ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Lipomas in Dogs

Updated on September 28, 2012

Fatty Lumps in Dogs

As dogs age they often get visible lumps some of which may be tumours, others warts. Lipomas in dogs are one of the most common types of growth. They usually occur under the surface of the skin. They are also known as ‘fatty lumps’ because they are mainly made up of fat cells (adipose tissue). Dogs may have several lipomas growing, but this doesn't mean the cancer has spread, each tumour is discrete and unconnected. Lipomas in dogs are benign so there is no spread of cancer to other organs, however there is a similar looking but rare malignant tumour called a liposarcoma. If your vet suspects that a lump is a liposarcoma they will recommend sampling some of the tissue for diagnosis in the laboratory. Lipomas are most common in older dogs which are overweight and female. Labradors and Labrador crosses seem to be especially prone to them.

Lipoma on a labrador
Lipoma on a labrador | Source

Lipoma Diagnosis

Lipomas are round or slightly oblong lumps under the skin. They feel quite soft and smooth and they grow slowly. Bruno my Labrador recently had a lipoma removed. When I got him he was seven years old and already had the lump which was about the size of a large marble. Four years later when it was removed it was roughly the size of half a tennis ball. The only way to absolutely conclusively diagnose a lipoma is to send some of its cells for laboratory testing. This can be done before of after surgery to remove it. As an owner you will need to decide whether you want this done.

lipoma with sore skin surface
lipoma with sore skin surface | Source

Lipoma Treatment

Vets will usually recommend leaving a slow growing lipoma in place. They don’t hurt or spread and because they need removing under anaesthetic which entails a small risk to the dog it is safe to leave them in place. They will recommend removing it if the lipoma is fast growing, inhibiting the dog’s movement or if the surface has become sore perhaps due to the dog licking and worrying at it. They may also recommend removing a lipoma if the dog is going under anaesthetic for another reason such as teeth cleaning. In Bruno’s case the skin surface of the lump had broken and he was licking it and making it worse, so it was time to have the lipoma removed.

Lipoma Testing and Removal

Stitches from lipoma removal on the day of the operation
Stitches from lipoma removal on the day of the operation | Source

Lipoma Surgery in Dogs

Your vet will schedule an appointment for the operation to remove your dog’s lipoma and will ask you to bring the dog in to the surgery on the morning of the operation. You mustn’t allow the dog to eat after 9pm the night before and in the morning of the operation it shouldn’t be allowed water either.

You can expect the dog to spend most of the day at the vets. The vet will remove the lipoma, whilst the dog is anaesthetised, through a cut made in the dog's skin and tie off any blood vessels supplying the tumour. The wound will then be stitched up and the dog brought round from the anaesthetic. Your dog will be closely monitored during this early recovery period.

When you collect your dog you may be surprised at the size of the incision made to remove the lipoma. This is because they are often bigger than they appear when covered by hair. The vet will carefully have separated the lump from the rest of the dog's tissues to try and ensure that it is all removed and won’t grow back. There will also be a patch shaved of hair around the wound, which makes it look a bit more dramatic, but this is normal procedure to prevent the wound from getting contaminated by hairs during the operation.

All Four Paws Comfy Cone E-Collar - Dog/Puppy (Buster) Head Collar - Medium - 20Cm
All Four Paws Comfy Cone E-Collar - Dog/Puppy (Buster) Head Collar - Medium - 20Cm
A comfortable alternative to the traditional plastic 'Elizabethan' collar

Lipoma Removal Recovery

To prevent your dog chewing the stitches it will need to wear an ‘Elizabethan collar’. These are also known as a bucket collar, buster collar, lampshade collar or cone of shame! The traditional ones are plastic, some are now see though.

Dogs don’t tend to appreciate wearing these, but it is preferable to them having to be stitched back up again. There are fabric alternatives which are a more comfortable option to the plastic cone. You dog may find it easier to sleep in them as well.

Bucket collar on a dog
Bucket collar on a dog | Source
Your other dogs may try to chew the stitches as well
Your other dogs may try to chew the stitches as well | Source

When you bring your dog home from the vets on the day of the operation he is likely to feel woozy and tired. You can see from the picture of Bruno with the bucket collar that his eyes were really drooping. Offer your dog something half its normal meal and then allow it to rest.

The day after the operation he will be feeling sore and probably still tired. Your vet will have sent him home with antibiotics and a painkiller such as metacam, so you should give these to your dog as prescribed. You should just take your dog out for 2 or 3 gentle 5 minute walks.

On day two after the operation your dog will be feeling much more himself, but keep exercise down to a gentle half hour on the lead for the next couple of days. Exercise should be restricted to 'on lead' walks until the stitches are removed fourteen days after the operation.

The video at the top shows the progress of the recovery of the wound from Bruno's lipoma surgery. You will notice the wound looks a bit red on a couple of days, but this is normal. I also made the mistake of leaving him without his bucket collar for 3 minutes whilst I left the room on day 8 and he removed a couple of stitches. Luckily at this stage the vet was confident the wound would heal and didn't need restitching.

If you have other dogs watch out for them trying to lick and nibble at the stitches too. I caught Bob the terrier have a sneaky go at Bruno's stitches on several occasions!

Lipomas do sometimes regrow, but if they have come out cleanly and the vet has been able to remove all the tumour cells, that shouldn't happen.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Nettlemere profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Burnley, Lancashire, UK

      Thank you for your positive comments and votes Marcy, some dogs with big lipomas seem to manage to ignore them, but others do get irritated by them. I don't know whether that is because of different toleration levels of the individual dog or because of the physiology of the lipoma.

      Eddy - thanks for reading and voting. Looks like a wet Sunday in Burnley, hope you have sunshine in Wales!

    • Eiddwen profile image


      7 years ago from Wales

      Very useful to so many dog owners. Thanks for sharing and enjoy your weekend.


    • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

      Marcy Goodfleisch 

      7 years ago from Planet Earth

      I have seen these odd formations in dogs, but I didn't know much about them until reading this. It makes sense that dogs, just like humans, can get fatty deposits under their skin. Poor things - I can see how they would be irritated and try to bite or gnaw the area!

      Voted up and up!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)