Why Should I Check My Pet For Lumps? 

Your pet’s body can produce some new developments as they age. Even though they love a good scratch behind the ears or a lovely belly rub, make sure you understand their body’s baseline normal from head to tail. Having a baseline understanding of what feels normal on your pet is wise, because it will help you identify any new developments. 

Lumps and bumps on your pet are not always a bad thing. They’re a natural part of the aging process. You do want to be sure to point out any that develop to your pet’s veterinarian so they can decide what the best course of action is to explore them because some can be indicators of health issues.  

What should I do first if I find a lump on my pet?

Call your veterinarian. Most of the time, they will want to see your pet for an examination. They can determine if the lump is worrisome based on various factors– size, feel, location, etc. (just as a few examples). Your veterinarian may be able to extract cells for testing directly from the lump using a very fine needle. They may also want to fully or partially remove the node and biopsy it. In some cases, they may not see any hazardous threat and suggest you do nothing but monitor the lump for growth or changes.

How can I make my pet comfortable while checking them for lumps and bumps?  

It’s all about consistency! If possible, start when your pet is young to desensitize them to a full body check. Make it a regular occurrence!  If your pet is older, start with partial body checks, and read their cues to understand what makes them uncomfortable (growling, side-eyeing, stiffness, etc.). Reward them with their favorite treats to make it an enjoyable (or at least more enjoyable) experience. For example, some dogs and cats do not like their paws touched. Each time you need to check their paws offer them praise and something delicious. In time, they will begin to have positive associations with having their feet looked at, and it will become easier and easier.  

Where should I check? How often? 

Our pets can develop lumps anywhere on their body, from their nose right to the tip of their tail. Be thorough and leave no area untouched! If possible, peek in their mouth if they’ll let you. If you are unsure about handling any part of your pet’s body, ask your veterinarian for in-person tips next time you’re there. They can show you the best practices and exactly what to look for. There is no hard and fast rule for how often you should do this, but it will become a mindless task if you incorporate it into a routine. For example, take one night of the week when you’re lounging on the couch watching Netflix with your pet to complete their check. 

The better we know our pet’s “normal,” the better we get at pointing out when something is abnormal and needs to be checked by a medical professional. If you are unsure about something you found on your pet, schedule a visit with your veterinarian to investigate!