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Histiocytoma in Dogs

What Are Histiocytomas in Dogs?

Histiocytomas in dogs manifest as small skin growths, typically observed in young dogs aged under 3 years. These benign growths tend to appear suddenly, with pet owners often noticing them seemingly overnight, although they typically take 1-4 weeks to fully develop.

While histiocytomas can emerge anywhere on a dog’s body, they commonly occur on the front half, particularly on the head and ears. They are notably prevalent in certain breeds such as Boxers and Dachshunds, constituting nearly 1/5 of all canine skin tumors.


Symptoms of histiocytomas in dogs usually involve the abrupt appearance of a raised, pink growth on the skin without any other noticeable signs. These growths are generally non-painful and non-itchy, though occasional instances of discomfort or itchiness may occur.

In uncommon scenarios, nearby lymph nodes might swell. Histiocytomas situated close to a dog’s eye might induce irritation, resulting in redness and discharge from the eye.


Histiocytomas in dogs are categorized as benign tumors. Tumors develop when cells proliferate uncontrollably. In histiocytomas, this proliferation is attributed to the Langerhans cell, which plays a role in the skin’s immune system. It’s believed that genetic factors primarily contribute to the excessive multiplication of these cells, rather than environmental factors commonly associated with other types of tumors, such as radiation or exposure to smoke from pet owners.


Veterinarians typically diagnose histiocytomas in dogs by:

  • Observing the appearance of the growth
  • Noting the location of the growth
  • Considering the dog’s breed and age

To confirm the diagnosis, microscopic testing is usually conducted, often through a needle biopsy of the growth.


In most instances, treatment for histiocytomas in dogs is unnecessary, particularly if the dog is not experiencing any discomfort. Typically, histiocytomas resolve on their own within three months. However, if a growth persists beyond this timeframe, surgical removal may be advised, followed by testing to confirm the tumor type.

Your veterinarian might also suggest removing a rapidly growing or infected histiocytoma. In cases where surgery is challenging, such as on the feet or eyelids, cryotherapy may be employed to freeze off the growth.

Living and Management

Recovery and management of histiocytomas in dogs post-surgery typically resemble the recuperation process of minor surgeries. It’s important to refrain from bathing your dog or encouraging vigorous activity until the incision site has healed, usually within a span of 2 weeks.

Your dog may need to wear an E-collar (commonly known as a cone) to prevent licking of the incision. Additionally, in certain cases, your veterinarian may prescribe anti-inflammatory medication to alleviate any discomfort.

Histiocytoma in Dogs FAQs

What is the typical cost of removing a histiocytoma on a dog?

The cost of removing a histiocytoma can vary widely depending on your location. Generally, rural areas tend to have lower costs, while urban areas are usually more expensive. Fortunately, most general practitioners can easily remove histiocytomas without the need for specialist referral. For specific information about treatment costs and options in your area, consult your veterinarian.

Can histiocytomas be fatal for dogs?

Histiocytomas in dogs are rarely fatal or painful. However, an extremely rare condition known as Langerhans cell histiocytosis (LCH) can cause multiple growths to develop all over the body, including the mouth. Dogs with LCH may be euthanized due to a reduced quality of life.

Do histiocytomas disappear on their own?

In the majority of cases, histiocytomas in dogs resolve without any treatment. Treatment is typically recommended if a growth persists beyond 3 months.

Is it safe to pop a histiocytoma?

No, histiocytomas cannot be popped. It is not advisable to attempt to pop any growth or bump found on your dog. Instead, contact your veterinarian for proper evaluation and management.

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