Fatty Tumors in Dogs

Fatty tumors in dogs, or lipomas, are fairly common. These benign tumors often don't present any health concerns to the dogs who have them, though, if they get big enough, they can inhibit movement. Nevertheless, you should monitor your dog's lipoma to make sure it doesn't develop any signs of malignancy. Read on to learn more about managing fatty tumors in dogs.

Risk Factors for Dog Lipomas

Fatty tumors are most likely to occur in middle-aged and geriatric animals, particularly those who are overweight or obese. Female dogs seem to develop lipomas more often than male dogs. Labrador Retrievers, Doberman Pinschers and Miniature Schnauzers are most likely to develop fatty tumors. Mixed breed dogs are also more prone to them than most pure breeds.

Lipomas can grow anywhere on your dog's body, but they usually occur on the belly or upper legs. They normally don't grow very fast, and they normally don't spread.

Identifying a Fatty Tumor in Your Dog

Lipomas in dogs are benign, and have different characteristics from malignant, or cancerous, tumors. Fatty tumors don't cause your dog any pain, and you should see any inflammation, swelling, lesions or discharge on or near the tumor. Fur usually remains intact on and around the tumor area. If you manipulate a fatty tumor with your hands, you can usually find that it will move around quite easily under your dog's skin.

Diagnosing and Treating Fatty Tumors in Dogs

Anytime your dog develops a growth or tumor, you should see a vet to make sure it isn't cancer. Your vet will carefully examine the tumor, and may want to take a biopsy tissue sample to confirm that it is benign. 

If your dog's tumor is indeed a lipoma, your vet will probably suggest leaving it alone, but monitoring it for changes that could suggest it has become malignant. Your vet will record the size of the tumor, and may want to see your dog regularly to continue tracking and recording any changes in the tumor.

If your dog's tumor is benign, he probably won't need surgery to remove it. Most benign fatty tumors are small, and they grow so slowly that it could be years before they become large enough to cause a problem. Large tumors, or tumors that somehow interfere with your dog's comfort or movement, should be surgically removed. Surgery to remove fatty tumors usually never becomes necessary.

You can keep track of the growth of your dog's fatty tumor at home by tracing its outline on a piece of thin paper every two weeks. Simply place the paper on your dog, over the tumor, and draw its outline on the paper with a fine-tip pen or pencil. Remember to record the date of the tracing. This way, if the tumor begins to grow quickly, you'll be able to notify your vet right away. 

Nutritional supplements, such as cat's claw or mistake, may be able to reduce the size of your dog's fatty tumors.