It can be worrying to find a skin lump on your dog, particularly if they are only young.
Histiocytomas are common skin lumps in younger dogs
Fortunately, they are benign (non-cancerous) and will go away on their own
It can take some time for them to go away, and they might look quite red and angry whilst they do
If we want to be sure, we can take a needle sample from the lump and send it to a lab
What is a histiocytoma?
Histiocytomas are somewhat unsightly but benign masses on the skin. They are seen most commonly in younger dogs although dogs of any age can get them.
What do they look like?
Histiocytomas are raised, hairless masses on the skin surface. They are usually seen on the face, neck, ears and limbs. They often look a little bit like buttons although some can be quite red and look more like a strawberry. They usually don’t get any bigger than 2.5cm in size.
Do they need treatment?
If left to their own devices, histiocytomas have a tendency to appear suddenly and grow slowly over a few weeks, and then gradually regress over a month or two. This is what makes histiocytomas unique - they are not really a true tumour as the body’s immune system will sort it out whereas this doesn’t happen with other cancerous masses.
Wait or intervene?
If all the watching and waiting is a little too nerve-wracking, your vet can take a needle sample of the cells from the mass and send them to the lab to have them identified. Or, if you feel more comfortable with it, the mass can be surgically removed. Your vet may suggest surgical removal if your dog is licking or scratching at the mass causing it to become ulcerated or infected.
If your dog is older and develops a mass that looks like a histiocytoma your vet may advise that a needle sample of cells or a biopsy may be sensible as there are other more worrying masses that can appear in older dogs which have a similar appearance - these would be much less commonly seen in young dogs where a watch and wait approach as discussed above is more likely to be advised.
If you are concerned about a lump on your dog’s skin, it’s always worth checking it with a vet. The vets at MyDogDoc are happy to advise you, all from the comfort of your own home!