What Are Lipomas?

What are lipomas? It’s a question we hear often from our clients here at Leesville Animal Hospital.

Finding a lump on your dog, no matter where it is located or how big or small it is can be terrifying for any pet owner. More often than not, however, these lumps turn out to be nothing but lipomas. But what is a lipoma? Today, here on the Leesville Animal Hospital blog we are going to take a look at everything you ever wanted to know about these common lumps!

woman kissing sick dog

As our dog’s age, it isn’t uncommon to find lumps and bumps on their body. More often than not, these lumps turn out to be nothing but innocent lipomas (although we ALWAYS recommend checking in with your vet whenever you find a new lump on your pet!) Okay…but what are lipomas?

What Are Lipomas?

In short, a lipoma is a tumor made of fatty tissue. Now, the term ‘tumor’ tends to strike fear in any pet owner, but essentially it refers to a swelling within the body that results from abnormal tissue growth. A tumor does not have to contain cancerous cells, and in the case of lipomas, the tumor is simply a tumor composed of fat. Lipomas are NOT cancer, nor do they turn into cancer.

How do I Know if it’s a Lipoma?

Many pet owners ask this question after their dog has been diagnosed as having one lipoma already. They want to know how they can tell if future lumps are also lipomas, or whether they are something else. The fact of the matter is, is that there really is no way for you to be certain what any growth is on your pet without allowing your vet to examine it and sometimes take a needle aspiration of the growth tissue. If your dog already has lipomas, then the chances are that your vet will be confident in assessing future lumps as lipomas or non-lipomas by touch alone. In some circumstances, however, your vet may be unsure and require an aspiration of the lump just to make sure that the tumor is composed of fat alone.

Are Lipomas Dangerous?

Since lipomas are composed of fatty tissue and are not cancerous, they are generally not dangerous. They can, however, become inconvenient and/or bothersome to your pet when they grow in places where they restrict your pet’s movement or cause pain due to abrasion. In these cases, and in cases where lipomas grow particularly quickly or to particularly large proportions, your vet may want to remove the lipoma to ease any discomfort your pet may be feeling.

Do I Need to Have My Dog’s Lipoma Removed?

In most cases, your veterinarian will NOT recommend removal of a lipoma. Since lipomas are simply fat, they cause no danger to your pet’s health and removal would only be for cosmetic reasons. We never recommend surgery for pets due only to cosmetic reasons! Your vet may recommend lipoma removal if a tumor is becoming too large or too invasive and resulting in other health concerns such as mobility difficulty.

Will a Lipoma Go Away on Its Own?

No. Lipoma’s are generally there for good, however, they are of little concern in the majority of cases.

How Many Lipomas Will My Dog Get?

We tend to see lipomas increasing in number as pets reach their senior years. There is no way to determine how many lipomas your dog will get or if they will get them at all!

Should I Always See My Vet When My Dog Gets a New Lump?

Yes! Since lipomas tend to appear as dog’s age, it is always important to have any new lump or bump on your dog checked out by your vet since other types of tumors also become more common as our dog’s age. When in doubt, check it out!

If your dog has a new lump or bump, give us a call today at (919) 887-8808 to make your appointment with one of our veterinarians to have them checked out ASAP!