Is your dog lumpy? Are you worried about what that the lump is “something serious?”
You are not alone, most people worry and the purpose of this article is to help you worry less.
I call lumps the barnacles of life. They are the reminder that even our perfectly perfect dogs have imperfections that they collect on the journey of life. Even my dog Skai has a few lumps. In fact, I have found two new little barnacles just a few weeks ago. First, I tried to ignore the nagging feeling being fully aware that at that moment this was exactly how most of my clients felt when they found a lump. After a few days of doing ‘nothing,’ I finally decided to take a needle, a syringe and collect a few cells by a simple procedure called ‘fine needle aspirate’ and send these for a cytology exam. I am still waiting for the results at the time of publishing this blog but hope that the results will be ok.
Lumps are in many ways a reminder that no one is immune to the possibility of the big C. They make us cringe, worry, procrastinate and panic. They make us face the truth of physical mortality and also our fears of possibly losing those we love early.
"While we do not like lumps, they are like a little post it on the fridge that says, ‘health is the true wealth and unlike all the Ferraris, mansions and fancy boats, it cannot be bought by even the richest of the rich."
The other message hidden in lumps is that most of the time, we worry unnecessarily and that the best way of facing our fears is to FACE THEM and TAKE ACTION.
What to do if you find a lump
I see skin lumps but also other lumps and masses as a form of stagnation of energy flow in the body, which may be caused by the following main factors:
1. Genetic and breed predisposition. - Every dog that is born comes with “a packsack” of goodies that predetermine the likelihood of medical problems. We can sometimes reduce this tendency by diet, supplements, homeopathy, energy healing and tuning up the body, however the predisposition is never going to disappear completely
2. Back injury, pain and inflammation is a very common and very overlooked cause of lump formation. Most people do not know that lumps are an expression of the body’s energy stagnation. If you track a line from the lump to the spinal segment that supplies the area where the lump is, your dog will usually twitch, show signs of discomfort or there may be heat in the area.
3. Poor diet and toxin build up is another common reason but this does not mean that dogs on a good diet will be immune to lumps. ]Everyone knows that it is not ok to throw garbage in a lake, however there are still many people who think it is ok to feed garbage (processed dog food) to their dogs. To be fair, we all have been systematically brainwashed by pet food companies that claim that nature is wrong, so many people are just unaware.
4 . Dietary nutrient deficiencies are another commonly overlooked cause of lumps. The metabolic pathways simply do not work properly if the body is missing essential nutrients and lumps seem to be formed more readily.
5. Fatty lumps or lipomas are the most common benign lumps that can be caused by all of the above and they can also originate from excessive stretching of tissues and fatty cell trauma. If your dog is very active and likes to “go for it”, the stretched fatty tissue sometimes tries to repair through multiplying lipocytes which leads to lump formation.
It is not my intention to go into details about how to address each type of benign or malignant lump here. My intention is to help you to make an educated decision when you do find a lump.
How to make the right decision when you find a lump.
1. First of all, do not panic because as I said, 90% of all dog lumps are benign and most of them are lipomas. There is only one type of malignant, fat accumulating tumors called liposarcoma, which is very rare.
2. Remember that no vet can tell you with an absolute certainty that the lump is “nothing” until it is properly assessed.
3. The least invasive way of diagnosis is a fine needle aspirate, a simple examination where the cells from the lump are collected, put on a slide and either examined in house or sent to a histology lab. If you see nothing but fatty droplets on the slide, this usually suggests a fatty mass called lipoma and I usually do not send such sample to the lab.
4. There are about 10 – 20% of samples that come back as non-diagnostic after collecting a sample by fine needle cytology exam. In that case, you will need to go to the second step – a biopsy.
5. Biopsy should be done in the most gentle way and remove only the smallest piece of tissue needed to get a diagnosis. I would almost never remove a lump without knowing the diagnosis, because if it was cancerous, you need to know this ahead in order to choose the right treatment and surgical technique. Many practitioners still choose to remove lumps without getting a diagnosis first but I do not agree with this approach.
6. Before you decide to remove a lump, you should know that surgical removal does not address the real original cause of disease at all. I compare surgery to a situation where one would remove the signal light on a car’s dashboard when the engine is overheating.
7. In other words, even if you have a diagnosis, you have to carefully weigh the options to leave it or cut it out. In general, I usually do not recommend removing lipomas (fatty lumps) because they seem to re-grow in the same area.
8. In malignant lumps, one has to weigh the situation very carefully. In contrary to the general public perception, I have seen many cases where a malignant lump was removed and grew back very fast while others that were left alone grew slowly and caused very little problems for years. The patients often survive longer than those who undergo chemo, surgery or radiation.
9. If you do decide on surgery, I highly recommend checking the spinal energy flow and alignment by seeing a chiropractor, physiotherapist or an osteopath, doing a thorough organ and digestive cleanse, feeding a natural raw diet from ideally non-medicated or organic sources and providing the body with basic nutrients and anti-oxidants such as GreenMin, SoulFood and Zyflamend that will make the body’s ability to heal and recover greater. There are many other specific products that have to be prescribed with a more detailed knowledge of the patient, However, mushrooms and probiotics have been known known as generally helpful nutrient sources that stimulate proper function of the immune system.
The truth is that no one can be certain about when and where the big C strikes next and it is natural to worry. What I am certain about is that even though there are rare exceptions, a few simple cancer preventive measures can reduce the likelihood of bad news dramatically. Yes, you can make a difference!
Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM
PS: A few days later, I received the great news that Skai’s skin lumps are just 2 simple skin tags. In other words, all is fine. Some of you may know how hard it is to await the news and I now know too. I am relieved and happy. Someone just asked, why would Skai have a serious problem, he is so healthy and I thought the same thing. This experience has made me even more compassionate towards those who are not as lucky. It will make me work even harder to make a difference in cancer prevention.
With much much gratitude for Skai’s health. PD