Lipomas are subcutaneous (under the skin) masses or tumors that develop commonly in older dogs. They’re usually soft, with limited mobility under the skin. The overlying skin is usually not affected by the lipomas. Over time, they grow larger and larger, impeding movement of the legs or lower chest for the dog. They can also be very stressful for humans, who often assume the worst when they find a strange new growth.
Lipomas are benign tumors. In the vast majority of cases, there’s no cause for alarm! Benign lipomas are infiltrative tumors, which means they invade the muscle tissue and may eventually need to be removed. On the other hand, malignant tumors, known as liposarcomas, can spread and metastasize to the lungs, bone, and other organs.
While your veterinarian will be able to tell the difference between a benign lipoma and malignant liposarcoma, the typical pet owner cannot. If you find a strange growth on your pet, schedule an appointment at a local animal hospital. Professional analysis will be required to verify that the tumor is not at deadly liposarcomas.
Most lipomas feel soft and moveable under the skin. They usually don’t make your pet uncomfortable. That remains true unless the lipomas are in a location where normal movement is disrupted, like in the axillary region under the front leg. Often times, they are located on the belly or the trunk of your pup, but they can grow anywhere on the dog’s body.
Lipomas are created when a lump of fat starts to grow in the soft tissue of the body. While they can develop to dogs in perfectly good health, they are most commonly found in older dogs. That’s one reason that veterinarians suggest that you take your pet in for a checkup twice a year as they get older. Since lipomas are more common in older dogs, especially dogs over eight years old, this is an especially important guideline to follow.
In addition, overweight and obese dogs are more likely to develop lipomas. In particularly overweight dogs, a lipoma may not be immediately noticeable. Finally, certain breeds of dogs are prone to lipoma tumors. These breeds include Golden Retrievers, Doberman Pinscher, and Labradors.
Things To Remember
Most dogs who develop one lipoma will develop multiple tumors over time. It’s recommended that every mass is checked individually by a vet to ensure it’s not malignant. This is just another important reason why your pets need to go to the vet for twice annual checkups.
If you notice any signs of lipomas on your pet, you need to act quickly to get them into the veterinarian as soon as possible. Whether you’re going to 24-hour animal hospitals, emergency vets, or your regular vet’s office, the sooner you get your dog in, the better. The professionals at the animal hospital will be able to figure out what’s going on with the lump and what treatments are necessary so your pet can get back to its normal range of motion and movement as quickly as possible.
In the next post, we’ll continue discussing canine lipomas. Keep reading to learn how these benign tumors are diagnosed and treated.
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