Lumps & Bumps

Pet owners frequently ask their veterinarian to look at a lump or growth on their pets. Why are lumps and bumps so scary?

Lumps and bumps are often associated with cancer and these growths can be malignant. It is difficult and often impossible to tell what a growth is just by looking at it and touching it. The feeling of the unknown can put a knot in your stomachs which is why it is always a good idea to have any new lump or bump evaluated and sampled by your veterinarian.

You can mark the location of the lump on their dog’s body with a marker and to measure it so that it can determined if this new lump has or has not grown in size over a short period of time. This makes the lump easy to find when your dog visits the vet’s office and maximizes the time spent with your veterinarian.

Lumps and bumps don’t discriminate. They can occur on pets of all ages, sizes, and breeds. Lumps and bumps can occur anywhere on the body. Many young dogs can get warts, lumps that can resolve on their own (like histiocytomas), and even cysts. Commonly, dogs can also get skin infections, which can look like small bumps all over the body. Typically, young dogs tend to get more benign growths, but unfortunately cancerous growths in dogs of all ages has been reported. Middle-aged to older dogs tend to get cysts, oil gland growths (sebaceous cysts and sebaceous adenomas), fatty tumors (lipomas), warts, skin tags, and other benign growths. We also see more malignant growths in mid- to older-aged dogs. These cancerous growths include but are not limited to mast cell tumors, melanomas, lymphoma, mammary gland tumors, and soft tissue sarcomas. It is important to feel for new lumps or bumps, but also make a habit of looking in the armpits, in the mouth, and around the rear end as these are common places that get missed by pet owners.

What should you do when you find a lump on our pet?

A lump or growth of any sort cannot be identified as benign or malignant without getting a sample of the cells or tissue and evaluating it. The easiest and least invasive way to sample a growth is to have your veterinarian do a fine needle aspiration of the lump in question. A small needle is used to collect cells from inside the lump. The cells are transferred to a slide and then evaluated under a microscope. Sometimes your vet can get the results during that same appointment. But sometimes lumps don’t provide enough cells or are too bloody to get a good idea of what the lump is. That leaves your veterinarian with some options. They can use a slightly larger needle and try again, biopsy the lump (obtaining a small tissue sample), remove the entire lump with surgery, or monitor it carefully and see if it changes in a short period. If you choose to monitor lumps, you gave to watch for significant growth in a short time (weeks to a month), changes in how it feels, changes in colour, or if it starts to bleed or ooze at all. If any of these changes occur, rechecking the lump will help your veterinarian to determine if further action is needed to ensure the health of the pet. Remember to keep a journal, take a measurement, and see your veterinarian any time you are concerned about a lump or bump.

Pet Obesity

Did you know that 9 out of 10 pets are overweight? Up to a third of the owners doesn’t even realize that their pet is overweight, they think their pet is healthy being fat. They gain weight slowly, you get used to your fur-friend being chubby. Most people only realize their pet is overweight if someone is ‘rude enough’ to point it out.

But why should I worry about my pet’s weight? Is there any issues connected with pet obesity? For sure! An obese pet is more prone to high blood pressure, skin problems, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis… Cats are also prone to lower urinary tract diseases and fatty liver disease. Some serious risks, don’t you think?

Now, why do my pet gain weight? He hardly ever finish a bowl of food… There is a lot of ways for your pet to gain weight. They gain weight just as we do: He might consume too much calories, he might exercise too little, he might eat the wrong food (table food is a real culprit!)… Also, sterilizing your pet decreases their metabolism up to a third! Now they do not need that much food anymore… Medical conditions can also lead to obesity, especially an under-active thyroid. Some medications also lead to weight gain.

OK, so my pet is overweight. What do I do now? There is a range of options, including specific diets and exercises. Every dog is different, so every dog has a unique solution. To get the best advice, bring your fur-friend to us, and we can create a program that will fit you and your pet. We stock a wide range of food that is formulated to help control your pet’s weight.

Speak to one of our vets about weight loss options for your pet

Biliary fever AKA Tick bite fever & “Bosluiskoors”

Biliary is a very common cause of deaths in dogs in SA. Commonly referred to as Tick-bite Fever or “Bosluiskoors” by most pet owners.  It is caused by a tiny parasite called Babesia canis which is introduced into the body by ‘n tick bite, on entering the body it destroys red blood cells.

Clinical signs of disease

The peracute (very sudden and severe) form causes death within a few hours and treatment is of little avail. More commonly dogs suffer from the acute or subacute form. This is recognised by the dog being listless or lethargic, losing its appetite and running a temperature. If your dog is off its food, take a rectal temperature reading. If this is 39 °C or higher you should have the dog examined – do not wait until its mucous membranes become pale, white or yellow, which commonly suggests a more advanced stage of the disease. Fever is present only while the patient is actively fighting the parasite; the disease may be present with a normal (38,5 °C) or subnormal temperature. Yellow faeces and brown or red urine also suggests the presence of biliary fever.


The diagnosis is done via a very simple test at the clinic.  A small drop of blood is collected and a smear made. Once stained, the parasites can be seen in the red blood cells under microscopic evaluation. When evaluating the blood smear, it is also important to check the white blood cells as there is another tick born parasite (Ehrlichia) that often occurs together with the biliary parasites. They often occur together as they are transmitted by the same ticks. This infection has similar symptoms to biliary and can also be found as an infection on its own.


Treatment should only be given after a positive diagnosis has been made by means of a blood test. Usually treatment is effective, depending on several factors, but the majority will respond. In early cases, simple injections are usually sufficient, but in others blood transfusions, electrolyte infusions per vein, liver tonics, blood-building, etc., may be required.

Prevention is better than cure!

Tips to avoid Tick-borne Infection:

  1. Use a preventative tick and flee product. There are many preventative tick and flee products available, ie Frontline, Bravecto & Nexgard.  It is best to consult your Vet about which treatment is best suited for your pet.
  2. Check for ticks regularly, especially in areas where ticks can hide, such as between the toes, the underside of the feet, in the earflaps and around the tail base.
  3. Remove ticks the right way. If you find a tick on your dog, be sure to remove it immediately, but carefully and safely. Always wear gloves and use a tick removing tool. Never pull, rather twist and “unscrew” the tick from the skin. It is important to remove the whole tick including its mouth. Once it’s off, flush it down the toilet. Then disinfect your dog’s skin with soapy water or diluted disinfectant. Monitor the attachment site for the next few days. If you notice any irritation or inflammation of the skin, contact your veterinarian.

Remember: Waiting until your dog exhibits symptoms isn’t the most proactive approach. Tick-borne diseases are harder to treat once a dog is clearly ill.

The Silent Killer: Spirocerca Lupi

Spirocerca Lupi also known as the worm that kills.  Most commonly affects dogs and are often diagnosed too late.

In the earliest stages of infection, dogs may present with vomiting, or HAVE NO SYMPTOMS whatsoever. Later on, one obvious problem is in swallowing. Sometimes, dogs will vomit, retch or regurgitate. Other times, it may be subtler and go unseen. Dogs may just have no appetite; lick their lips; cry when swallowing; “cough” or “retch”; extend the neck; salivate; have diarrhea; salivation; or submandibular lymphadenomegaly. Some dogs just lose weight but continue eating. Other patients may appear to present with polyarthritis (immune-mediated); vague, sometimes severe generalised or localised pain (even over the lumbar region).

Suggested treatments for Spirocercosis include:

  • Advocate (Bayer; Imidocloprid + Moxidectin) – once weekly for 6 – 12 weeks
  • Milbemax (Novartis; Milbemycin Oxime + Praziquantel) – once weekly for 4 – 12 weeks

Unlicensed treatments include the use of weekly doramectin or ivermectin injections.

For prevention; treatment with dormectin can be administered.

For more information click: http://www.sava.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Understanding-spirocercosis.pdf

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