dog with lipoma treatment
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Dog With Lipoma: Best Treatments and Prognosis

Do you have a dog with lipoma symptoms? A canine lipoma is a very common and often frustrating lump that appears underneath a dog’s skin. As dogs age, they tend to get more lumps and bumps, but dogs of any size or shape, from young to old, can develop lipomas.

A dog with lipoma signs or symptoms should always be seen by a veterinarian. You cannot fully determine what a dog lump is without the veterinarian performing a fine-needle aspirate or some form of biopsy. A canine lipoma is a benign fatty tumor composed of mature fat cells.

Lipomas are generally moveable and somewhat squishy feeling, but whenever a need lump or bump appears on my dog, we have our veterinarian exam and aspirate it. There are things you can do to try and decrease the likelihood of your dog developing lipomas. If your pooch is presently affected by lipomas, this article discusses how to manage, treat, and hopefully prevent future lipomas.

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Dog With Lipoma: What Is It?

Most dog moms and dog dads discover a lipoma on their dog while running their fingers through the dog’s hair or on their skin. Suddenly, you feel an enlarged growth, and panic sets in. I know because I’ve discovered lumps on my dog that weren’t there the night before.

Lipomas are made up of fat cells and they occur underneath the skin on any part of a dog’s body. Lipomas are generally harmless unless they prohibit the mobility of the dog due to their location. For example, if a lipoma prevents your dog from moving a limb or walking properly, removal may be a viable option.

Fat serves a few purposes in the dog’s body: to store energy, help absorb vitamins, create insulation, and store toxins. If you look at a lipoma under a microscope, you’d 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.

You may have heard a vet call your dog’s lipoma a fatty tumor, and that is an accurate assessment. Lipomas are also called fatty lumps.

How Are Lipomas In Dogs Diagnosed?

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 on the dog’s lump.

You cannot tell what a lump is by feeling it or looking at it. Not even a lipoma. Further, not all lumps should immediately be removed. The sheer number of veterinary professionals who recommend removal as the 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 benign lump removal.

There is a type of tumor that affects dogs and it is often called “the great imposter” because it looks like anything and everything. It can even resemble a fatty lipoma. Mast cell tumors in dogs (MCTs) can be benign or very aggressive and malignant. Never take a chance with your dog’s life.

Here’s a dog with lipoma photo below as it appears on my Cocker Spaniel. We monitor it with calipers, I groom around it, and the vet checks it out during routine visits. We had it aspirated. Lipomas may appear differently on your dog. A friend’s mixed-breed dog had a lipoma the size of a small baseball on her chest. She had it aspirated (it was benign), it caused her no problems, and she lived 15 years without it causing problems.

lipoma on a dog's skin

What Causes Lipomas In Dogs?

Dogs get lipomas for a variety of reasons, including one very frustrating cause, as you will see in the list below:

  1. Hereditary: Fatty tumors are more common in some breeds, such as Cocker Spaniels, Labrador Retrievers, Doberman Pinchers, Weimaraners, Schnauzers, and even mixed breeds.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 have 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 of my life passions and missions to become a more educated and more informed pet parent.
  6. Aging: As dogs get older, benign lipomas may develop.
  7. 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.
  8. Stress: The body’s reaction to any number of stressful exposures can cause it to behave in a whole host of ways.
  9. Unknown origin: Lipomas occur in any type, breed, or age of dog at any point in their life, healthy or not. There is no one specific reason as to the cause of lipomas.

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. By that point in a dog’s life, feeding low quality food, too many carbs, chemicals applied to their skin, and too many vaccines creates a perfect storm. Lipomas pop up like moths to a flame.

Lipomas on dog
Canine lipomas removed from a dog.

How Can Lipomas Be Prevented In Dogs?

Feed A High Quality Diet To Your Dog

“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 continues. “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. Dr. Coger says dogs have zero requirements 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 wrote a great piece on calculating protein, carbs, fat, and fiber in a dog’s diet.

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 our Cocker Spaniel. You simply add warm water to the dehydrated vegetables and a healthy source of protein. Dr. Harvey’s Veg-to-Bowl contains approximately 8.44% carbohydrates when prepared with water. This is excellent!

Sometimes, dog parents prefer to feed a raw diet but don’t want all the mess and grinding involved with the process. Dr. Harvey’s Raw Vibrance can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Include Proper Supplements In Your Dog’s Diet

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 dog’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,” Johnson says. “We use it twice a day in conjunction with a raw homemade diet.”

A few years ago, I started adding Dr. Harvey’s Solaris supplements to my dog’s diet. It is a twice-daily whole food supplement to help support your dog’s cellular and immune system. Since it has things in it like organic turmeric, which acts as an antioxidant 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. Dr. Harvey’s also carries a line of fish oil in an easy-to-dispense pump.

Over at DogsNaturally.com, they share tips on using herbs to get rid of fatty tumors on dogs. Always talk to your dog’s veterinarian first before adding any supplements to your dog’s diet. I recommend chatting with a qualified holistic veterinarian about supplements.

Be Careful With Chemicals Applied To Your Dog’s Skin

We will no longer use topical preventatives that are filled 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.

Not long after putting a chemical tick and flea preventative on my first Cocker Spaniel, she had serious side effects. Her skin flared up, it burned the hair off her back, and it never grew back. Some of her blood levels were altered, and she had a seizure.

There are plenty of natural flea and tick preventatives to consider for your dog.

Be Careful About Over Vaccination In Your Dog

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 react 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.

Here’s why your dog may not need yearly vaccinations and why titers are incredibly helpful.

Stimulate Your Dog’s Coat With Regular Brushing

We arehuge proponents of proper care, bathing, grooming, and brushing of a dog’s coat. A good brushing stimulates the oils in a dog’s coat. Massagins your dog’s skin and can actually help stimulate oils. 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 the last resort for most lipomas. If a lipoma is growing and cause your dog to be uncomfortable, then surgical removal is a consideration.

Never allow a veterinarian to remove a lipoma purely for cosmetic reasons. A veterinarian cannot rely on how a lump feels or looks to determine what it or if the mass is a lipoma.

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.

Can Canine Lipomas Be Malignant?

Although lipomas are generally benign tumors, there is another more aggressive and malignant “version” of lipomas. A liposarcoma arises from juvenile fat cells. A liposarcoma is NOT a lipoma that has gone bad.

Published papers and veterinary research indicates liposarcomas are locally invasive neoplasms that rarely spread, or metastasize. Liposarcomas are uncommon malignant tumors in dogs that can be distinguished from lipomas with fine-needle aspirate of the lump.

My Dog’s Lipoma Is Growing: What Should I Do?

Your vet should monitor and measure all lumps on your dog using an instrument called calipers. If pathology determines your dog’s growth to be a lipoma, you should still monitor it. Watch for changes in size, shape, color, or if it causes any discomfort.

Use your cell phone to take a photo of each new lump on your dog. Use the Dogminder to write down its location, size, and any other important features. You can easily measure the dog’s lipoma or any lump with calipers.

Calipers accurately measure the size of a lipoma or any mass on your dog. I like to use calipers on my dog for his weekly lump check at home. If there is any growth or change, I make an appointment with the vet.

Dr. Sue the Cancer Vet, has free printable skin maps for dogs and cats on her website. You can print it and keep it inside your Dogminder for safekeeping.

Pro Tip: Invest in the DogMinder for under $10 from Amazon. I created this resource to help pet parents track their dog’s medical records. You can accurately follow the size, shape, and changes in any of your dog’s lipomas, lumps, bumps, and more.

Resource To Track Dog Health Records

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

My senior Cocker Spaniel 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. 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.

There is no conclusive proof on what prevents lipomas nor is there a guaranteed treatment to get rid of them at this time.

Back in 2012, a drug called Xiaflex, a collagenase injection to shrink canine lipomas, was being researched. There is no update nor evidence as to its usage to help dogs with lipomas at this time.

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.

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. 

How to prevent and treat dog lipomas

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18 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.

    1. 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.

  11. IS THERE A CREME OR SPRAY THAT I CAN USE TO SHRINK A LIPOMA? MY ESKIE IS 15 YEARS OLD AND DOES NOT TOLERATE ANYTHING ORALLY

  12. My rat terrier pup has been fed Dr. Harvey’s all her life (12-1/2 years old now). She’s started getting lipomas in a few spots. I’ll try the Solaris. Hope it helps – definitely don’t want to do surgery. Thanks for the article.

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