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Skin Tumors in Dogs

Dog skin tumors can be alarming when first discovered. Whether you have just found a lump while stroking or grooming your dog or your dog has discovered it for himself and won’t leave it alone, you should get any lump or bump checked out by your vet as soon as possible.

A routine veterinary visit will help to determine whether it is, in fact, a skin tumor and whether any urgent treatment is required. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at dog skin tumors, what they are and how to ensure your dog receives the right treatment if required.

labrador retriever sitting on a park bench

What Are Dog Skin Tumors?

Lumps and bumps may occur on your dog for several reasons. Infections, ingrown hairs and too much rough and tumble can all result in bumps occurring. One of the first things you might worry about when discovering a lump is that it could be cancer. The good news is that most lumps are benign fatty tumors and are not cancerous at all, but without the professional opinion of a veterinary expert, there would be no way of knowing for sure.

If a lump is identified as a cancerous tumor, your vet will determine the best course of action and the most suitable treatment plan. The earlier a cancerous skin tumor is detected, the better the outcome for your dog.

Common Types of Skin Tumor

The most common type of skin tumor in all breeds of dog is the mast cell tumor. They are most commonly found in Boston terriers, boxers, beagles, Labradors, and schnauzers. Just like any cell in the body, mast cells can develop cancer and if your vet suspects a mast cell tumor, they will carry out a series of tests to determine what treatment is necessary.

Other common types of skin tumors in dogs include:

Fatty Tumors

These tumors are most common in older and middle-aged dogs. They often occur around the ribs, although they can develop anywhere. They are often considered a natural part of the aging process and can occur in any breed. However, larger and overweight dogs are more susceptible to them. Removal is generally not carried out unless the tumor is having a significant impact on your dog.

Sebaceous Cyst

Sebaceous cysts are very common and occur when an oil gland becomes blocked. They look just like a small pimple. If these cysts burst, a white, pasty substance is usually released.


Warts originate from a virus and are commonly found in younger dogs. they usually need no treatment and will disappear on their own. Older dogs may require surgery to remove warts if they are causing pain or problems with eating or vision.


An abscess can be caused by an infection or from an insect bite. They can be painful and may need the buildup of pus to be removed by your vet to relieve the pressure these conditions can cause.

What Happens During Assessment?

If you have discovered any type of skin mass on your dog, you should arrange an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible. As with any visit, the vet will give your dog a thorough nose-to-tail examination, including vitals and weight. Your vet may ask you some questions such as how long the lump has been present, how it has been behaving (for example, getting bigger or staying the same) and whether it has changed in any other way. They may also measure the lump with calipers.

After the physical exam, your veterinarian will use gentle palpation (pressing with their fingers) on the mass. They may also obtain a sample of the cells from the tumor using a very fine needle. Sometimes, the entire mass can be removed and sent for testing.

If the tests come back as positive for a malignant mast cell tumor, your vet will need to use the staging process to determine what treatment plan will be best. Staging determines whether cancer has spread to other areas of the body. This staging process will involve taking blood work, urine samples, chest X-rays and an ultrasound exam of the abdomen.

What Treatment is Available?

Treatment of malignant mast cell skin tumors in dogs usually involves removing the entire tumor. Following removal, an assessment will be carried out to make sure all affected cells were removed. Radiation may also be used if some cells still remain or have affected surrounding tissue. Mast cell tumors that are non-malignant and therefore won’t spread to other parts of the body, may also be removed.

Seek the Best Treatment Without Concerns About Costs

Skin tumors in dogs are common but can cause concern when first discovered. In addition to worrying about your dog’s health, you may also be worried about the cost of treatment. The treatment and removal of cancerous skin tumors can be expensive. The good news is that by investing in affordable and good-quality pet insurance, you can seek out the best treatment for your beloved pet without the fear of escalating costs. offers a range of plans that provide protection for you and your pet.

Cost to Treat: $2,000 to $10,000

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