What Is A Dog Lipoma?
A dog fatty tissue tumor (FTT) is a benign growth of adipose tissue found in various parts of the body including the liver, spleen, kidneys and lungs. These tumors are most commonly seen in large breeds such as Great Danes, Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers. However they have been reported in other large breed dogs like Rottweilers, Boxers, Dobermans and others.
The fat cells within these tissues produce hormones that cause them to grow. When they reach a certain size they start secreting their own hormones which cause them to spread throughout the body causing inflammation and pain. If left unchecked, it can lead to cancerous growths spreading through the body.
How Can You Get One On Your Dog?
Dogs are susceptible to FTT’s because they tend to eat a lot of food with high fat content. Some common foods include: chicken, beef, lamb, pork chops and liver. Other sources of fats include cream cheese or butter in pet treats and gravy from meat dishes. Due to the breed and their tendency to overeat, they are more prone to these types of tumors.
How Do You Know If Your Dog Has One?
In most cases these tumors are found when they reach one or two centimeters (0.4-0.8 inches) in size. They are most often located at the base of the tail or near the kidneys, however anywhere in the body can be affected. Larger tumors can be found in the abdomen or along the spine.
Most dogs with these fat tumors will show no signs until they reach a fairly large size. At this point they begin to cause pain and discomfort for your pet. In some cases they can become cancerous and spread to other parts of the body. These types of tumors are not painful if they are not large in size.
How Do You Treat A Lipoma On A Dog?
A dog lipoma is a lot easier to treat than cancerous tumors. The treatment for these tumors is surgically removing them from your pet’s body. The procedure is done under general anesthesia and takes about an hour to complete. Most dogs make a full recovery after the surgery with no long-lasting effects.
There are some complications that can occur during and after the procedure. There is a chance of infection at the incision site, as well as the area being prone to bleeding for a few days. There is also a slight chance of the tumor returning in the same area or in another part of the body.
In some cases the tumors are so large that they begin to wrap around major organs and blood vessels. In these types of cases the veterinarian may be forced to remove a section of the tail, part of the spine or part of the colon. This is a bigger operation and carries more risk for your pet, however it can save their life in the long run.
What Is The Long Term Outlook For My Dog?
The long-term outlook for your dog depends on how the procedure went. If the tumor was caught in time and only a small section of the tail had to be removed your dog should have a near 100% survival rate. There may be some minor limitations on activities, but your pet should lead a happy and healthy life going forward.
If a large portion of the tail, the spine or colon had to be removed your dog’s outlook becomes slightly grim. The body part that was removed prevents them from having a normal bowel movement, so they will require regular bowel movements for the rest of their life. Depending on where the section of bowel was removed your dog may or may not be able to hold it as long as a normal dog.
This condition can be life-long and must be monitored regularly by a veterinarian, as well as your pet’s owner. Depending on the activity level of your dog, they may need to go more or less often than other dogs. There are some prescription diets that can help with bowel movements, and your veterinarian can help you choose the best one for your pet.
These procedures can be expensive and time-consuming, however they are necessary in order to keep your dog healthy and happy. If you would like to learn more about how you can help your dog after their surgery, speak with the veterinarian who performed the procedure. They will be able to help you decide on a plan of action that suits the needs of you and your pet.
What Is The Risk Of My Dog Developing Cancer Later In Life?
Dogs that have had a lipoma or another benign tumor removed are at a slightly higher risk of developing cancer later in life. This is especially true if the tumor was located near or around the tail and spinal area. This does not mean that your pet is going to get cancer, but they are slightly more likely than a pet without this procedure.
Most veterinarians will not perform this type of procedure on pets that are highly predisposed to certain types of cancer.
For example, a Dachshund will usually never be approved for severing due to the risks of cancer later in life, even if the procedure is relatively minor.
If your pet does have an increased risk of getting cancer later in life, they will be monitored for specific types of cancer more often. Speak to your veterinarian if you are concerned about the health of your pet going forward.
Some pets will need to have the stitches removed from their surgery site. This usually depends on where the surgery was performed and how experienced your veterinarian is. If the procedure was complex or delicate, it may require several visits to remove the stitches completely.
If there is a section of the tail or spinal cord that was removed, the skin will often be tacked down to the surrounding tissues to prevent it from flopping around. This requires a small stitch, but they are very absorbable and can usually be absorbed by your pet in a few days.
Your veterinarian may also prescribe an antibiotic for your pet. This is to reduce the risk of infection in the incision site. If the skin was incised (cut), it is very susceptible to getting infected. This is especially true with pets as their skin is not as sturdy as ours and provides less protection.
If your pet did not have a general anesthetic, your veterinarian may still recommend pain medication. The pain medication can be administered at home if needed.
Sources & references used in this article:
- Infiltrative lipoma in dogs (AE McChesney, LC Stephens, J Lebel… – Veterinary …, 1980 – journals.sagepub.com)
- Imaging of fatty tumors: distinction of lipoma and well-differentiated liposarcoma (MJ Kransdorf, LW Bancroft, JJ Peterson, MD Murphey… – Radiology, 2002 – pubs.rsna.org)
- Metastasis of a well-differentiated liposarcoma in a dog and a note on nomenclature of fatty tumours (JE Saik, RW Diters, JA Wortman – Journal of comparative pathology, 1987 – Elsevier)
- Imaging diagnosis—infiltrative lipoma causing spinal cord compression in a dog (LW Morgan, R Toal, G Siemering… – Veterinary Radiology & …, 2007 – Wiley Online Library)
- Relationship of endothelial area with VEGF-A, COX-2, maspin, c-KIT, and DOG-1 immunoreactivity in liposarcomas versus non-lipomatous soft tissue tumors (I Jung, S Gurzu, S Turdean, D Ciortea… – … Journal of Clinical …, 2015 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Body cavity lipomas in six dogs (PD Mayhew, DJ Brockman – Journal of small animal practice, 2002 – Wiley Online Library)
- Comparisons among computed tomographic features of adipose masses in dogs and cats (E Spoldi, T Schwarz, S Sabattini… – Veterinary Radiology …, 2017 – Wiley Online Library)
- Intra-pelvic chondrolipoma in a dog (F Mutinelli, M Vascellari, E Melchiotti, M Bigolaro… – Journal of comparative …, 2007 – Elsevier)
- Canine liposarcoma (AR Doster, MJ Tomlinson, EA Mahaffey… – Veterinary …, 1986 – journals.sagepub.com)