One day you notice a squishy, ball-shaped lump developing under your senior dog’s skin.
What should you do? Is it serious? Even more frightening, is it the dreaded “C-word”?
These fat-filled tumors are quite common in dogs, and are the most common type of benign tumor in older dogs. In fact, almost every senior dog has at least one.
According to petplace.com, “All breeds may be affected, and they are most common in older animals, especially older female dogs.”
“Lipomas are subcutaneous (underneath the skin) masses or tumors that develop commonly in dogs,” notes PetMD.com. “They are usually soft, with limited mobility under the skin. The overlying skin is usually not affected. Over time they can grow larger and can impede movement if they are located between the legs or low on the chest. Most dogs that develop a lipoma will develop multiple tumors.”
What Causes Lipoma in Dogs?
The cause for these fatty tumors is unknown.
What are the Symptoms of Lipoma in Dogs?
“Most lipomas feel soft and movable under the skin,” notes PetMD.com. “They usually do not make pets uncomfortable unless they are in a location where normal movement is disrupted, like in the auxiliary region under the front leg. Often, they are located on the belly or trunk, but can be anywhere on the dog’s body. Most dogs with one lipoma will eventually develop several.”
Here are the most common symptoms to be aware of, according to petplace.com:
- Skin swellings
- Lumps and bumps
- Masses that are spherical or oval in shape
How is Lipoma in Dogs Diagnosed?
Your vet will ask you for a thorough history of your dog’s health and onset of symptoms. He will then perform a complete physical exam and order several tests, such as a biochemical profile, a complete blood count, a urinalysis and an electrolyte panel to rule out other non-cancerous issues that may have similar symptoms.
Additionally, the following tests may be performed:
- Needle aspiration
- Microscopic evaluation of cells
- Biopsy of the tissue
How is Lipoma in Dogs Treated?
Your vet will most likely not recommend removal of these tumors unless they are causing a problem.
“While we and every other veterinarian have probably removed lipomas for cosmetic reasons, we usually discourage it because the slight risks associated with anesthesia and surgical complications are not worth the health benefit of removing a common growth that will not cause any problem,” Peteducation.com reports.
But petMD.com adds that if the tumor “is restricting movement in any way, it will be necessary for your dog’s comfort to remove the lipoma.”
Reishi mushroom supplements can be administered to inhibit the growth of a lipoma, or to facilitate your dog’s recovery from the removal of one.
How Can I Prevent My Dog From Developing Lipoma?
Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to prevent your pet from getting lipomas, as they are a natural part of the aging process for many dogs. Monitor your dog for the above symptoms and contact your vet if you find anything of concern.
PetMD.com recommends, “It is vital to make sure that every mass is evaluated individually, in the event that one of the masses is malignant. You will need to continue to monitor your dog’s lipomas, noting any changes in size, number or location.”
Find A Vet HOW TO articles are intended for informational purposes only. You should always consult with your veterinarian about any health issues affecting your dog.