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When to Worry About a Lump on a Dog

When to Worry About a Lump on a Dog │ Dr. Sue Ettinger Deep Dive


Should we be scared when we find a lump on our dog? James Jacobson  finds out by asking Dr. Sue Ettinger, who explains why we should stay calm. This Deep Episode will leave you reassured and determined to start a monthly home exam.

Episode Notes

Should we be scared when we find a lump on our dog? James Jacobson  finds out by asking Dr. Sue Ettinger, AKA Dr. Sue Cancer Vet. Dr. Sue explains why we should “stay calm and feel our dogs” on a monthly basis (cats too!). After all, most lumps and bumps are benign once we get them checked out. And catching malignancies early leads to much better outcomes. This Deep Dive episode leaves us reassured and determined to start a monthly home exam. Dr. Sue is co-author of our podcast sponsor, the book The Dog Cancer Survival Guide: Full Spectrum Treatments to Optimize Your Dog’s Life Quality and Longevity.

Links Mentioned in Today’s Show:

To learn how to do a monthly home exam on your own dog, watch Vlog 73 on Dr. Sue’s youtube channel:

Here’s a link to Dr. Sue’s skin map to help you keep track of anything you find:

Here’s an article Dr. Sue wrote about early detection of bumps and lumps on

About Today’s Guest, Dr. Sue Cancer Vet:

Dr. Sue Ettinger is a practicing veterinary cancer specialist, international speaker, book author, and YouTube vlogger (video blogger).  A dynamic and engaging speaker, she was voted the 2019 Western Veterinary Conference Small Animal Continuing Educator of the Year. She is one of approximately 450 board-certified specialists in medical oncology in North America and currently practices at Veterinary Referral and Emergency Center in Norwalk, Connecticut. She received her veterinary training at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. She completed her residency in medical oncology at the Animal Medical Center in NYC in 2003.

Also known as Dr Sue Cancer Vet®, she is most passionate about raising cancer awareness and has developed “See Something, Do Something, Why Wait? Aspirate.®” to promote early cancer detection and diagnosis.  She is a frequent contributor to Today’s Veterinary Practice, Today’s Veterinary Business, Clinician’s Brief, Veterinary Team Brief, & DVM360.

Dr Sue loves to use social media to help clients and veterinary professionals deal with cancer in pets, including Instagram, her YouTube channel, and her popular Facebook page with over 38,000 fans.

Follow Dr. Sue on the Socials: 

Dog Cancer Answers is a Maui Media production in association with Dog Podcast Network

This episode is sponsored by the best-selling animal health book The Dog Cancer Survival Guide: Full Spectrum Treatments to Optimize Your Dog’s Life Quality and Longevity by Dr. Demian Dressler and Dr. Susan Ettinger. Available everywhere fine books are sold.

Listen to podcast episode for a special discount code.

If you would like to ask a dog cancer related question for one of our expert veterinarians to answer on a future Q&A episode, call our Listener Line at 808-868-3200.

Have a guest you think would be great for our show? Contact our producers at

Have an inspiring True Tail about your own dog’s cancer journey you think would help other dog lovers? Share your true tail with our producers.


[00:00:00] >> Dr. Sue Ettinger: The other statistics that is really important for people to know is 20 to 40% are malignant. So let’s turn that around. 60 to 80% are benign, so we don’t want to be scared, but we just don’t want to miss the malignant ones where we can catch them early and do something about them.

[00:00:19] >> Announcer: Welcome to Dog Cancer Answers, where we help you help your dog with cancer. Here’s your host, James Jacobson.

[00:00:28] >> James Jacobson: Welcome to Dog Cancer Answers. Here’s the question that you should consider. What if this evening, when you’re all curled up on the sofa, watching TV and you’re petting your dog with your fingers running through its coat, you suddenly noticed a lump or bump or something that you haven’t noticed before.

[00:00:47] What do you do? Do you know when to go to the vet and get it checked out? Are all lumps cancer or are they just sometimes things did not really worry about, something to wait and see and watch over time. And how do you know? Well, we, dog lovers can get scared when we find a bump or a lump on our dog, especially if dog cancer is something that we’ve been through before.

[00:01:10] That’s why for this first episode of season two of the podcast, we talked to Dr. Sue Ettinger, also known as Dr. Sue Cancer Vet, about bumps and lumps and early detection. Dr. Ettinger is co-author of the book, The Dog Cancer Survival Guide. Let’s get started on this deep dive with Dr. Sue now. Dr. Sue, thanks for being with us. Welcome to Dog Cancer Answers.

[00:01:36] >> Dr. Sue Ettinger: Thank you so much for having me.

[00:01:38] >> James Jacobson: Today, I wanted to talk about something that is near and dear to your heart, which is a campaign that you started years ago called the Why Wait? Aspirate. Campaign. What is that? And what’s the importance of early detection?

[00:01:51] >> Dr. Sue Ettinger: It’s been quite a few years since I’ve been starting, but I think it is so important to help pet owners and veterinarians detect lumps and bumps early.

[00:01:59] You know, the big thing that I always tell everyone is I can’t look at a bump. You can’t look at a bump. We can’t snap a picture of a lump and bump in our dog with our smartphone and send it to someone and know what it is. So we need to find out what these lumps and bumps are. Bring them to our veterinarian’s attention.

[00:02:16] We need to bring our pets into our vet and do a simple test at the veterinarian so we can find out if they’re benign or malignant and then do something about it. The other part of the name of the program is See Something, Do Something. If we see a lump or bump, we want to be proactive and do something. And early detection can not only save lives, it can really save us a lot of money when we’re, you know, diagnosing and treating these pets because they’ll need less treatment if we find these lumps and bumps, when they’re early.

[00:02:46] >> James Jacobson: Are there some statistics that support that in terms of early detection, if you, you know, just something to help solidify this in everyone’s mind?

[00:02:54] >> Dr. Sue Ettinger: Yeah. So we know that for many tumors, size is prognostic, size is predictive. So we want to find tumors when they’re smaller. So when we were coming up with the guidelines for the program, the size that we picked is a centimeter but most of us are like, what is a centimeter? So the guidelines that I tell pet owners, if a lump is the size of a pea, which is one centimeter, uh, the other reference that I like to give people is an M&M or a Skittle. So something that’s just really, you know.

[00:03:23] >> James Jacobson: Something really small.

[00:03:24] >> Dr. Sue Ettinger: Yeah. Really, really small. It’s also half the size of a penny. So we really wanna find these lumps and bumps when they’re small, but yeah, there are many studies for tumors that are malignant. So the more aggressive ones that show, if we find them, when they’re small, the pets are gonna have a better prognosis.

[00:03:40] But the other thing that’s really important about that is it’s gonna be easier to surgically remove a tumor if it’s small. So it’s gonna be a smaller surgery, easier recovery for their dog and cat. And the other thing is if you have a cat or a small dog, if they have a tumor down over their paw, and it gets really big, it becomes really challenging to do a surgery.

[00:04:02] So again, early detection, finding these lumps and bumps when they’re small is gonna be really important to the success of removing it for your pet.

[00:04:10] >> James Jacobson: And how often should you go searching through your dog?

[00:04:13] >> Dr. Sue Ettinger: That’s a great question. So I really think that you should be doing a monthly lump and bump exam on your dog and cat.

[00:04:21] And so over the years, to make this easier for pets, as I have developed this program, I’ve tried to make more tools to make this easier for your pets. So literally part of it is petting, but again, you want to be a little bit more systematic. And so from nose to tail, you want to do a lump and bump exam.

[00:04:38] The way that I think about it is the first of the month, many times a lot of pet owners are giving heartworm and flea and tick preventative at the top of the month. So I think that that’s a really good time because you’re already thinking about doing that. Some pet owners say, Hey, I do it on the 15th of the month. I do it on the 17th of the month.

[00:04:55] Okay. But when you’re doing your monthly preventatives, that is a great time to take your pet, lay them down and do that monthly preventative lump and bump exam.

[00:05:06] >> James Jacobson: Okay. So in terms of this early detection, is that something you do at home when you’re just just petting the dog or should it be a more thorough examination to look for these M&M shaped bumps?

[00:05:17] >> Dr. Sue Ettinger: I do it on the first of the month for my dogs, for Matilda and Penelope. So when they’re getting their flea and heartworm preventative, lay them down, pet them. But I do a really routine exam from nose to tail, and a lot of people are very visual. So I have a YouTube video. It’s vlog number 73, and I show people how to do that lump and bump exam.

[00:05:39] And then on my website, I have these, we call them skin maps. But that way, if you find something, you can mark it down where it is on your dog. Top. Bottom. Right leg, left leg, front leg, back leg. And then when you go into your vet the next time you can show them exactly where it is, ’cause it’s really hard to remember where these things are.

[00:06:01] >> James Jacobson: This is a methodical process. How long does it take? I guess it’s dependent on how big the dog is.

[00:06:06] >> Dr. Sue Ettinger: Yeah. But it doesn’t really take that long.

[00:06:08] >> James Jacobson: So like Matilda’s a, how big is Matilda and how long does it take?

[00:06:11] >> Dr. Sue Ettinger: Matilda’s 65 pounds.

[00:06:13] >> James Jacobson: Okay.

[00:06:14] >> Dr. Sue Ettinger: And I don’t really think it takes more than five minutes or so, you know, 10 minutes, but I think I’m used to doing it, but I think for most pet owners, it’s probably gonna take them a little bit longer the first time, but you’re gonna get to know your dog, but what I really tell pet owners is you are with your dog more than anyone else, and you would need to be your pet’s advocate.

[00:06:37] And so you want to feel your dogs on a regular basis. So the guidelines are, if the mass is the size of a pea and been there a month, you want to go to your veterinarian because sometimes, you know, they, they bump into something and they may have a little temporary bump.

[00:06:51] >> James Jacobson: Right. So you don’t freak out ’cause it could just be a bug bite or something like that. And then.

[00:06:55] >> Dr. Sue Ettinger: Exactly. Or they ran into a branch. You don’t need to run it to your vet tomorrow, but note it down. And then just make sure you keep track of it.

[00:07:03] >> James Jacobson: That’s really good advice. And I guess the dog kind of enjoys it ’cause it’s sort of like a bonding session if you don’t turn it into this medical exam. You can do it on the couch or on the floor. Treats.

[00:07:11] >> Dr. Sue Ettinger: Right. Exactly. And so you’ll see in the video, Penelope is getting lots of little treats, you know, positive reinforcement, make it a fun experience. A lot of times I’ll start it when they’re kind of sleeping, you know, they’re tired. They’re kind of, you know, especially for Penelope, she’s a puppy. She, you know, she’s two, she has so much energy.

[00:07:28] The other thing is I don’t want people to get too scared. The other statistics that’s really important for people to know is 20 to 40% are malignant. So let’s turn that around 60 to 80% are benign, so we don’t want to be scared, but we just don’t want to miss the malignant ones where we can catch them early and do something about them.

[00:07:49] >> James Jacobson: Okay, let’s take a break now. When, when we come back, let’s discuss what happens at the vet’s office when you bring your dog in with a suspect lump or bump. More with Dr. Sue right after this

[00:08:05] Dog Cancer Answers is brought to you by the best-selling animal health book, The Dog Cancer Survival Guide: Full Spectrum Treatments to Optimize Your Dog’s Life Quality and Longevity by Dr. Demian Dressler and Dr. Sue Ettinger, who you are listening to on today’s show. In a minute, I will tell you how to get their book at a discount, but I want you to know this book covers so many things, including everything you need to know about conventional veterinary treatments, surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, including how to reduce their side effects.

[00:08:39] The most effective non-conventional options, including botanical nutraceuticals and supplements, nutrition, and mind, body medicine. And the book also covers how to analyze the options and develop a specific plan for your own dog based on your dog’s type of cancer, your dog’s age, your financial and budgetary constraints and your personality. This book is available, wherever fine books are sold online and in physical bookstores.

[00:09:09] The Dog Cancer Survival Guide is a 500 page book that has been described as the bible of dog cancer. And it offers everything that you need to know to help your dog now. But hey, podcast listener, if you would like to help support this podcast, you can get The Dog Cancer Survival Guide right away, direct from the publisher. It’s available in paperback, and there is free shipping to any address in the United States. There is also an e-book edition that is under $10. And the website to get either the paperback or the e-book or both, and I know some dog lovers who do get both, is this: That’s And because you are a listener of this podcast, you can save 10% if you use the promo code PODCAST, when you check out, you will save 10%. The website again, Use the promo code PODCAST for 10% off. That is

[00:10:18] Welcome back. We are speaking with Sue Ettinger and let’s pick it up where we left off. You find this bump or lump on your dog, and it is bigger than an M&M. And let’s say it’s been there for a month. You go to the vet and what’s the vet gonna do? What’s gonna happen? Is, is it painful?

[00:10:36] >> Dr. Sue Ettinger: Great question. So basically what I do or what your veterinarian’s gonna do is they’re gonna take a needle, the same needle that we use to collect a blood sample. And we’re gonna direct that into the mass and collect some cells out and put them on a microscope slide and look at them under the microscope. So it’s an awake procedure. Again, I have lots of videos so people can see them as well. A lot of times the dog’s wagging their tail. Most dogs do not mind of the procedure at all.

[00:11:03] So it’s an awake procedure, relatively inexpensive. The other nice thing about this procedure called a fine needle aspirate is we get the results back usually in one to two to three days, depending on the lab that your veterinarian uses. Some veterinarians will look at the cells in-house that day. Um, but often we’ll send them out to the lab as well. The cost of the cytology to the lab will vary depending on.

[00:11:29] >> James Jacobson: Cytology means?

[00:11:31] >> Dr. Sue Ettinger: The sample going to the lab to be looked at by a veterinarian, a specially trained veterinarian under the microscope. So they look at those.

[00:11:39] >> James Jacobson: So cyto is, is cell.

[00:11:40] >> Dr. Sue Ettinger: Yup.

[00:11:40] >> James Jacobson: So the study of the cell.

[00:11:42] >> Dr. Sue Ettinger: The study of the cells.

[00:11:43] >> James Jacobson: Okay.

[00:11:43] >> Dr. Sue Ettinger: So a specially trained veterinarian is gonna look at that microscope slide under the microscope and give us, is it benign? Is it malignant? Give us their recommendations on the diagnosis. That costs again, varies on the part of the country. It ranges anywhere from 100 to $200, but definitely well worth it for, you know, finding out if your dog has a benign or malignant tumor and catching it early.

[00:12:07] >> James Jacobson: And just a regular, you don’t need to go to an oncologist for this.

[00:12:09] >> Dr. Sue Ettinger: Nope.

[00:12:09] >> James Jacobson: Just any vet should be able to do this.

[00:12:11] >> Dr. Sue Ettinger: Absolutely.

[00:12:12] >> James Jacobson: The dog does not have to be put to sleep or anything.

[00:12:15] >> Dr. Sue Ettinger: Nope, an awake procedure.

[00:12:17] >> James Jacobson: Simple process.

[00:12:17] >> Dr. Sue Ettinger: And again, just, I have a whole playlist all about lumps and bumps and Why Wait? Aspirate. So people can see, you know, dogs wagging their tail. I give him kisses and treats afterwards, you know, the whole point of all this is to demystify the process and for people not to be scared of what it’s like when their dog goes behind the doors and they don’t see what happens. And that’s why I do all these videos so people are less scared.

[00:12:41] >> James Jacobson: Awesome.

[00:12:42] Dr. Sue, thank you so much. All the, uh, links and videos are in the show notes to this episode. Thanks for being with us today.

[00:12:48] >> Dr. Sue Ettinger: Thank you so much for having me.

[00:12:53] >> James Jacobson: That was a great conversation with Dr. Sue. I especially appreciate her little turn around there about cancer statistics, that it’s not that the 20 to 40% of bumps are malignant, it’s that 60 to 80% are benign. That was really helpful. I’m also pretty diligent about checking my dogs for bumps and lumps, but I am definitely gonna start Dr. Sue’s more thorough exam at home next month. So. what Dr. Sue wants us to remember is that we should do a monthly exam from nose to tail and take note of any bumps that we find. If we find a bump or a lump, the size of an M&M that’s been there for a month or longer, we should go to the vet. It’s really helpful to have these guidelines, right?

[00:13:36] You can find links to Dr. Sue’s resources, which she mentioned, and her videos in the show notes for this episode, which you can find on your podcast app or on our website at and there’s a quick link to, just straight to this episode. So we’re wrapping up the first full episode of season two of Dog Cancer Answers.

[00:14:01] And I have a few messages for you, dear listener. First, if you’d like to ask a question for us to pose to one of our veterinarians on a future episode of this program, please call our listener line and that telephone number is (808) 868-3200. That’s (808) 868-3200. There is a 24 hour a day, seven day a week recorded listener line where you can ask a question so that we can give it to one of the veterinarians to ask on a future episode of Dog Cancer Answers.

[00:14:35] Next, I’d like to ask you to help us grow this podcast. Of course, subscribing is key, and you can do that in Apple Podcasts or in your favorite podcast app. And that way you always have the latest episodes of this show. And while subscribing and rating us is helpful and you can do it wherever you listen, there is something that is even more important to help us grow our podcast audience and help as many dog lovers as possible. Please tell your friends and even your veterinarian and the vet staff about this podcast. It’s the best way for us to help grow our community and reach so that we can help as many dog lovers as possible. And unfortunately, there are a lot who could benefit from knowing more about dog cancer.

[00:15:22] Speaking of community, you know, you can join us. We have a private Facebook group and you can get all the details on the private group by joining or looking at our main page on Facebook, which is Go there and it’ll direct you straight to our Facebook community. And then you can learn about how to join our free private community. We have a lot of social media channels. We’re on Facebook, we’re on YouTube. Again, visit our main website for links to all of that. And when you’re on, you can also listen to any of our episodes, including all of our back catalog from season one. It is the best way to give you the information that you need to help optimize your dog’s life quality and longevity.

[00:16:09] Finally, I’d like to thank our sponsor, The Dog Cancer Survival Guide book by Demian Dressler and Sue Ettinger. This book is available, wherever fine books are sold, both online and in physical bookstores. And if you’d like to help support this podcast, get it right away, direct from the publisher, which is Maui Media. You can get the paperback with free shipping, anywhere in the USA or the e-book for just 9.95, you got the e-book or the paperback, go to this website, And because you are a listener of the show, if you use the promo code PODCAST, you can save 10%. The website again, Use the promo code PODCAST for 10% off.

[00:16:54] I’d like to thank Dr. Sue Ettinger for being our guest today. If you’d like to reach out to her directly, her website is Until next time I am James Jacobson from all of us here at Dog Cancer Answers and the Dog Podcast Network, I want to wish you and your dog a warm, Aloha.

[00:17:19] Thank you for listening to Dog Cancer Answers. If you’d like to connect, please visit our website at or call our listener line at (808) 868-3200. And here’s a friendly reminder that you probably already know, this podcast is provided for informational and educational purposes only.

[00:17:38] It’s not meant to take the place of the advice you receive from your dog’s veterinarian. Only veterinarians who examine your dog can give you veterinary advice or diagnose your dog’s medical condition. Your reliance on the information you hear on this podcast is solely at your own risk. If your dog has a specific health problem, contact your veterinarian.

[00:17:56] Also, please keep in mind that veterinary information can change rapidly, therefore, some information may be out of date. Dog Cancer Answers is a presentation of Maui Media in association with Dog Podcast Network.

Dr. Sue Ettinger

DVM, Dip. ACVIM (Oncology)

New York, USA

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Dr. Sue Ettinger is a practicing veterinary cancer specialist, international speaker, book author, and vlogger. She is also co-author of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide and a passionate advocate of early cancer detection and raising cancer awareness.