Even Pets Have Breasts

October is widely known is Breast Cancer Awareness month for people.  Well, lately it’s also become a month to raise awareness for the risk of breast cancer in pets too!  Yes that’s right, Fluffy and Bella can also get breast cancer.  Unlike women, your pets can’t check themselves for lumps.

Feline mammary tumour
Feline Mammary Tumor

 Cats & dogs have multiple breasts, or mammary glands, that are aligned in two chains.  Normal swelling can be noted if pregnant or nursing but in any other case, a lump may be abnormal.  After animals have been spayed, they can accumulate fat in these areas and these would be non-concerning lumps.  You can feel along the chain for an abnormal lump that would be at least the size of a small marble.  This is when you should schedule an appointment with your veterinarian, not waiting to see if it goes away.  It can only get worse if you wait until it’s the size of a lemon.

Your veterinarian will start with a general exam then discuss some diagnostics to further evaluate the lump.  Just feeling the lump is often not enough to be able to tell you everything you need to know.  No, we don’t have a mammogram machine in our office.  Our diagnostic plan can include a fine needle aspirate to try and get some cells to look at under the microscope but sometimes this is not sufficient.  Alternatively, we can move forward with chest x-rays to assess for spreading of the tumor and then surgery.  Submitting the whole lump to a pathologist will give us a more certain diagnosis to be able to determine future treatment and prognosis.

Canine incision after removal
Canine Incision after removal; Surgery was delayed for months

Surprisingly, we have some good statistics when it comes to breast cancer cases in dogs.  It’s a 50-50 chance of the mass being benign.  Unfortunately, in cats, the numbers are 90% malignant (cancerous) and only 10% benign (non-cancerous).  Surgery can often involve the removal of the lump and the one next to it, or sometimes the entire mammary chain.  Typically, when your veterinarian is talking about breast cancer in your pet they are focusing on middle aged or senior pets.  You can help your pets by spaying them early.  Spaying before their first heat cycle greatly reduces the risk of breast cancer.

So do your pets a favor, check them for breast lumps.  And if you see a lump, don’t wait to see if it goes away…it likely won’t!

mammary tumor2

Written by Dr. Ryan Llera 


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Last updated: December 14, 2021

Dear Clients,

With the recent increase of COVID-19 cases in our region, we are temporarily moving back to curbside service. Effective Tuesday, December 14th we are not allowing clients in exam rooms with their pets. Here is what you can expect:

  • Come in to let us know that you're here for your appointment. 2 clients will be allowed at a time in our reception area for food and med pick up and to inform us that they are here for their appointment.
  • Please wait in your car after letting us know you've arrived. Once you have notified us that you are here for your appointment we ask that you wait in your car and we will come out and collect your furry family member for their appointment.
  • The doctor will call once the appointment is done and you can then come back to the reception desk to take care of the invoice and collect your furry family member.
  • Face masks are required when interacting with our team and entering the building. Please sanitze your hands if you come inside.
  • Food and medication pick-ups inside. If there are more than 2 people in our waiting area, we ask that you wait outside until there is sufficient space.
  • Washrooms will be closed to the public until further notice.
  • These measures are temporary and we will reassess as time goes on. Please keep a lookout for any further updates from our team. Together, we can all help in stopping the spread of COVID-19. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to call us at (613) 542-7337.


    If you wish to connect with a veterinarian via message, phone or video, visit our website and follow the "Online Consultation" link.


    We are OPEN with the following hours:

    Monday, Wednesday, Thursday: 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
    Tuesday, Friday: 8:00 am - 6:00 pm
    Saturday: 8:00 am - 12:00 pm
    Sunday: CLOSED


    Have you welcomed a new furry family member to your home? We’d love to meet them! Visit our Must Know New Pet Owner Information page for useful resources and helpful recommendations for new pet owners.

    Thank you for your patience and understanding and we look forward to seeing you and your furry family members again!

    - Your dedicated team at Kingston Veterinary Clinic