photo 2009 Irina D. | more info (via: Wylio)
My 11 yr old wheaten terrier has developed pea size bumps all over his body. He has one the size of a quarter, the vet said leave it alone. He’s been biting at these bumps. Lately he was scratching & licking his skin raw. He was given a steroid injection, Rx oatmeal shampoo, Rx gentamicin sulfate topical spray & we switched foods.
Scratching has subsided but biting continues. He also seem to have less energy for his daily walks.
Great Neck, NY
Most lumps that develop on or under the skin of older dogs — especially ones that are spherical or at least symmetrical — are harmless. Benign fatty deposits called lipomas occur in large numbers of older dogs. Cysts, skin tags, and wart-like growths (the canine equivalents of moles) also are common.
However, most harmless lumps also aren’t itchy. Most dogs simply don’t notice benign growths.
Itchy growths aren’t necessarily harmful or dangerous. However, they aren’t typical, either. Since your dog’s behavior changed when the growths appeared, I think they should be investigated more carefully.
The simplest way to look into the growths is called fine needle aspiration. It’s a relatively non-invasive way to sample masses. It’s minimally painful, and sedation generally is not required. It doesn’t always lead to an answer, but it’s a good way to start. I recommend that you talk to your vet about performing fine needle aspiration on a representative sample of the bumps.