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4 Common Types of Non-Cancerous Lumps and Bumps on Dogs

Beagle being examined by veterinarian

Reviewed by: Dr. David Tittle,BVetMed, CertVA, GPCert(WVA&CPM), MRCVS

Discovering a lump or bump on your dog can be a cause for concern, sparking worry about potential health issues. While such findings can be alarming, it’s essential to know that not all lumps and bumps on dogs are cancerous. 

In this article, we’ll explore four common types of non-cancerous lumps and bumps that dogs can develop. By understanding their causes, symptoms, and treatments, you can better navigate your pet’s health and well-being.

Should I be Worried About the Lump on My Dog? 

So, you are cozying up with your canine pal, and suddenly you feel a lump. Immediately, your mind goes racing: have I felt this lump before, and scarily, could this be cancer? 

The good news is that many of the masses found on pets are benign or not cancerous. While knowing this may provide some initial ease to pet parents, getting a professional opinion from your veterinarian is essential. Cancerous or not, developing a treatment plan for your pet is crucial for their prognosis. 

What Are 4 Common Types of Non-Cancerous Lumps and Bumps?


An abscess results from the body’s attempt to fend off an infection. The fight against infection accumulates white blood cells and other blood components called pus. Bites from other animals, wounds, splinters, or even an insect bite or sting can result in an abscess if the skin’s surface is penetrated.

Abscesses present as liquid collected in a fleshy pocket in the tissue that swells and becomes very painful. The signs of an abscess include a soft swelling, often with drainage of green, yellow, or even bloody pus from the infected site. 

It’s common for a dog with an abscess to develop a fever, act lethargic, lose appetite, or become reluctant to move or have the area touched. A veterinarian will drain and flush the abscess. An abscess can be painful, and there are times when a dog must be anesthetized before the vet can treat it. 

Your veterinarian may recommend warm, wet compresses to help the sore come to a head; additionally, clipping long hair away from the infected area will ensure that the hair does not hold bacteria in place. 

Often, oral antibiotics are prescribed for an abscess. While a small abscess may drain naturally, most abscesses left untreated can spark an infection that spreads throughout the body, so make an appointment to see your veterinarian!


Hematomas in dogs result from burst blood vessels that cause blood-filled blisters. They form under the skin and are common on dogs’ ears. They often form in response to injury, trauma, or other irritation. 

Symptoms of hematomas in dogs depend on where the hematomas are located. Hematomas under the skin will cause swelling, discoloration, deformity when located on the ear, pain, and aversion to touch, as well as scratching or head shaking. 

A hematoma can form internally and not just under the skin. These internal blood blisters have varying signs and complications depending on the organs they affect. 

Hematomas should be treated as soon as possible, or permanent disfigurement may result. The preferred treatment method involves surgical correction. The actual surgical technique varies with the individual circumstances and your vet’s preference. 

As well as treating the hematoma, it is also crucial to treat the underlying cause, which can be an infection or a foreign body. If left untreated, the hematoma may be slowly reabsorbed, but the associated inflammation will cause damage to the surrounding ear tissues. Additionally, a hematoma can be very painful and should be treated for your pup’s comfort and health!

Sebaceous Cysts

Sebaceous cysts are a common benign skin lump that occurs in dogs. There are many microscopic structures in a dog’s skin called sebaceous glands. A sebaceous cyst is an opening of the ducts within the gland, which causes fluid to accumulate. 

Follicular cysts, sac-like structures often associated with the hair follicles, are common and generally included under sebaceous cysts. Some dogs are genetically prone to developing sebaceous cysts, while others can develop cysts due to skin infections, scar tissue, trauma, or inflammation. 

A sebaceous cyst typically appears as a small, raised, well-defined round structure in the skin. It may feel either firm or like it is filled with fluid. Sebaceous cysts can rupture and may discharge fluid, pus, or blood. The lump can range from 0.5 cm to 5 cm in size; it is slow-growing and may not bother your pup at all. 

Cysts are typically benign and slow-growing, so treatment might not be needed. No matter what, though, consult your veterinarian to determine the best plan of action. 

It is best not to try to pop these cysts at home, as this can cause inflammation and infection and be painful for your dog. If the cyst is growing or bothering your dog, your veterinarian may recommend surgery to remove it. 


A lipoma is the most common benign mass found on dogs, and it is made up of exclusively fat cells. The majority of lipomas are located just under the skin. Overweight and senior dogs are most prone to these benign yet uncomfortable growths, but lipomas are not exclusive to these groups. 

Most lipomas are smooth, round masses in the skin. Unlike abscesses or mast cell tumors, they tend to be movable and are not painful to the touch. Many dogs will present with multiple lipomas on their body at once. 

While lipomas don’t usually pose any serious health threat, your veterinarian may recommend removal if they limit your dog’s mobility or grow too large. If a lipoma grows aggressively, it can become difficult to remove, depending on the location. 

Your veterinarian can identify a lipoma by doing a needle aspirate, wherein a tiny needle is used to suction a sample of cells directly from the tumor, which is then examined under a microscope. 

Wrapping Up

Discovering a lump or bump on your beloved canine companion can be a cause for concern, but it’s important to remember that not all these masses are cancerous. This article has highlighted four common types of non-cancerous lumps and bumps that dogs can develop, shedding light on their causes, symptoms, and potential treatments.

While this article offers valuable insights into non-cancerous lumps and bumps in dogs, at ElleVet, we strongly believe that it is essential to consult your veterinarian for a professional assessment and tailored treatment plan for your pet’s specific condition. 

Remember, early detection and appropriate medical care are crucial to ensuring your furry friend’s health and well-being.


Abscess | Cleveland Clinic

Hematoma of the Ear in Dogs | VCA Animal Hospital

Types of Cysts on Dogs: What You Need to Know | American Kennel Club

Fatty Tumors, Lipomas | Animal Surgical Center

The ElleVet Team
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