Imagine you’re enjoying a lounge in front of a good movie with your dog or cat. Just hanging out and stroking their lovely soft fur! As you run your hand over his side you feel something different. You check again and yes, something has changed. There is a lump on their side. They don’t seem to mind. In fact, they are rather enjoying the extra attention.
But should you worry?
What is this lump and do you need to do something about it? Well, the short answer is YES! Get it checked out! It could be absolutely nothing but it could be something scary, a type of cancer and treatment would be necessary. “But it doesn’t seem to cause him any pain’. Unfortunately, this does not mean it’s not cancer! Any new lump or bump or one that has changed needs to be checked.
Once you and your pet are in at the vets what should you expect?
Your pet will have a full check over, from nose to tail and everything in between. Your vet will want to know if there have been any changes to appetite, toileting habits, water consumption or general attitude at home. And eventually, they will work their way to the lump in question. It’s very likely that we won’t be able to tell you what it is just by looking. In order to know what a lump is we need to know what cells make up the lump. And that requires a sample – called a Fine Needle Aspiration.
Fine Needle Aspirates
In this simple test your vet will suck out a few cells with a needle and syringe and squirt them on a slide. This is about as uncomfortable as a vaccination – not really that bad at all and with a pat and a treat most pets are happy enough to go along for the ride. The slide may be examined in the hospital or sent to a pathologist. This is a veterinary specialist who is an expert in identifying cells. The results will normally take a few days and might range from ‘totally benign, don’t worry about it, just love him with his lump’ to ‘this is a problem and needs to be surgically removed’ or ‘I can’t be sure, I need a biopsy to identify this further’.
A benign lump can usually just stay where it is and you and your pet should not have to worry about it further. A diagnosis of a cancer or dangerous lump may require further treatment. This can vary a lot depending on the diagnosis. Your vet will discuss the diagnosis and treatment options with you and a plan can be worked out from there. The ‘I don’t know’ diagnosis can be frustrating but it’s important to understand that in some cases, a few isolated cells on a slide just isn’t enough and the pathologist isn’t going to take any risks with your pet’s health. In these cases, a biopsy or small bit of the lump might need to be collected under anaesthesia and sent off for further identification.
Its important to get any new lumps or bumps checked ASAP. If treatment is needed, sooner is going to be much, much better than later. Often, quite nasty cancers can be cured if treated early enough. Don’t delay, get that lump checked and fingers, toes, paws and tails crossed that the diagnosis is one of the ‘don’t worry about him, love him with his lump’ ones!!
If your pet has a lump or bump call now to book them in for a health check! Don’t delay – it can make all the difference!