Non-cancerous masses and tumours in dogs

A non-cancerous (benign) mass is an abnormal growth of cells that does not display cancer characteristics, or malignancy. 

Common non-cancerous tumours in dogs include sebaceous adenomas of the skin and lipomas (fatty tumours). Benign tumours can arise from many cell types, and occur anywhere in the body. Some non-cancerous tumour types can become malignant if not surgically removed.

What are common non-cancerous tumour signs in dogs?

Early signs include:

  • A lump on or under the skin surface

Intermediate to advanced signs include: 

  • Difficulty walking or moving around normally
  • Difficulty breathing, if the tumour puts pressure on the lungs
  • Vomiting or diarrhea, if the tumour is in the gastrointestinal tract
  • Neurologic signs, if the tumour puts pressure on the brain
  • Abdominal distension or fluid accumulation, if an abdominal tumour grows large

Your dog’s non-cancerous tumour can cause life-threatening complications if it grows large, invades nearby tissue, or interferes with normal body functions.

Difficulty breathing or moving can be signs of a dog with a non-cancerous tumour or benign mass.

How are non-cancerous masses and tumours managed in dogs?  

A small, non-invasive tumour may not cause problems for your dog, and can often be monitored for changes. Surgical removal is typically recommended for tumours that grow rapidly, are invasive, interfere with normal body functions, or may become cancerous. 

Discussing a personalised management plan with your vet, and possibly a veterinary oncologist, is important for the best outcome for your dog. 

What is the prognosis for dogs with a non-cancerous mass or tumour?

The prognosis depends on the size, location, and invasiveness of your dog’s tumour. Small, non-invasive tumours often cause few or no issues for dogs, but larger, more invasive tumours, or those that interfere with normal body functions, can cause life-threatening complications, and have a poorer prognosis. 

Management tips for dogs with a non-cancerous mass or tumour

At-home needs include:

  • Easy access to food and water, and a comfortable location
  • Consistency with prescribed medications
  • Close monitoring for tumour growth or systemic disease signs
  • Post-surgical care, as recommended by your vet

For end-of-life care:

In a crisis:

Immediately contact your vet if your dog develops loss of appetite, vomiting, or diarrhea; has difficulty breathing, neurologic signs, seizures, or abdominal distension; or vocalises in pain.

It is vital to begin end-of-life care discussions before your dog‘s condition becomes unmanageable, or they begin losing their quality of life. 

The team at Goodbye Good Boy offers individualised support to help you and your family navigate this difficult time by providing quality-of-life checks, in-home euthanasia, cremation and aftercare services, and personalised memorialisation options. Our services can even be pre-paid to help ease the financial burden at the time of your pet’s passing. 

To learn more about our pet end-of-life services, give us a call on 1800 953 619 or visit our website

This article was reproduced with permission from Goodbye Good Boy advisor Dr Dani McVety, of Lap Of Love.