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Lumps and bumps are fairly common in cats and dogs, especially as they age. Learn what they are and how to best identify them so that a veterinarian can treat your pet early.
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You try to convince yourself that it's nothing. It must have been there all along, that bump or lump on your pet's body. Lumps and bumps are fairly common in cats and dogs, especially as they age. It is impossible to tell merely by looking at or feeling a bump whether it could endanger your pet's life or if it is just a `not so pretty' beauty mark.
It is always best to have your pet examined by your veterinarian at least twice a year. Since one of our years is approximately 7 pet years, a great deal can change in that amount of time. Between visits you can give your pet a monthly wellness exam at home.
Besides looking into the eyes, ears and checking the health of the teeth, running your hands over the entire body can help you identify a new bump or aid you in monitoring changes in formerly identified ones.
When I give a physical examination, I always adhere to a certain pattern. I know that if I don't vary my routine, I greatly decrease my chances of missing something important.
I start my exam at the nose and work towards the tail. Rub your hands over the muzzle. Feel around the eyes. Run your fingers over each earflap, pinnae. You are trying to find any difference from one side to the other.
Now work your fingers over the entire back, sides, chest and belly. If your pet has a heavy coat, it may take some work to get down to the skin level. This is also the perfect opportunity to assess your pet's body conditioning score. Pets are chunking up like many of their owners. The ideal body condition is when there is an indentation after the ribs, a waistline. You want to be able to easily feel the ribs when you exert light pressure on the chest wall. If you are pinching an inch or your pet looks and feels like a sausage, it is time to start cutting back on treats and increasing its' exercising.
Be sure to feel each limb from the shoulder or hips down to toes. You can also gently bend and extend each joint to be sure that they move smoothly. If your pet resents this attention or if you notice that one joint seems stiffer than the next, make an appointment with your veterinarian. Your pet may have arthritis. Arthritis can affect any age, and any breed. It is a painful malady that cannot be cured but can be medically controlled.
Finding a lump or a bump is not a death sentence. Clients will often present a pet to me because they have found a mass and are convinced that it is cancer. Often, if they had taken a breath, calmed their nerves and felt the same area on the other side of the body, low and behold a similar mass. The chances that there would be a worrisome lump in exactly the same area on both sides of the body are about as good as me winning the lottery.
Your veterinarian has several ways with which to determine the true identity of a mass. He or she may take a sample by means of a fine needle aspirate. Some nodules require a chunk of tissue to be analyzed. This is known as a wedge biopsy. It may be in your pet's best interest to merely remove the entire area of concern and send it to a pathologist for study. Or, your doctor may suggest that you merely monitor the bump for alterations.
The next time you reach out to stroke your cat or dog, make a conscious effort to feel for lumps and bumps. Your pet will just think it is getting the attention it deserves. In reality, you are performing essential preventative medical care.