All About Fatty Tumors in Dogs

You just pet your dog, and you found a soft, movable bump on his body. Though it doesn't feel hard or seem like it's making your dog uncomfortable, it's still concerning. What is this bump? Is it bad for your dog? Will it grow bigger?

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What you're likely feeling is a fatty tumor. By learning what a fatty tumor is and when you should take your dog to the vet if you detect one, you can keep your dog healthy and safe.

What is a fatty tumor?

A fatty tumor, also called a lipoma, is a tumor or mass underneath the skin that commonly appears on dogs. It typically doesn't move much, it's soft and it doesn't cause any harm to the skin covering it. A dog may have one or multiple lipomas, which are comprised of fatty tissue and cells. While some are as small as a lima bean, others can grow to be as large as a golf ball. They are usually located on a dog's belly or chest, but they can show up anywhere.

What causes fatty tumors?

Fatty tumors can occur in all breeds regardless of age or size. Usually, older, overweight dogs – especially females – are prone to getting fatty tumors. Essentially, they may be caused by weight, age and diet. The breeds more likely to get fatty tumors include Cocker Spaniels, Labradors and Doberman Pinschers.

Are fatty tumors dangerous?

Fatty tumors rarely cause problems in dogs, so they are usually not dangerous. However, if they grow to be so big in an area that is impeding your dog's movement or making him uncomfortable, removal will become necessary. Rarely, a mass will become more aggressive and may not be safe for your dog, so your veterinarian will remove it while your dog is under anesthesia. Usually, the removal is not difficult unless it is an infiltrative lipoma, which means that it's invading fascia and muscle tissue.

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Can fatty tumors go away?

Fatty tumors can go away on their own, but it's best to prevent them in the first place. You can do this by giving your dog a healthy diet and making sure he gets regular exercise. Ask your vet about homemade remedies and herbs you can give your dog – such as turmeric and chamomile.

How do you get rid of fatty tumors?

There are a few ways to get rid of fatty tumors. You can do it naturally or with surgery, but only if your veterinarian does a fine-needle aspiration and determines it is necessary. This involves inserting a needle into the fatty tumor and to collect fluids or cells and test them to see if the tumor needs to be removed. Your veterinarian may also do an infiltration, or an injection, with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or calcium chloride, which will shrink it.

You may need to change your dog's diet by giving him specially formulated food for overweight pups. For example, your dog should be getting food containing pureed vegetables and fish and meat. Simple carbohydrates should be avoided, and dog food should not contain preservatives, dyes or chemicals, which are toxic to your dog. Liver support supplements and Omega 3 fatty acids may also prevent the fatty tumors from forming.

Exercise is very important. You should get your dog moving at least 30 minutes a day, and up to two hours if he is more hyperactive. Regular visits to the vet are necessary, so your vet can spot any fatty tumors that may be occurring and make specific recommendations based on your dog's breed, weight and age.

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By keeping your dog fit, you can avoid fatty tumors and ensure your pup has a healthy, comfortable life.