Dealing with Lumps on Your Dog!

Those of us who have dogs know that from time to time we will feel a lump somewhere on our dog’s body that seems to appear from out of nowhere. Most of the time they are nothing more than a harmless cyst, an accumulation of fat or a swelling caused by a minor injury.

While these lumps should not overly concern you, you would do well to have your dog checked over by your vet as an added precaution. As there are times when you could be dealing with something called fibrosarcoma.

What is fibrosarcoma? It is a type of cancer that if left unchecked could spread to your dog’s lungs or possibly to its lymph nodes. The outcome of this problem has the potential of causing death.

Fibrosarcoma is named for a specific type of cell called a fibroblast. A fibroblast is a soft tissue sarcoma (a soft feeling lump). Fibrosarcomas can be found anywhere in a dog’s body. It is a category that is shared by many other cancer producing tissues within the dog, bones, muscles, cartilage and fat. However, they are usually found in the skin or under the tissue just beneath the dog’s legs, chest, and stomach or possibly in the mouth.

What makes these lumps different from the non-threatening lumps is the way they grow. They tend to send out finger like projections similar to the way a tree sends out roots and they are very invasive and are not seen from looking at the lump (tumor) itself. They tend to go deeply into the body making removing them a surgeon’s challenge. The key to complete success is the removal of all the parts of the fibrosarcoma and early detection.

If all the “fingers” are not removed the chances of re-growth will occur and can potentially spread to other parts of the dog’s body.

Since there are no outward signs that a lump (tumor) is a fibrosarcoma, a vet must examine a sample of the tissue microscopically.

It is very important that you, the owner, examine your dog routinely, like at least once a month, to see that there are no new lumps or bumps that you have not noticed before. Run your hands over your dog’s entire body and look under its tongue and into the back of your dog’s mouth. Your vet can advise you as to whether or not you should just keep on eye on the new bump to see if it changes in its appearance or if he/she should exam it further. In some cases a biopsy might be done or the vet may suggest surgery or some other type of treatment.

If cancer is found and the full tumor cannot be fully removed your vet may suggest a combination of surgery, radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy.

Fortunately these tumors when caught in early stages can be removed with few if any problems and the dog will be up and around acting normally in a few days. That is why a routine exam done at home is so important, its kind of like that old saying, “a stitch in time saves nine” and in this case can save you and your dog not only a heap of money but also a fast and speedy recovery. Caught in the early stages a fibrosarcoma can usually be completely removed and will not return again.

For young dogs a once a year physical is sufficient, but for dogs eight years and older you should really consider having a physical twice a year and include complete laboratory tests. The additional expense may save your dog’s life and in the end save you a bunch of money as an “ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”