When most people find a bump under their pet’s skin, their mind goes to the worse case scenario: cancer. And while it’s true that some lumps will be cancerous, many others will be benign and harmless. Lipomas -- soft, moveable masses of fatty tissue under the skin -- are the latter case, and they are very common in dogs.
What Causes Lipomas in Dogs and Cats?
Though the causes of lipomas in dogs and cats are not well understood, their formation appears to be related to the aging process, as they show up most frequently in middle-aged and senior dogs (especially females). They also commonly appear in overweight dogs, which may be due to the large number of fat cells they have.
The dog breeds that are most likely to develop lipomas include Cocker Spaniels, Dachshunds, Poodles, and Terriers.
While lipomas are less common in cats, they do sometimes occur in older cats and cats with feline leukemia.
Symptoms of Lipomas in Dogs and Cats
Most owners notice a lipoma on their pet while petting or grooming them. Lipomas are soft and round bumps under the skin that can appear anywhere on the body (though in dogs, they are often located on the belly or torso). They are usually not painful, but they can be if they are particularly large or located in an area where they are interfering with or becoming irritated by movement (for example, in the armpit).
Most dogs and cats who have had one lipoma will go on to develop others.
Diagnosing Lipomas in Dogs and Cats
If you ever notice a lump or bump under your pet’s skin, contact your veterinarian. This is true even if your pet has had a lipoma before.
Your veterinarian will check for others lumps and perform a fine needle aspiration, a type of biopsy in which a very thin needle is inserted into the area to check for cancerous cells. If the results of the fine needle aspiration are inconclusive, your veterinarian may need perform another biopsy that involves more invasive tissue removal.
Treatment for Lipomas in Dogs and Cats
If testing reveals that your pet’s lump is in fact a lipoma, your veterinarian will likely recommend a “wait-and-see” approach. You’ll want to keep an eye on your pet’s lump, watch for other lumps, and visit your vet regularly so that they can monitor the lump and check for any changes. In most cases, no further treatment will be required. However, surgery is an option if the lump is interfering with your pet’s movement or causing them irritation.
Some types of lipomas may be more serious.
Infiltrative lipomas are those that invade surrounding tissues, moving into the bones or muscles and causing functional problems. Even though they are benign, they can really hinder a pet’s movement. Treatment usually involves surgery or surgery and radiation therapy. Ideally, the lipoma should be removed entirely. However, if it cannot be completely removed for whatever reason, radiation therapy can help to control its spread.
Liposarcomas are rare, malignant fatty tissue tumors that can appear on any part of the body and do not necessarily start out as benign lipomas. Depending on the grade of the tumor, it may be dangerous and capable of spreading to the lungs and other organs. The primary treatment option is surgery, though radiation therapy and chemotherapy are also sometimes employed. Even though liposarcomas are not very common, they represent how important it is to have each and every new lump examined, even if past lumps have been innocent.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best treatment for dog lipomas?
Dog lipomas, also known as fatty tumors, are benign growths composed of adipose tissue that commonly occur in older dogs. Even while lipomas are mostly harmless, their presence can make pet owners uncomfortable, limit their movement, and raise concerns regarding their looks. When dog lipomas are uncomfortable or negatively impact the dog's quality of life, surgical excision is frequently the most effective treatment. The tumor can be completely removed with surgical excision, which lowers the risk of recurrence. But before having a lipoma surgically removed, a dog's age, general health, the size and location of the lipoma, and the dangers of the procedure should all be taken into consideration. In some instances, when surgical removal is not feasible due to the size or location of the lipoma or if the dog is not a good candidate for surgery, alternative treatment options may be explored. These may include liposuction, which involves the insertion of a thin tube to suction out the fatty tissue, or steroid injections to reduce the size of the lipoma.
Are lipomas serious in dogs?
No, dog lipomas are typically thought to be benign and non-life threatening. Usually made of fatty tissue, they are soft, moveable lumps that grow slowly. Lipomas are typically only thought of as aesthetic problems in dogs and do not pose any serious health risks. Lipomas, though, can cause trouble in a few specific circumstances. For instance, a lipoma may require medical attention if it becomes significantly large or if it develops in a part of the body that restricts movement or hurts the dog. A lipoma may, in highly uncommon circumstances, become infiltrative and invade neighboring tissues or organs. Furthermore, even though lipomas do not inherently constitute malignant tumors, it is crucial to distinguish them from other tumor forms that could resemble lipomas in appearance. Therefore, if a new lump is discovered on a dog, it is crucial to have it examined by a veterinarian to ensure an accurate diagnosis.
Can lipomas go away in cats?
Cats may develop benign fatty tumors called lipomas. However, no, they do not go away on their own. Lipomas in cats often appear as soft, moveable lumps beneath the skin that are slow-growing. While they often aren't a problem right away, they can occasionally get big enough to affect the cat's comfort or movement. A veterinarian could advise surgical removal in certain circumstances. It's crucial to understand that lipomas cannot be cured with non-invasive treatments. Unlike some types of cysts that may resolve spontaneously, lipomas are composed of adipose tissue and are not likely to resolve on their own. However, regular monitoring is essential to ensure that the lipoma does not grow larger or undergo any changes. However, it is worth noting that weight loss in overweight or obese cats can sometimes lead to a reduction in the size of existing lipomas. Since lipomas are composed of fatty tissue, when a cat loses weight, the overall fat content in their body decreases, which can result in a decrease in the size of lipomas. This weight loss can be achieved through a combination of a controlled diet and increased exercise under the guidance of a veterinarian.
Is it common for cats to get lipomas?
No, It's not very common for cats to have lipomas. Cats that are middle-aged to elderly, often over the age of eight, are more likely to develop lipomas. Any breed can develop them. However, some, like Siamese and domestic shorthairs, may have a little higher propensity. Although the precise cause of lipomas in cats is not entirely understood, a number of variables, such as genetic susceptibility, hormone imbalances, and obesity, have been proposed as potential causes.
Are lipomas cancerous in cats?
No, Lipomas in cats are normally benign tumors and not cancerous. Lipomas are benign tumors that do not spread to other parts of the body or infect the tissues around them. Under the skin, they are often slow-growing, soft, and moveable since they are made of adipose or fatty tissue. In cats, lipomas are mostly unharmful and do not present serious health hazards. Even while lipomas are benign in and of themselves, it's still necessary to distinguish them from other tumor forms that could look similar. Rarely, a growth that initially seems to be a lipoma may actually be another potentially cancerous tumor.
Lipomas (Fatty Lumps)
Fatty Skin Tumors in Dogs
What Causes Lipomas in Dogs?