Dogs Health: Lump in a Dog's Throat

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If you're casually petting your dog and notice a lump on his throat, a lump suddenly could form within your own. While there's always the possibility that the lump could be a tumor, it's also possible that it could be an abscess or wound. Check the lump thoroughly, as much as your dog will allow and make an appointment with your vet. If there's a cut beneath the lump, wash the area thoroughly and apply antibiotic cream suitable for canines.


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Thyroid Tumor

Your dog's thyroid glands sit beneath his larynx, on either side of his trachea. These butterfly-shaped glands create and release thyroid hormones, which help regulate your dog's metabolism. A thyroid tumor doesn't usually affect hormone production, so the obvious symptoms of a common canine condition, hypothyroidism -- too little hormone produced and released -- don't come into play with thyroid cancer. You might notice that your dog's bark sounds odd, since the tumor can press on his larynx, or he has trouble swallowing. Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of canine thyroid tumors are malignant.


Thyroid Cancer Treatment

If your dog is confirmed to have thyroid cancer, much depends on whether or not the tumor has metastasized, or spread. If the cancer has not spread, surgically removing the tumor is the most common treatment, possibly followed by chemotherapy. If the cancer has invaded, your vet might recommend a veterinary radiation oncologist who can treat your dog several times a week with radiation therapy. Side effects of radiation therapy are generally minor and last just a few weeks. Another option is radioiodine therapy, conducted at a special facility, with radioiodine directly targeted at the tumor.


Throat Abscesses

If the lump appears hot and painful to the touch, your dog could have an abscess on his throat. The affected area is swollen, perhaps with hair missing. If your pet recently had a spat with another dog, or suffered some sort of puncture wound -- even from briars or thorns -- an abscess could form around foreign bodies beneath the skin or bacteria. The abscess, filled with pus, continues to grow until it ruptures on it own, or a vet lances it. Either way, the resulting hole must be disinfected and allowed to drain. Your vet likely will prescribe antibiotics to fight infection, and your dog must wear an Elizabethan collar until the wound heals.


Sebaceous Cysts

If an oil gland on your dog's throat becomes plugged, the result could be a sebaceous cyst. The gland becomes full of sebum, an oily substance that works to keep skin lubricated. The cyst, full of these cheese-like material, grows subcutaneously, producing a lump. If the cyst becomes infected, your vet must drain it. Otherwise, she can surgically remove the cyst. These growths rarely disappear on their own, and after drainage likely will fill up again, so surgery is necessary.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.