Bumps Under A Dog’s Fur: 5 Likely Reasons & What to Do

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This article was updated on March 14th, 2024

As a veterinarian, I understand the worry pet owners face when they find unexplained bumps under their dog’s fur. But not all lumps are harmful. In this post, we’ll explore the most common reasons for lumps under your dog’s fur and what steps you should take if you discover a new bump.

“If you notice a lump on your dog, it’s important to monitor it for any changes in size, shape, or appearance. It’s also important to pay attention to any signs of discomfort or illness in your dog. It’s also always a good idea to have your vet examine any new lump, especially if your dog is older, to make sure that the lump is not cancerous.”

Dr. Alex Crow

Veterinarian at SeniorTailWaggers.com

Most Common Reasons for Bumps Under Your Dog’s Fur [with pictures]

Here are some of the most common reasons why your furry friend might develop these bumps and how to best identify them:

1. Allergy lumps or bumps

Just like humans, dogs can also develop allergies to various elements in their environment or their food. When your dog has an allergic reaction, it can manifest as small bumps on the dog’s skin (sometimes hidden under the fur), known as hives. These can very easily be hidden under a dog’s fur; owners may only notice these bumps when stroking their dog. 

The appearance of these lumps varies, but they are usually red and inflamed. Allergies will also often make your dog intensely itchy. 

Allergies in dogs are common, affecting a significant percentage of our canine friends (up to 10-20%). Although not life-threatening, if left untreated they can lead to severe discomfort for your pet, causing incessant itching all over their body. If left unchecked, itchiness can lead to your dog causing serious damage to themself. Learn more about bumps caused by allergies.

Home remedies for allergies

If you suspect that your pet is suffering from an allergy-induced skin condition, there are several steps you can take at home before seeking veterinary intervention:

  • Avoid exposing your dog to potential allergens once identified – environmental allergens can be hard to avoid but switching to a veterinary prescription hypoallergenic diet can help exclude possible food allergens. 
  • Bathe them regularly with hypoallergenic shampoos designed for sensitive skin caused by allergies
  • Add Omega-3 fatty acid supplements to their diet, which soothe inflammation and promote good skin health. 

Veterinary treatment for allergies

If, despite taking measures at home, there’s no improvement within a few days or if symptoms worsen (such as increased itchiness), then it’s time for a visit to your local vet clinic. The veterinarian may recommend blood tests and skin samples be analyzed to determine the source of your dog’s irritation. Based on the diagnosis, veterinarians may prescribe antihistamines, steroids, antibiotics (if a secondary bacterial infection occurs), or immunotherapy shots depending upon severity.

2. Lipomas

Lipomas are one of the most common tumors in dogs (Source). These tumors are benign (not cancerous) and are typically seen in middle-aged and older dogs. Lipomas on dogs typically appear as soft, movable lumps under the skin that feel like fatty tissue. They usually don’t need to be removed unless they start bothering your dog because of their size or location. Learn more about lipomas.

3. Skin tumors

One possible cause of bumps under a dog’s fur is skin tumors. These can be benign lumps such as sebaceous cysts, warts, and skin tags, as shown in the pictures below:

It could also be a more sinister malignant growths that indicate skin cancer. Therefore, recognizing these small lumps on your dog’s body early is crucial.

Skin tumors can take a range of different shapes and sizes. If your dog has a lump or bump under their fur, but you are not sure what it is, talk to your veterinarian.

Before calling your vet, you can also review our page featuring most common lumps and bumps in dogs or dog tumors. Benign fatty lumps are often soft and mobile, warts tend to stick out from the skin’s surface and have an irregular surface and sebaceous cysts can be anything in between. While many skin lumps are harmless, some could be more sinister – especially those that grow rapidly or change shape/color over time.

Veterinary Treatments

Treatment depends upon whether the tumor is benign or malignant: A veterinary pathologist typically examines biopsy samples to make this determination. Benign tumors may not require removal unless they bother your dog. Cancerous lumps necessitate immediate intervention, which could include surgery/radiation therapy/chemotherapy depending upon severity, location and type of cancer involved. 

4. Bumps and scabs as a result of bacterial Infections or abscesses

When your dog’s skin is affected by bacterial infections, you may notice small bumps or abscesses under the fur. These lumps are usually a result of bacteria entering through a break in the skin caused by an insect bite or scratch. Symptoms can include redness, swelling, and sometimes pus-filled lesions.

The seriousness of these issues varies; while some minor infections might resolve on their own with proper hygiene and care at home, others could lead to severe complications if left untreated. Learn more about skin infections in dogs.

Home remedies

For mild bacterial infections, good hygiene and regular cleaning may be enough to get on top of the issue. Antibacterial wipes can also be effective.

However, it’s important not to underestimate a skin infection. If your dog’s condition isn’t improving within 48 hours – or worsens rapidly – then it’s time to consult your vet immediately. 

Veterinary Treatment

If your dog has developed serious symptoms like fever, loss of appetite alongside painful lumps under their fur – this signals that immediate professional attention is required. 

In most cases involving bacterial infections on dogs’ skin, antibiotics are typically prescribed after thorough cleaning of wounds (if any). For abscesses specifically, vets often perform an incision and drainage procedure before starting antibiotic treatment. 

5. Skin parasites

One of the most common causes for small bumps on your dog’s skin is parasites. Fleas, ticks, and mites can all burrow into your dog’s skin, causing lumps to appear under their fur. These bumps are usually accompanied by other symptoms such as itching, redness, flaky skin, or hair loss.

Home Remedies 

If you suspect that your furry friend has fallen victim to these tiny invaders, start by regularly grooming your dog with flea combs and tick removal tools. You can also try flea shampoos such as this one

However, in some cases home remedies are not effective and so it’s crucial not to delay professional help too long; unchecked parasite infestations can lead to more serious health problems, including allergic reactions and secondary infections due to constant scratching.

Veterinary Treatment

Your vet will conduct a thorough examination, possibly even microscopic tests, for an accurate diagnosis. Following that they might recommend treatment options depending on the severity of your dog’s condition; this often includes medicated shampoos, spot-on treatments and oral anti-parasite medication. 

Visit Your Vet if the Bump is Growing, Changing or Causing Discomfort

It’s important to figure out if you should see your vet or not. Some bumps can be harmless or treatable at home (or left alone – benign neglect). However, lumps or bumps also often indicate an underlying issue that requires veterinary attention.

You should see your vet asap if:

  • the bump grows rapidly
  • changes shape or color,
  • causes discomfort or pain, or
  • bleeds or oozes pus 

Keep an eye on your dog’s overall behavior too. If they’re showing other signs of illness (such as loss of appetite, lethargy, unexplained weight loss, etc), it’s time for a check-up.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can bumps under fur be a sign of something serious?

While many bumps are harmless, others can indicate more serious conditions like skin tumors or bacterial infections. Always get new or changing lumps checked by a vet.

Should I be concerned if my pet has a single bump?

This depends on the bump and whether it changes over time. Some solitary lumps may be harmless cysts or warts, but others could be more severe issues like abscesses or tumors. Just because it’s one lump, it doesn’t always mean it’s harmless.

How can I determine if the bump is an emergency or can wait for a vet visit?

If your dog is scratching or licking excessively, or if the lump grows rapidly in size, becomes red/hot/painful/oozing pus/bloody – these are signs that veterinary attention is needed as soon as possible. If your dog is also unwell in other ways such as having lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea or breathing issues then you should see the vet for an emergency appointment. 

Are there any specific breeds or types of pets more prone to bumps under their fur?

Certain breeds are more susceptible due to genetic predispositions and breed-specific skin conditions. For example, Boxers and Golden Retrievers often develop tumors (benign and malignant) as they age, while English Bulldogs and French Bulldogs tend towards developing skin fold dermatitis which might lead to abscesses developing under the skin. 


  • Dr Alex Crow, Veterinary Surgeon

    Alex Crow, VetMed MRCVS, is an RCVS accredited Veterinary surgeon with special interests in neurology and soft tissue surgery. Dr Crow is currently practicing at Buttercross Veterinary Center in England. He earned his degree in veterinary medicine in 2019 from the Royal Veterinary College (one of the top 3 vet schools in the world) and has more than three years of experience practicing as a small animal veterinarian (dogs and cats).

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Disclaimer: This website's content is not a substitute for veterinary care. Always consult with your veterinarian for healthcare decisions. Read More.

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