If you find yourself confused about what to do when you find a lump or immediately think of the worst case scenario, I hope that this blog will be useful.
One of my readers sent me an email with a question: “My dog has a lump, where can I get it removed?” How could I have forgotten to write about such an important topic, I thought. I need to share what I have learned about lumps right now. So, I dropped my original plan and have taken on the lumpy topic to save your pooch some trouble and make things easier on your pocket.
It seems that most people think that lumps are like aliens from a sci-fi movie and we have to get rid of them. I went online and surprisingly, all the blogs and articles talk about diagnosis or surgery and I could not find any information about their prevention or any suggestions as to why they happen.
Over the years, I have observed lumps and bumps on many dogs. Most of them are fatty lumps called lipomas. The name suggests that they are composed of lipocytes – fatty cells that decide to grow more than they should.
A relatively small percentage of lumps end up in the “malignant” category, however, I always like to know what I am dealing with before giving treatment recommendations. The interesting thing that I have noticed is that most lumps appear to be associated with the spinal segments that have the tightest muscles or evidence of inflammation and injury.
To make things clearer, imagine that your dog has a lipoma on the chest. If you draw a line from the lump up to the chest following the ribs, you end up at a certain vertebra. If you explore this area further, the muscles are usually tight and inflamed and your dog's skin often twitches, suggesting sensitivity, discomfort and injury. If you find it challenging to grasp the concept of energy lines, imagine a salmon. The energy lines are much clearer as the muscle is separated into segments corresponding with the number of “ribs” or fish bones. Mammals do not have this clear visual definition, however the energy channels exist along the same lines.
I started to see clearly that there was a connection between tightness or injury of a certain spinal segment and lump formation. I have always believed that a healthy back is the key to a healthy body and that the back is the energy flow channel that maintains even energy flow throughout the body, tissues and organs.
If the back gets injured or tight, the energy flow stops. I like to see the energy flow as light flowing through the body’s channels; which Chinese practitioners refer to as meridians. If the light reaches an injured or congested area, then energy stops flowing and these inflamed areas ”suck the light – the energy out” like the dementors from Harry Potter books.
These injured parts are the black holes of the body; stopping the flow, creating congestion, which leads to lump formation. In the most severe and chronic cases, this leads to cancer formation. I see the lumps and bumps as the signals of the body that there is something wrong. They are the markers of these injuries, inflammation and blockage and must not be ignored.
If a lump is removed, the problem, the congested energy spot and the tightness remains. Lumpectomy can be compared to removing the signal lights on your car’s dashboard at a time when your oil is leaking. You will not see the signal, but the problem will go on if not addressed at the same time.
Here are some practical suggestions to addressing lumps
If you see a lump, do not panic. I suggest getting it examined physically and performing a fine needle aspirate, (collecting a few cells by inserting a needle in the centre of the lump). The procedure is simple and the samples of a few cells obtained can be sent to the lab. Sometimes people wonder if there is a potential of spreading a malignant tumour this way. I have not seen any evidence of worsening the prognosis if a fine needle aspirate is done. Ultimately, it is better to know the diagnosis than to be worrying sick over a lump that is benign.
Most veterinarians have not been trained to see the connection between back or muscle injury and lumps and many practitioners will not even recognize that there is an energy flow issue or injury in the related spinal segment. I suggest finding a good animal chiropractor or a physiotherapist using a technique called IMS – intramuscular stimulation to reset the muscle fibres and improve the energy flow. Both treatments, chiro or IMS have to be repeated until the body "relearns” its patterns. One treatment is often insufficient to yield good results and in older dogs it is better to create a preventive treatment plan – once a month or so to help the body stay in balance.
In my opinion, lipomas should not be removed unless they obstruct your dog's movement. Removing lumps gives us an illusion that the problem is gone, while in reality, it doesn’t get rid of the cause; the “black hole” in the spinal energy flow. I often see dogs getting worse after surgery with more lumps cropping up. It seems as if the body is trying even harder to signal that there is something wrong. The signals get “louder and louder” and if we do not hear or can’t recognize them, sometimes cancer sets in.
If you see a lump, track it to the related spinal segment by drawing a line from the lump to the back. It is relatively simple. Follow the ribs or if the lump is on the abdomen, draw a line up and slightly forward on an angle that is parallel to the last rib. If lumps are present on the hind legs, the issue is usually located in the lumbar region. If on the head, neck or skull, alignment may be the problem; if on the abdomen, lumbar or thoracic, the spine needs attention. If the spinal segment is tight, I recommend treatment by chiro, physio and massage in conjunction with homeopathy.
I have also noticed that some lipomas occur in areas where the skin and fat under the skin or the underlying muscle gets injured or overstretched. Some people believe that the excessive stretch of tissues results in trauma to the fatty cells – lipocytes. These lipocytes try to repair, start multiplying and a lump is formed. If your dog is a fast and wild runner, lumps may be more likely to happen.
If you are wondering if there is a miraculous natural cure for lipomas. From what I have seen, I must say that once they happen, they usually do not disappear. You may as well spare yourself the money buying “miraculous” lipoma cures and spend it on a chiro or physio instead. You can decrease their growth rate by improving the energy flow in the spine and the body in general.
If the cytology results of fine needle aspirate come back with confirmation of cancer, this is a much more complicated topic that we can delve into in this article. I personally am not in favour of chemotherapy and radiation and have seen dogs living longer and happier lives without these. I find it ridiculous to see that we have accepted poisoning as one of the ways of “healing.”
Surgery may be a reasonable measure in case of some malignancies – for example bone tumors because they are so aggressive. I have seen some dogs surviving for years. However, once again I want to remind you that surgery does not remove the original cause of the tumor and the treatment should include changes in nutrition, supplements, homeopathy and spinal alignment techniques.
Some people believe that the higher tendency to inflammation the body has, the higher tendency to cancer. I agree.
Here is what you can provide for your dog to statistically decrease the chances cancer :
Healthy exercise, not too much.
Good natural, ideally raw diet.
Feed less than 1/3 of large animal red meat as it has a tendency to cause more inflammation in the body.
Use a good source of whole food anti-oxidants and minerals for proper function of the immune system and every cell. I could not find one on the market, so I formulated one myself - GreenMin.
Use only natural vitamins and supplements. Synthetic supplements are not what nature intended and often create disharmony of excess in the body.
For muscle injury and back pain or as a general cancer prevention, I like using Zyflamend, a turmeric based anti-inflammatory that is also known for its anti-oxidant, anticancer properties. If your dog has a moderate to severe problem, you can give Zyflamend daily or as a preventive once or twice a week. When it comes to omega oils, I like to give Skai and my patients WholeMega – a wild salmon oil that is processed gently to maintain its essential properties. For cancer prevention, you want to go for an Omega 3 as in most diets these ones are missing.
As a general cleansing and immune system support, I like to use Probiotics.
Dr. Dobias is a licensed doctor of veterinary medicine and lives in Vancouver, BC, Canada. He has more than 20 years of practical experience in conventional and holistic veterinary medicine and his big passions are natural healing, dogs and living a healthy lifestyle...