Does A Red Ring On My Dog Mean Tick Bite and Lyme Disease?

Does A Red Ring On My Dog Mean Tick Bite and Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease is a serious illness in dogs, and it has to be diagnosed and caught early in order to avoid long term serious and chronic complications. Let us see what a red ring on dog means, and what you can do about it?

Deer Ticks-Hazards they pose to your pet

If you live near the woods infested with deer ticks, know that they can transmit serious diseases such as Borreliosis in your pet. Tick bite symptoms often include a red rash or mark resembling a ‘target’ or the ‘bull’s eye’ rash. In many cases, the tick may still be attached to the pet. The dog might even scratch or chew in the area bitten. Fortunately, there are many ways to protect your dog from getting this red rash and Lyme disease.

However, a red ring or rash does not always mean canine Lyme disease.

When is a red ring on the dog not Lyme disease

The good news is, not all red rings following a tick bite indicate Lyme disease. As long as your dog is healthy and is being fed a good diet, it should be fine. Also, if you have used tick repellent such as Frontline etc, the tick might not even have actually bitten it in the first place or your dog might have developed certain amount of immunity to it. Also not all Ticks lead to Lyme disease in canines- only certain varieties and species cause this disease and particularly the ones having the microorganism Borrelia burgdorferi. Moreover, the tick needs to be attached to the dog for a period of at least 8 to 16 hours for the organism to actually cause Lyme. That being said, if you have caught the tick , place it in a plastic bag or box and get it identified, as soon as you can, by taking it to your vet or local forest department official.

Watch out for Tick bite and Lyme disease symptoms

Naturally, once you have discovered the red bull’s eye ring/bite mark, it is best to keep a watch out for Lyme disease symptoms in your dog. These include:

  • Fatigue or lethargy
  • Fever and flu like symptoms
  • Swelling in joints and lymph nodes
  • Painful movements
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lameness in legs
  • Vomiting

Additionally, there may be rare and serious side effects such as irregularity of heart beat, change in the bark, excess salivation, kidney problems or nervous system issues.

The unfortunate part about diagnosis of Lyme disease is that it often goes unnoticed for months. Also, the symptoms tend to resemble many other diseases-so the diagnosis could come months later. There are a few blood tests to diagnose Lyme’s but most vets do not carry them out early enough.

Treating Lyme disease

When caught early, Lyme disease is completely treatable mainly through the use of antibiotics. The dog should be administered the medicines as prescribed making sure you give it its complete dose. If any of the above symptoms are present, make sure you take the dog to the vet immediately. Typical antibiotics used for treating canine Lyme disease include Amoxycilin and Doxycycline. These are to be taken for up to 3 weeks or a month based on the severity of the symptoms.

Protecting your pet from Lyme disease

  1. Avoid letting your dog out in grassy trails. If necessary, use vet approved tick repellent products to repel ticks. These include spot applications and oral medicines.
  2. If your dog has been out for a walk where there are ticks reported, inspect its body thoroughly, after you get back home. If a tick is attached, remove it immediately.
  3. Always use a pair of tweezers to remove ticks. Wash or wipe the area using antibacterial soap solution and apply some Neosporin to the wound.
  4. Use tick collars or other permethrin based products for your pet.
  5. Shampoo your pet using permethrin based shampoo or other vet approved product at least twice a month.
  6. You could opt for vaccination –particularly the Lyme vaccine-which may not be 100% effective in preventing canine Lyme disease, but can certainly offer some degree of protection.
  7. You could use certain essential oils which are quite beneficial in repelling ticks. Check out the article on essential oils here.

Ticks are very small and often go unnoticed. A female adult tick could also lay hundreds of eggs on and around your pet. So make sure you treat your pet’s environment using tick repellent products. Vacuum the house frequently and also wash the pet’s bedding in hot water to kill tick eggs. All these are tried and tested methods of keeping your pet safe from ticks. If, despite these precautions, you see a red ring on your dog’s body, get it examined for ticks and Lyme disease by your vet.

Lyme Disease Rashes and Look-alikes

“Classic” Lyme disease rash

Circular red rash with central clearing that slowly expands.

Expanding rash with central crust

Photo Credit: Bernard Cohen

Red, expanding lesion with central crust.

Multiple rashes, disseminated infection

Photo Credit: Bernard Cohen

Early disseminated Lyme disease; multiple red lesions with dusky centers.

Red, oval plaque on trunk

Photo Credit: Alison Young

Red, oval-shaped plaque on trunk.

Expanding rash with central clearing

Photo Credit: Taryn Holman

Circular red rash with central clearing that slowly expands.

Bluish rash, no central clearing

Photo Credit: Yevgeniy Balagula

Bluish hue without central clearing.

Red-blue lesion with central clearing

Photo Credit: Robin Stevenson

Red-blue lesion with central clearing on back of knee.

Insect bite hyper-sensitivity

Photo Credit: Chris Ha

Large itchy rash caused by an allergic reaction to an insect bite.

Fixed drug reaction

Photo Credit: Shahbaz A. Janjua

A skin condition that occurs up to two weeks after taking a medication. The skin condition reappears at the same location every time a particular medication is taken.

Ringworm (Tinea corporis)

Photo Credit: Bernard Cohen

Ringworm is a common skin infection that is caused by a fungus. It’s called “ringworm” because it can cause a circular rash (shaped like a ring) that is usually red and itchy with raised edges.

Pityriasis rosea rash

Photo Credit: Bernard Cohen

A rash without a known cause that can be a round or oval, pink, and scaly with a raised border. It can sometimes itch. Larger patches than the one shown here are also common.

Granuloma annulare rash

Photo Credit: Bernard Cohen

Reddish bumps on the skin arranged in a circle or ring.

Urticaria multiforme

Photo Credit: Bernard Cohen

Also known as hives. Often caused by an allergic reaction to food, an infection, or a medicine. May burn or itch.

Red spots on skin: Pictures, causes, treatment

Red spots on skin – common causes and their treatment

Red spots on your skin are typical and varies with age and setting, they can be many things. Below are example cases; some are trivial and others needed a personal visit to the dermatologist.

1. Pityriasis versicolor (Tinea versicolor)

Online dermatologist question
15 year old girl. I have red spots/ blotches on my back, I just realized it as I stepped out of the shower. Do not know where they came from or if they’re of harm? Please help.

Online dermatologist Doctor Normann Iversen answer
Based on the information and images of your back, this is possibly PITYRIASIS VERSICOLOR, fungal infection resulting in white, reddish scaling patches on skin. This is more common in young people, combined with sun exposure. It is not dangerous or contagious. You can treat this with over-the-counter (OTC) Fundan (ketoconazole) schampoo over the entire body 2 times/week for 3 weeks or an anti-fungal cream twice a day for 10 days. If not better or it has got worse after 6 weeks, see a dermatologist in person.

2. Telangiectasia

Online dermatologist question
23 year old man. I have a raised red spot on my nose. It has been there for a while, just wondering if it is bad and if something can be done.

Online dermatologist Doctor Normann Iversen answer
Based on the information and images submitted of your nose, this looks like a TELANGIECTASIA : Small dilated blood vessels on the surface of the skin causing red spots. In exceptional cases it might be caused by an underlying disease, but in this case it looks normal. If you get more or it grows see a doctor in person. Furthermore, if it disturbs you from a practical or aesthetic point of view a dermatologist can easily help you to get rid of it either by laser or electrocoagulation.

3. Shingles (Herpes zoster)

Online dermatologist question
40 year old male. Red spots appeared on my shoulder a few days ago and are itchy. I don’t have any known allergies.

Online dermatologist Doctor Normann Iversen answer
This looks very much like like shingles, also known as herpes zoster, which is the reactivation of the chicken pox virus. It is a viral disease characterized by a painful skin rash with blisters in a localized area. See your GP for antiviral treatment such as aciclovir. This can become painful so consider paracetamol if uncomfortable.

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4. Insect bites

Online dermatologist question
29 year old female. I have had a feeling of itchiness that started last Tuesday night. Last Wednesday, I had some fever and muscle pain. Thursday I started to see red spots around my chests and along side the body. Now I see a few spots on my arms, legs and over my face and scalp. It’s itchy and painful to touch.

Online dermatologist Doctor Normann Iversen answer
This looks like insect bites, but the fact that you also have had a fever and muscle or joint pain makes it difficult to exclude other diagnoses such as Erythema Multiforme or Sweet’s Syndrome. These syndromes can be caused by different medicines or viral infections for example. I would recommend that you see a dermatologist as soon as possible for testing. You can take paracetamol to relieve the pain and the fever. The itchiness can be relieved with a topical steroid cream.

5. Contact dermatitis caused by plants

Online dermatologist question
30 year old male. The red spots appeared a few days after working In my yard. They are on my left lower leg, arm and fingers. It seems they have gotten worse and are blistering. They first appeared 4-5 days ago on Thursday or Friday. I have treated them with hydrocortisone 1% and Zanfel. Also, have taken Benadryl.

Online dermatologist Doctor Normann Iversen answer
Based on the information and images of your leg and history, this looks like Contact Dermatitis caused by plants: Most often caused by primula or chrysanthemum. Itching rash, red streaks with blisters is common. Treatmnent: Avoid the causing plant. Use cortisone cream as you are doing twice a day for a week. If it doesn`t improve see a physician.

6. Leukocytoclastic vasculitis

Online dermatologist question
My husband who is 48 years old. just noticed tiny red dots (not bumps) on the lower shin/calf areas of both legs, approx 6″ beneath knees and 1″ above ankle. He is at tailend of a cold or sinus infection. Lots of coughing and head and chest congestion with clear mucous. This was his first time to take Musonex DM.

Online dermatologist Doctor Normann Iversen answer
Thanks for the images of the legs and the history. It looks like it could be Leukocytoclastic Vasculitis, an inflammation of small blood vessels in the skin. The typical red spots that appear on the feet, ankles and lower legs may sometimes spread up to the thighs and even to the trunk. This type of reaction is usually caused by a previous infection or new medication. Elevation of the legs and the use of compression stockings may be useful. Treatment of the underlying infection or removal of the drug causing this may of course help the lesions to clear quicker. If no improvement is noted within 1-2 weeks, if the lesions should spread or if abdominal pains are present, I recommend that you see a dermatologist in person for blood work and possibly a skin biopsy, if needed, a treatment plan.

7. Angioma (Cherry)

Online dermatologist question

First noticed it a couple of months ago after nicking it with razor and it bleed a lot. It has increased in size since then and is painful. I have had squamous cell cancer in the past and am wondering if this could also be a cancerous growth.

Thank you for sending your case. Based on the information and images of your stomach, this is possibly an Angioma. An angioma is a small and benign proliferation of small blood vessels. Very common in adults. Several such lesions can appear with different sizes. Normally red in color but they can also be dark red, blue or violaceous. Harmless. Treatment is not needed unless for cosmetic reasons. If it becomes darker or you have pain or discomfort, I recommend that you see a dermatologist.


Pityriasis versicolor. Renati S, Cukras A, Bigby M BMJ. 2015 Apr 7;350:h1394

Epidemiology and determinants of facial telangiectasia: a cross-sectional study. Mekić S et al. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2019 Oct 8. doi: 10.1111/jdv.15996.

The risk of herpes zoster virus infection in patients with depression: A longitudinal follow-up study using a national sample cohort.
Choi HG et al Medicine (Baltimore). 2019 Oct;98(40):e17430.

Arthropod Bites and Stings Treated in Emergency Departments: Recent Trends and Correlates.
Vaughn MG et al. Wilderness Environ Med. 2019 Aug 10.

Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac Dermatitis: What Is Known and What Is New? Kim Y et al. Dermatitis. 2019 May/Jun;30(3):183-190.

Leukocytoclastic vasculitis with Koebner phenomenon associated with Ehlers Danlos syndrome. Haddock EES JAAD Case Rep. 2019 Jul 31;5(8):666-668.

Cherry Angiomas-Further Expanding the Phenotype With Somatic GNAQ and GNA11 Mutations. Siegel DH JAMA Dermatol. 2019 Feb 1;155(2):148-149.

Bullseye rash

The red rash, also known as the ‘erythema migrans’ (EM), is one of the most famous symptoms of Lyme disease.

After a tick bite, a small swelling or spot with in the middle a red dot where the tick used to be can be seen on the skin. This is not the bullseye rash or the ‘erythema migrans’ that people mean when they are talking about Lyme disease. Almost everyone gets this type of skin irritation, comparable to a mosquito bite.

An EM, however, is a red skin rash in the form of a circle or spot, which grows in the course of weeks or months. About half of the patients get such a red circular rash when they have contracted Lyme disease, which means that the other half doesn’t get the characteristically bullseye rash!

An EM is a skin infection that arises 4-10 days after a tick bite.

How to recognize a bullseye rash

In average, the rash grows to about 5 to 40 cm. This is not set in stone! In some cases, the circles were smaller or even covered the entire body. Important is that the circular rash grows. In order to see clearly whether the surface of the rash increases, the patient can take photos every couple of days. Another method is to outline the edge of the spot with a waterproof marker. When the rash surpasses this outline, this is probably an EM. In case of a possible red rash after a tick bite, it is wise to go to the general practitioner.

When a typical erythema migrans is noted, the presence of Lyme Borreliose is very likely. The patient will, therefore, be prescribed antibiotics without doing any further tests.

Variations of the erythema migrans also occur. For example, the spot might remain evenly red, blisters might arise on the spot or multiple circles on top of each other might be visible. Multiple circles all at once or returning EM spots are also known to occur, and the EM might even turn up on a different spot than were a person was bitten by a tick.

The bullseye rash will get smaller again in the course of time. This also happen when you don’t take antibiotics! So, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the bacteria is gone. Don’t wait until the rash disappears, but go see a general practitioner!

Even be careful when this typical Lyme disease rash doesn’t appear

When a bullseye rash doesn’t occur, this doesn’t indicate that someone doesn’t have Lyme disease. The disease might also be present when the characteristic Lyme disease rash is not. According to the literature, this is even the case for 30 to 70% of the infections. It is, therefore, important to watch for flulike symptoms after a tick bite, for this might be an indication for Lyme disease.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Dog Lumps on Skin

Table of Contents


«Dog lumps on skin (also called dog skin tumors) can have many causes such as an insect bite that results in an abscess where pus forms under the skin, lipomas (fatty tumors which are usually benign or not cancerous), skin tumors or cysts. Don’t rush to judgment and assume that a canine skin bump is cancerous, as many types are benign or not cancerous.

The diagnosis will depend on an understanding of if the lump has changed over time, rate of growth, the look and feel and if it is interfering with the quality of your dog’s life. That said, 25% of dogs will develop cancer at some point in their life, making it imperative that any unusual scab, bump, lump or sore on the skin be investigated by a veterinarian. The most common type is a mast cell tumor with 20% of all cases (benign and malignant). There is no known way to prevent skin malignancies other than squamous cell cancer which is thought to be caused by sunlight.

The best thing you can do for a dog skin lump is to have a veterinarian take a look. Often the Vet will recommend watching the skin lesion and if it changes in appearance, then do a biopsy or use another diagnostic approach. If required, the tumor can be surgically removed or another type of treatment applied (radiation, chemotherapy).»

Causes and Types

Dog skin lumps are primarily due to fluid accumulation under the skin. There are multiple reasons why this might occur. In general, causes fall into two categories:

  • Benign Dog Tumors (not cancer)
  • Malignant Tumors (cancer)

Benign Dog Tumors (not cancer)

Characteristics of these lumps are no or slow growth. It is possible that they will not change or take years to change. These growths can become large, although they are usually well defined and small.Common types of benign dog skin bumps include:

    Abscess: this is a cavity in the skin filled with pus. Abscesses are caused by infections, very rarely they can form at the sites of an injections. The abscess can be fluid-filled or firm. If the abscess becomes infected it can cause appetite loss and fever. Treatment involves draining the abscess and using antibiotics where needed.

Acral Lick Dermatitis (neurodermatitis): Neurodermatitis is caused by licking the skin. It results in hair loss and possible a raised lesion, frequently on the leg. Treatment involves addressing the underlying cause of the licking such as stress or anxiety. An Elizabethan Collar can cut down on licking.

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Adenoma: these develop in the sebaceous glands of the hair follicles. There can be multiple adenomas on a dog, particularly in cocker spaniels and miniature poodles. (this is different from the cancerous adenocarcinoma that can also develop in the same location. A similar sounding perianal adenocarcinoma is also cancerous and develops in the tissue of the anus).

Apocrine Sweat Gland Cyst: A type of cyst frequently found on the limbs, neck and head. It is round, smooth and has no hair. Most contain a watery liquid. The veterinarian will do a biopsy to rule out cancer. Benign cysts do not need to be removed.

Calcinosis Cutis (skin mineralization): In this condition hard papules and nodules form on areas such as the groin and back. It is caused by too many corticosteroids in the system. Treatment involves surgical removal or reduction in the use of steroids.

Callus: A callus forms on the skin from pressure in bony areas. Treatment involves use of a soft dog bed or the placement of padding in the treatment area.

Canine Acne: Acne or papules forms (usually in younger dogs) when the hair follicles become inflamed due to a bacterial infection. Treatment involves the use of Benzoyl peroxide and/or antibiotics.

Chiggers: A chigger is an insect that deposits larvae in the skin. It occurs on the ears, stomach or feet. A veterinarian will look at a sample under a microscope to diagnose the condition. The condition is treated with the insecticide Permethrin or Pyrethrin.

  • Coccidioidomycosis (fungus): The skin fungus Coccidiodes immitis can cause nodules. It is found in the Southeastern United States. In addition to skin nodules common symptoms are weight loss, fever, difficulty breathing and infection where the bones press against the skin. Treatment is with the medications Itraconazole and Ketocanazole.
    • Contact Dermatitis: When a dog is allergic to a substance in the environment it can cause skin blisters or red skim bumps. Other symptoms include hair loss and itch. Treatment involves identifying and removing the allergen from contact with the dog. Allergic or irritant contact dermatitis can be caused by medications, pet care products, or materials such as wool or rubber.

      Cutaneous horn: A cutaneous horn is a hornlike growth 1/2″ to 2″ with unknown cause. It can be a byproduct of either follicular cysts or cancer. Some dogs have an allergic reaction to the larva. Treatment involves surgical removal. Treatment involves opening the nodule and then removal of any larva.

      Cuterebra: This is a type of fly larva. A dog skin lump forms around the larva which has a tiny opening at the top that enables the larva to escape . Nodules are found on the neck and head.

      Diracunculiasis: This is a parasitic condition caused by a worm which causes a nodule to form. It is seen on the stomach, head, and legs. Treatment involves surgical removal.

    • Elbow Calluses: Large dogs can get lumps and bumps where their body comes in constant contact with the ground. These lumps are usually calluses or hardened skin. These can be treated by applying petroleum jelly, lanolin or other dog safe softening products.
    • Epidermal Cysts (infundibular cysts): These types of cysts are 2″ nodules that have a thick sebaceous liquid inside. They are the result of a bodily reaction to skin cells. They are treated with surgery.

      Flea Allergy Dermatitis: Dogs that have a more intense reaction could develop skin papules, scales and crusts. Itching can lead to infection. The veterinarian will test the skin for fleas. Treatment includes antihistamines or steroids for inflammation and itch.

      Granuloma: A granuloma forms after an infection or exposure to an irritant such as a plant. It results in the formation of a skin nodule. Granulomas can have different sizes and can cause a skin ulcer, hair loss and skin infection. Treatment involves removal with surgery, medications to treat any infection and removal of any underlying reason for the problem such as plant or chemical exposure.

      Hematoma: A dog hematoma is a nodule that contains fluid. It is found in different shapes. It occurs when blood leaks out of a blood vessel. Typically found in dogs with pendulous ears and as the result of an ear infection.

    • Histiocytoma: A tumor found in young dogs that results in a raised red nodule. It looks like a strawberry. Histiocytoma tumors are usually seen on the ears, head and legs. They often go away with no treatment, but can be removed with surgery.
    • Histioplasmosis: Skin fungal infection that can cause skin lesions. Other possible symptoms include respiratory distress and problem with the digestive system.

  • Hives(urticaria): Hives are often a reaction to something in your dog’s environment. Allergic reactions to bug bites or a medication can cause the skin to swell from 1/2 inch to 2 inches. You could try Benadryl in the dosage 1 mg per pound of body weight. If ineffective, see your veterinarian. Another name for hives are Wheals which tend to look like a circumscribed, circular, raised area of skin caused by swelling due to the retention of fluids in the skin tissues (edema). Wheals are seen at the site of positive skin test reactions when dogs are allergy tested. Hives can go away without treatment. If the hive is the result of an allergy than a veterinarian will prescribe corticosteroids, epinephrine or an antihistamine.
    • Hookworm: The hookworm can cause red dog lumps on skin. The problem is on on the foot pads. a veterinarian will administer a hookworm treatment.

      Kerion: A kerion is a skin nodule that is related to a case of dog ringworm. The condition can cause skin ulcers on the dog’s nose and ears. Treatment involves removing hair around the infected area and treatment with a medicated shampoo that contains itraconazole or ketoconazole.

      Leishmaniasis: Leishmaniasis is a blood parasite. It can cause ulceration on the ears and nose. Contagious to people. Cannot be cured with a poor prognosis.

    • Lichenoid Dermatosis: Flat skin nodules that is covered with a thick surface. Usually clears with no treatment.
    • Lipomas: Canine lipomas are fatty tissue just under the skin surface about the size of a large coin, but could grow to the size of a large ball. They are often seen in middle aged, overweight female or older dogs and tend to appear on the belly and upper legs. Lipomas are usually seen in Schnauzers, Labs, Dobermans and mixed breeds. It is rare for a lipoma to be cancerous. Sometimes they will develop at the top of a forelimb, making it difficult for the dog to run or walk. If this is the case it will need to be removed with a surgical procedure.

      Medication Skin Reaction: Dogs may react to the site of a drug such as cephalosporin, sulfonamides and penicillins. Other symptoms include swollen skin, crusts, skin ulceration, redness and itch. Treatment requires not using the drug that caused the problem.

      Nocardia: A nocardia is a bacterial skin infection that is found at the site of a dog puncture wound. Other symptoms include breathing problems. The prognosis for the condition is not good with treatment involving the use of antibiotics.

      Panniculitis: When the skin is injured, or a foreign object enters the skin it can cause a nodule to form or skin ulceration. Typically found on the limbs or head. Other symptoms include appetite loss. The veterinarian will drain the nodule and reduce inflammation with prednisone.

      Pelodera dermatitis: Pelodera dermatitis is a type of skin infection caused by a worm larvae. It occurs and areas of the dog’s body that comes in contact with the ground. Other possible symptoms include skin redness, loss of hair, scales, crusts and the formation of papules. Can also cause skin itch. Treatment involves the use of an antibacterial shampoo and steroids for skin inflammation and itch.

      Phaeohyphomycosis: A dog fungal skin infection that results in the formation of a skin nodule or ulcer. A Veterinarian will drain the wound and due a skin biopsy. Treatment involves removal with surgery and anti-fungal skin medications.

      Pyoderma: Pyoderma is the formation of nodules or pustules in areas where there is skin trauma caused by the dog such as licking. It can also be the result of conditions such as seborrhea or skin allergies. Treatment includes removing hair in treatment area, addressing any bacterial infections with anti-biotics and keeping the dog from licking the treatment area such as with an Elizabethan collar.

      Pythosis: This is a mold that causes ulceration on dog skin. It is frequently seen on the base of the tail, head or legs. It can cause itch and digestive problems. A Veterinarian will do a biopsy, drain any nodules and remove them with surgery. Can be fatal to the dog.

      Ringworm: Ringworm in dogs is a fungal infection that results in loss of hair, pustules and vesicles. Other symptoms are skin itch. Ringworm is treated with topicals such as Miconazole, a lime sulfur dip or products that contain itraconazole or giseofulvin.

    • Sarcoptic Mange: Mange is an parasitic infection caused by a mite. It causes skin papules, scaling and crusts. It is diagnosed via a skin scraping by your vet. Treatment is with dips and the insecticide ivermectin.
    • Sebaceous cysts(Follicular Cyst): pea-sized single sacs filled with a thick liquid or cheesy substance. These dog lumps on skin are caused by an oil producing gland called the sebaceous gland. If the gland gets blocked it gets enlarged as small as a pen eraser and as big as 2 inches wide. If the cyst opens you will see a white pasty substance come out. Usual locations for sebaceous cysts are the trunk, neck and head. These cysts can be removed with surgery and can refill if punctured. To avoid skin reactions DO NOT SQUEEZE.
    • Pimples/blackheads: Similar to people, dog skin can have the same types of problems. Like humans, you can rid your dog of pimples through cleaning clogged pores and the use of benzoyl peroxide. Another name for pimple is papule which is defined as a small solid rounded bump rising from the skin that is usually less than 1 centimeter in diameter (less than 3/8 inch across). Papules may open when scratched and become crusty and infected. Dermatologists (and other physicians) call any small solid circumscribed bump in the skin a papule, as opposed to a vesicle which contains fluid or a macule which is flat and even with the surrounding skin.

      Sporotrichosis: This is another type of fungal infection that occurs at the site of a skin puncture. It results in a raised dog skin lump (nodule). Treatment includes draining the nodule and use of itraconazole, ketoconazole or potassium iodide.

      Stings and Bites by Insects: Dogs can have an allergic reaction to an insect sting such as hornet, wasp or bee. The skin reaction can result in swelling and redness or itch. If skin ulcers form they will need to be trained and treated. The allergic reaction may require treatment with steroids.

      Spider bites are called eosinophilic folliculitis and swell right after being bitten (also is caused by bites from caterpillars). These bites are seen on a dog’s nose. Treatment is with wet dressings and corticosteroids.

      Ticks can cause skin inflammation resulting in a nodule where the bite occurs. The nodule can persist for a few months. Treatment involves tick removal and a tick preventative. The nodule will heal without treatment.

      Tail Gland Hyperplasia: In this condition a gland enlarges in the tail causing a dog skin lump. The sebaceous gland becomes larger, a problem seen in un-neutered dogs and in dogs that suffer from hypothyroidism.

      Zygomycosis: This is another disorder caused by a fungus. It results in skin nodules along with symptoms such as jaundice or vomiting.

    • Warts: Warts are rough surfaced lumps that are hard, firm bumps that are often the result of a viral infection. They are seen in young and old dogs. Young dogs get warts from a viral infection that are seen around the mouth. Warts in younger dogs go away by themselves. They can also be removed with cryosurgery (freezing).
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    Malignant Lumps (Cancer)

    These lumps may grow quickly and spread into the skin. These dog skin tumors can grow uncontrollably and metastasize (spread) to other parts of the body. The most common type of are mast cell tumors and occur 20% of the time (benign and malignant types)

      Epitheliotropic Lymphoma (rare): Lymphocyte cancer that can cause skin ulcers, oral ulcers and nodules. Treatment includes chemotherapy and surgery.

    Fibroma (uncommon): Dog skin tumors that form in fibrous tissue that is held on with a stemlike structure called a pedicle. Usually forms one nodule that is seen on the sides, groin or legs.

    Fibrosarcomas: This is the type of dog tumor seen at the skin location where there was a vaccination. It is a firm nodule that may become an inflamed skin lesion. Fibrosarcomas are an invasive tumor and need to be surgically removed. If the tumor is large or very invasive, more area needs to be removed such as an entire leg. Radiation and chemotherapy are frequently used with surgery.

    Hemangiosarcoma: Very invasive tumor that occurs on skin that was damaged by the sun. Causes a skin nodule that is black to red in color. Typically located on the abdomen or chest. Can turn into a skin ulcer.

    Hemangiopericytomas: canine skin tumors that form near blood vessels.

  • Hematoma: a cavity in the skin filled with blood. A Hematoma is usually caused by trauma or injury.
    • Histiocytosis: This is a malignant tumor that can be found internally or as a skin disease. Diagnosis is with a fine needle aspirate. There is no effective treatment. Dog may have to undergo euthanasia when there is a poor prognosis.

      Lymphoma: This type of dog skin cancer results in skin nodules and ulcers. The veterinarian will confirm any diagnosis with a skin biopsy. Treatment involves surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.

    • Mammary Cancer: Nodules found around the breasts. Treatment with surgery to remove the nodules. Half of all cases are cancerous.
    • Mast cell tumor: These types of cells are essentially white blood cells that are used by the body to defend against outside elements that enter your dogs body. For example, an insect bite causes swelling on the skin because of these cells. If the normal mast cell undergoes a malignant change, a mast cell tumor may be produced. They can be malignant or benign and are found in the bone, cartilage, the skin and other tissues. The cells contain histamine which is a chemical released by the dogs immune system.
    • Melanoma: A melanoma is a cancerous tumor frequently seen in older canines. Symptoms involve a single skin lump. A Vet will do a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis and then surgery to remove the nodule along with some surrounding skin to avoid any spread of cancerous cells.

  • Neoplasia Nodule: a firm, solid cutaneous swelling up to 1 cm in diameter caused by infiltration of inflammatory or cells that are abnormally uncontrollably growing (neoplastic cells).
    • Squamous Cell Carcinoma: These are flat scaly cells on the outer skin layer. Dogs that have white coats or lightly pigmented skin are predisposed. A contributing factor is sun exposure such as dog that frequently basks in the sun while lying on its back. Treatment involves removal surgically.

    Keeping Track

    Janet Tobiassen Crosby, DVM in Your Guide to Veterinary Medicine has some excellent advice for keeping track of dog lumps on the skin. She recommends the following approach:

    1. Take a piece of wax paper and a felt marker.
    2. Lay the wax paper over the lump. Trace the outer edges of the lump.
    3. Date the wax paper.
    4. Repeat monthly (or shorter intervals, if your vet suggests) to monitor.

    Canine Skin Bump or Lump Diagnosis

    Your Veterinarian will look at the physical characteristics of dog lumps on the skin to determine a preliminary diagnosis. They will look at the location, duration, firmness, and size of the canine skin lump or bump.

    According to Dr. Timothy Fan, your veterinarian will ask several questions about the dog lumps on skin or bumps:

    1. Has the lump appeared suddenly, or has it been there awhile?
    2. Has the lump stayed the same in consistency and appearance or has it changed recently?
    3. Does the lump seem to separate from underlying tissue or is it attached?
    4. Is there only one lump or have you found multiple dog lumps on skin?
    5. Are there changes in your dog’s behavior such as eating less, losing weight, vomiting, diarrhea, or lethargy?

    Common Signs of Dog Neoplasia (Tumor)

    1. Abnormal swelling that does not stop growing
    2. Sores that fail to heal
    3. Loss of weight
    4. No appetite
    5. Any bleeding from any part of the body
    6. Strong offensive smell or odor
    7. Trouble swallowing or eating
    8. Reluctance to exercise, low energy
    9. Acting lame or stiff frequently
    10. Respiratory issues, urination issues, defecation issues (trouble going to the bathroom)

    To be sure of a diagnosis of dog lumps on skin, the veterinarian will take a sample by using a needle to remove some of lump for study in a laboratory (fine needle aspirate).


    For Lipoma, your Veterinarian will probably watch and wait to see if the identified dog lumps on skin shrink or stop growing. If the lump interferes with your dog’s quality of life or is growing, then surgery is used to remove the lump.

    Warts in younger dogs will go away by themselves. In older dogs they will need to be removed with surgery if they are causing any kind of problem (bleeding, irritation).

    If the dog lumps on skin or bump is malignant, then routine cancer therapy including surgery, radiation and chemotherapy are used. It can be difficult to determine the best treatment option. While cancerous conditions cannot be prevented, overall skin health may improve with homeopathic supplements such as Skin & Coat Tonic, which are formulated to support the systemic health of the skin and C-Caps which promotes cellular health and immune system function.


    In general, a dog that has a dog skin growth removed surgically will be active in a few hours after the procedure and will not need a look recuperation period. If chemotherapy is used then the recuperation is longer. If the growth has been completely removed, then there is a good change the growth will not return, leading to an excellent prognosis. Prognosis in general refers is related to the size of the tumor and the ability of the surgeon to completely remove the growth.

    Ask Our Vet A Question And We Will Answer It For Free

    Ask Our Vet A Question About Your Dogs Skin Lumps or Condition. We Wil Answer It For Free!

    Do you have a question for our veterinarian about dog skin problems?

    Our editors will pick 1 question to answer each week. Please include your dog’s age, breed, sex, medical history and if possible, a picture of the condition. Include important details such as changes in behavior, when the condition first appeared, medications, and any changes in your dog’s grooming or dietary routine.

    We will do our best to get back to you quickly (it depends on how many questions we receive each day). If you do require an immediate response we suggest using this online dog veterinary service that is available now.

    Other Reader Dog Skin Related Questions and Vet Suggestions

    Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page.

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