Canine Lipomas: Symptoms and Treatment

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If you have been observant enough, you will notice that when it comes to dogs, there are some lumps under their skins, especially in older dogs.

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These lumps could be as a result of unusual growth. Some growths are cancerous, while some are not. Canine Lipoma is a noncancerous lump that is common in dogs, especially older dogs.

Canine lipoma does not pose much threat to the dogs because they are benign (they are not likely to spread across the body, causing pain problems). Fortunately, it can be removed through surgeries if they begin to cause any discomfort to the dog.

What is Canine Lipomas?

The word ‘’Lipo’’ literally means fat. Therefore Lipomas are noncancerous fatty tumors. Canine lipomas are the most frequently occurring benign growth, and they occur by the accumulation of lipids (fat cells) right under the skin surface, often in the armpits, the abdomen, and the chest.

This abnormal tissue growth rarely appears singularly, but they are likely to grow in numbers at a time. By just touching it, you will discover that it is soft and easily movable just right under the skin.

The condition is considered as a cosmetic issue due to its ugly and harmless nature, and as a natural aging process in dogs, that is why it is mostly found in older dogs.

Note: Benign tissues or lumps are not of risks of spreading across the body or pose any serious health threat. Malignant tissues and lumps can spread across the body, causing severe health problems.

Symptoms of canine lipomas

Bulging tumors and bumps are the evident signs that your dog may have lipomas. Typically, they appear to be round, freely moving, and well-defined lumps that are found right under the skin.

Diagnosis of canine lipomas

In the diagnosis of this condition, your dog will have to go through professional physical examination performed by your veterinarian, and stages of diagnostic biopsy test may follow to confirm if the visible lump is a lipoma.

Some tests done to determine if a dog has canine lipomas may include:

  • Fine-needle aspiration (FNA): This is a diagnostic procedure where the veterinarian inserts a thin hollow needle into the lump or growth to remove a sample to be analyzed appropriately and determine if it is benign or malignant nature. This is also used to rule out health conditions like cancer.
  • Microscopic evaluation of cells: This is the evaluation carried out on the cells of a collected sample from the lump by a specialist using a microscope to determine whether the lumps are malignant or benign.

Treatment of canine lipomas

Lipomas are not dangerous or life-threatening. Therefore, it is not considered a disease that requires medical intervention. But then there are a few situations that could make lipomas quite discomforting that they may need immediate medical help.

If a lipoma is found steadily but gradually growing in a particular point where it possibly interferes with movements, for instance, the armpit, which is a usual spot of growth, then it should be removed through surgery to stop interfering with the dog’s mobility.

Immediate attention is needed if there is an unexpected growth, and there is also a noticed change in the appearance of a previously present fatty tumor. Dog owners should have their veterinarians have a look at it to help you decide the next best time to do for the dog.

Although, this is rare if a fatty lump that was once thought to be lipomas turns out to be an infiltrative malignant liposarcoma. Then your veterinarian is in a better position to have it examined and then give you the option of removing it surgically or have it treated with radiation therapy.

If a lipoma growing inside your dog becomes so big that its proportion is worrisome, then it should be treated. Such tumors can potentially cause significant discomfort to your dog and even affect their ability to move about freely. This growth could cause infection when they outgrow their blood supply.

Before your vet does anything, they are likely to carry out pre-surgical blood tests to make sure that your dog is healthy enough to handle the anesthesia that will be administered before the surgical procedure to be carried out.

The pre-surgical blood tests may include:

  • Chemical tests to examine the kidneys, liver, and pancreatic function, including sugar levels
  • Antibody tests to know if your dog has been exposed to pest-related or other infectious diseases
  • A thorough blood count to cancel out blood-related health conditions
  • Electrolyte tests to make sure that your dog is not dehydrated or at that point suffering from an electrolyte imbalance
  • Urine tests for thorough screening to detect urinary tract infection and other diseases, and to determine the ability of the kidneys to concentrate the urine
  • A thyroid test to evaluate the thyroid gland and if it is producing not enough thyroid hormone
  • An ECG test for thorough screening to detect abnormal heart rhythm that might be hinting the presence of underlying heart disease

Notwithstanding, if your veterinarian feels that the lipoma should be left alone, then it is essential to follow his or her recommendations while monitoring it in case of any sudden or suspicious changes.

Prevention of canine lipomas

Canine Lipomas

Frankly, there is nothing that can be done to prevent lipomas from occurring. These days, it is considered as a part of the natural aging process for most dogs. This condition is like pimples in humans.


Although, it is believed by most people that overweight dogs are at more risk of developing this condition because they are likely to have fat accumulated at a spot forming fatty tumors. Still, it is not confirmed if this is true, but you can play safe by keeping your pet at a healthy weight.


In the case of canine lipomas, there is absolutely nothing to be worried about. Nevertheless, dog owners should be sure that the lumps are not malignant (cancerous) and insisting that your veterinarian sticks a needle in them to confirm the nature of the lump.

Have you ever has to deal with lipomas in your dog before? What steps did you take to manage the condition? Kindly share with us so other readers who are affected can learn from you.

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