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Dog Fatty Tumors (Lipomas)

Lipomas are masses of fat or tumors that develop underneath the skin of animals. Fatty tumors, or lipomas, are very common in dogs. The lipomas are usually in the form of soft lumps or visible bumps and they have limited mobility under the skin. They are one of the most common types of benign tumors found in dogs.

Most older or overweight dogs have at least one lipoma and any dog that has a lipoma in one part of its body is more likely to have other lipomas. According to Dogs Naturally, a magazine about dogs “statistics show that 1.7 million dogs in the United States are treated for lipomas every year. This doesn’t include all the other lumps and bumps that appear on dogs as they reach middle age or older.”


The actual cause of these lumps is not known, but it has been established that they are a part of the natural aging process in many dogs. However, the fatty tumors are found more easily in some dog breeds than in others. Such breeds of dogs that are genetically prone to lipomas include Labrador Retrievers, Shetland Sheepdogs, and Doberman Pinschers. Also, dogs with conditions of hypothyroidism are also prone to developing fatty tumors. Other causes may be

  • Poor diet: Carbohydrates and toxins such as dyes or preservatives found in processed foods are all related to the development of fatty tumor growth
  • Drugs and chemicals: such as those used to eliminate ticks and fleas may be toxic to your dog and can result in the presence of fatty tumors
  • Environment: The presence of toxins from sprayed chemicals to control bugs may be injurious to the health of your dog, culminating in lipomas.


These non-cancerous lumps do not present diseased conditions. The most common signs of a lipoma are the presence of lumps and bumps underneath the skin of dogs. The lumps are usually round or oval in shape and are usually movable and well-defined. They are painless and are not associated with hair loss.

These lumps do not usually cause pain or discomfort for the dog. However, when the presence of such lumps begins to impair the functioning of your pet, a visit to the veterinarian becomes unavoidable.


Usually, a thorough physical examination is performed by the veterinarian on your dog and diagnostic tests may be recommended to confirm that the lump is in fact a lipoma. Some of these tests may include:

  • Needle aspiration which will indicate whether the mass is a benign lipoma, or whether it is a more worrisome mass that is imitating a lipoma.
  • Microscopic evaluation of cells
  • Biopsy of the tissue
  • A computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is also carried out to adequately understand the mass and tissue location. This will help in determining the extent of surgery that will be carried out.
  • Antibody tests to identify if your pet has been exposed to tick-related or another infectious disease.
  • A thyroid test to determine if the thyroid gland is producing too little thyroid hormone.


The treatment for fatty tumors may involve surgery depending on the diagnosis made by the veterinarian. Also, a change in diet, infiltration with calcium chloride and holistic therapies can also be used. Since most obese dogs are prone to having lipomas, it is recommended that food that will help dogs lose weight be incorporated into their diet. Giving supplements can also help increase your dog’s blood flow, which will prevent stagnation that leads to fat cell accumulation.

When you sign up for one of TAILored Pet Services’ mid-day visit packages (dog walking or potty break), we will monitor your dog’s tumors and document them after our visits. We offer numerous monthly packages depending on your needs so contact us for more information.