Bumps on dog's back? Here's what they might be.

Medically reviewed by Sara Ochoa, DVM
Bumps on dog's back? Here's what they might be.

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The family is sitting around watching your favorite tv show when your dog lays in the middle of the living room floor, rolls over, and starts relentlessly twisting and turning on his back. You call him over for a good scratch and feel bumps on his back.

You are simultaneously rubbing the bumps and scrolling through your phone, wondering what these bumps are, and is this bad?

This blog explores bumps on your dog's back and the common reasons they can appear.


Diagnosing bumps on a dog’s back should be left to a trained professional. While waiting for a vet appointment, you must ask yourself important questions regarding the bump.

1. Did the bumps just appear, or have they been there?

2. Have the bumps changed color or size?

3. Are the bumps effecting the dog’s behavior (loss of appetite, lashing out, lethargy)?

The veterinarian will use the answers to aide in diagnoses and possible treatments.

Veterinarians diagnose bumps using:

  • Biopsy - Normally, your dog will receive a sedative or anesthetic and a small part of the lump or the entire lump will be removed .
  • Impression Smear – If the bump is discharging fluid, the vet my rub a slide directly onto it for microscopic examination.
  • Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA) - A small needle is inserted into the bump to suck out cells which are then deposited onto a slide.
  • Lab Test- If the bump contains fluid, it can be sent to a lab to culture and check for bacteria and fungi.


Even tiny bumps on a dog's back can be a big concern for pet parents. Small bumps above or under the skin might be caused by:

  • abscess
  • alopecia
  • bug bite
  • blister
  • cyst
  • pimple
  • puncture
  • scab
  • tick
  • benign or malignant tumor


Many things can cause your dog to itch bumps on their skin; here are some of the most common:

  • abrasion
  • bug bites
  • hot spots
  • scabs
  • ticks
  • pruritus (itching)


If you are just noticing a large bump on your dog's back, it is best to get it checked immediately. It already has had time to get big without a diagnosis, and if left unchecked, it may lead to a serious health condition. Large bumps on your dog's back can be:

  • abscess
  • Sebaceous cyst
  • Lipoma
  • Mast Cell Tumor

Red Bumps

Red bumps can be caused by several different things. If the bumps are smaller and include crusts, they may be caused by a bacterial skin infection called folliculitis.

The dog may also be suffering from allergic reactions to diet, environmental irritants, or grooming products. Fortunately, red bumps are common in dogs and easily treatable.


These are the most common reasons your dogs get bumps on their backs.

  • Abrasion- A superficial rub or wearing of the skin, usually caused by scrapes or environmental damage that may cause bumps on a dog’s back.
  • Allergic Dermatitis ( Allergies )- Dogs may get bumps through inhaling or direct contact with environmental allergens, ingestion (food, medication), or bacterial infections. Allergic reactions often cause skin irritation, which dogs can be obsessive about biting and scratching leading to worse conditions.
  • Alopecia – Alopecia is a genetic autoimmune disease where the body rejects its hair follicles, and hair loss ensues. It can cause crusting, inflammation, or red patches around the area of hair loss leading to bumps from irritation in the infected areas.
  • Bug Bites – Ants, bees, fleas, mosquitos, mites, and other insects can transmit life-threatening bacteria, parasites, or viruses all while leaving your pet with irritating bumps on their skin. Prevention is the most important part of bug bite control regarding your pet’s health.
  • Fatty Tissue Inflammation - Fatty tissue inflammation is the swelling of the fat cells just underneath the skin, which can cause bumps that may be painful for your dog.
  • Folliculitis – Swelling, redness, itching, pustules (pimples) and hair loss are the most common symptoms. Other signs of Folliculitis are crusting, darkening, reddening, and swelling of dog’s skin.
  • Hot Spots – A hot spot is a painful, smelly sore that oozes and may contain pus. These are usually caused by self-inflicted trauma from excessive biting and scratching of the skin.
  • Mange - When a dog has mange, you'll notice red bumps on the skin, which are hard to touch. Because of the irritation mange causes, dogs will often bite and gnaw on the skin around it, making the situation even worse.
  • Ringworm – Ringworm is a fungal infection affecting the skin, hair, or claws causing, crusting, darkened, or reddened skin, usually accompanied by swelling.
  • Skin Tumors – Most bumps and lumps you find on your dog are harmless. However, some categorized as melanomas, gland tumors, soft tissue sarcomas, and many more all can cause bumps on a dog’s skin.
  • Yeast Dermatitis – The signs of yeast dermatitis are scales and crusty, flaky skin, thickened skin, and hyperpigmentation (darkly pigmented skin).
  • Warts - In dogs, warts typically are benign bumps that pop up around the mucous membranes of the eyes and mouth, the skin, or the abdomen, and then typically disappear on their own.


  • Antibiotics - Antibiotics assist in flushing out epidermis while reducing bacterial contamination.
  • Antihistamines - Antihistamines control allergic reactions and reduce irritation which leads to less itching and trauma.
  • Chemotherapy and radiation therapy- These are designed to kill cells and slow disease progression.
  • Partial Removal - Removes any portion of a bump or lump a surgeon can reach. The rest is left behind for other treatment options.
  • Steroids - Steroids reduce inflammation in the skin. There are injectable, oral, and topical steroids available for dogs.
  • Surgery Removal - Bumps are physically removed from the body.
  • Topicals - Topicals are used to reduce small bumps on a dog. Benzoyl peroxide is a common topical used to reduce minor inflammation.


If you find a small, itchy, large, or red bump on your dog, the best course of action is to contact your vet to set an appointment for a diagnosis. Then monitor the changes until you can get to the vet. The information you gather will be vital to begin treatments and put your dog on a healthy path.


If you've found a lump on your dog's back, you're probably hoping there's a natural treatment option. While natural treatment might be an option, the best course of action is to discuss it with your vet, as only they can properly diagnose the lumps.

In some cases where inflammation and irritation are present, CBD is an option worth discussing with your vet. According to Frontiers in Veterinary Science, the endocannabinoid system (which we share with our dogs) plays a part in regulating pain and reducing inflammation.

Our topical CBD soothing balm for dogs contains CBD and several all-natural anti-inflammatories and antibacterial ingredients, including shea butter, frankincense, and lavender. It can be taken in combination with CBD skin and coat chews or oil for a more complete impact on your dogs endocannabinoid system.

While these natural options might be good for certain lumps on your dog's back, be sure to always go to your vet for diagnosis and advice on treatment.

  • https://wagwalking.com/condition/ear-dermatitishttps://bmcvetres.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12917-016-0633-8
  • https://www.dvm360.com/view/just-ask-expert-how-do-you-manage-canine-chin-acne
  • https://www.merckvetmanual.com/dog-owners/ear-disorders-of-dogs/disorders-of-the-outer-ear-in-dogs
  • https://pets.webmd.com/dogs/dog-lumps-bumps-skin#1
  • https://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/skin/c_dg_acne
  • https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/the-importance-of-your-pets-skin-and-coat-and-the-role-of-diet
  • https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/acne-in-dogs
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