At the Animal Hospital at Lake Brandt, we know that as dogs and cats get older it is very common for them to develop lumps and bumps. These growths can occur anywhere on the body and they can stem from all different types of body tissues. Some grow on the surface or deeper layers of the skin, while others grow underneath the skin.
Lumps and bumps can be divided into two basic categories: cysts and masses. Cysts are fluid filled structures with a lining that holds in the fluid. The fluid can range from a very thin, almost watery liquid, to very thick paste. Masses are solid accumulations of cells that have grown abnormally.
While the majority of cysts are benign, masses can be divided further into benign or malignant categories. If your pet has a lump or bump, you will want to know if it is something to worry about or not. The way your vet will usually start to investigate a new bump is called a fine needle aspirate. A small needle is inserted into the bump to obtain a sample. In the case of a cyst, a fluid is obtained whereas in the case of a mass, the needle may fill with cells representative of the mass. This sample is then placed on a microscope slide, stained, and viewed under the microscope.
The purpose of obtaining a sample is to help make a decision about how to treat the growth. Malignant growths usually require surgery as early as possible while benign growths can either be monitored closely, or removed surgically but on a less urgent basis. Whenever you notice a new lump or bump on your pet, it should be examined. If your furry friend has a growth that has not been aspirated, give us a call today!
Tim Queeney, DVM