Welcome back to Buckley Veterinary Hospital’s monthly pet care column.
Has your furry family member developed some type of a growth under the skin on its body, perhaps on its neck, leg or belly? There are a number of issues you may have discovered, depending on how fast the lump or bump developed and it’s location, appearance, texture and movability. Anything from an abscess to a mast cell tumor can develop on your pet. This month, we are touching on lipomas, one form of growth that your pet may develop over time.
Lipomas are benign (noncancerous), freely movable, relatively slow-growing, fat-filled tumors that are quite common in dogs, especially older ones. They are soft, easily manipulated and located just under your dog’s skin. While they can develop anywhere, they are most commonly found on your dog’s undercarriage, in the chest or abdomen. These tumors, while ugly, generally do not pose any health threat. They are the most common type of benign tumor in older dogs – almost every senior dog has at least one.
The exact cause of these nonthreatening but ugly lumps is unknown; they are part of the natural aging process.
Symptoms: Lumps and bumps are the most common signs of a lipoma. They are usually round or oval in shape, form under the skin, and are freely movable and well-defined.
Diagnosis: Your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical exam on your dog and may recommend diagnostic tests to confirm that the lump is a lipoma. These tests may include: needle aspiration; microscopic evaluation of cells; and biopsy of the tissue.
Treatment: While lipomas don’t usually pose any serious health threat, removal is sometimes recommended if they limit your dog’s mobility appreciably, or they grow too large, making your dog scratch or bite at them.
If your veterinarian recommends surgery, they will most likely perform pre-surgical blood tests to ensure your pet is healthy and can handle the anesthesia and surgical procedure.
If your veterinarian recommends leaving the lipoma alone, it will be important to monitor it for any changes. In some cases, a lipoma can grow too large and become uncomfortable. If you spot any abnormal lump or bump on your pooch, you should contact your veterinarian.
While lipomas are not life-threatening, other causes of bumps can have more serious side effects.
Prevention: There is nothing you can do to prevent your pet from getting lipomas; they are a natural part of the aging process for many dogs. If you have questions, please contact your veterinarian, your key resource for information about the health and well-being of your best friend.
If you find that a lump or bump has appeared recently, we encourage you to ask your veterinarian at your pet’s next appointment or schedule a specific consult to address the concern early on in its presentation.
Thank you to our readers – we welcome you back next month. As always, send questions, comments, or suggestions for future columns to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Content in part from partnering, Pet Health Network.