Lipomas, Or Fatty Lumps, In Dogs
These fatty lumps may look alarming but
they are most often benign
MetPet.com Staff Writer
A lipoma is a soft and pliable concentration of fat underneath the skin.
They can feel like a balloon filled with oil underneath your dog's skin.
They range in size from the small to the very large and can occur in
multiple places. Lipomas are not painful and rarely become life
threatening. They can be alarming to owners who mistakenly believe them to
be cancerous tumors.
Lipomas are very common in older, overweight female dogs although they
can occur in younger dogs and male dogs. Some breeds are more prone to
lipomas including terriers, retrievers and poodles. It is possible that
injury, or bruising to a bony area causes the body to create a pocket of fat
to protect the bone from further damage. The body responds to the injury
by creating a soft pocket of fat for protection. This is a theory and it is
not yet clear what causes lipomas. If a dog develops a lipoma, it is more
likely to develop more.
Although they can be unsightly, lipomas are most often harmless. Most do
not migrate or become problems. Problem lipomas are those that grow in
places where they can obstruct movement of the legs. Some grow large enough
to become uncomfortable for your dog.
Although you should not be unduly concerned, if you feel a lump or bump
on your dog, you should have your veterinarian examine it. He uses a needle
to aspirate the contents of the lipoma and then checks the cells under a
microscope. On occasion, lipomas might need to be biopsied.
Unless they are causing obstructions, lipomas are generally left and
reexamined over time. If you are concerned that they are an issue, you can
have them surgically removed when your dog is under anesthesia for something
else such as a routine teeth cleaning.
On rare occasions, lipomas can become infiltrative and metastasize or
spread to other parts of the body. If this happens, you should discuss
various treatment options (surgery and radiation) with your veterinarian.