February 18, 2018

Dog Lipoma! A Visual Guide for Concerned Pet Parents

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Dog Lipoma! A Visual Guide for Concerned Pet ParentsDiscovering lumps and bumps on your dog can cause immediate panic.  Dog parents always assume the worst-case scenario: cancer.  Many lumps are often benign fatty tumors called: dog lipoma.

The word “tumor” sounds scary, but lipomas are just fatty tissue buildup, which is typically harmless unless they limit mobility.

A veterinarian should evaluate any new lumps that do not go away on their own, like a bug bite. Infiltrative lipomas are noncancerous but can grow attached to muscles, causing mobility problems and pain, and may need to be removed.

Fatty Skin Tumors in Dogs: Lipoma Dog Tissue

Dog lipomas are soft masses that grow under the skin.  The fatty tumors are often movable, not painful to the touch, and seem unattached to the muscle underneath or skin above. 

Lipomas are often harmless, but if infiltrative they can connect to muscle tissue.

Causes of Fatty Tumors: Lipoma Dog

According to VetInfo, the exact cause of fatty tumors is unknown, but there are some common factors in dogs that are prone to them.

Lipomas are more common in overweight and senior dogs, which suggests diet and hormones may be factors. Lipomas may be simply caused from overproduction fat cells, and fatty tumors are more common in certain breeds, so the problem could also be hereditary.

Does Your Dog Have It? Dog Lipomas Pictures

Lumps and Bumps

dog lipoma

A brown dog has multiple lumps from an allergic reaction.

Lumps and bumps can be caused by allergies and bug bites.  A food or environmental allergy can cause hives under the skin.  These bumps can be itchy and often go away (if the allergen is removed) in a day or two. 

Bug bites can be red and will sometimes have a mark that from the stinger that can indicate it was a bug bite.  If the lump goes away quickly, it is not lipoma.

Benign Tumors

fatty-tumors-lumps-dogs

A light brown dog has a large fatty tumor on its side.

Benign skin tumors are more common in older and overweight dogs.

They can be on the skin, like a mole, or under the skin, like a lipoma tumor.

Canine lipomas are soft to the touch and made of harmless fatty tissue. Dogs can develop sebaceous adenomas, which are plugged oil glands that develop into cysts and often heal (or sometimes rupture) on their own. 

Dog breeds like Cocker Spaniels are prone to these cysts. Sebaceous cysts can occur in the eyes (meibomian gland adenoma) and do not require removal unless they cause pain or impair sight.

 Malignant Tumors

Mast-Cell-Tumor-On-Dog

Mast cell tumor on an older dog.

Mast cell tumors are the most common type of malignant tumor in canines. 

They can vary in appearance, which is why a veterinarian should always examine any new lumps.  These malignant tumors can occur nearly anywhere on the body. 

Malignant tumors spread and grow; the sooner they are detected and removed, the better the outlook.

Soft tissue sarcomas are cancerous tumors that occur in the connective tissues of dogs according to the Veterinary Cancer Center. The tumors can be difficult to remove and can require radiation therapy as treatment.

Some malignant tumors that grow on the bone or internally can be difficult to detect. The symptoms may include swelling or lameness of a limb.

Are Certain Dog Breeds/Older Dogs More Prone to Dog Lipoma Lumps?

Certain dog breeds like Golden Retrievers, Mini Schnauzers, Doberman Pinchers, Labrador Retrievers, and some mixed-breed dogs are more prone to lipoma lumps.

Overweight and older dogs are also more prone to lipomas, though the exact cause of these fatty tumors is unknown.  They may have one lipoma or multiple lipomas.

Help! Do I Need A Veterinarian? When Dog Lipoma Burst

Dog lipomas rarely burst and do not typically attach to the skin.  Lipomas in dogs can be confused with cysts, which do rupture and can ooze liquid or bleed. 

If a cyst ruptures and the dog seems to be in pain or the bleeding does not stop, you should see a veterinarian.  Make sure the cyst is cleaned and does not get infected.

Surgery? Medicine? Or Nothing At All? Dog Lipoma Treatment

Lipoma in dogs cannot be typically diagnosed by visual examination. 

The veterinarian will typically perform fine-needle aspiration, which inserts a small needle into the mass and then cells or fluid are collected and then tested. 

The veterinarian may perform infiltration (injection) with calcium chloride or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to help shrink the fatty tumor.

Dog Lipoma Removal Cost

According to Embrace Pet Insurance, diagnosis with fine needle aspirate costs between $20 to $100 dollars. 

Having a lipoma surgically removed is more expensive.  Each mass will cost between $200 to $500 for removal. 

If the mass is in a difficult spot or connected to tissue, the removal can cost closer to $1000. 

Some vets may want to do blood work before surgical removal and the masses may require another trip to the vet afterwards if there are any post-op issues.

Ayurvedic, Herbal Treatments? Dog Lipoma Natural Treatment

Since there is no specific cause of lipomatous tumors, it can be hard to naturally treat or prevent fatty tumors.

Overweight dogs with poor diets can be more prone to lipomas, so proper diet and exercise can help.  Dogs Naturally Magazine recommends removing as many toxins from food, water, and the environment as possible to treat lipomas.

5 Things You Need To Know About Dog Lipoma

  1. The only way to be 100 percent sure a fatty tumor is benign is by removing it and having it fully tested.
  2. Lipoma is more common in dogs over 8 years old.
  3. Overweight dogs may be more likely to get lipomas.
  4. Some malignant masses may look like lipomas, so a veterinarian should individually check each mass.
  5. There may be only one lipoma or multiple called, familial multiple lipomatosis.

A Lumpy Fatty Tissue That Should Be Monitored

If the vet feels confident the tumor is benign, they will often not recommend surgery unless the tumor is very large or bothering the dog. 

Since lipomas are more common in older dogs, surgery can be riskier.  The vet will likely recommend the lump be monitored, to make sure there are no changes. 

A lump can be measured and monitored at home by laying a piece of wax paper over the lump and tracing the edges with a marker and write the date.  This should be done regularly to make sure there is no change in size or shape.

Many lumps are benign, caused from fatty tissue called lipomas.  It can be nearly impossible to tell from looking at a lump whether or not it is malignant and cancerous. 

Malignant tumors may need to be removed or treated with radiation therapy. Lipomas are often benign and not removed unless it causes pain or mobility problems.  Lumps can be temporary, caused by allergies or bug bites.

If a lump doesn’t go away in a few days, a trip to the vet is recommended.

Have any questions about a dog lipoma? Let us know in the comments below

Common Questions on Dog Lipomas

What are some ways to tell if it’s a benign tumor?

Does age have any effect on dog lipomas?

Do you have to get the lipoma surgically removed or are there other ways?

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  • Karen Patrick says:

    My 12 yr old border collie has lipoma on her side. Vet said leave it alone unless it gets much bigger. (Isaid if it gets much bigger I’d have to name it… So i call it “Bob the Bump”). Doesn’t bother her, it fits in the palm of my hand, i keep an eye on it. Read that it could be injected with calcium chloride? and anti inflammatory to shrink it, that would be my first choice, think she’s too old for surg wouldn’t put her thru that .

  • Kathy says:

    Hi Troy, my 12 yr old female dog suddenly got a hard lump on her back and it appears to be getting larger. It was the size of a baseball and now it’s hard and now about the size of a grapefruit. I cannot afford to have a big surgery done, and she doesn’t appear to be in any pain. She is very careful when she lies down, other than that she seems active and happy. Can you give me any advice?
    Thank you, Kathy

  • Carla says:

    My girl just had a big mass removed from her elbow in June and about 2.5 months later it has come back on same elbow as before she is 8 yrs old and she is a dalmador. It doesn’t seem like it is bothering her but I might have it removed again because of where it is

  • troy west says:

    Our Lab practically got Lipoma over night and within a week was the size of a softball under her arm pit. We brought her in and she was diagnosed. She was 9 then and told it could get quit expensive to remove and often it comes back quick and mean we were told. Now she just turned 11 and its almost the size of a basketball and has changed the way she walks but if I mumble the word treat she fly’s off the couch and still visits all company with a wagging tail. Just curious if anyone has had a pup with one get so big? We brought her in a few months ago, they did some radiology(and it wasn’t messing with any organs) and were told she was a happy healthy dog and that we would know when it was time. This will be my 3rd. Lab in 30+ years and I pretty much know when it’ll be time and won’t let her suffer. BTW all we been giving her is Omega-3 fish oil pills and 4or 5 maximum strength Hip & joint Glucosamine soft chews daily which she thinks are treats

    • Laurel Chaykowski says:

      Hi! I have a little senior cross who is fifteen years old. (I think Lab and Doxie, not sure). Anyway, he has a large lipoma on his hip and I’m so afraid to take him to the vet in case they want to remove it. It’s not painful, I check several times a day by touching it and pushing it just a little. No reaction. He falls over every once in a while if he forgets about it. It’s about the size of a softball and being on one hip, kind of makes him unbalanced. But, like your dog, he runs for his treats, gets happy about company and makes his regular dinnertime ruckus. I give him turmeric paste with all meals and some parsley as well – supposed to help the liver. I don’t want to have it surgically removed because of his age, worried the anesthetic will kill him. And as long as he’s happy and not in pain, I want to keep him with me as long as possible.

    • Robyn Hunter says:

      Troy,My lab is 10 yrs old.He has a lipoma that is bigger than a basketball on his right side,after taking steroids and draining it over and over,it always fills up larger than before,we have spent 500.00 at the vet in 2 months,I wish we could remove it but the vet said last time she did the dog had kidney failure and then she had to put him to sleep.I love him so much but I guess we know that time is coing and it hurts.

    • Michael Moschella says:

      Troy, your story sounds very similar to mine. My 11.5 year old Border Collie mix was itchy her hind area near her tail a lot three weeks ago and developed a hot spot of sorts. We were treating it with a spray treatment and neosporin. When I was checking on it the other day I noticed the lump which was about 3/4 the size of a golf ball. Brought Lola to the vet to get looked at and they did a small needle aspiration and took out clear jello like substance. Vet claimed they could not test this substance because it was not the source cells. Claim they do not exactly know what it is but could remove it for about $1,000. After reading this article it clearly sounds like a fatty Lipoma build up. Ironically enough we regularly give our dog fish oil pills and hip and joint Glucosamine ?? wonder if this dietary issue is a contributing factor. After the Vet did a small needle aspiration it shrunk down to half of its original size but came fully back in less than a day? Wondering how big to let this thing get before getting it removed.

  • Evie says:

    My dog just recently had a lipoma removed. It was near her armpit, about 1 inch wide and at this point, was not bothering her. She is 5 years old and was due for a dental, so I decided while she was under for the dental, for the vet to remove the lipoma. I bought my dog a soft flower shaped plush cone on Amazon and now she is recovering nicely. She was weird while the anesthesia wore off, cried a bit but I put her in a quiet dark spot with a tight t-shirt on and took off the cone and she slept and the next morning was back normal.

  • Jenny says:

    Reply to Rick, our 9 year old lab also has a large lump on his back at base of tail which sounds very similar to your dogs lump. We have decided not to have surgery to remove at the moment as it doesn’t seem to cause him any problem at the moment. We are also concerned with him having such a major op as he has a heart murmur and isn’t a young dog. The vet quoted in excess of £1100 to have the lump removed and sent off for analysis. We are monitoring the lump and would take him immediately to the vet if we thought it was causing him discomfort.

  • Debbi says:

    My dog has a lipoma on his back leg that ruptured and bleeds now. I put wonder dust on it which helps a little. What can I do it doesn’t bother him he runs and walks fine. Will it stop bleeding on its own?

    • daniel says:

      CHYANN pepper ….hay weather its an animal or human ,now ive even had to do this many times even on situations where stiches should be recomended if you take ground cayann pepper after washing real good soap and water pack it with the pepper and wrap it the pepper cardalizes the blood stops infection from occurring and stops the bleeding i promise works great

      • Mike says:

        Iron powder would be much better than cayenne pepper. Iron promotes healing and is in medical literature. If your dog attempts to lick the area after you use iron powder then use a gauze pad and Coban wrap. You can use Coban from a store that carries horse supplies like Atwoods. I find it cheaper there than from walgreens.

  • Vince says:

    We just took our 11 YO golden to the vet for a lipoma that’s had considerable growth over the past few months. It’s about 5” across now and we have opted for removal. Our local vet is charging $1300 including the fee to send the tumor into the lab to be examined for malignancy. High cost partly due to size.

    • Rick Daly says:

      We have a 13 year old Lab with a Lipoma growth about the same size as yours , it’s sitting on top of his rump where his tail starts . it’s big and looks like a camel hump ! but it doesn’t impede his mobility . We have decided not to mess with it because of the cost and when he can’t get up anymore we’ll call the mobile Vet and end his life . If he was 6 years old we would do something .

      • Carol says:

        My 12-year-old beagle has one in the same spot, right next to her tail! Saw the vet on Sat and decided to have it removed since it grew since her last checkup. She’s otherwise in good shape, so I know she’ll do great.

  • Steph says:

    Our dog has always had lumpy fat/muscle all down his back end. He’s some unholy mix of border collie and maybe corgi? They’re very obvious, and the vet has never said anything about them in checkups. He’s about 5, but like I said, he’s always had them..

  • My 9 year old male Yorkie was diagnosed a few years ago with fatty tumors on his sides near hips, stomach area, they’ve grown and now his belly button is forming a mad do you think it’s become cancer? He has a lot of pain can barely jump up and cries when I lift him. What would the cost be to remove them be?