photo 2009 Mike Baird | more info (via: Wylio)
My Cocker Spaniel has multiple small bumps or “warts” on her skin & more seem to keep coming. What causes them? I know they are harmless but is there anything that can be done to stop new ones from forming. Is it autoimmune? She also has lipomas under the skin – are they related?
Red Bank, NJ
You don’t mention your dog’s age, but I’ll bet she’s over seven. Middle-aged and older dogs and humans and, to a lesser extent, cats, have tendencies to develop moles and cysts.
Wart-like masses on your dog probably aren’t warts. They’re probably benign growths called sebaceous adenomas. These generally harmless skin masses grow from the hair follicle oil-secreting gland, and they are extremely common in dogs. They look like warts, but they’re more like moles. They are not autoimmune, and I am unaware of any way to stop them from forming. I don’t recommend removing them unless they cause chronic trouble such as bleeding or itching.
Lipomas are soft fatty masses that form under the skin. They also aren’t autoimmune. They’re also harmless, and they aren’t related to the wart-like growths. Most older dogs develop at least one lipoma; many dogs develop dozens. I also do not recommend removing lipomas unless they are causing trouble — and they almost never do.
Why is your dog developing so many of these growths? Some individuals simply are predisposed to lipomas and sebaceous adenomas. There’s probably nothing (other than keeping her weight healthy and confirming that she doesn’t suffer skin oil production problems) that you can do to prevent more growths from developing.
All of the growths should be reviewed by a vet to make sure they aren’t dangerous. But I’ll bet they’re not.