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Lumps and ­bumps, unfortunately go together with getting old. It happens to people, and it also happens to our furry and feathered friends. The challenge, is to determine which lumps are a normal part of ageing and which ones are abnormal, and could cause serious problems.

Dogs especially are good at growing skin lumps – especially as they age, and while most of these lumps are benign and represent mere warts, callouses or fatty deposits, other lumps are potentially very serious and threaten the health and well being of our canine friends.

It is always a good idea to have a lump checked, even if the lump has been there for a long time. A simple fine-needle aspirate can usually be performed on the spot, and this is a relatively easy and non-painful way to get more information about the cells that make up the lump in question. After special stains and a microscopic evaluation of the sample, your veterinarian can usually determine if the lump is unusual and requires further investigation.

Often, the lump is full of bacteria and inflammatory or white blood cells, which will respond to antibiotics. But, if the fine-needle aspirate looks suspicious, a larger biopsy sample may be required, which will determine if the lump is a serious type of cancer and whether surgical removal is recommended.

It is useful to remember that skin lumps are the masters of disguise. This means that a small, innocent looking lump should not be trusted, because it might actually be masquerading as an invasive skin tumour. Conversely, the largest, nastiest looking lump might actually be benign and not need surgery as first suspected.

So, its best to have each of those pesky ‘age’ lumps checked, to ensure the best treatment options for our ageing furry friends.

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