How To Treat And Prevent Lipomas in Dogs

A lipoma is a common, and often frustrating, occurrence in dogs, prompting dog owners to take their dog to the vet so that cancer is ruled out. If you’ve landed on this article, your dog has a lipoma, or perhaps multiple lipomas, and you want to prevent and treat the ones he or she has.

Contrary to popular belief, there are things you can do to decrease the likelihood of your dog developing lipomas. If your pooch is presently affected with them, this is the article that will give you a true fi-dose of reality on how to manage, treat, and hopefully prevent lipomas on your pooch.

How to prevent and treat dog lipomas

What Are Lipomas in Dogs?

Lipomas are benign fatty tumors composed of mature fat cells. The word sounds scary, and anytime you find a new growth, bump, or lump, a veterinarian should always look at it.

If there is one thing you take away from this article, it is this: you cannot determine what a lump is unless you get a sample of it in some capacity. In most cases, this means in-office, painless fine needle aspiration. You cannot tell what a lump is by feeling it or looking at it. Further, not all lumps should immediately be removed. The sheer number of veterinary professionals who recommend removal as a first line of defense is alarming. If the lump has been aspirated or is causing major problems, by all means, have it removed. I’ve talked to countless dog parents who tell me their dogs have had 5, 10, and even 20 procedures (most under anesthesia) for lump removal. Most came back benign.

Lipomas are generally harmless unless they prohibit mobility of the dog due to its location. Lipomas are generally moveable and somewhat squishy feeling, but whenever a need lump or bump appears on my dog, off to the vet we go for aspiration.

Fat serves a few purposes in the dog’s body: to store energy, help absorb vitamins, create insulation, and to store toxins. If you look at a lipoma under a microscope, you’ll see fat cells surrounding a fibrous capsule. Because the skin is the largest organ of the body (in both people and dogs), it is also where elimination occurs. The body, in its attempt to get rid of toxins, will sometimes produce lipomas.

Here’s a lipoma as it appears on my dog. We monitor it with calipers, I groom around it, and the vet checks it out during routine visits. Lipomas may appear differently on your dog. My dog’s bestie has a lipoma the size of a small planet. Due to her age and its location (chest area, near the heart), it is being left alone. It is benign.

How to prevent and treat dog lipomas

Why Do Dogs Get Lipomas?

If you Google the above question, the replies run the gamut. I talked to a few experts in the know, coupled with my own lifelong knowledge as a dog mom and canine health and wellness writer. The reasons, include, but are not limited to:

  • Hereditary: Fatty tumors are more common in some breeds, such as Cocker Spaniels, Labrador Retrievers, Doberman Pinchers, Weimeraners, Schnauzers, and even mixed breeds.
  • Toxins: From chemical spot-ons to unnecessary ingredients in dog food, if the body is unable to eliminate the toxins, they get stored in one spot, i.e., a fatty tumor.
  • Inferior food choices and carbohydrates: Kibble can cause issues, one of them being lipomas. Kibbles have a lot of carbs in them and carbs are not needed for a dog to be healthy. Carbs also cause glycemic spikes. In addition to fatty tumors, there’s an epidemic of dogs being diagnosed with diabetes.
  • Additives and preservatives: The body does not need them. Certain cancers will thrive in a diet that is full of carbohydrates, dry foods are not the best choice.
  • Over-vaccination: We are not anti-vaccine; we ARE, however, anti over-vaccination. Plain and simple: Over-vaccination and the horrible side effects of this practice has become an epidemic of alarming proportions. As a dog mom whose last Cocker Spaniel developed mast cell skin cancer at the site of yearly dog vaccines, I’ve made it one my life passions and missions to become a more educated and more informed pet parent.
  • Aging: As dogs get older, benign lipomas may develop.
  • Obesity: Dr. Liz Hassinger, a veterinarian interviewed for Animal Wellness magazine, says most new lipoma patients she sees are either obese and/or have been treated with topical chemicals.
  • Stress: The body’s reaction to any number of stressful exposures can cause it to behave in a whole host of ways.

Did you ever notice that most dogs start getting lipomas in middle age? By that time, the body simply cannot excrete the toxins and something starts to build up. Maybe low quality food, too many carbs, chemicals on their skin, and too many vaccines and boom, it’s a perfect storm: hello lipomas.

Lipomas on dog

Can Lipomas Be Prevented In Dogs?

What We Feed

“I find fewer lipomas in raw fed dogs,” says holistic veterinarian, Dr. Laurie Coger, of the Healthy Dog Workshop. “I believe it has to do with carbohydrate intake, which tends to be very low in raw diets.” She says dog parents who cool for their dogs often use starches in the form of legumes, grains, or potatoes; all of these break down and store as sugar in the body.

“Of course, kibble dog food has significant starch levels, and dehydrated products can be quite starchy, so read labels,” Coger says. “A colleague and I were talking about this recently. The dogs who were eating kibble are the ones that had lipomas.” She also says avoiding over vaccination and flea and tick chemical preventatives may help prevent lipomas, too. She reminds us that dogs have no requirement for carbs.

We recommend knowing how to calculate carbohydrates, since they are not listed on most food labels. The FDA does not require this. Whole Dog Journal recommends calculating carbs this way:

To calculate the percentage of carbohydrates in a commercial diet, subtract the percentages of protein, fat, moisture, crude fiber (an indigestible part of carbohydrates), and ash from 100. This percentage may be shown as “nitrogen-free extract (NFE)” on a nutritional analysis.

I asked the folks at Dr. Harvey’s what the carbohydrate portion is of the Veg-to-Bowl is that we feed Dexter, along with a protein we add in. It has approximately 8.44% carbs, when prepared with water. This is excellent!

If you are like me, and you just aren’t into the work that raw feeding requires, our friends at Dr. Harvey’s have a new formula. Raw Vibrance can be made in advance and stored in the fridge up to three days, which is something we like. After all, grinding organ meats and bones can be complicated and messy. No worries on this formula. They also have a variety of other formulas for dogs.

Dr Harveys Raw Vibrance

What We Supplement

Dog mom, dog blogger, and successful entrepreneur, Rachael Ward Johnson of 2 Traveling Dogs, has seen a reduction in the size of her mixed breed’s lipomas since starting him on CBD hemp oil. As of this writing, her pooch, Digby, has been receiving Pet Releaf brand CBD hemp oil on an empty stomach for two months.

“Many of his lipomas have decreased in size, down to half their original size. We use it twice a day in conjunction with a raw homemade diet.”

Over at Dr. Harvey’s, we’ve started our dog on Solaris. It is a twice-daily whole food supplement formulated by Dr. Harvey to help support your dog’s immune system. Since it has things in it like organic turmeric, which acts as an anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory agent, we are thrilled to be using it.

A good skin-supporting Omega-3 fatty acid capsule is also good for dogs. We use one Health & Shine capsule daily on our dog’s food.

Over at DogsNaturally.com, they share tips on using herbs to get rid of fatty tumors on dogs.

Natural flea and tick repellant

What We Apply

Fleas and ticks are horrible, on this we all can agree. No matter what method of prevention you choose, the reality is you must do something as a responsible dog parent. We will no longer use topical preventatives that are laden with chemicals nor will I administer a pill that “takes care of it all.” I want nothing toxic, chemical, nor dangerous to my dog on his external body nor affecting his internal system. Do what is best for your dog.

What We Inject

Diligent dog parents should have a discussion with their dog’s vet about vaccines and potential adverse reactions. You absolutely do NOT need to re-vaccinate (give “boosters”) automatically.

I attended a webinar hosted by the renowned Dr. Jean Dodds and learned that dogs with white or dilute coat colors have a higher propensity to reactions to things in general. Lighter colored dogs are more prone to chemical reactions beyond vaccine side effects – including flea medications and sulfonamides, etc. Use caution if your dog is white and/or is lightly pigmented, as my dog is.

What We Brush

Indeed, we are huge proponents of proper care, bathing, grooming, and brushing of a dog’s coat. A good brushing stimulates the oils in a dog’s coat. Doing so massages the skin and can actually help in preventing any additional lumps from forming on the skin. By distributing the oils through brushing, you actually help your dog (plus it feels darned good to the dog).

Should Lipomas In Dogs Be Surgically Removed?

If the lipoma impedes the dog’s regular movements or in some capacity the dog is in pain, discuss removal of any growth with your dog’s veterinarian. Surgery should be a last resort for most lipomas. Scar tissue after surgery is left behind, and when the body tries to release toxins from that area, scar tissue is there instead. Surgery also does not address the cause of the fatty tumors. So yes, it has its place, but surgery should be a last resort and not purely for cosmetic reasons.

What Should I Do About Lipomas On My Dog At Present Time?

So Dexter has a few lipomas. We were kibble feeders for the first year or two of his life. We know better, so we do better. It’s a huge reason I became a dog health and wellness writer: to help other dog parents.

Refer back to the sections above on what to feed and supplement with. Keep an eye on any existing lipomas. They may increase in size, and this can be perfectly normal but brought to the attention of your dog’s vet. Since a fine-needle aspirate is not always 100 percent accurate, it is important to monitor the mass for sudden changes in its texture, size, and/or appearance. Keep your dog at a healthy weight. Exercise, increase mental stimulation, and spend time with your dog. Be happy.

medicine versus mom

Medicine Vs. Mom

Our friend Rachel at My Kid Has Paws, is a former vet tech, and she has some thoughts around canine lipomas, too. Check it out here: The Lumpy Truth About Canine Lipomas

Don’t Stop Now

Keep on top of any lumps or bumps on your dog and check out:

Dog Parent Guide to Lumps On a Dog

Dog Vital Signs Every Dog Parent Should Know

We cannot guarantee any results, and we encourage you to talk to your veterinarian. Never over supplement and make sure your dog is able to consume all ingredients of a supplement before starting it. 

Comments

  1. Thank You so much for this blog. I have learned so much from you. I am going to change my dogs food. They are on prescription food…I don’t think it helps my dogs. SO I am going to check out Raw Vibrance.

  2. I love this information. I am a huge proponent of CBD oil for the dogs and myself. By getting off chicken and kibble I have observed Bob’s lumps and bumps disappear. Will be checking out Solaris. Keep the good info coming Carol

  3. Carol, Thanks for the timely article. I will once again try removing kibble from Sadie’s diet. I’m going to order a sample to Dr. Harvey’s new product. Sadie has a huge lympoma and is beginning to get bumps on her skin. I also will be checking Solaris out.

  4. I just bought the Dr Harvey. Food. Bought a.bag of the veg to table. And the canine health. That has oats. 😱. I just don’t know which way to go anymore. I want what’s best for Angel. As we lost Taffy 3 weeks shy of being 11. I feed her grain free. Then read it’s missing what she needed for her heart. We had to put her down from a heart issue. I’m crying writing this because. I don’t know what do feed them anymore. I figured better add some grain so bought both bags mix with. Chicken. Then turkey. She gets tired of the same thing. So trying to mix it up had her on Fromm. Then she quit eating that. Then American Journey. Still have half of that do tried the dr Harvey’s. I mixed with her dry food wouldn’t eat it. I know for tummy issues mix for awhile. Nope no go. So have the new alone snd are it right up after a week she was getting bored so ordered the grain one yep today she gobbled it right down. 😳. I feel like a bad dog Mom. And she is our spoiled baby .

  5. My 12 year old beagle has a number of lipomas – 3 just arrived on her belly, literally overnight. She has had very little vaccinations in her life, she’s eaten raw, dehydrated raw or extremely healthy food her whole life and now I make her food and I used a magnetic flea and tick prevention for years….I’ve also treated her homeopathically for the majority of her life….so I don’t understand why she’s gotten them as she doesn’t fit into any of the usual categories. My 9 year old mix breed has had the same routine/food and she has none. I tried CBD oil for other issues and it did nothing for her. I use turmeric powder in her food that I make, she gets milk thistle, DLPA, Ester C, bone support, MSM and a Probiotic each day in her food..and Still lipomas! I just found this site and Rita Hogans…I guess I’ll be giving her a lot of tinctures. I’m so discouraged, yet I want her to get healthier.

    • Sometimes they just genuinely happen. I think about the marathon runners who suddenly get heart disease. You are doing everything right.

  6. i check my dogs everywhere, between the toes, etc. i have min. schnauzer and they are known for betting little bumps as they get older. my girls are 8 and 9 now. my oldest passed away from histiocytic sarcoma thus every little bump i have checked out. she has a little bump b/t her toes. sometimes it looked like nothing, it was hard to distinguish it. i think i waited too long, a few wks. however, it was already in her chest as well. i am upset because when she was much younger i had to fight with my former vet over this same very spot where she had a bump. i asked her to remove it several times and finally she did. i had to ask her to have it checked out, it came back as maybe. i wanted her to do more. but she refused and said it was nothing even though i told her the reports said otherwise. i wish i had changed vets. she could have stood chemo and other things b/c she was younger. at almost 16, she could not go under to do radiation. i feel that i failed her. so i get my vet to check out every little bump, have them biopsied. if they change shape, i have them removed and sent away for further evaluation. i dont think i could go thru cancer again. it was a yr long battle. the vets both said she had at least 6 mos or more. however, she died the day after seeing the cancer vet. it got in her throat and she had a stroke while i as hand feeding her. she was almost completely blind, deaf. if she had been in any pain i would not have put her through the chemo, but she had such a strong will to live. my reg vet said Evie loved me so much she did not want to leave me. she still played and loved to go on walks and try to chase the deer. i go to a homeopathic vet and do only the basics. no bordetella, no steroids, i have tried many all natural flea/tick products and the one i find that works the best is flea free by nature’s farmacy. i have lowered the amt of kibble and feed raw. i cook a lot of their food as well, mustard greens/kale steamed, baby carrots steamed, non fat greek yogurt, kefir goat’s milk, sweet potatoes, eggs, and their supplements.

  7. Ever heard of CBD oil for pets? It can help calm and relax your furry loved ones who suffer from stress, pain and/or behavioral issues.

  8. Yepp, Lipomas is a dangerous disease among dogs. I experienced this problem and was unable to found what actually happened at that time with my dog.

  9. Wow, Carol this is some really great information. Thank you for doing all the research. It has me thinking about our dogs now. We did do a raw diet and they did great except for our cockers & one who had seizure issue it made them worse. So we switched back to home cooked diet. He is doing good now but had to have both his ears done because deep infections. So need to think about our new puppy and what we want to do for feeding him so he stays on good healthy track. Right now he is getting Zignature dry dog food. So me and my hubby need to discuss what we would like to do for the future of both our boys now. We already know about vaccine issues. Can’t wait to meet you on this coming up Sunday.

  10. Unsafe Foods for Dogs Who can oppose those huge darker eyes and charming doggie smile? Will a little reward from the table or getting into Mom or Dad’s stuff extremely harmed your pooch? All things considered, that relies upon what it is and what’s in it.

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