By Jennifer Reed

Are you seeing lumps, bumps or growths on your pet? No matter what you call them, masses of all kinds, from harmless skin growths to malignant tumors, are actually fairly common in our furry friends.

While most are benign, we recommend examinations and fine needle aspirates for all new growths. This simple procedure allows the veterinarian to determine the nature of the growth by collecting a sample of cells and viewing them under a microscope.

Occasionally, a biopsy may be also be needed. This involves collecting a small tissue sample and sending it to a laboratory for examination.

Photo Credit: bullcitydogs flickr

The most noticeable growths will be those on or just underneath the skin. Masses located deeper within the body can only be detected by a veterinarian during a routine exam or through the use of diagnostic imaging, such as an ultrasound or X-rays.

It is important to remember that masses themselves are not painful or bothersome, regardless of the cell type. The only way to know whether a growth is malignant is to perform an aspirate.

Once a mass has been properly identified, it is important to keep track of any changes in size, color, shape or firmness. If you see or feel any significant or rapid changes, consult your veterinarian.

Depending on the cell type, location and size of the growth, surgical removal or freezing of the tissue may be recommended. Cryosurgery is a great option for smaller lesions, such as warts or skin tags, while surgical excision is best for large or malignant growths, as well as those located in areas that may affect the pet’s quality of life.

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