Fatty tumors are nothing to fear
Posted September 06, 2018
Finding a mysterious growth under your dog’s skin
can be a frightening experience; however, owners can find comfort
in knowing that these mystery bumps are not as uncommon as they may
As dogs age, they can develop benign growths beneath the
skin—the most common of these being lipomas, or fatty tumors.
According to Dr. Brandan Wustefeld-Janssens, an assistant
professor of surgical oncology at the Texas A&M College of
Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, lipomas arise from
adipose tissue, or fat cells, and are typically found on the chest
or abdomen. Some dogs can develop numerous tumors and some can grow
Lipomas are soft, often moveable, and not painful to the touch.
While owners may be able to detect the mass beneath their dog’s
skin, touch, as a form of detection, should never be used as a
diagnostic tool, according to Wustefeld-Janssens.
“If a new growth is found on your dog, making an appointment
with your family veterinarian is an appropriate course of action,”
he said. “Your veterinarian will likely perform a test called fine
needle aspirate to get a sample of the tumor to look at under the
This test, however, cannot differentiate between the
non-invasive forms of the tumor and the infiltrative form.
Infiltrative lipomas do not spread but are known for their
penetration into the soft tissues.
“Differentiating between the two tumors is usually done with
advanced imaging, like CT scans, or during surgery,”
After further testing, a veterinarian will be able to diagnose
the fatty tumor and assess the need for treatment. In most cases,
lipomas are not an immediate cause for worry, and most don’t
“Lipomas are mostly asymptomatic unless they are causing
compression of a vital structure or become so large that they
interfere with mobility. This means that the majority of lipomas do
not require surgical removal and are, instead, actively monitored
for a change in size,” Wustefeld-Janssens said. “Tumors that we
generally treat with surgery are those that arise from deeper areas
like the thigh, or if we are suspicious that they are the
Although there is very little an owner can do to prevent lipomas
from forming, keeping your dog lean and healthy and scheduling
yearly check-ups with a veterinarian will allow for early detection
of these tumors.
With the guidance and expertise of a veterinarian, discovering a
lipoma on your four-legged friend is nothing to fear.
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Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. Stories can be
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