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Several Small Bumps Appeared on Your Dog? Our Vet Shares Top Causes

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small mast cell tumors on skin of a dog

This article was updated on May 26th, 2023

Seeing new lumps or bumps on your dog’s skin might make you very concerned. As the growths could be any number of things, it is sensible to seek a veterinary opinion. A whopping one in every 25 consults a vet does is to investigate new lumps and bumps, while about 6% of dogs are found to have new bumps when brought in for a routine check up (1)

As a vet, examining and analyzing skin bumps is a routine part of my job and, thankfully, I’m able to reassure most owners that their dog’s bumps are nothing to worry about. However, given the potential for skin bumps to be cancerous, we always want to take a closer look at new bumps.

Top reasons causing several small bumps on a dog’s skin

1. Warts

Viral warts are frequently picked up by younger dogs, especially those who spend lots of time socializing, often causing multiple lumps or bumps. We also see warts and skin tags in older dogs, whose immune systems are less robust and allow for these growths to proliferate. Warts tend to appear fleshy and are loosely attached to skin. They appear anywhere on the body, though are most common on the face and back.

After having the wart assessed by a vet, most owners will take a wait and see approach. Viral warts usually go away within a few months, while older dog warts tend to remain unchanged and cause no harm. Vets may remove warts if it is causing issues, such as bleeding or becoming constantly infected. This is a straightforward surgery. See pictures below or view our pictures of dog warts.

2. Lipomas (fatty masses)

Lipomas are incredibly common, especially in older dogs who are over-weight. Once a dog develops one, they tend to get more as they age.

These growths feel soft and squishy, are freely movable under the skin and grow slowly.

WATCH: 3 Important Tips To Care For an Old Dog [VET VIDEO]

We will often sample a lipoma using a needle (FNA), to confirm it is nothing more sinister. While most fatty lumps are left alone, those that are very large or affecting mobility are sometimes removed surgically.

3. Ticks

If your dog walks through long grass or spends lots of time out in a field, they may return home with little ticks on them. These critters attach to the outside of the skin and have a shiny, smooth appearance. On closer examination, we should be able to see their spindly legs.

We must remove any tick we see ASAP with a tweezers or tick remover, by twisting them. The dog’s skin can then be cleaned with salt water. You should also get our dog up to date with their tick prevention. A vet visit is advised if you cannot remove all of the ticks, you think a tick part remains in the dog or your dog seems poorly in the weeks after their tick infestation.

dog with several ticks

4. Scabs

Scabs feel like hard, crusty lesions that are under the fur. Crusty scabs may result in several lumps appearing on the skin. Scabs have a range of causes including skin allergies, bacterial infections and fleas. Many dogs with scabs will be itchy and may lick or chew at their skin.

Most scabs are easily treated and resolve promptly, once we address the underlying cause. This may mean providing things like issuing flea medicine, steroids or antibiotics, as well as the use of medicated washes and skin supplements. When scabs occur but you’re not sure why, book in with your vet, so they can get to the bottom of it.

closeup showing scabs on dog's skin

5. Nipples

This may seem like a funny topic to include, but I often encounter owners who have found their dog’s nipples and are concerned there is something wrong. Some owners are surprised to discover that male dogs have nipples too. Dogs usually have between 8 to 10 nipples on their belly, and they are raised, fleshy and quite symmetrical. They are nothing to worry about, but it is worth recognizing what they are.

nipples on a dog

6. Tumors

While most new lumps and bumps will be of little concern, some may be tumors. Most tumors occur as solitary masses, but sometimes more will appear quickly, or one can spread. Mammary tumors, for example, are often found in 2’s or 3’s.

This is why any new mass or one that is quickly growing or changing should be assessed by a veterinary professional. If concerned, the vet may sample the lesion, so a treatment plan can be put in place. View more pictures of tumors or pictures of mast cell tumors.

Several bumps caused by tumors

Do your dog’s bumps look like something else?

If you haven’t seen anything that look like your dog’s bumps, we recommend viewing pictures of 21 common skin problems (including lumps and bumps).

Disclaimer: This content is not a substitute for veterinary care. Always consult with your vet for health decisions. Learn more.

Is the presence of several skin bumps a cause for alarm?

Most of the time, new bumps will be benign and easily remedied. They may cause mild discomfort or itching, or your dog might not even know they are there. Much less often, skin bumps could be something sinister like a cancer.

When you should seek veterinary attention

Any new bump or lump should be checked over by a vet. This is particularly true if your dog is uncomfortable or if there are other signs such as skin chewing, scratching, crusting or a bad odor.

Veterinarian diagnosis & cost

Oftentimes, a vet will know what the bumps are after examining your dog and assessing the lesions.

In some instances, further tests such as a skin swab, fine needle aspirate (FNA) or a biopsy will be advised, in order to get a clearer picture of what is going on. Skin tests like swabs cost about $150-200, as they are sent to an external lab for analysis.

An FNA can be done while the dog is awake, and costs up to $200. As biopsies are more invasive, the dog is usually under sedation or anesthetic, so this sampling method tends to cost closer to $400-500.

Treatment options at the vet

How your dog’s skin bumps are treated will depend on the underlying cause. Scabs may be treated with medicated washes and antibiotics, while lesions like warts are generally just left alone.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I prevent several small skin bumps from appearing on my dog?

We can prevent ticks and fleas (which causes scabs) by keeping our dog up to date with their parasite prevention.

For dogs who have skin allergies, we can prevent flare ups by avoiding their allergen and using ongoing anti-itch medicine.

Can I prevent my dog from getting lipomas?

Some dogs are just genetically prone to them; including the Weimaraner, Labrador and Doberman. As dogs get older, lipomas become more prevalent. However, maintaining a slim body weight can help prevent their occurrence. (2)




  • Dr. Linda Simon, Veterinarian

    Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS) has 10 years of experience as a veterinarian. She is a veterinary surgeon with a special interest in geriatric patient care, dermatology and endocrinology. She is a member of the British Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. She graduated top of her class from UCD School of Veterinary Medicine in Dublin in 2013. Linda has also worked as a locum vet in a range of clinics, including 24 hour emergency clinics and busy charity clinics.

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