Dog Health Misc.

A Simple Look at Chiggers on Dogs

You go on a nice autumn walk with your dog across a freshly cut field thinking all is well, the last thing you’re thinking of are chiggers on dogs.  The next day, however, your dog is scratching up a storm. You don’t see any fleas or flea debris. But there are all these tiny red bumps on your dog’s stomach. The itching is driving your dog crazy. Could it be chiggers?

We are going to go over everything you need to know about chiggers on dogs, and how to treat and prevent these parasites from making your dog an itchy mess!

In this post, I’m going to talk about the life cycle of chiggers, what they look like, and how to get rid of them.

A Simple Look at Chiggers on Dogs

So how do you know if your dog has chiggers? Let’s take a quick look at what chiggers are and why they make our dogs (and us) so itchy.

Chigger Life Cycle- The Basics

Chiggers, also known as berry, storage or itch mites, are a common parasite found in many parts of the world. Scientifically, they belong to the same class as spiders and are related to other mites in the Trombiculidae family.

They are red in color and tend to prefer warm, humid environments.  They are most active in the spring and fall in North America, and are difficult to see with the naked eye unless they are in large groups.

Chiggers have 4 stages in their life cycle: egg, larva, nymph and adult.

It is during the larval phase where chiggers make themselves known to other animals by feeding on their skin cells. It is this activity that causes the welts and itchiness so associated with chigger bites. The nymphs and adults are not themselves parasitic. You can learn more about the biology of chiggers here.

Chigger Bites

The larval form of this parasite clings to your dog’s skin and makes a small tube, called stylostome, into the deeper part of the dermis. Then they use this tube to inject an enzyme into the skin that breaks up the skin cells, allowing them to “drink” the cells and mature to the nymph phase.

Contrary to the common myth, chiggers do not burrow into the skin or feed on blood. They stay on the surface, and drop off when done feeding.

It is this stylostome and the enzymes injected into theskin that cause the noticeable red, raised welts and associated itchiness. These welts can take up to a week to heal and stop itching.

Chiggers on Dogs

So how do you identify if there are chiggers on your dog? You could go to the veterinarian and have them do a skin scraping. This allows them to see the larva under a microscope and confirm the diagnosis. Most of the time, your vet will just skip that step and go straight to medicating the symptoms.

Chigger bites on dogs are most common in areas where there is little fur and are often found on the belly and inside of the legs, around the eyes and even occasionally in the ears (more common with cats). The bites look like a series of raised, red welts that are very itchy.

It is unlikely that you will be able to see the larval chiggers themselves unless there are a lot of them, such as in an ear canal. In that case, they may look like a cluster of red, moving dots, similar to paprika.

You have to look at this video! It’s a helpful way to identify and treat bites

Before you head to the vet, there are a few things you can do at home to identify and treat the symptoms.

How to Treat Chiggers on Dogs

The good news is that chiggers in North America do not carry any diseases, and your dog will not pass the chiggers on to you or other members of your household.

The first thing you should do if you suspect your dog has chiggers is giving him/her a bath with a good oatmeal shampoo. This will remove the chiggers from your dog, and hopefully soothe their skin.

Use lukewarm water and gently wash the areas where the welts are, being sure to rinse well to remove all of the shampoo. To clean around the eyes, you can carefully wipe with an unscented baby wipe or an approved veterinary skin wipe, if you have any handy.

Don’t use soap and water around your dog’s eyes or in their ears.

Once the mites are removed, it can take up to 7 days for the welts to heal. You can use oatmeal baths or a canine anti-itch spray on the welts for temporary relief. A topical hydrocortisone cream may also help, but be sure to only use small amounts and prevent your pet from licking the medication off. Don’t use sprays or creams around the eyes or in the ears, although you can use them on the ear flap itself.

If you’ve followed the steps above and see no improvement, please bring your dog to a veterinarian. Things to watch for include:

  • Your pet is causing damage to their skin by scratching, biting and/or rubbing at the welts. He/she may need oral steroids to stop the itching, or antibiotics for a secondary skin infection.
  • The welts and itchiness do not subside in a couple of days.
  • You see clusters of moving, red dots in the ear canal. You will want the experts to do an ear cleaning and identify the culprits in this case.

How to Prevent Chiggers on Dogs

The easiest way to prevent chiggers from biting your dog is to use a flea control product that also works on mites. This will kill any chiggers on your dog before they have a chance to cause problems. Frontline Plus, Revolution and the Seresto Flea and Tick collars are all effective at preventing chigger bites.

I want to thank you for reading this post to learn more about helping your dog live a happy, healthy life.

How to Afford Dog Tooth Extraction Costs!

Let’s face it, bringing your dog to a veterinarian is a hit to the wallet.  Dog tooth extraction costs can range anywhere from $400 and up.  Waaaaaay up.  Why do we pay that kind of money? Because we love our dogs. Unfortunately, a lot of us end up going into debt to pay veterinarian bills. 

In this post, I’m going to talk about the various costs of dog tooth extraction and the considerations that go into that final bill.  By the time you’re finished reading this post, you’ll have some solid tips on how to best afford dog tooth extraction costs.

Please read my full privacy and disclosure policies located on the home page of this website.

Preparing for Dog Tooth Extraction Costs

This one is easy to say, but hard to do. Ideally, you’ll want to budget ahead of time for the sudden veterinarian bills that are going to come up. Don’t roll your eyes! I get it.  If you’re anything like me, your best efforts of saving money go down the tubes the minutes an appliance breaks, or your college kid needs money. 

If you’re one of the smart ones, you can really avoid taking a hit to the credit card by having some money tucked aside.   Plus, if you can setup a bank account that pays a high interest, you’ll end up making a little money on top of what you’ve already saved.

TIP!  Check out what these UC Davis veterinarians can do for you. 

1. Banking on Unexpected Dog Health Care Costs

Most banks offer an average of 0.19% interest, which isn’t a whole lot at the end of the day.  Rather than scour the Internet for every bank rate, I found this current article at that I think you’ll find helpful. In a nutshell, they’re suggesting that certain smaller online banks might prove to be your best option. For example, Dollar Savings Direct offer a higher interest rate. The downside is that you need $1000 minimum deposit.

2. Pet Insurance Will Help Pay a Portion of Your Dog’s Dental Care

Pet insurance companies are a great option if you sign on BEFORE your dog gets sick or needs a dental procedure.  Like any other medical insurance company, they’re not going to sign you up if there’s already a diagnosis on your file. It’s the same with pet insurance companies.  The best time to sign up for pet insurance is when you have a puppy.

I realize that if you’re reading this right now, and you don’t already have pet insurance, it’s probably not the best option for you. It’s always worth mentioning for other pets you may have! 

3. One Veterinarian Practice is Not Like the Other!

If you’re one of the lucky ones and have a long-time trusted veterinarian, there’s a good chance he/she is going to cut you some slack on the cost of dog tooth extraction costs.  Don’t be afraid to ask what the options are and get a break-down of the veterinarian’s typical costs.

Some clinics may charge anywhere from $250 and up BEFORE the extraction.  Here’s a sample breakdown of veterinarian costs.  Keep in mind that prices vary from place to place.

  • Pre-Surgical Health Screen 2
  • Isoflorane Anesthesia
  • Dental Scale & Polish
  • Nail Trim
  • Dental x-ray
  • Cefazolin Injection Antibiotic
  • Dental sutures
  • Nerve Block
  • Dental Extractions
  • Oral Antibiotic

That’s a lot of money, and from what I understand…the price for dog tooth extraction costs can soar much higher.

4. Voice Your Concerns BEFORE the Dental Procedure!

If you’re worried that you might not be able to afford the bill, talk to the veterinarian before the procedure.  In some cases, the veterinarian might tell you to wait until you can afford it. That’s not the best scenario. If that happened to me, I would start shopping around.

I recently spoke to a veterinarian technician who told me that much bigger problems are sometimes found once the procedure has already begun. The reason? Until the dog has been anesthetized and the teeth professionally cleaned, they often discover that more extractions are required than originally thought.

Be Honest About Your Budget

If the veterinarian knows what your dental budget is, the procedure will be stopped and re-booked for a later date, when you have the money.  Ideally, you should either agree to the cost up front or arrange a payment plan of some sort. Otherwise, you end up bringing your dog home with a sore mouth and a diet of mush until you can get back into the vet.

5. Care Credit for Dog Dental Care

Although not every clinic offer this, Care Credit is a great option for people who cannot afford the upfront costs of teeth extractions.  There’s a minimum charge you must have, but that’s not going to be a problem for you.  Once you’ve signed up, you will have a 6 month no interest financing option that you’re going to want to take.   The people I’ve talked to rave about the plan. It gives you plenty of time to pay it back long before you incur the high interest rate of 26.99%

6. Wellness Plans are Great if You Can Get ‘Em

Not all veterinarian clinics offer a Wellness Plan but those who do have great things to offer.  Banfield Pet Hospital offers an amazing plan with three tiers of coverage to choose from.  There’s the Essential Wellness plan, which offers 2 comprehensive physical exams per year, vaccinations, diagnostic tests, 2 fecal exams per year, and deworming. To get into the meaty stuff, you’re going to want to chose the Active Prevention plan (which offers dental cleaning) or Special Care, which includes the kind of tests you might want for a senior dog, like tests for glaucoma and heart issues.

Checkout this link to get an idea of pricing options and where you can find a Banfield Pet Hospital near you.

7. The Fine Art of Bargaining

I know some people who religiously brush their dogs’ teeth every day. I’m not one of those people. There, I said it. Yes, I have gotten in there with a soft toothbrush and a glob of doggy toothpaste (Note:  You probably already know this, but don’t use regular people toothpaste for dogs), but for the most part, I don’t get all up in their mouths that much. Probably should. My two dogs are getting older and I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before one of them needs something major…like a root canal.  If it comes to that, I have a few tips on knowing where you can bargain on price. 

  • IV Catheter

Some clinics will not perform a dental procedure without an IV catheter in place.  Others will.  If you’re not sure what your veterinarian’s policy is, go ahead and ask.  By leaving the catheter out you could save about $100!  

  • Pre-Operative Blood Work

Some veterinarians will do the dental work required without preliminary blood work, provided the dog is in good overall health.  If there’s any suspicion that underlying conditions might adversely affect the use of anesthesia in your dog, the veterinarian might insist on the blood work. Otherwise, if you can have the doctor eliminate it from the procedure, you’ll be saving anywhere from $75 to $350!

  • Dental X-Rays

Here’s the thing with x-rays…they’re great if the veterinarian is able to spot any problems before the procedure.  If that happens, you have the benefit of getting a realistic estimate for the surgery.  On the other hand, not all x-rays get to the root of the problem (pun intended). In that case, you pay for the x-rays PLUS you’re hit with a higher bill.  

You might want to ask about this one. If you can get away without having the x-rays done, you’ll be saving somewhere around $150.

8. One of These Teeth is Not Like the Other

Teeth all serve the same purpose, but they’re certainly not all priced the same.  If your dog needs to have a molar removed, you’re looking at roughly $135 per tooth. Smaller (easier) teeth might cost you around $75.  Obviously you can’t determine the tooth that needs to come out, but it is worth keeping in mind when you’re setting your budget.

9. Luxury Dental Extractions vs a No-Frills Practice

I’m the kind of person who tends to think that more expensive equals “better”.  When it comes to dental practices, however, keep in mind that all veterinarians are obligated to provide the best possible care for your dog. A licensed veterinarian won’t take any chances with your dog. What I’m saying is, a less expensive clinic doesn’t mean your dog’s teeth will be extracted in a van behind Walmart. You might not get the feel-good warm-and-fuzzies from a no-frills clinic, but your dog will get good health care. 

That said, some people prefer a more upscale practice. I totally get that. In that case, however, be prepared to spend more money up front.  There’s no bargaining here. Your dog will get the full work-up before and after the dental extraction. And that costs $$$

To Summarize…

You should have a pretty solid idea of how to save on dog tooth extraction costs now. If you suspect your dog is having problems with his teeth, it’s always better to face it right away than wait until the problem gets worse.  Rotting teeth can turn into abscesses (bacterial infections). They can wear down bone in the jaw, create more pain than your dog needs, and will end up costing you even more in the long-term. 

I hope you can use some of the tips I’ve left you. Give your dog a big kiss for me, and make sure to come back for more helpful posts like this! 

Why not do your friends a favor? Share this post so that everybody can learn how to reduce dog tooth extraction costs!

Can Dogs Eat Oranges?

If your question is, “Can dogs eat oranges?”, the quick answer is YES. Many fruits are safe for dogs with the exception of grapes, onions, avocados, potatoes, and rhubarb. The truth is…not every dog likes oranges!

Of course, there’s more to the answer than just “yes”. In this post, I’ll talk about nutritional impact (including vitamins and minerals), how much orange is appropriate to feed and the implications of fruits that are high in sugars. 

Can Dogs Eat Oranges if They Are Diabetic?

Before getting into this topic, you should know that most experts only recommend feeding oranges to dogs with no underlying health concerns. Diabetes would be the biggest concern, since diabetic dogs have a strict diet to be followed.

Oranges (like most fruit) are high in sugars.  Fructose is a naturally occurring sugar found in fruit.  Of the three types of sugar (glucose, sucrose, and fructose), fructose doesn’t affect your dog’s blood sugar as much, but it can have an impact on diabetic dogs. If your dog is diabetic or has any other underlying conditions, it’s best to check with the veterinarian before giving oranges. 

Rather than try to explain the different sugars and how they act in the body, you can visit this link.  They do a much better job of explaining it! 

Watch this short youtube video!  It gives you fast examples of top fruits for dogs.

The Issue of Weight Gain in Dogs

There is some concern that overfeeding fresh fruit like oranges to dogs could contribute to weight gain. I’m not a veterinarian or a dietician, but in my opinion…feeding your dog a few slices of oranges now and then isn’t going to be a problem, especially if you substitute the orange segments for pre-packaged dog treats.  That’s assuming your dog is a healthy with no underlying disease. 

On the other hand, if you are adding food to an already high-calorie, treat-laden diet, then yes – weight gain is possible.

Oranges versus Processed Treats

Have you looked at the calories on a bag of processed dog treats? In addition to the added calories, there are countless ingredients including sodium that can be harmful to the overall health of your dog. In my mind, substituting those high-cal treats with fresh fruit or even dried sweet potato slices has to be a better option. 

Guidelines Around Feeding Dogs Oranges

According to veterinarians at Banfield Animal Hospital, a dog’s caloric intake should only include 10% treats (and that includes oranges).

Overall Caloric Guidelines for Dogs

It is recommended that dogs receive 30 calories per pound of body weight. Of course, slight variations exist based on the size and activity level of the dog, the time of year, and whether the dog is a puppy or an adult.


  • A 5 pound dog = 120 – 180 calories per day for full-grown dogs
  • 10 pound dog = 420 – 630 calories per day for full-grown dogs
  • 20 pound dog = 700 – 1050 calories per day (same as above)
  • 30 pound dog = 930 – 1400 calories per day (same as above)
  • 50 pound dog = up to 2000 calories per day
  • 70 pound dog = up to 2500 calories per day
  • 100 pound dog = up to 3600 calories a day

**Always check with your veterinarian for your dog’s precise caloric needs. Activity level, dog’s physical health, and other factors can impact how much a dog should eat to avoid weight gain.

Wondering what else your dog can or can’t eat? Check out my post on 32 Poisonous Plants You Should Know About.

Comparing Oranges & Dog Treats

An average orange contains about 47 calories in addition to fiber and vitamin C.  Plus, oranges are almost 90% water!

You Might be Interested in:  Dog ACL Brace Comparison

Grab that bag of dog treats out of the cupboard and have a look at the stuff in those things. To be honest, I wish I had taken a closer look before. Oranges would have been a better choice from day one, not the heavily processed treats with questionable nutritional value.

The average store-bought treat contains 70 to 100 calories (or more) and include a high amount of salt and other detrimental ingredients like:

  • Corn
  • wheat gluten.
  • Meat and grain meals
  • BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole)
  • BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene)
  • Ethoxyquin.
  • Food Dyes
  • PG (Propylene Glycol)
  • Rendered fat.

Oranges versus Orange Juice for Dogs 

There’s a big difference in the amount of sugar and calories in orange juice versus plain old oranges.  Seeing a dog drink orange juice isn’t a natural thing, but it’s not out of the question.  

It’s recommended that you don’t let your dog drink orange juice for a few reasons including the calorie content (high in natural sugars) and the citrus acid, which is toxic to dogs in high doses.

What Vitamins Does a Dog Need?

Unlike people, dogs are able to produce Vitamin C within their own bodies.  That means it’s not necessary to supplement with additional Vitamin C, which is the prominent vitamin in oranges.

However, because Vitamin C is not stored in the tissues, and any extra is excreted through the kidneys, too much Vitamin C is not toxic.  Veterinarians, however, do not recommend feeding your dog orange peelings because they’re hard to digest.

The Rules Are Different for Diabetic Dogs

A healthy dog who eats an orange now and then is going to be fine.  That might not be the case, however, for a diabetic dog.

Click the blue link above and read Diabetic Life Expectancy of Dogs

Low Sugar Dog Diets

When dogs require special diets due to allergies, gastrointestinal issues, or chronic illnesses like diabetes, it’s important to have a veterinarian or nutritionist determine the menu.  Ask the questions, “Can dogs eat oranges?” and listen carefully to your veterinarian’s advice. It’s very likely they will say yes – in very small amounts. Never assume that is the case, however.

Please be careful no matter what you feed your dog and make sure to avoid the peeling. It probably goes without saying, but the peeling is gross. Besides, it doesn’t digest all that well and that last thing you want is your dog vomiting orange peelings.

Can Dogs Eat Oranges?

Comments?  Questions?  Please comment in the form below!  Don’t forget to tweet, pin, and post this article.  

Have you ever considered getting your dog’s DNA tested? Find out which dogs are more prone to stomach upsets and weight gain, or which breeds may carry certain genetic mutations.  Read my review of two different DNA TESTS.

Please Tweet, Post, or Pin!

Cushing’s Disease in Dogs – Top 3 Questions

Cushing’s disease in dogs can present in one of three ways:

  • Pituitary tumor (small gland at the base of the brain)

This is the most common cause of Cushing’s disease in middle-aged to older dogs.  Thankfully, it’s usually benign, meaning non-cancerous. There are rare cases of malignant tumors of the pituitary gland, but an otherwise healthy dog diagnosed with Cushing’s disease stemming from the pituitary gland has an excellent prognosis.

In a small percentage of dogs (approximately 15%), the tumor grows and presses on the brain. When that occurs, the dog may experience neurological symptoms. If this happens, the outlook for the dog’s prognosis is not as good.

The larger tumors that end up causing neurological symptoms are known as macroadenomas.  These are tumors that are larger than 1 cm. The smaller tumors, or microadenomas, are generally too small to cause neurological symptoms and can usually be managed with ongoing pharmaceutical treatment.

  • Adrenal tumor (two glands located near the kidneys)

Adrenal tumors come in second-place, but still only represent a very small percentage (around 15% to 20%) of Cushing’s disease in dogs. These tumors have roughly a 50/50 chance of being benign (non cancerous), or malignant (cancerous).

I’ve read several different articles and studies on the topic, and it seems there is a divide among professionals on whether to perform surgery or not.  Surgery is risky, and there’s no guarantee that another tumor won’t pop up in the pituitary gland.

The adrenal glands are what produce the “fight or flight” response when the dog is under stress.  It doesn’t have to be labelled as “good” stress or “bad” stress. The important thing is how much stress the dog has and how it is affecting his/her endocrine system.  Adrenal glands serve an important function in maintaining balance within the body by regulating digestion, the immune system, and energy.

The following YouTube video was created by a holistic veterinarian.

Digging deeper into the adrenal glands:

The adrenal glands might be small, but they are complicated and vital to the dog’s life. There are 3 zones within the adrenal gland:

  1. Zona Glomerulosa (Outer Layer)

This layer is responsible for secreting the mineralocorticoid hormones which transport sodium and potassium through the cell walls and maintain water balance, among other things.

2. Zona Fasciculata (Middle Layer)

This layer makes up 70% of the cortex and is responsible for secreting glococorticoid hormones (cortisol and corticosterone), the fight-or-flight stress hormones.

3. Zona Reticularis (Inner Layer)

This layer produces the sex hormones including progesterone, estrogen, and androgen., these hormones work together to sustain your dog’s life

  • Iatrogenic Cushing’s disease

The third type is caused by excessive use of corticosteroid medications (prednisone is one example) over time and is rare.

“Using the word “disease” to describe Cushing’s is not considered accurate by most veterinarian professionals. Once a dog has Cushing’s, he/she has the disease for the rest of his life. In that respect, Cushing’s is really considered a “syndrome”.”

  • Is it difficult to treat Cushing’s disease in dogs?

Trilostane: This particular drug is the only drug approved by the FDA to treat both pituitary and adrenal tumors. The medication works by stopping the over-production  of cortisol from the adrenal glands.  Side effects of Trilostane could include:

  • Poor appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Low Energy
  • Diarrhea

As of 2015, the FDA began adding additional side-effect possibilities to the packaging. Some of these side-effects might include severe sodium and potassium imbalance along with things like shaking and high liver enzymes.

Unfortunately, if your dog has other conditions that affect the kidneys, liver, or heart, is isn’t safe to administer Trilostane. Up until 1994, Trilostane was used for the human version of Cushing’s. Since then, it has been banned. It is still, however, considered a good choice for dogs by some veterinarians.

I’ve searched various opinions on whether this drug is found to be useful for dogs with Cushing’s, and the reviews are mixed.  Some veterinarians will not prescribe drugs like Trilostane until they are certain without a shadow of doubt that the dog has Cushing’s disease. 

Unfortunately, symptoms can be subtly, developing slowly over time. As our dogs age, it’s easy to shrug off minor things as a simple sign of aging. If no treatment plan is offered early on, the ongoing effects of too much cortisol in the body will deteriorate the dog’s health. If nothing is done until the signs are overt and obvious, it could be too late.

Treatment for Adrenal Induced Cushing’s Disease in Dogs

Possible surgery and medication:  If the veterinarian has diagnosed a tumor on your dog’s adrenal gland, the first line of treatment might be medication in order to shrink the tumor. Once the tumor is down to an operable size, surgery is sometimes the next step. Another option for veterinarians who would rather not perform surgery on the dog (surgery can be risky) is to treat with medications on an ongoing basis, possibly for the entire life of the dog.

Lysodren (or Mitotane)

Lysoden is a chemotherapy drug used in humans. Although not approved by the FDA, veterinarians can prescribe the medication as an “off label” product. That means it is still legal to prescribe if the veterinarian has reason to believe it’s a good option. However, the FDA has not conducted or approved studies on the actual effects of the drug on dogs.  Both Lysodren and Trilostane are potent drugs that can have a variety of side-effects, some more serious than others.

In fact, a review of the administration of Trilostane for dogs with Cushing’s (published by the Canadian Veterinary Journal in April, 2018, and written by Julie Lemetaylor and Shauna Blois), suggests a high degree of controversy around this drug. While the drug does inhibit the over-production of cortisol, it can also create a certain level of toxicity in the animal.

ScienceDirect has some interesting details about this particular drug and how it works on Cushing’s disease in dogs.

Identifying a Lump on Dog’s Neck 2018

First thing is the disclosure; I am not a veterinarian. Always see a licensed veterinarian for your dog’s health requirements.  Second disclosure is that you may find affiliate links on this page.

Identifying a Lump on Dog’s Neck

If you have discovered a lump on your dog’s neck, chances are it is a non-malignant basal cell tumor. However, as I will say over and over again, always have it checked out by a professional.

I was spending some quality time with my lab the other night, rolling my hands through the thick folds in her neck. I rubbed her chest and around both sides of her body.  As my fingers trailed back, I felt a lump. It was small, somewhat hard, and just beneath the skin.  My heart did a little lurch and (naturally) my mind went to the worst case scenario. Imagine my embarrassment when I realized it was just her nipple.  I’ll give you a second to stop laughing….

But how do you know when a lump is nothing, or when it’s something very serious? The reality is, you don’t.  Even the highest trained veterinarian can’t just glance at a lump and immediately know what it is. They probably have a much better educated guess than I do…but it still needs closer examination. “Closer examination” usually means getting a biopsy or at least aspirating the fluid to exam under a microscope. 

What I’m trying to say is not to jump to conclusions when you spot or feel a lump. A lot of times, they really are benign. If they’re not, the sooner you get your dog to the veterinarian the better.  I don’t give a lot of advice on this site because I’m not a veterinarian, but I feel pretty confident in telling you to bring your dog to the veterinarian for any suspicious lump.

“Common” doesn’t mean benign.

For some reason, I figured the word “common” meant the lump would be non-cancerous.  That’s not always the case. Below is a list of commonly found tumors. One type – the mast cell tumor – is particularly dangerous.


  • Fatty Tumors (also known as Lipomas)

This type of lump occurs under the skin and is common in dogs. It can show up as a lump on dog’s neck, but can appear anywhere on the body. My sister’s dog had one once. It was under his jaw, at the top of his neck, and it was huge! The veterinarian did not want to lance it because he feared the dog would (essentially) bleed out. He was an old dog and ended up living with that mass until his final day.

Lipomas are normally benign (not cancerous).

  • Sebaceous Cyst

These are a little like pimples in that they occur when skin becomes blocked.  These cysts are normally found around the dog’s hair follicles or directly within the skin’s pores.  Do not lance or pinch it.  When you squeeze a pimple, you end up pushing some of the pus back inside the skin tissue where it can form another pocket.  It might even get infected. Watch for signs of redness and swelling. An infection is normally hot to the touch.  Overall, it’s not a serious thing and it won’t turn into cancer.

  • Warts

If I saw a wart on my dog, I’m pretty sure I would mistake it for something more serious. They can have a cauliflower appearance and are quite small. They can occur around a dog’s mouth, eyes, between toes, and anywhere there is more skin than fur.  It takes a lot of skill and experience to look at something like this and just know what it is.  However, it’s good to know that not EVERY lump or bump is cancer.  Warts in dogs tend to happen to young puppies, or dogs with compromised immune function.

  • Abscess

An abscess is a secondary infection caused by a wound on the dog’s body.  Bacteria invade the area which essentially disables the body’s ability to heal the original wound.  The infected site will be swollen, red, may ooze pus, and is painful.  I would contact a veterinarian for anything that even slightly resembled an infection. An abscess is a bacterial infection and will possibly need antibiotic treatment (oral and ointment, or one or the other).

  • Mast Cell Tumors

For detailed information about Mast Cell Tumors, visit my post The Truth About Mast Cell Tumor Dog Life Expectancy.

These are the most common skin cancers found on dogs. Essentially, the dog’s skin contains natural mast cells that are responsible for fighting parasitic infection, aid in repairing skin tissue, from new blood vessels, etc.  When those mast cells go awry, they become mast cell tumors. The tumors pretty much shut down the skin’s ability to do the things it is supposed to do. 

Mast cell tumors will usually spread through the dog’s body, particularly to the spleen, living, and bone marrow.

  • Basal Cell Tumor

This type of tumor develops on the outer later of skin. They are firm to the touch and are commonly found as a lump on dog’s neck or head. Although most are benign (non-cancerous), there are occasions when cancer develops and becomes malignant (spreads to other parts of the body).  Basal cell tumors (whether benign or malignant) are most successfully treated with surgery and – as always – it’s better to catch them early on. Basal cell tumors are especially common to older dog breeds such as Poodles and Cocker Spaniels.
  • Tick

I am so used to ticks that I can tell it’s a tick just by touching it. If you’re not familiar with ticks, they are disgusting parasites that chomp down onto your dog’s skin and stay there until they fill up with blood and drop off.  The biggest fear with ticks is the transmission of chronic and sometimes deadly disease.  Read my article on tick removal.

Obviously a tick is neither a tumor or cancer, but they must be removed as soon as possible. The longer a tick stays attached to your dog, the greater the risk of it transmitting disease.

  • Fibroma

A fibroma is a non-cancerous tumor common to dogs and found on limbs or pressure points.  These are also known as skin tags, cutaneous tag, polyps, or collagenous hamatoma.  VCA hospitals have a great article with all of the details regarding this growth.

  • Fibrosarcoma

Fibrosarcoma is a tumor found in the connective tissue. It is typically malignant (cancerous) although it doesn’t typically metastasize (spread to other organs in the body).  In some cases, if the integrity of the bone is compromised, the dog’s limp may need to be amputated.

  • Hemangiosarcoma

The National Canine Cancer Foundation describes these as deadly cancers that originate in the endothelium (cells that line the interior cells of blood vessels) and invade the blood vessels.

There are three types of hemangiosarcomas:

Dermal– Found on the skin

Hypodermal- Found under the skin 

Visceral- Found on the spleen, pericardium and the heart

-National Canine Cancer Foundation

  • Histiocytoma

This type of tumor looks like a raised button and is found on the dog’s head, ears or limbs. It is not usually found as a lump on dog’s neck.  The best thing about one appearing on your dog’s head is that it will be difficult (impossible) for him to lick at it and cause infection. These tumors are fast-growing tumors that are actually (usually) harmless. You’re more likely to see these on younger dogs and the tumor normally disappears over time. It’s rare for dogs to have a cancerous type of histiocytoma.


  • Injection Site Lump

This is one that might be self-explanatory and easily identified if your dog has recently had a shot.  That said, I still wouldn’t take it for granted that it’s just a side-effect of a needle injection. Tumors can appear at injection sites (vaccinations mostly) and can even appear years later.  Always have those lumps and bumps checked out by a licensed veterinarian.

Could YOU identify any of the above lumps or bumps?

Probably not.  As I mentioned above, most veterinarians won’t even hazard a guess without having a look at the cells beneath a microscope. 

If you have spotted a lump on dog’s neck, or anywhere else on the body, pay particular attention to additional symptoms like:

  • swelling
  • other sores that won’t heal
  • weight loss and low appetite
  • unusual bleeding or discharge from the lump
  • a bad smell coming from the area

Again, I can’t stress enough how important it is to bring your dog to a licensed veterinarian if you spot any unusual lump or bump. They are normal, especially as the dog ages, but you really want to catch cancerous tumors sooner rather than later.


VCA Hospitals are promoting this awareness now. Don’t adopt a “wait and see” approach because the sooner a cancerous tumor is treated, the better the outcome for the dog.

You Should Have the Following Information Before Phoning the Veterinarian.

Imagine how many people call the veterinarian to say their dog has a suspicious lump. It might help speed things along if you are able to also give the following information:

  • How big is the lump on dog’s neck? Would you say it’s the size of a pea or smaller?  Take a picture of the lump with a penny or coin next to it for size comparison.
  • Is the lump soft or hard?
  • Is it moveable?
  • What color is the lump?
  • Is their any discharge?
  • Have you noticed any unusual behavior in your dog recently (for example; no appetite, weight loss, fatigue)
  • Can you tell if the lump is painful for the dog?

At the end of the day, trying to sort out whether that lump on your dog is something to worry about is a useless venture.  Don’t panic, but don’t wait on it either. I keep saying this over and over for good reason: Make an appointment with your veterinarian and get that mysterious lump looked at.

With any luck, it will be nothing to worry about.  But if it is something, the chances of a good prognosis are much better if it’s caught early!

Hey, thanks for reading this post!  Come back often for the latest health-related posts or sign up for my newsletter so that you don’t miss a thing. Your next stop should be Chondrosarcoma in Dogs Life Expectancy, a nice complement to this post.

Questions or comments?  Follow me on Twitter @lisatheriault46 or complete the form in the sidebar.  You can find me at as well.

Looking forward to hearing from you.  Good luck with your dog and let me know how it works out.