Local Vet at Monty and Minx Calamvale Vets teaches you how to look for lumps on your pets coat
Most of us have had the experience of going “Oh, what’s this thing?” as we are brushing through the coats of our furry friends and come across a lump that we never knew existed.
Sounds familiar? Well, this month we would like to chat about what these little anomalies could mean and how to best manage them.
Lumps and bumps, in all their weird and wonderful shapes, sizes and colours, can be worrisome. Most often, the first thing that jumps to mind is the nasty ‘C’ word. The one we all dread. We agree, we do the same with our fur–babies. But, worry-not, certainly no sleep needs to be lost over them!
The easiest way forward is to check what cells are in them, we will tell you exactly how this is done.
In broad terms, we classify lumps as cancerous or non-cancerous.
Cancerous lumps form when rebellious cells in the body decide to break all the rules and cause mayhem in the cellular community- these are the lumps we want removed at the very earliest. Non-cancerous lumps can be anything from a skin tag or a wart to something with a cavity like a cyst or an abscess. They may or may not require removal but they certainly require testing.
The next level of classification is within cancerous cells themselves. There are again two broad sub-classes:
1. ‘Benign’ cancers – these are the nicer kind as these cancers are mainly ‘space occupying’ , they are content staying where they are and are generally slow to grow. For example, ‘lipomas’, which are benign fatty tumours, lumps we frequently see in our furry patients.
2. ‘Malignant’ cancers – these are the ones we want to nip in the bud, as the cells in this subgroup not only likely to create mayhem locally but also like to travel to places like the liver, lungs, heart etc. and cause havoc there as well. Get them before they have had a chance to spread and everyone is happier!
Now, coming to the big question: ‘What should I do about the lump on my pet?’ The correct answer, at all times, no matter how big or how insignificant the lump is to see a veterinarian!
Are you able to tell the difference between a mole or a melanoma growth on your skin by what it looks like? No.
Ditto for the doggies (and kitty cats)!
Let us discuss mast cell tumours, an ideal example. They are termed the ‘great pretender’ by veterinarians. That slow growing fatty lump that has been there for months could have some cancerous mast cells in it or that little blister on your dogs belly could actually be a nasty mast cell tumour or that little wound in your dogs mouth that was bleeding after he had a chew could be one as well! To make matters worse, they are unfortunately a very aggressive type of malignant cancer, so bring them in ASAP, please.
I am sure you’re thinking, ‘How does the vet know what kind of lump it is, if they look like anything?’ That is where testing comes into the picture. There are two way to do this (things seem to be paired a lot in the vet world don’t they?).
The first type is where the vet sticks a needle in the mass and gets a sample from it to test. This is a great first step but it is unfortunately not foolproof. Some types of cancerous cells hold on to each other too tight (they are the tug of war champs in the cell world!) and don’t give in to a jab by a needle.
Which bring us to the gold standard, or best practice or whatever other splendid title you want to give it – an ‘excisional biopsy’. Sounds fancy doesn’t it? Well, it is! It not only gets rids of that ugly lump on your pet’s pretty face but also tells us what exactly it was and if there is anything else we need to do about it.
Once we remove it, at Monty and Minx Calamvale Vets, we send it away to a specialist, a veterinary pathologist, who examines the entire mass and has an answer for us in a few days.
This one is foolproof; even those nasty mast cell tumours can’t escape this time!
Peace of mind for you, for us, and the best of health for your dear pet!
That is all for this issue folks, we hope you enjoyed this little blurb on bumps. We hope that the next thing on your list is browsing through your pet’s coat and we hope that you will always keep vigilant in the future.
If you have any queries or concerns please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Your friendly local vet providing quality compassionate care.