammation or allergy. Be that as it may, a fresh consultation with the vet should be done to rule out the possibilities. Then we must consider whether our pet has similar or different lumps in any other part of the body. After the appearance of lumps in older dogs, it is very important to palpate the whole animal as much as possible. That way we can provide this information to the vet and speed up the process.

Another big question we must ask ourselves is when did the swelling appear. This information can be very useful to the vet in order to assess the situation and find out what is wrong with the dog. It is also useful to know whether contact causes pain to the animal. We must make sure if the dog complains in the area of ​​the bulge or tries to avoid being touched. In such a case, it is advisable to inform the vet.

More useful information for the specialist is whether the area around the lump is warm or not. It can be a symptom of some specific inflammation. Eventually, we need to be able to rule out whether this inflammation may be related to a treatment, injury, or vaccine. This question is important, as it could be a reaction to a vaccine or treatment, or a lump caused by a scratch.

Types of Lumps in Senior Dogs

Before we worry that lumps on large dogs are automatically cancer, we should note that there are different types of lumps. The causes and diagnosis of them are different. However, they can be dangerous. The vet can draw many conclusions by palpating the dog. Depending on the hardness, appearance, and discomfort it causes in the animal, you will know which type of knot to exclude. Because of this, the first thing the vet will do is physically examine the dog. Then he will check the mass.


These are lumps or swellings resulting from abnormal growth of cell clusters. Neoplasms are more common in older animals and can arise in any type of tissue. While they are benign in nature, they usually do not adhere to other structures. On the other hand, when neoplasms are malignant, they tend to invade the surrounding areas. In addition, it is common for them to have ulcers.


A cyst is a closed cavity with a membranous lining that contains a liquid or semisolid substance. They are usually painless. These lumps usually appear after the plugging of a granular duct.


Sometimes when dogs are fighting or even running in the field they can take a hit or two. Injuries are very common in these cases. 

This is a vascular rupture caused by some trauma. As a result, the surrounding tissues fill with blood.

keloid scar

As usual, after tissue damage, the body forms scars as a defense mechanism. It can become irritated for various reasons. When this happens, the scar may become quite large and raised, resembling a growth.


When purulent fluid collects, it is called an abscess. , This occurs when defenses try to control an infestation but fail. It can also appear due to a foreign object in the tissue, such as a spike. This type of lump is usually red, soft and develops quickly. Typically, the animal is in pain and produces heat in the area.

Diagnostic Tests for Lumps in Senior Dogs

After palpating the animal, the veterinarian will determine what types of tests are indicated for the case. The affected area should never be cleaned or disinfected beforehand, except if we want to do a PAF or biopsy.

blood and urine tests

It is almost always recommended to have a blood or urine test. So we can assess the condition of the animal and determine if there is another reason for the lump, such as an infection.


When it is suspected that it may be a tumor, 

X-rays are taken to find out if metastasis has occurred. Usually a full X-ray is done and another of the specific area to analyze the type and size of the lump.


If the vet sees it necessary, an ultrasound may be performed. It is used to find various more solid masses that are cystic in origin. In addition, ultrasound can assess whether there are other organs affected by the pathology.

magnetic resonance

In the event that the mass is large, it is likely that the vet will decide to perform an MRI. This way you can define the scope of the package.


The characteristics of the package or mass can be analyzed more precisely through biopsy . To do this, a piece of dough is removed. This process often involves sedation of the animal, as it can be very painful. There are two techniques for performing a biopsy:

  1. With this technique the
    animal can be awakened or locally sedated. An instrument called a punch is placed in contact with the skin and by applying constant pressure it is rotated in one direction until the dermis is freed. The sample is taken with tweezers for later analysis. The treated area should be dried.
  2. Surgery
    This technique is generally used for single nodules. The animal is sedated locally or generally and extensively resected with a scalpel. The sample is then processed and the wound is sutured.

fine needle aspiration (FNA)

This method is most frequent in cases of subcutaneous or intradermal masses, nodules or abscesses. First, the area should be disinfected with alcohol and then a fine needle is pricked into the mass and aspirated in different directions. After this process the air is released onto a slide. To analyze the obtained sample, it is dried, fixed and finally stained, if necessary.

Fear of Lumps in Older Dogs

The risk increases with the age of the animal. Large dogs are more likely to get cancer. When an anomaly appears, whatever it may be, we must go to the vet as soon as possible. 

The time it takes to start treatment is essential to saving our pet’s life. There are statistics that confirm that more than half of dogs ten years of age or older die due to some form of cancer. This disease results from a mutation in a cell. It begins to manifest itself through a lump, so speed in diagnosing it is crucial for our furry friend.

There are many environmental agents that we must take into account, since they can be the cause of these problems. Some of these are chemicals such as herbicides and insecticides, some hormones and radiation such as X-rays or ultraviolet. The effects of these agents on our dog are not immediate, but accumulate over years. This explains why large dogs are more prone to cancer.

Unfortunately, at present it is not possible to find out what is the specific reason for the appearance of certain neoplasms or malignant tumors. Therefore, it is necessary to carry out professional control and diagnosis of the health of our pets.

I hope this article about lumps in older dogs was helpful to you. In any case, if we notice any anomalies in our animal, going to the vet will always be the best option to dispel any doubts.