Lipomas in Dogs

oct. 23, 2012

Dogs may develop single or multiple lumps called lipomas which are most commonly seen over the trunk or limbs. The lipoma is an overgrowth of fat cells or adipocytes. They tend to be soft in texture, but sometimes they develop down deep in the muscle planes and these can feel quite firm. Rarely, they form inside the body cavities. Though usually round, they can be irregular in shape too.

These lumps can be tested to make sure that they are not malignant cancer by a biopsy. Sometimes a fine needle aspirate is used as a first line diagnostic tool. Lipomas are considered benign tumours but rarely may they transform into malignant masses, then we call them liposarcomas. If the lump suddenly changes in size, a recheck by the veterinarian is indicated since they usually increase in size very slowly.

Though we sometimes see them in young-to-middle-aged dogs, lipomas are most commonly seen in seniors. They are more common in overweight or obese dogs.

Though most of the time they do not bother the dog, if they form under the elbow or other places where there is a lot of tissue movement, as they grow they can make the dog uncomfortable due to their size or position.

The veterinarian may or may not recommend surgical removal once a biopsy confirms it is just a lipoma. Frequently, they are left alone, to be monitored by owner and veterinarian. Complete surgical excision is curative. If the dog has a liposarcoma, the veterinarian will remove it and also take wide margins around it.