When you are petting your dog one day, the last thing you expect is to find a large lump or growth on their body. However, especially with older dogs, this can happen from time to time. As a concerned pet parent, you will likely take your dog to the veterinarian or emergency animal clinic soon after you find the lump. If it turns out that the growth you felt is caused by what your vet calls a lipoma, you may be confused and still concerned about what to do next. Get to know more about lipomas in dogs and what you can and should do about them so that you can be sure that you are doing what is best for your dog.
Lipomas Are a Type of Tumor
Lipomas are also known as fatty tumors or growths. And while they are indeed a type of tumor, the good news is that the vast majority of the time, lipomas are not malignant. In other words, they are not cancerous.
While it is not certain why some dogs develop lipomas, age is often a factor. Senior dogs are much more likely to develop this type of tumor than younger dogs. Certain breeds like Labradors and corgis are also more prone to such tumors than some other breeds of dog.
Testing and Treatment
When you take your dog to the veterinarian, they will likely do a manual examination of the tumor to determine its size and to try to get an idea of its margins (where it ends). If your dog has a history of cancer or if this is the first growth that you have found on your dog, they will likely then do a needle biopsy of the growth.
The biopsy is a quick extraction of some of the tissue in the tumor. This tissue sample then goes under the microscope so that your vet can get a better view. Such testing helps your vet to ensure that it is a non-malignant lipoma that they are dealing with rather than a rarer infiltrative liposarcoma.
Once the diagnosis is confirmed, you and your veterinarian can determine the best course of action. Many lipomas, if they are small and are not disruptive to your dog's comfort or movement, can be left untreated or can simply be aspirated (drained of fluid) to reduce their size. On the other hand, your veterinarian can perform surgery if the tumor is causing your dog problems and pain.
With this information in mind, you can better handle the situation and take the best possible care of your dog going forward.