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Lipomas are masses or tumors found under the skin. The word ‘tumor’ is often not used as an alternate to lipoma due to the fear evoked in pet parents when the word ‘tumor’ is stated. A tumor has a negative connotation associated with it which is not often the case with fatty lipomas. These are also known as “fatty tumors” and “growths” and are simply fat deposits in an unusual location.
Lipomas are very common in dogs and are generally soft with limited mobility underneath the skin. The overlying skin is generally not affected; however, with time lipomas may grow larger and decrease the ability of your dog to move. Lipomas are most commonly non-cancerous but should still be checked by your veterinarian.
Senior dogs and overweight dogs often have at least one lipoma. If your dog has a lipoma, the pet parent can often easily feel the lipoma. Lipomas may affect any breed but most commonly affect the following breeds:
Lipomas do not generally make dogs uncomfortable unless their normal movement is disrupted. Dogs with one lipoma will commonly develop several lipomas over time.
The cause of the development of lipomas is most commonly the decreased ability of the immune and endocrine systems at an older age. When these systems are not working fully, the body eliminates unwanted material through the skin which results in the lipoma.
If a dog owner locates a lipoma, the pet parent should schedule an appointment with a veterinarian to conduct a palpation of the lipoma. Lipomas are not often considered a serious or threatening condition. The lipoma is simply monitored to ensure it does not increase in size quickly.
Lipomas should not be dismissed, though. There are few cases where what was thought to simply be a lipomaturns out to be cancerous. To confirm the lipoma is benign, a biopsy will be conducted for safetymeasures. Most dogs do not require surgery for their lipomas unless movement is disrupted.
Amber L. Drake, a Professional Canine Behaviorist and Adjunct Professor of Biological Science, has extensive experience in the Animal Science Field. She has worked with dogs professionally for over ten years. Her clients range from private pet parents to large canine rescue organizations. In addition to accepting clients on a regular basis, Drake serves as an Adjunct Professor at Jamestown Community College and Kaplan University. Drake has earned a Doctor of Education (ABD), Educational Specialist Post-Masters, Master of Arts in Education and a Bachelor of Science in Biology. She has completed coursework at Cornell University for Pre-Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science, Biochemistry at UC Berkeley, Veterinary Technology at Penn Foster and a number of Continuing Education courses to remain up-to-date in her field.