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Fatty Lumps and Lipomas

Fatty lumps on dogs are known as lipomas, and can grow on any dog 

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What are lipomas?

Lipomas, or fatty lumps, are very common in dogs. In fact every year nearly 2% of the doggy population are diagnosed with one!

While they are tumours, lipomas are just made up of fat cells and so are mostly completely benign.

Lipomas feel like soft slightly movable lumps under the skin. They can range from being very small to being football sized, although most are very slow growing and never reach dramatic sizes.

Many dogs will get one or more of these fatty lumps in their lifetime, and these will be monitored by your vet for any problems. Issues from lipomas are generally just cosmetic – which won’t bother your dog at all!

In some cases, however, lipomas can grow to large sizes, or be in uncomfortable positions. In these cases your vet may recommend a surgery to remove the lump.

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How are lipomas diagnosed?

Lipomas feel like soft slightly movable lumps under the skin, although a lump ‘feeling’ like a lipoma isn’t enough for a 100% diagnosis. A test, such as fine needle aspirate, will be required to get a definite diagnosis.

If your dog has multiple lumps they will all need to be individually tested as having one lipoma does not confirm that similar-looking lumps are of the same type. 

Is my dog at risk from a lipoma?

In a recent study 2% of all dogs being followed by the study were diagnosed with a lipoma over the course of a year.  This means that lipomas are very common.

Although any dog can get a lipoma there are certain predisposing features.

  • Breed.
  • Weimaraners, dobermann pinschers, German pointers, springer spaniels and Labrador retrievers all had an increased incidence of lipomas in the study.
  • Age.
  • Older dogs are more likely to develop lipomas.
  • Weight.
  • Dogs heavier than their breed and sex average were nearly twice as likely to develop a lipoma.

How are lipomas treated?

Lipomas are often just monitored if they are slow growing and not causing your dog any problems.

Fast growing masses, those in problematic areas such as the throat or those preventing normal mobility however may need to be removed.  This is a surgical procedure.