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Key takeaways

Subcutaneous lumps appear in dogs as abnormal growths or masses located under the skin. 

  • If the lump is manipulated manually, the feeling of a subcutaneous lump varies depending on the cause but it is a bump separate from the skin
  • There are many possible causes for subcutaneous lumps, some lumps are harmless injuries or benign tumors, others might be cancerous 
  • Hernias, abscesses, cuterebriasis, mammary tumors, and lipomas are among the most common causes of subcutaneous lumps in dogs
  • Diagnostics include fine needle aspiration, cytology, and biopsy
  • Treatment is largely determined by the underlying condition and varies from medications to surgical removal
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A closer look: Subcutaneous Lumps in Dogs

Subcutaneous lumps are common in dogs, and can be an indicator of a variety of different conditions. Some diseases associated with the symptom require immediate care while others do not require treatment and eventually disappear on their own. Due to this vast range of possible causes, verifying the nature of the subcutaneous lump via veterinary diagnostics as soon as possible is recommended.

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Possible causes

Risk factors

The location and size of the lump are important factors in determining the underlying cause. Masses that grow quickly, appear to be particularly painful, and do not go away on their own often indicate a more severe underlying cause.

Testing and diagnosis

The diagnostic process involves fine needle aspiration (FNA) and cytology to determine the nature of the mass. A biopsy can sometimes be necessary as well.

Treatment largely depends on the underlying condition. It might be tempting to want the mass removed as soon as possible but this is not always recommended for undiagnosed subcutaneous growths. For benign tumors, marginal excision might be sufficient. For other conditions, treatment may vary from medications to no therapy at all.

Similar symptoms

Sometimes scar tissue can appear as a subcutaneous lump. Also, microchips can often be mistaken on palpation as an abnormal subcutaneous growth.

Associated symptoms

Other clinical signs vary according to the underlying condition.


Wendy Brooks, DVM, DABVP - Writing for Veterinary Partner
No Author - Writing for Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine
Becky Lundgren, DVM - Writing for Veterinary Partner
Wendy Brooks, DVM, DABVP - Writing for Veterinary Partner
Becky Lundgren, DVM - Writing for Veterinary Partner
Sue Ettinger DVM, DACVIM (Oncology) - Writing for Today's Veterinary Practice

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