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Lipomas are masses or tumors found under the skin. The word ‘tumor’ is often not used as an alternate to lipoma due to the fear evoked in pet parents when the word ‘tumor’ is stated. A tumor has a negative connotation associated with it which is not often the case with fatty lipomas. These are also known as “fatty tumors” and “growths” and are simply fat deposits in an unusual location.
Lipomas are very common in dogs and are generally soft with limited mobility underneath the skin. The overlying skin is generally not affected; however, with time lipomas may grow larger and decrease the ability of your dog to move. Lipomas are most commonly non-cancerous but should still be checked by your veterinarian. If you feel a bump on your dog but you're not sure if it is a lipoma, you can check our guide for bumps and lumps on dogs.
Senior dogs and overweight dogs may have at least one lipoma. If your dog has a lipoma, the pet parent can often easily feel the lipoma. Lipomas may affect any breed but most commonly affect the following breeds:
Lipomas do not generally make dogs uncomfortable unless their normal movement is disrupted. Dogs with one lipoma will commonly develop several lipomas over time.
The cause of the development of lipomas is most commonly the decreased ability of the immune and endocrine systems at an older age. When these systems are not working fully, the body eliminates unwanted material through the skin which results in the lipoma.
If a dog owner locates a lipoma, the pet parent should schedule an appointment with a veterinarian to conduct a palpation of the lipoma. Lipomas are not often considered a serious or threatening condition. The lipoma is simply monitored to ensure it does not increase in size quickly.
Lipomas should not be dismissed, though. There are few cases where what was thought to simply be a lipomaturns out to be cancerous. To confirm the lipoma is benign, a biopsy may be conducted for safety measures. Most dogs do not require surgery for their lipomas unless movement is disrupted.
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Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances.
1 Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.