Monthly Doctor’s Blog: Is This Normal?

Every month, the doctors of AtlasVet write a blog post to help pet owners with common questions

This month, Dr. Anne Todd Hodgdon discusses “Is This Normal?” aka a few things that look abnormal on our pets but are not health concerns.

Is is normal for my dog to have a bump on the roof of the mouth?  Or my cat to have a bump behind the “fang” (canine tooth)?

The INCISIVE PAPILLA is a small gingival prominence on the hard palate just behind the incisors (the front teeth) that can sometimes be mistake for a tumor. Also known as Jacobson’s organ, this extra olfactory organ has scent receptors that play a role in a dog’s ability to detect pheromones and other body scents that act as chemical cues important for communication and passing social messages.

The LABIAL FRENULUM is a thin layer of tissue that connects the lips to the mouth. In the cat, the mandibular labial frenulum, the tissue that attaches the lips to the lower jaw, appears as triangular, raised/thickened tissue behind the canine tooth. It is often mistaken for an abnormal swelling or tumor but is normal anatomy.

– What are these large bumps over my dogs hips?  

While not technically “normal anatomy,” PERIRENAL FAT PADS are benign discrete fatty deposits that develop as symmetrical lumps over the hips. More commonly known as “love handles or a “spare tire,” these swellings indicate your dog is overweight.

To get a better understanding of the ideal body condition for your pet, please refer to the World Veterinary Small Animal Association guidelines:

If you have questions about diet, weight loss, or possible medical conditions that could be prohibiting weight loss or contributing to weight gain, please schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to discuss.

– Is it normal for my pet’s eyes to turn grey? 

LENTICULAR SCLEROSIS (or nuclear sclerosis) is an age related change to the lens that occurs in middle aged to senior dogs. The hardening and thickening of the lens fibers leads to a cloudy blue-gray haziness of the eye that is often mistaken for a cataract. Lenticular sclerosis generally affects both eyes and does not significantly affect vision. The cloudiness may be best appreciated in certain lights and when the pupils are dilated.

– Is it normal for my dog to have two bumps on either side of the penis even though he is neutered?

The BULBUS GLANDIS are two glands located at the base of the penis that swell when a dog, either neutered or intact, become aroused. The arousal can be sexual or any sort of physiological arousal, such as play or stress. These firm, egg shaped lumps are temporary and do not cause any discomfort. They are not the testicles.

– Is it normal for my pet to have nipples?  How can I tell if it is a nipple or a tick?

Just like humans, male cats and male dogs have NIPPLES. Cats may have 6 to 8 nipples and dogs may have 8 to 10 nipples. Some have more and some have less. They run in two rows from the chest to the groin area and are often, but not always, symmetrical and evenly spaced. Some may be pigmented and some may be the color of your pet’s skin. A female dog’s nipple may be enlarged if they have previously had puppies.

Because of their similarity in size, nipples are often mistaken for ticks, bug bites, pimples, or small tumors. If you are not sure whether you are looking at a nipple or a tick, use a magnifying glass to see if you can identify legs. When embedded, the head of the tick is the only part of the parasite that goes into your dog’s body so the legs should be visible. If you have any doubt whether you’ve identified a nipple or something more concerning, or if you notice any change in the appearance of your pet’s nipple, please schedule a visit with your veterinarian.