Why Does My Dog Have a Lump on Their Neck?

By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: September 2, 2018
Why Does My Dog Have a Lump on Their Neck?

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The appearance of a lump in the neck of our beloved dog is an understandable cause for concern. We may be more likely to detect it as this is an area we pet more than others (e.g. some dogs may not enjoy being petted in their sensitive belly area). Lumps can appear like a ball under the skin or seem to be more of a raised area closer to the surface. It is important to determine the appearance and consistency of the lump, whether hard or soft, painful or not. It's also important to note if a dog has other symptoms.

Before we even get started, if a dog has a lump in their neck, they need to get a checkup with the vet. They are the only one able to give an adequate diagnosis. So, if you are wondering why your dog has a lump in their neck, AnimalWised tells you what might be the causes, but only to give you an idea of the possible reasons.

You may also be interested in: My Cat Has a Lump on Their Neck

A dog's lymph nodes

Like humans, dogs have lymph nodes. They appear on different parts of the body such as the neck and limbs. These lymph nodes are ganglia, i.e. clusters of nerve cells located throughout the nervous system which often seem fatty. Their function is to act in the dog's defense against different pathogens, such as the tonsils at the back of the mouth which protect against airborne pathogens which may be breathed in. When a bacteria or virus tries to enter the body, the lymph nodes trigger an immune response to mobilize a defense.

During this process, the lymph node closest to the invasion of pathogens is likely to become inflamed as it gets to work. This is one of the reasons you may feel a lump in their neck. It is simply the node reacting and doing its job to defend against sickness rather than creating it in the first place. How can one identify an inflamed ganglion in the neck?

The first thing will be to examine the mouth as often it is an oral problem which will trigger a response to the ganglia in the neck. If there is an injury or abnormality there may be oronasal disease, some of which may be contagious. This is particularly the case if they are observed with the following symptoms:

It could also be a dental problem such as an infected tooth or some sort of gum disease. The vet will be able to determine if the lump is indeed connected to the node or if it is present for some other reason.

Why Does My Dog Have a Lump on Their Neck? - A dog's lymph nodes

Abscesses in a dog's neck

Another cause of a lump in our dog's neck might be due to an abscess. These are collections of pus which stay under skin and are caused by an infection, usually a bacterial one. For example, if our dog is playing around too roughly (or even fighting), the neck is a common place to receive a bite or scratch. Sometimes, the skin closes over, but there remains an infection on the inside. The pus collects and a abscess forms. It can happen with dirty or clogged hair follicles also.

They can also be caused by a foreign object which gets caught in the dog's flesh such as a foxtail or similar barbed splinter. If our dog suffers some pain and we are unsure of its cause, we should get it checked out in case there is an infection. It is something to consider when we go walking in the country or anywhere there is high bushes. When you return from these areas, we should give our dog an inspection, especially as there may also be the presence of ticks which can also impart blood diseases. Check their legs in particular.

Speaking of ticks, any sort of insect bite may elicit an eruption in the form of an abscess. They are not fatty lumps, but can feel quick soft and have some give when you touch them. These kind of lumps are prone to bursting, either as part of the healing process or because they have been knocked against something. Either way, it puts the dog at risk of further infection, so we need to be careful. The abscesses are diagnosed by the vet, usually by examining and taking a sample. They are treated by disinfection, antibiotics and sometimes even draining the area of pus.

Tumors in a dog's neck

Sometimes, the lump in your dog's neck may be the result of a tumor. Tumors are abnormal growths of cells. An organisms cells multiply and replace themselves many times of the course of their lives. However, the mechanism of this replication may have some errors, especially in later in life. This can cause the cells to grow disproportionately and out of control. Often this process can occur very quickly. This is how the bulges, lumps or tumors are formed. They can appear anywhere in the body whether under the skin or in particular organs, spreading throughout the organism during a process known as metastasis.

There are many factors in the appearance of tumors in your dog. This cause determines whether they are benign or malignant. The damage they cause, in both form and severity, largely depends on which part of the body they occur. It is therefore advisable we take our dog to the vet once a year for younger dogs or twice for those over the age of seven years. This is to help with the early detection of tumors such the prognosis will be affected by the speediness of the diagnosis. They can also determine whether they might be cancerous and advise on the right course of treatment.

For this reason, it is important to check our dogs regularly at home just in case these lumps may be present. Through a blood test and/or biopsy, the vet can then decide whether the lump is something which needs to be treated and what this treatment may be. Whether benign or malignant, the lump may be removed in a surgical procedure. If it is cancerous, it may also be accompanied by radio or chemotherapy.

The presence of a lump might also indicate a cyst which is not cancerous. These could be lipomas which are cysts of fatty tissue which collect and are removed in a relatively simple procedure. However, it is always a vet who needs to provide the diagnosis.

Reaction to vaccination

Finally, there may also be a lump or bulge in your dog's neck due to a reaction from an injected vaccination. This is usually a side effect and will go away of its own accord relatively quickly. Normal dogs are injected at the withers, but some vets may puncture a little higher on the neck. If your dog has just undergone a vaccination shot, then this might likely be the cause of the lump. However, if the lump doesn't go away in a few days or if it gets worse, take the dog to the vet.

Why Does My Dog Have a Lump on Their Neck? - Reaction to vaccination

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to Why Does My Dog Have a Lump on Their Neck?, we recommend you visit our Other health problems category.

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