Lipoma in dogs - Symptoms, diagnosis and treatment

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When we see that a dog has a lump, it can quickly come to mind that it is a tumor process, something that alarms and worries the guardians a lot when they get worse. It is true that on many occasions tumors are malignant, but on many other occasions they are also benign, the best example being the canine lipoma.

Lipomas in dogs are a tumor accumulation of fat cells or adipocytes. It is a benign tumor of mesenchymal origin that mainly affects older female dogs of certain breeds, although no dog is free to suffer from it at any time in his life. The diagnosis is made with cytology, by observing a large number of adipocytes, and is generally not removed if it is not bothersome to the dog or includes very deep layers of the skin. Keep reading this AnimalWised article to learn more about the lipoma in dogs, what it is, its symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.

You may also be interested in: Malabsorption syndrome in dogs - Diagnosis and treatment Index
  1. What is lipoma in dogs?
  2. Causes of lipoma in dogs
  3. Symptoms of lipoma in dogs
  4. Diagnosis of lipoma in dogs
  5. Canine lipoma treatment

What is lipoma in dogs?

A lipoma is a neoplasm or benign mesenchymal tumor which consists of the exaggerated accumulation of adipocytes, which are fat cells. It is a tumor with a firm, soft and spongy consistency that can be solitary or multiple tumor nodules appear. Adipocytes are clustered with thin cell borders. When processed with methanol they dissolve, being fat.

Lipomas in dogs develop in the subcutaneous tissue, especially of the extremities or the abdominal or thoracic cavity. Sometimes they can also include deeper layers, although it is not so common.

Causes of lipoma in dogs

The main cause of lipoma in dogs is genetic character, being the most affected races the following:

  • Doberman.
  • Cocker.
  • Labrador retriever.
  • German shepherd.
  • Pinschers.

It is more common in older dogs and females seem to be more susceptible. However, they can be detected at any age, race and sex.

Other causes of lipoma in dogs

In addition to genetics, it is seen more frequently in dogs with being overweight or obese, perhaps due to a low-performance metabolism that produces a low capacity for metabolizing fat, which is why it tends to accumulate.

They can also be caused by the body's inability to properly detoxify toxins from liver, intestinal or kidney disorder.

Symptoms of lipoma in dogs

A lipoma in dogs presents a variable size, from less than 1 cm to several cm. If they are large they can compress or disturb the animal, but in most cases it does not limit them at all in their day-to-day lives. Lipomas can be individual or appear several, and consist of nodules of consistency:

  • Firm.
  • Gentle.
  • Soft.
  • Encapsulated.
  • Circumscribed.
  • With well defined borders.

These tumors are usually located in the subcutaneous tissue of the extremities, neck, abdomen, or chest. They tend to have good mobility as they generally do not join deep tissues, which is more indicative of malignancy. However, sometimes they can grow in muscle tissue, appearing firmer, harder and less mobile without indicating that they are malignant tumors..

The malignant variety lipoma is liposarcoma, which can metastasize to other locations in the dog's body, such as bones, lungs or other organs. It is a tissue with the appearance of a lipoma but infiltrating, which invades muscle tissue and fascia. For more information, you can consult this other article on Tumors in dogs - Types, symptoms and treatment.

Diagnosis of lipoma in dogs

The clinical diagnosis is easy, after the detection of the lump, a tumor process is thought and one must go to the veterinary center to diagnose what type of tumor it is and if it is benign or malignant. In the latter case, you must also investigate for metastases. The differential diagnosis of lipoma in dogs includes other canine nodules such as:

  • Liposarcoma.
  • Mastocytoma.
  • Soft tissue sarcoma.
  • Sebaceous cyst.
  • Epidermoid cyst.
  • Histiocytoma.

The definitive diagnosis of lipoma in dogs is obtained with a fine needle puncture (FAP), putting the cellular content obtained on a slide and viewing it under a microscope, where a multitude of adipocytes will be seen, clarifying the diagnosis.

Adipocytes are seen as cells with vacuolated cytoplasm and a small, pyknotic, flat, and eccentric nucleus. In the case of suspecting that it affects deeper planes, they will be necessary advanced imaging tests, which will also help the surgeon to plan the removal.

Canine lipoma treatment

Treatment can be surgical removal, but normally it is chosen to leave it and to observe its evolution. If it continues to grow to a considerable size, causing discomfort, dermatological lesions or affecting some structures of the dog, it should be removed.

Keep in mind that leaving a lipoma is not dangerous for your dog. These tumors do not metastasize or endanger the life of the canine.

This article is merely informative, at we do not have the power to prescribe veterinary treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the vet in the event that it presents any type of condition or discomfort.

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