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Be on the lookout for canine lipomas

Friday, February 28th, 2014
Issue 09, Volume 18.

RIVERSIDE COUNTY ‚Äď Being a responsible pet owner means taking various steps to ensure the health and well-being of a companion animal. Providing food and shelter are just some of the basics. Additionally, pet parents should regularly observe their pets and interact with them to ensure their pets are healthy.

Petting and handling a pet is not only good bonding time between owner and pet, but also presents opportunities to examine the animalís body. These informal examinations may alert to certain conditions, such as the presence of fleas or unusual growths, early on so that further action can be taken.

Oftentimes pet owners discover their dogs have unusual lumps under the skin. While these may be problematic tumors, the lumps may be lipomas, which are largely harmless.

According to, an informative Web site for pet owners, lipomas are benign, relatively slow-growing, fat-filled tumors that are quite common in dogs, especially as they get older. Lipomas are not cancerous, and they should be soft and easily manipulated beneath the dogís skin. Lipomas can develop anywhere, but theyíre usually found on the belly and chest of the dog. The exact cause of these fatty tumors is unknown, but it seems to be a part of aging in some canines.

Discovering a lipoma can be disconcerting to dog owners. Feeling a large lump on a pet may prompt a visit to the veterinarianís office. A veterinarian can often distinguish a lipoma Advertisement
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from another more serious condition by simply feeling the lump. Otherwise, the vet may recommend some diagnostic tests, such as needle aspiration, where a specimen of cells is collected. These cells will be looked at under a microscope or a biopsy of the lipoma tissue may be taken.

There is nothing a pet owner can do to prevent their dog from getting lipomas, but they can watch to make sure the lipoma does not grow too large or become uncomfortable for the dog. A lipoma that grows large enough to impede mobility or is bothersome to the dog, who may bite and lick at it, may need to be removed. Together with their vet, pet owners can make the determination as to what is best for the animal.

Dogs that have one lipoma may be likely to develop more. Just because the lump looks and feels like others, it is best to have it checked by a vet as a precaution. Although rare, sometimes a lipoma can be malignant, and this is called a liposarcoma. These tumors donít spread quickly to other areas of the body, but since lipomas in general seem to infiltrate muscle and other tissue in the body, they can be difficult to remove and recurrence is common.

Pet ownership requires keeping abreast of pet health issues. Lumps on an animal may not be serious, but they are worthy of a check by a veterinarian.



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