Finding a lump or bump on your pet can be scary. As a pet parent, you start to worry and might frantically search the Internet to find out what is wrong. If you do notice a bump on your dog or cat, first, take a deep breath. Next, read below and learn about the causes of lumps in pets and know when it is time to call your primary care veterinarian.

Benign Masses

There are many reasons why a bump or lump develops, and often, it is a small growth right underneath the skin. These are common non-cancerous superficial masses in pets:

  • Warts
  • Cysts
  • Infected hair follicles
  • Hematomas – blood blisters
  • Lipoma

These types of growths can cause discomfort in your pet but are generally not a major health concern. It is important to monitor the lump and visit your primary care veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.


Often, a bump arises from a puncture wound caused by an accident, self- inflicted injury or a possible bite from another animal. The area around the wound can swell and even fester below the skin’s surface, forming an abscess. If not treated correctly, this could lead to a systematic infection or a longer recovery.

Cancerous Tumor

A cancerous tumor is the most worrisome type of lump. However, a cancer diagnosis is no longer a death sentence. With significant advances in veterinary oncology in recent years, there are many credible and proven treatment options available, including radiation, surgery, and chemotherapy.

It is often difficult to tell the difference between a benign (non-cancerous) and malignant (cancerous) tumor just by looking at it. It is essential to monitor any growth and immediately call your primary care veterinarian if the mass changes in size and/or if you notice symptoms in your pet including coughing, loss of appetitive, and extreme fatigue. Learn more about common cancers in dogs and cats.


During a physical exam, a veterinarian may make an educated guess about the lump’s severity. However, to reach an accurate diagnosis, lab work, including biopsies, might be required. Common diagnostic procedures include:

  • Needle biopsy – a needle is inserted to collect cells from the lump. This is a short procedure that most dogs or cats aren’t even aware of. The cells are examined under a microscope for diagnosis.
  • Tissue biopsy – the mass might be removed partially or completely through surgery. The biopsy provides the veterinarian with the necessary information for a diagnosis and treatment plan.
  • CT scans – generally used to diagnose a mass in the internal organs. However, if a superficial mass is found as malignant, a CT is used to determine if it has metastasized (grow) to other parts of the body.

Bumps and lumps can form in pets. It is important to check your pet’s skin often – a great excuse to pet and cuddle with your furry family member. If you do notice a lump or bump in your pet, monitor it carefully, and schedule an appointment with your primary care veterinarian to be sure of what it is.

In some cases, your primary care veterinarian may recommend a referral to The COVE to see our surgical specialist. If you find a worrisome growth or your pet is feeling ill when your primary care veterinarian isn’t available, please contact The COVE. We are open 24/7/365, with a team of compassionate, highly skilled emergency clinicians and specialists if you need us. You can also call our team at (757) 935-9111 for any questions regarding your pet’s health.

About Us

The COVE’s veterinarians and staff wholeheartedly embrace the core values of community, collaboration, commitment, compassion, and integrity. This focus ensures that pets, the people who love them, and their primary care veterinarians have as positive and affirming a healthcare experience as possible, regardless of the circumstances that bring us all together.