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What's That Mole on My Dog's Eyelid?

Adrienne is a certified dog trainer and former veterinarian assistant who partners with some of the best veterinarians worldwide.

Masses on eyelids on dogs are not uncommon.

Masses on eyelids on dogs are not uncommon.

If your dog has grown a lump, stye-looking bump, or mole on its eyelid, you may be wondering what it is. The growth may have appeared suddenly, or it might have been there for some time and you didn't really notice it much until it got bigger. Some people compare some of these eyelid growths in dogs to styes. Not only are these growths unsightly, but some can obviously also interfere with a dog's vision, making blinking difficult and causing irritation to the eye if they grow quite big and start rubbing against the cornea.

A dog's eyelids play an important role in protecting the dog's eyes. Any lumps, bumps, and growths on the eyelids should be investigated. Masses on eyelids on dogs are not uncommon. While only your vet can diagnose what these growths on the eyelids are, these are just a few possible causes of unsightly moles, lumps, and bumps on a dog's eyelids.

Dog eyelid growths have a number of causes, some of which are not serious, and others which may need attention.

Dog eyelid growths have a number of causes, some of which are not serious, and others which may need attention.

Causes of Bumps on Dog Eyelids

Your dog's eyelids are populated by several meibomian glands. What are meibomian glands? These are sebaceous glands that are found on the rim of the dog's eyelids and that are responsible for secreting an oily substance that keeps the eye well lubricated and moist.

These glands are prone to inflammation and sometimes they are prone to developing cysts and tumors which cause the eruption of unsightly growths on the dog's eyelids. Eyelid tumors are more commonly found in middle-aged to older dogs. The good news is that the majority are benign growths. According to veterinarian Dr. Fiona, approximately 80 percent of eyelid tumours in dogs are benign.

Meibomian Gland Adenomas

What's that mole on your dog's eyelid? It may be a meibomian gland adenoma. When flesh-colored or pigmented tumors form on these glands, vets tend to remove them only when they get very large, interfere with vision, or rub against the cornea of the eye and ulcerate. Sometimes they can also cause inflammation of the dog's cornea and conjunctiva.

Also known as meibomian gland cysts, eyelid warts, or simply benign eyelid tumors, meibomian tumors tend to form in older dogs and they are commonly benign, but it's always good to get them checked out as a small percentage of them could be malignant and spread to the dog's lymph nodes, suggests veterinarian Becky Lundgren. If the growth warrants removal, it can be removed surgically, sometimes using only local anesthesia with a mild sedative. In some cases, veterinarians may refer to a veterinary ophthalmologist specialist for removal.


Another possible explanation for a bump on a dog's eyelid is the presence of a chalazion, which is similar to a stye as seen in humans. Sometimes the meibomian glands get impacted and blocked, which causes local swelling and rupturing along with the release of oily secretions. Something that dog owners can do for these types of growths is to apply a soft facecloth soaked in warm water to the dog's eyelid for five minutes about three times a day. This should reduce the impaction and stimulate the gland to drain, explains veterinarian Dr. Fiona.

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See your vet if the growth seems to not get better, appears larger and bothersome to the dog, or the dog keeps the eyelids partially closed. In some cases, the chalazion needs to be lanced or removed surgically. While chalazions may resemble styes, true styes are called hordeolums and are simply pin-point abscesses caused by bacteria affecting the meibomian glands. Styes are typically located on the external edge of the dog's eyelid whereas chalazions are found on the inner surface of an eyelid margin, according to Veterinary Vision of Rochester.

Other Benign Growths

While meibomian adenomas and chalazions are two common causes of bumps on a dog's eyelids, there are several other possible benign growths such as squamous papillomas and benign melanocytomas. Fibroma and histiocytomas are also possible, but they are not that common. The latter are sometimes seen in young dogs and appear as smooth, pink growths, explains veterinary dermatologist Mark Bobofchak.

Malignant Eyelid Growths

The malignant version of meibomian adenomas are meibomian (sebaceous) adenocarcinomas. While the term malignant may sound scary, meibomian adenocarcinomas are locally invasive. The good news is that they are not known to metastasize, according to the Merck Veterinary Manual.

Small mast cell tumors, which are referred to as mastocytomas, are another potentially troublesome growth. They may shrink when dogs are given corticosteroids orally or locally injected. Mast cell tumors among vets have a reputation for being “the great impersonator” because they can appear as benign skin tags or harmless lipomas, explains Susan Ettinger, a veterinarian specializing in oncology. This is why any mole, lump, or bump, even though innocent looking and on the dog's eyelids should be checked out.

Other malignant tumors that can appear on the eyelids of dogs include malignant melanomas, basal cell carcinoma, sebaceous carcinomas, and lymphosarcomas. This latter when it affects the eyelid is usually a sign that cancer deriving from somewhere else in the body has metastasized to the eyelid, explains veterinarian Dr. Noelle McNabb. Sebaceous adenocarcinoma and fibrosarcoma are also possible, but they are considered rare.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2015 Adrienne Farricelli


Pat on September 07, 2018:

My Labs have grown these bumps. What the heck? Help

stella vadakin from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619 on February 24, 2016:

Thank you for some great information. My old dalmatian had to have his eyes cleaned just about every day. Great hub.

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