Bumps on Dogs Skin, Back, Head, Chin, Face and Nose – Treatment Options

bumps on dogs skin

Having your dog covered in bumps is a scary experience but on a good note, most bumps are fatty tumors that are NOT cancerous (benign). Fewer than 50 percent of bumps on dogs skin is cancerous according to the WebMD. Even then it is still a good idea to go see a veterinarian to rule out cancer. This article will discuss some of the most common causes of skin bumps in dogs and their treatment options.

Bumps on Dogs Skin – Causes

Dogs can develop skin bumps ranging from little, pimple-like, raised bumps known as papules to larger ones referred to as nodules. Papules result from an infiltration of inflammatory cells into small areas of tissues whereas nodules result from infiltration of inflammatory or cancerous cells over larger (deeper, that is) areas of the skin.

bumps on dogs skin

Any dog, even a puppy, can develop these skin “masses” as the vet often describe them, but they tend to occur more in older dogs. They can occur in any part of the body including the back, head, face, chin, nose, ears, neck, and legs. It is also possible for the bumps to occur all over the body.

Canine skin bumps range from those that appear under the fur to larger ones that significantly bulge outside.

So what causes bumps on dog’s skin? Well, below are among the most common factors and conditions underlying canine skin bumps:

1. Fatty Tumors (Lipoma)

Fatty tumors are the most common bumps on dogs skin. Fatty tumors are round, soft, non-cancerous growths that occur just under the skin of a dog in most cases even though they occasionally arise from connective tissues deeper in the skin (between muscles).

Despite the name “fatty tumors), lipoma are not malignant, they are benign, meaning they do not invade the tissues around them.

fatty tumor

According to the WebMD, fatty tumors commonly affect middle-aged to older dogs and are considered a natural part of the aging process. They tend to occur around the ribs but they can as well occur on any other part of the body. Any dog breed can develop lipoma but larger breeds and overweight dogs are at higher risk of them.

Fatty tumors initially present themselves as small bumps ranging between 1 and 8 inches in diameter, but they may grow bigger over time.

Ordinarily, lipoma requires no treatment but if they cause discomfort to your dog, say they grow too large to interfere with its ability to move around freely, they can be removed surgically.

2. Warts

Also known as cutaneous papilloma, warts are benign, light-colored, hard bumps that resemble cauliflower in shape. In puppies, they are caused by a virus and appear in and around the mouth (on the lips, tongue, etc.), but in older dogs, they occur on the head or the body and are often not linked to viral infections.

Warts typically heal on their own but surgery may be needed to remove them in older dogs. Surgical removal may also be necessary for irritated or frequently bleeding warts. Warts that also occur the eyelids may also be a candidate for surgical removal. A biopsy may be needed to diagnose them.

3. Sebaceous Cysts

A sebaceous cyst is a skin lump that occurs when the sebaceous (oil) glands in a dog’s skin become blocked. It may burst over time to give out a white, cheese-like discharge. Read more about sebaceous cysts in dogs here.

4. Sebaceous Adenoma

These are small, pink, wart-like growths with a smooth texture that typically appear on the eyelids of older dogs. They result from hair follicle blockage by dead skin cells and other debris. Cocker Spaniels and poodles are at the highest risk of sebaceous adenoma.

5. Abscesses (Boils)

Abscesses are yet another likely cause of bumps under dog’s skin. The term abscess is used to describe an accumulation of pus under the skin. Bacterial infection may cause abscesses and so can insect bites.

Abscesses manifest themselves in the firm, fluid-filled bumps which – in case of bacterial infection – is often accompanied by fever, loss of appetite and depression. Observation and fine needle aspiration are usually sufficient to diagnose abscesses after surgical drainage of the abscess is done. Antibiotics may also be administered for cases involving an infection.

6. Mast Cell Tumor

As the WebMD says, mast cell tumor is the most common canine skin cancer. Among the breeds most commonly affected are beagles, Boston terriers, Labrador, schnauzers, and boxers.

7. Flea Bites

Also referred to as flea bite sensitivity, flea allergy dermatitis can also manifest itself in skin bumps. The condition occurs when the dog’s immune system react to flea saliva.  In addition to bumps, your canine may also show symptoms such as redness, hair loss, crusty or scaly skin, and intense itching.

For diagnosis, your vet will start by checking your dog’s skin for the presence of fleas after which he or she may follow up with intradermal testing. Treatment revolves around flea control with insecticides such as permethrin. Your vet is also likely to prescribe steroids to control the swelling, and antihistamines to curb the itching.

8. Spider and Caterpillar toxins

Dogs can get exposed to spider and caterpillar toxins as a result of spider bites and contact with caterpillars respectively leading to a condition medically referred to as eosinophilic folliculitis. This is marked by swelling of the affected area, usually the nose in dogs, alongside other symptoms such as redness, pain, and eventually draining ulcers.

Treatment of the condition involves the administration of corticosteroids and dressing the wounds. There is always the risk of permanent hair loss and scar.

Other causes of dog skin bumps are:

  • Basal cell tumor – a Slow growing form of cancer that typically affects older dogs. Surgical removal is usually adequate a treatment measure.
  • Folliculitis – Infected hair follicle.
  • Hematomas (blood blisters). These usually resolve on their own but surgical drainage may be required.
  • Histiocytomas
  • Bee stings
  • Canine acne (yes dogs can also get acne)
  • Hookworms – causes red bumps on dog’s feet which is typically accompanied by itching and abnormally growing nails.
  • Excessive exposure to sunlight
  • Neoplasia
  • A side-effect of injection – where a bump appears at the site of injection. The bump usually fades over the course of a few days.
  • Skin tags: What some people describe as bumps on dogs skin are actually small growths referred to as skin tags. Read more about skin tags in dogs.

When to Be Concerned About Canine Skin Bumps

You should talk to your vet immediately about a bump if:

  • You are not sure what the underlying cause is
  • It bothers you or your pet
  • It grows rapidly
  • It occurs on or around the eyelids where it may interfere with vision or be difficult to remove later on when it has grown larger. The latter applies to bumps that appear on the paws and face as well.
  • It is reddened, swollen, or oozes blood or pus
  • Causes pain to your canine friend

Treatment for Dogs Bumps on Skin

Your veterinarian will be able to recognize some bumps e.g. fatty tumors and sebaceous cysts by observation but may have to perform fine needle aspiration which entails inserting a fine needle into the growth to extract a few cells for examination under the microscope.

If s/he suspects something more serious like cancer, your vet will take a small tissue from the affected area and send it out for biopsy. For cancer bumps, surgical removal, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy may be considered.

You can as well expect your vet to want to know a brief history of your dog and the condition including:

  • The onset of the symptoms
  • Whether the lump appeared suddenly
  • Whether the shape or size of the lump has changed
  • Whether the condition has had any impact on your canine friend’s appetite or energy level
  • If you have recently introduced your dog to a new food (which may have triggered allergic reactions)
  • If your dog has recently had a parasitic infestation especially fleas

Surgical removal is the most common way to get rid of dog skin bumps but it is not always required. Some conditions such as fatty tumors and sebaceous cysts resolve on their own without treatment. Your vet will decide the best course of action.

Red, Itchy Bumps on Dogs Skin

My dog has red itchy bumps. That is a concern we see very often online. This is usually an indication of allergies ranging from food allergies to atopic dermatitis due to environmental irritants such as pollen, mold, and dust mites.

Itchy skin is the most obvious symptom of allergies in dogs and is often accompanied by red bumps or scaly areas of skin, darkening of the skin, hair loss, fur staining as a result of repeated licking), frequent shaking of the head, scratching, and infections (which may then result in foul smelling discharge).

Treatment for Itchy Canine Bumps

Excessive scratching warrants the attention of your vet who will do a physical examination of your furry friend and then recommend appropriate tests to identify the underlying causative factor. Among the tests, he or she may consider are skin tests, blood tests, urine tests, and parasitic examination. The vet may also ask if you have recently changed your dog’s food or diet.

Your vet will also check your dog for other conditions known to cause skin itching in dogs including flea and other parasitic infestations, bacterial infections, fungal infections, and systemic diseases.

Once the vet has ascertained the underlying factors for the itchy bumps on dogs skin, s/he will then prescribe the appropriate medications. Among the treatment options are:

  • Immunotherapy: Involves exposing the dog to gradually increase the amount of the allergen to help desensitize its immune system.
  • Steroids
  • Antihistamines: This helps to ease the itching associated with dog allergy bumps.
  • Topical therapies
  • Parasitic control (when flea or other parasites are the underlying factors for the bumps).
  • Food change – your vet may recommend switching to a new dog food or even help you prepare a diet for your dog.

In addition to the above treatment options, you will also want to consider the following tips:

  • Change air conditioning filters often
  • Wash your dog’s bedding at least once every week with hot water
  • Vacuum the house often
  • Use dust mite barriers to cover your dog’s beddings.
  • Avoid walking your dog outdoors when pollen levels are at their peak
  • Wash your dog’s food bowls often with warm, soapy water
  • Keep the dog off the lawn after it has been mowed

White Bumps on Dogs Skin

White bumps are rather uncommon in dogs but when they occur, they are often indicative of Squamous cell carcinoma, a common malignant growth usually attributed to sun damage. The resulting tumor may be pink, white, or gray in color and tend to occur in hairless sections of the dog’s skin.

There are two common forms of squamous cell carcinoma. The first one is associated with cauliflower-like lesions on the lips and nose of dogs and the second one is associated with crusty ulcers that appear on the legs or body.

A biopsy is usually required for the diagnosis of squamous cell carcinoma after which surgical removal is used to remove the tumor. Radiation and hyperthermia may also be integrated into the treatment regime.

Bump on Dog Skin after Removing Tick

bump on dog skin after removing tickIt is normal for ticks to leave behind small, pimple-like hard bumps on dog’s skin after they have been removed.

The lumps appear on the spot where the ticks were attached to the skin and may steal from that sheen in your dog’s fur.

On a good note, they go away on their own over a period of 2 weeks or so and should thus not worry you unless it gets reddened or itchy, increases in size over time, get infected, or stays around for longer than 2 weeks.

Dr. Winnie
About Dr. Winnie 281 Articles
My name is Dr. Winnie. I earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Duke University, a Masters of Science in Biology from St Georges University, and graduated from the University of Pretoria Veterinary School in South Africa. I have been an animal lover and owners all my life having owned a Rottweiler named Duke, a Pekingese named Athena and now a Bull Mastiff named George, also known as big G! I'm also an amateur equestrian and love working with horses. I'm a full-time Veterinarian in South Africa specializing in internal medicine for large breed dogs. I enjoy spending time with my husband, 2 kids and Big G in my free time.

1 Comment

  1. My dog has bumps all over her body went to vet did skin graft blood test got a shot prescription for clindamycin didn’t work bath in selsun blue no good nownew script of ciprofloxacin ihow about coconut oil i give up

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