Understanding Bumps and Cysts on Pet’s Skin

As pets age, lumps and bumps may arise on the skin

As pets start to age, various lumps, bumps and cysts can arise. Many times these can appear suddenly and can have various appearances from raised hairless overgrowths of tissue, to bumps felt under the skin. The most common benign bumps in pets include overgrowths of fatty tissue known as lipomas, and warts. Other common benign bumps include various types of cysts that can sometimes discharge pasty fluid on the skin surface.

Other lumps can have various appearances and can occasionally bleed. While the softer, fatty and freely movable over-growths can be diagnosed as lipomas by a veterinarian, the best way to make sure that these bumps and cysts are benign is to have a veterinary exam. During such an exam, the veterinarian may perform a needle aspirate, where the vet or veterinary pathologist at an outside laboratory examines cells under the microscope for diagnosis. A needle aspirate can be done without any sedation in the veterinary office.

Other times, a surgical excisional biopsy is necessary in which surgery is performed while the pet is under anesthesia. Rather than watching and waiting, if a bump or cyst is growing quickly, it is always best to have a veterinary exam to perform one of these diagnostic tests so your pet receives the best treatment. LearnMoreButton-lipomas

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169 Comments

  1. is a phone consult expensive? the closest homeopathic vet is 100 miles away.
    I just wondered if you can understand a dog’ personality and ailments enough to prescribe the right pellet that way?

    I apologize for hogging this thread and taking it off course, but being introduced to homeopathy thru that book was a gift. thank you.

    • Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianMay 19, 2014 at 6:52 pm · Reply

      I have personally worked with clients from across the country for years without a problem using homeopathic remedies, based on the symptom totality of the patient. The diagnosis or pathological test results don’t determine the remedy in homeopathy. Most homeopaths charge between $150.00 to $250.00 for an intake consultation which can take from 1 to 2 hours. Followups are done every 3 to 4 weeks initially until progress is made.

  2. My Shih Tzus who is 15 y/o now has had little hard & bumpy spots break out on her skin for years … some look like warts and others are just little bumps that itch terrible and I saw one on her today that has gotten quite large with the skin looking stretched and little red veins show through the ski now. I’m taking her to the Vet tomorrow. I ‘ve tried for years to get rid of them and nothing has worked…any suggestions ?

    Gelene

  3. Hello Animals lovers,

    I too have had shit zus for over 45 years myself,.. I have four shi tzus myself, and have noticed bump’s up around 5+ years . Their Vet is amazing, I thought I had a case of fleas, however it appeared to be acne, I bathe them all every two weeks as I live in the Desert of SoCal, some of them appear to pea size “ball shaped” if you leave them alone they eventually open on their own , but I tend to keep a close eye on them, Some of them develop a very hard crust , looks like a super tiny little pine cone, they will rinse out at that point, my Vet had gently pulled the skin around the area back and it popped right out like a HUGE blackhead you would get on your own skin. It being patient and watching closely that takes so darn long.But they had no bleeding and left very small pocket n the skin. However, don’t get me wrong, I so see some get pretty big before they open, and yes It truly is like a huge spongy cream or yellowish pea these leave red edges, in my experience , my dogs aren’t bothered by them , but then they open and fade off, of course , I am relieved . The medicated dog bathe is amazing and has truly prevented any new ones . at least not yet , ( 4-5 months ). There are two types I’ve see. is the pea size yucky ones, and the ones that pop right out , they appear to look like ear wax. No smell or fowl odor from Any of mine AS OF YET. However if they DO start to smell bad, My vet advised me , their Mommy,.. bring them in, if those type of changes occur, I know its hard to just give em time, I feel its a natural process to their skin type in my Favorite breed . Hope you all have a great day. Love all the information I see here. awesome feedback

  4. kimber – what is the shampoo that is helping your dog so so much?

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  6. My three-year-old Shih Tzu just had her three-year-old vaccinations two weeks ago. Now I have noticed a lump on her back that feels very soft, The size of a pea and floaty just under the skin. Do you have any suggestions as to what this maybe? It is close to where her vaccinations were injected on your back.

    • Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianSeptember 28, 2014 at 5:01 pm · Reply

      Most likely a reaction to the vaccination.. Most commonly the lump will slowly go away in coming weeks. If persists or enlarges, then see vet for exam and evaluation and possibly aspirate of lump. In future, AVOID any un necessary vaccinations, including further parvo/distemper boosters, and other un-necessary vaccinations.

  7. My 9 month old golden retriever has developed a growth in his ear. Over the past 3 weeks it has grown tremendously. It is layered like a pine cone. The base is pinkish — but the end seems dry and comes in a point. It’s about an inch long. It does not inch him or seem to bother him at all. He is on a good diet (Taste of the Wild) and is regularly groomed and bathed. He is big for his age (72 lbs) but is also tall (not obese at all). I’ve made an appointment, but wanted to get a heads up on what I should expect.

    • Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianNovember 2, 2014 at 2:43 pm · Reply

      Most commonly in dog this age, these type of growths are called histiocytomas, which you can look up on line, and which are typically benign. Sometimes they will go away on their own, but other times surgery is needed. I think vet exam and evaluation is best at this point

  8. I have two problems of the same kind, Molly and Samatha has this problem biting on their backside and it feel like scabs where they are itching or biting. what can I do to stop them from chewing on themselves? Molly is 4 years old and samatha is 8 weeks now.

    • Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJanuary 25, 2015 at 3:54 pm · Reply

      You could try benadryl at dose of 1 mg per pound twice daily. If no improvement, then needs vet exam and evaluation fore proper diagnosis. Check them both closely for evidence of fleas or flea dirt.

  9. cristy leitenbergerJanuary 25, 2015 at 10:47 am · Reply

    I have a 5 year old puggle. Overnight he woke up digging and scratching at his body. Now he has bumps under the skin all over his body. Dont know what to do dont have alot of money and it is Sunday and noone is open. I did dye my hair yesterday and dont know if that would of affected him or not. Please help and thank you.

    • Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJanuary 25, 2015 at 3:43 pm · Reply

      You can try oral benadryl at dose of 1 mg per pound twice to three times daily. If no help, will need vet exam and likely prescription antihistamine or cortisone, etc for allergic dermatitis.

  10. We rescued a 1 & 1/2 year old female German Shepherd about 4 months ago. Recently, we noticed a very small, hard flesh colored bump on the inside of her ear. She doesn’t seem to be bothered much when we touch it, and she doesn’t scratch at it. But today we noticed it’s no longer flesh colored, now it looks like it’s darker inside. We looked up close & it doesn’t look like there’s anything alive in there. But the change in color has us concerned.

  11. I have a 7 (almost 8) year old Siberian cat. He weighs over 20 pounds, hates being groomed and develops mats, and I got his hair cut recently. Just a few minutes ago I noticed 3 little flexible bumps sticking out of his skin, 1 on his belly, 1 on his chest and 1 in his armpit. I was almost certain they were ticks! I was able to pull them out using the looped end of a Bobby pin and it didn’t bother my cat whatsoever, and the bumps looked almost like earwax. They were soft, dark in color but dried on the outer edges. I’ve never seen these on him before, should I be concerned?

  12. We took our dog to the vet when we discovered the cyst. He said it would pop on its on but when it does to clean it a lot, which I did. I looked at it today and it’s pretty much healed except the skin around it turned black. Should I take her back?

  13. I have a long hair Chihuahua 12 1/2 yrs old weights close to 18lbs, recently she had a hair cut and the groomer told me her skin was bad, she has on the back a few little lumps, now that the hair is shorter they are visible, they don’t seem to itch. She also has a growth on one of he ears which has grown lately…she has been to the vet he looks at it but says nothing. On the other hand she’s has been licking and bitting her paws, underneath I believe this is due to allergies as she has always been prone to skin allergies reason why she eats homemade meals. I bathe her with Ketochlor shampoo. Are these growths something like skin tags? should I worry? what do you recommend? thank you!

  14. I have a 10 yr old Shih Tzu who has developed 2 red bunps adjacent to each other between her shoulder blades. These bumps were raised and looked almost like huge pimples with a lighter color head. I attempted to clean the lumps with alcohol and they oozed some blood onto the cotton balls used to clean. How should I proceed…should she see vet immediately?

  15. These comments are very helpful. Do you think a heating pad will ease the pain of my dog’s arthritis?

  16. I have an 8 yo Chinese crested. I adopted her 3 years ago. She came with some skin problems like black heads and dry skin on the insides of her legs. She had a biopsy done on the lumps on her belly which were all benign. Over the last couple of months she’s been getting what look like cysts or giant pimples on her back. I bathe her at least once s week because of her skin problems and I have a medicated shampoo the vet prescribed. These pimples start out small, but grow pretty quickly. I will start to notice a head forming and within a couple days there a multiple heads and the pimple is the size of a silver dollar. I’ve been holding warm cloths on them to soften them as it causes her some discomfort. I’ve never squeezed them bc I’m too afraid of what they could be. The last one she had just burst on its own and there was some clear/red pus. I’m assuming it was bloody pus. Should I be more concerned about these? I’m having a difficult time finding a trustworthy vet in my area. The two in my town are completely in it for the money and they don’t try to hide it. Any help would be appreciated!

    • HI Amanda. IT still sounds like she will need local veterinary exam as she may need oral antibiotics for 3 to 4 weeks, if the cysts/pimples have pus and/or are infected. You should ask vet about addressing potential underlying causes such as inhalent/contact allergies(known as atopy) or hormonal issues like low thyroid, etc or problems will tend to recur. You also may want to try some holistic suggestions. See the book Dr PItcairn’s guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats by Richard PItcairn, DVM, phd which has great holistic and diet suggestions for natural health. You could also work with a holistic vet on more long term safe solutions, although not a quick fix. Learn more at my website http://www.doctordym.com MAny holistic vets do offer phone consultations

  17. Ok so i have a a dog that’s 6 months she has red eyes n always scratching but no fleas…could it b allergies if so way should I feed her bc beneiful she scratches like crazy n kibbles n bites she wnt touch… picky dog I guess….is giving her benadryl every day ok?

    • HI Alicia. Giving benadryl every day is ok. You can dose her up to 1 mg per pound twice daily. You can also put her on a good quality omega 3 fatty acid like nordic naturals pet omega 3 from 1800petmeds. You may want to see a vet for allergy workup as most likely inhalent/contact allergies to molds, dander, house dust, etc Vets also can prescribe stronger drugs like the new apoquel which is highly effective

  18. And also my cat has gained someweight n I thought It was from him eating her food but we’ve noticed lumps on his belly n fur missing n skin red n dry…wat should I do?

  19. I just found a small looking scab on the back of my 6 year old shih tzus head. It was about the size of a pea and yellow wax like material started to come out after the tiny scab was off. It popped like a pimple would, is this something a vet should look at?

  20. We have a 9 year old golden retriever. She has an AWFUL odor! She also has a large bubble like bump flesh color with purple “cyst like” place in her shoulder blade that is getting bigger. Another large one on her bottom that is black. Her hair is falling out like crazy!! Beyond normal even for a her! And her undercoat isn’t falling out like normal. Her breath has that horrible rotten smell also.
    Any info?

  21. I found a puppy looks about 4 weeks old he has a bad open spot on his leg with white puss in it i have been putting medicine on it don’t really have the money for a vet I’m feeding him with a bottle but he don’t look like he is gaining any weight

  22. Hi! I have a 1 year old Shih Tzu. He has these scabs that appear on his body sometimes. Usually they are brown with pus. They will show up and then randomly disappear a couple weeks after. He itches hem a lot, but does not seem sick at all. I have tried going to the vet, and they can never figure out what it is. When I last went to the groomer they gave him a hotspot bath and told me to switch up his dog food. The bath seemed to work for a few days , and I could not tell a difference with the dog food. Do you have any idea what could be wrong with him? Thank you!

    • Most of time these are due to secondary bacterial and/or yeast infections which need prescription antibiotic therapies for several weeks, as well as addressing likely underlying allergies here, known as canine atopy, or what I call Doggie hayfever. Unless underlying causes are addressed, then condition will recur. Get second opinion from vet in your area if you are not making progress

  23. My Siberian husky puppy has this weird little black bump on the back of her arm near her paw and when I tried to move her fur a bit to look at it she immediately woke up and moved her paw away does it hurt? What is it? What can I do?

    • Best to take her to vet for proper exam and evaluation. Vet may be able to perform impression smear and/or cytology on the lump to see if it is anything of concern and/or the possibility of antibiotics, etc. Histiocytoma are benign lumps in young puppies which often go away on their own. See your vet who can sort these out

  24. Can I catch what my pug has

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