Become a digitalPLUS subscriber. 99¢ for 4 weeks.

Ask the Pet Expert: Should the lump be tested?

My 5-year-old chocolate Lab has a soft, squishy lump on her side. I can move it and press it without bothering her, and it doesn't seem to be growing. My vet says it's probably a fatty lump, which are common in labs of her age, and that we should keep an eye on it. But other people tell me I should have it aspirated to be sure it's nothing more. Am I safe to take my vet's hands-off advice, or should I request lab testing? 

There are many different kinds of lumps and bumps on and under the skin that veterinarians feel on a daily basis. We are more concerned about some of these lumps than others, based on location, size, and feel. Each day we make recommendations regarding aspiration, surgery or monitoring of these lumps based on our touch. Although we all wish we could diagnose things with just our hands, ultimately, a fine-needle aspirate or biopsy is needed to evaluate and determine the actual cells of this particular lump. This test can determine if there is any need for concern and if it needs to be removed surgically. 

Labradors do, in fact, commonly develop fatty lumps, or lipomas, as they age. In this particular case, I would request an aspirate for your comfort level and to ensure there are only fat cells present. Even a fatty lump might need to be removed because of its size or location, and concern if it becomes larger.  These things can all be discussed with your veterinarian once the results of the aspirate are available. 

This week's expert is Dr. Alicia McMichael, Eastern Animal Hospital, Baltimore. Send your questions to


Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
Related Content
  • Dog melancholy after loss of friend

    My 12-year-old German shepherd passed away three weeks ago, leaving me and my 7-year-old beagle, Chloe, very sad. Chloe has seemed very quiet and reserved since my other dog died, sleeping more than usual and not seeming interested in eating or walks like she normally is. Friends tell me to...

  • DogFest 2014: The Best of the Fest
    DogFest 2014: The Best of the Fest

    We narrowed it down to 26 "top dogs" from this year's DogFest, hosted by the Baltimore Humane Society and photographed by Mary Swift Photography, and here they are -- along with the winners in the categories of "best costume," "best smile," and "best overall" based on readers' votes.

  • Collared: Readers' pets
    Collared: Readers' pets

    Read about local pets, or share your own story. We're interested in cats and dogs, but also hamsters, hedgehogs, turtles, horses, chickens -- the whole pet gamut. Email for more information.

  • Adoptable pets at Baltimore-area shelters
    Adoptable pets at Baltimore-area shelters

    Here's a collection of a few of the dogs, cats and other critters in the Baltimore area who need homes. Be sure to check with the shelter before you go to verify that the animal you want is still there.

  • Celebrate the holidays with pet safety in mind
    Celebrate the holidays with pet safety in mind

    How can we make the holiday season safer and happier for our pets?

  • Club Pooche owner hopes to expand in Ellicott City, but neighbors opposed
    Club Pooche owner hopes to expand in Ellicott City, but neighbors opposed

    Manor Lane, a turn off of Clarksville Pike in Ellicott City, is a quiet stretch of rural road, home to the historic Doughoregan Manor as well as houses just a fraction of the mansion's size. Sheep, horses and alpacas graze in some neighbors' yards, while farther down the cul-de-sac, green lawns...