Running a pet store in Vancouver, you see more than your fair share of dog lovers. This city’s packed with them. It’s clear that most pup parents would put their dog’s health before their own every day of the week. So it’s always scary when you give your dog a pat and find an unusual lump or bump. But when should you be worried? Well, you wouldn’t ignore any strange growth on your own body, so get your dog checked out by a veterinarian if you find an unusual growth on your dog. In the meantime, reading through these common lumps and bumps might put your mind at ease while you wait for an appointment.


Hives or Urticaria is a skin condition that displays as raised red skin welts, commonly caused by an allergic reaction. These swollen spots can appear anywhere on the body, including around the face, lips, tongue, throat, and ears. They’re itchy, so you might find your pooch in their dog bed scratching up a storm more than usual.

Urticaria usually happens after direct contact with something that causes an allergic reaction. These substances include insect bites, food, pollens, moulds, vaccinations, and medications. If it’s the result of an insect sting, the condition can cause an unsettling amount of swelling on your pup’s face. If this swelling extends to their throat, consult your veterinarian immediately as breathing can be affected. Antihistamines and corticosteroids can then be used for fast relief.

Sebaceous Cyst

While the name might initially have you worried, a sebaceous cyst is a normally benign bump on the skin caused by dead cells or plugged oil glands. These are like large pimples that can go away without treatment but sometimes recur. If the cyst becomes seriously irritated or infected it may require removal. It can then be examined by a pathologist to confirm that it’s innocuous. The cyst may become red, sore, and even rupture and leak puss. While this is unpleasant, and it may be worrying to see bumps all over your dog’s body, it should then be able to heal. As with a cyst on your own body, never squeeze the cyst.


Canine melanoma tumours result from the growth of pigment-carrying cells called melanocytes. These lumps can be malignant or benign, so you’ll want your veterinarian to evaluate your pet immediately if you discover one. Cases of melanoma are often benign – usually, if they aren’t caused by harm from sun rays – and can be treated through surgery. Aggressive melanomas tend to grow around the mouth and on legs but can metastasize into other organs of the body.

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A lipoma is the most common benign lump found in dogs. It’s a tumour that usually develops in middle-aged or older dogs as a normal part of aging. They’re soft, rounded, fat-filled masses that don’t cause your pup any pain. They’re slow to grow and don’t usually spread.

Dog with veterinarian after lump removal

If it’s no threat to your dog’s health, the vet will likely advise monitoring these lumps for any changes. But if the lipoma affects your dog’s movement or is in an awkward place that causes them discomfort, the veterinarian may opt to remove it surgically.


A histiocytoma is tough to look at, but thankfully benign most of the time. They present as a red mass like a button, usually in dogs under 6 years old. However, they can present in older dogs though it’s less likely. If you find one on your dog, be sure to have your veterinarian check it since histiocytomas can look similar to some dangerous cancers.

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Perianal Adenoma

A perianal adenoma is a common tumour among dogs, found around the oil glands of their anus. They appear frequently and account for 80% of all tumours that occur in the perianal area. These masses are usually seen in unneutered male dogs but have also been found in spayed females. They usually grow slowly and don’t hurt your pooch but can ulcerate and become infected.

Skin Tags

Dogs can develop harmless growths as they age, similar to humans, called skin tags. They can appear in any breed and in most parts of the dog’s body, often unseen under their coat. Larger breeds appear to be more susceptible to developing skin tags. They don’t pose a threat to your dog’s health.


Abscesses are firm, puss-filled lumps that vary in shape and size. Injuries and infections often bring them on. If your dog presents with a firm lump and a fever, along with behavioural changes like not leaving their dog bed as soon as you lay down food, they probably have an infection. Always consult your veterinarian to be sure.

Warts (Papilloma)

Warts crop up as little skin tags or a cluster of lumps around the face and head. Puppies, oldies and dogs with underlying conditions are usually more susceptible. They can also be transmitted from one dog to another through direct contact. They pose no risk and go away after a while but may be removed if they cause your poor guy a lot of discomfort.

Mast Cell Tumour

Mast Cell Tumours are common lumps in boxers, Boston terriers, schnauzers, beagles and Labradors. They’re usually found in dogs over 8 years old. It’s a form of skin cancer that can be a serious risk to your dog’s health if left unchecked. They develop in a range of sizes and shapes with unclear features: small, large, hairless or ulcerated.

Soft Tissue Sarcoma

Soft tissue sarcoma describes a category of tumours including those that arise from the connective, muscle, or nervous tissues in dogs. They result from the abnormal production of these cell types in an uncontrolled manner. Soft tissue sarcomas can develop over your dog’s chest, back, side, legs, and facial tissue. They represent about 15% of the skin cancers affecting dogs. These tumours are common in middle-aged and older large dog breeds.

Squamous cell carcinoma

A squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is a cancerous skin tumour that develops from the primary cell type found in skin and mucous membranes. They can be found in a dog’s nail beds, paw pads, abdomen, ears, back, or nose, including the nasal planum (top edge of the nose).

They usually appear on a dog’s body in areas that have less pigment, lack hair or where the dog’s coat is thin. In canines, SCC is associated with sunlight exposure and considered relatively slow growing. Dogs are commonly diagnosed with SCC between 8 and 10 years old.

While a lot of these lumps and bump have long, worrying names and scary diagnoses, most show that not all problems are serious. There are a range of possibilities and many of them present no actual risk to your dog’s health. As with all conditions, the earlier they receive treatment the better. So, if you discover any kind of unfamiliar lump or bump on your dog’s body, get in touch with your veterinarian straight away. In all likelihood your dog will be back to themselves, demanding walks, sniffing stuff and dragging you towards the pet store in no time.