VET’S VIEW: Skin swellings or lumps are common, so how do you know when to worry?

IT WAS here somewhere, muttered Lola’s mum, as we combed through the fur on her neck.

Thursday, 16th January 2014, 12:00 pm

Eventually, we found it – a small pink lump, almost certainly a benign swelling, arising from one of the skin glands. It was probably nothing to worry about but we would keep an eye on it.

Skin swellings or lumps are a common reason for owners bringing their pet to the vet.

They are far more common in dogs than in cats, and, fortunately, the vast majority are not cancerous, with fatty lumps, cysts and wart-like growths being the most likely culprits.

How do you know if you need to worry? Ask yourself these questions:-

n Has it appeared suddenly or is it growing rapidly?

n Does it feel firmly attached to the surrounding tissues?

n Does it appear to have an irregular shape?

n Does it look red?

n Is it painful to the touch?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, it is probably best to get it checked out sooner rather than later.

Otherwise, you can arrange a routine consultation at your convenience. Don’t wait until the lump is really big, because if surgery is required it will be much more difficult.

If it’s not immediately obvious, the vet may be able to carry out a simple biopsy in the consulting room, but sometimes this will require a small surgical procedure.

Although cats suffer from far fewer skin lumps, a greater proportion turn out to be malignant. You can use the same check list, but be prepared for a prompt trip to the vet to investigate.

Five months later, Lola came in for her vaccination, and we checked the lump which was still hiding under her fur.

She was still happily oblivious to it and her mum was pleased she had made the right decision.