Lipomas in dogs are not a serious health condition. They, however, require close monitoring for any changes to help take appropriate action when necessary. In this post, we explore various aspects of these fatty tumors including what are lipomas in dogs, their symptoms, causes, treatment and surgical removal. We also give you some pictures to help you visualize what they are better.
Lipoma in Dogs
What is lipoma in dogs? Lipomas in dogs are fat cell growths which are contained in a thin capsule. They are usually found below the skin mostly on the neck, armpits, upper legs and torso. They can, however, be found anywhere on the skin.
According to peteducation.com, lipomas are the most common benign tumors found in dogs. Overweight and older dogs are most vulnerable and usually have at least one lipoma. These fatty tumors are no health risk and veterinarians do not recommend removal. However, some dog owners may want this for aesthetic purposes.
Signs and Symptoms
What does lipoma in dogs feel like? Lipomas in dog mostly feel soft. They are also movable and do not make the pet uncomfortable in most cases. This is unless they are located in places where they lead to disruption of movement such as in the auxiliary region on the front leg. Once a dog has developed a single lipoma, there is a high likelihood for it to develop more with time.
Non-infiltrative and Infiltrative Lipomas
Lipomas are given two major classifications non-infiltrative and infiltrative. Noninfiltrative lipomas are also known as simple lipomas. They are located beneath the skin and are quite easy to remove.
Infiltrative lipomas in dogs on the other hand tend to grow into adjacent tissues. They invade fascia and muscle tissue to a greater degree than simple lipomas. They are therefore hard to remove and tend to regrow once removed.
Infiltrative lipomas may require computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging for the vet to be sufficiently informed on the tissue location and mass size. This will help in deciding on the best lipoma removal procedure and the approach to be adopted for surgery.
Due to their penetrative nature, they require a procedure more complex than a simple incision for permanent removal. This may involve radiation therapy for infiltrative lipoma removal. It may be used alone or together with surgical excision.
What Causes Lipoma in Dogs?
What causes lipomas in dogs? These fatty tumors mostly occur with age. Although it is not certain what the exact causes are, some factors have been known to contribute to their formation especially given that they are also common in overweight dogs. Here are some of these.
The presence of toxins and unhealthy items in dog foods can see your dog suffer lipomas. Consumption of excess carbohydrates and the presence of chemical preservatives could be contributing factors. While water is important for a dog, tap water should be avoided as the chlorine in it could damage your dog’s thyroid system or upset the endocrine system.
Drugs and Chemicals
The ingredients in products used for heartworm, fleas, ticks and other parasite control could be toxic for dogs and humans. This is more so those used for control of internal parasites. Pharmaceutical products and vaccines also have some elements of toxins loaded in them. Where it is necessary to use any on or near your pet, settle for natural products to avoid lipomas in dogs.
The environment in which your pet stays is important. Areas where pesticides and herbicides are used can see lipomas forming in dogs. These are mostly observed in the summer and spring when spraying of ants, ticks and other bugs are common. To prevent your dog from ingesting toxins contained in these at all, protect your dog by preventing him from licking you until you have cleaned up.
Dog Lipoma Pictures
Below are dog lipoma images showing how tiny or huge the fatty tumors can get.
Dogs and cats can live with lipomas without causing any health concerns. It is recommended to leave them alone unless they are inhibiting some bodily functions. According to lipoma.net, some of these fatty tumors tend to stay the same size for a long time. In some cases, they will regress and disappear.
Where it is causing no discomfort, it is not necessary to put your pet under torturous surgical procedures. Before letting the lump rest, ensure that you get the right diagnosis by seeing your vet to confirm this.
Once a lipoma is diagnosed, lipoma.net recommends that you take photos of the lump and document its size on them. Keep checking on it and record the measurements after a few weeks. This will help tell any changes that warrant a visit to the doctor.
Where the lipoma is inhibiting the normal functioning of the dog such as inhibiting mobility, causing difficulties in breathing or swallowing, removal will be necessary.
Do lipomas in dogs need to be removed? In most cases, lipomas in dogs do not need to be removed. In some cases, though they can grow large and become a bother to your pet. If located low on the chest or between legs, they could affect movement.
Some dogs could also develop multiple cutaneous lipomas requiring removal. Some other times dog owners will want to get rid of the lipomas for aesthetic purposes. Other times when lipoma in dogs removal may be necessary is when it exhibits signs of a more aggressive tumor. In this case, the mass will be removed and examined.
Removal of simple lipomas in most cases tends to be an easy procedure. Since they usually have not spread beyond where they appear, only a small margin is needed. Surgical incisions are done and an excision is made. Infiltrative lipomas may require a more invasive procedure.
Surgical Removal Aftercare
Once dog lipoma surgery has been conducted, the dog will receive medication for pain relief. This could be a combination of narcotics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to help control the pain. To ensure proper hydration, your dog may also be put under intravenous fluid therapy.
It is probable for your pet to go home on the day of surgery in cases of simple incision surgery. However, where an invasive procedure was conducted, they will be required to stay longer. Once home, keep checking the area of operation for any signs of infection. Also, ensure your dog does not lick the area and if necessary use an Elizabethan collar.
While lipomas in dogs are mostly a natural occurrence that comes with aging, there are a few things that can help the dog detox in other ways as opposed to toxins being eliminated in the form of the fatty tumors. A few interventions can be put into place to act as lipoma in dogs natural remedies.
To begin with, avoid things that may be toxic to your pet. Ensure they feed on a healthy diet. Give them filtered water and avoid the use of pesticides, herbicides and any other form of chemicals around them. These should help aid a healthy living and protect the dog from lipomas and other conditions occurring as a result of toxins in their bodies.
There are some other subcutaneous masses that may have the appearance of lipomas in dogs. It is therefore important that in case of multiple tumors, each is evaluated individually. Your vet can do this. Where removal is not recommended, continue monitoring the lipomas for any change in location, size and numbers. In case of any concerns consult your veterinarian.
Sources and References
- Petmd.com: Fatty Skin Tumors in Dogs
- Vetsurgerycentral.com: Fatty Tumors-Lipomas
- Thebark.com: Dogs and Lipomas
- 1800petmeds.com: What Causes Fatty Skin Tumors in Dogs?
- Lipoma.net: My Dog has a Lump under the Skin – Is it a Lipoma?