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Lipoma in dogs… Symptoms, expectations and costs!

Lipoma is one of the few diseases that can also affect cats in addition to dog and the good news is that they are relatively harmless but that doesn’t mean that it’s not a bit frightening to suddenly feel a “lump” under to cat or dogs skin where there once wasn’t one.

Plus…

Even though most lipomas are going to be harmless, until you know for sure that is what you’re dealing with, you should always take any changes in your dog or cat seriously.

This is why…

We wanted to take a moment and discuss exactly what a lipoma is as well as discuss some of the dog and cat breeds that are most commonly affected by this condition.

Lipoma

Plainly put, lipoma’s are little (or large, depending on the age of the animal) lumps of fat that you usually won’t be able to see – but you should be able to feel.

Typically…

They are common along the chest, shoulder and underbelly but can appear anywhere on the dog’s body. Lipoma are lumps that will usually move around (although some don’t, just to confuse you). They are not quite the same as a Mast Cell Tumor (which affects around 20% of all dogs) which appear above the skin as sort of brown warts.

The good news is…

That they are both usually benign, but you should mention them to the vet anyway so that they can test and double check the tumor is not cancerous.  Additionally, unlike the Mast Cell Tumors which can appear from birth, the Lipoma is likely to develop in middle-aged to elderly dogs as standard. They also have a propensity towards overweight dogs and overweight female dogs in particular.

So…

If you have a ten-year old, overweight female Labrador; the chances are it has at least one Lipoma somewhere on its body.  Now, the lumps are (or should be) covered in hair, unless they are on the underbelly where hair wouldn’t normally be present to begin with.

That said however…

If your dog has a lump that is hairless in a furry place, discolored or that rapidly changes shape then consult the vet with urgency, not that a Lipoma shouldn’t warrant a trip to the vets anyway.

Structurally…

Lipoma’s are a collection of fat cells and therefore harmless. Unless they grow so big that the dog can’t move properly, the chances are the vet will do a quick test to take a biopsy (just to be on the safe side) and then send you home.

It is possible however…

That the lump is a soft tissue sarcoma or a Liposarcoma, both of which are cancerous and will need removed before radiation treatment is employed to stop them growing back again.

And just to make sure…

You’re thoroughly confused, there is a third diagnosis that your veterinarian might consider. Lumps on the eyelids and around the anal area have a special designation: Sebaceous adenoma. These are usually benign in nature, but, as with every lump and bump on your pet, your vet will want to make sure it isn’t cancer.

Affected Breeds

A Fatty Cell Lipoma can occur on any dog at any time in their lives. If they are overweight, female or elderly they are most at risk. Besides that, these are the breeds prone to Lipoma development:

  • The Doberman Pinscher
  • The Labrador Retriever
  • The Weimaraner

Treatment Options

The most common treatment for this condition is to do nothing. Unless the bumps are annoying or inhibiting the dog then there is no need to treat them. Surgical removal is painful, presents the risk of infection and is often fruitless, since these benign tumors quickly grow back, anyway.

However…

Your vet will want to check on a yearly basis that the lumps have not grown too large or that they have not become cancerous. To do this, and to ascertain the original diagnosis, they will do a small biopsy in the form of an infiltrative test known as a needle aspirate. During this procedure they will insert a very fine needle into the fatty tissue of the lump and extract some cells for analysis.

If the cells…

Are benign you have nothing further to fear. If not, the veterinarian will want to have the lump surgically removed. Surgery may be your only option in this case.

Your vet will want to…

Repeat the needle aspirate test on an annual basis to monitor for change or growth. They could provide liposuction in extreme cases, but similarly to surgical removal it is highly likely that the lump will quickly regain mass.

Lipoma’s affect around 16% of dogs and will incur ongoing medical bills by the year.

Which brings us to…

Were we like to remind folks that we here at IndulgeYourPet are not doctors, veterinarians or medical professionals.  All we are is a bunch of folks who just happen to be passionate about animals and only want what’s best for them.

This is why…

If you feel like your pet may have lipoma (or any other health issue for that matter) the first thing that you’re going to want to do is have him or her check out by a vet ASAP!

Because…

The truth is, an early diagnosis will often lead to the “best” medical outcome for your pet regardless of what is bothering him or her, but beyond that diagnosing a medical condition early could save you a bundle in medical costs!

Which is why…

We here at IndulgeYourPet also recommend that any new pet owner take a moment and see what it might cost for you to purchase a pet insurance policy for your new animal.

Now will a pet insurance policy be right for everyone?

No, probably not.  But until you fully understand what these policies “will” and “won’t” cover and how much these pet insurance policies cost, how will you know if one might be right for you?

For more information on who we feel currently offers the “best” pet insurance policies out there, we would encourage you to check out our Best Pet Insurance Policies article.

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