Animal Care and Welfare: Lipomas in Dogs
Rex loves his vegetables, and everything else included in his healthy diet. While a few pounds overweight, he is an avid swimmer and ball-chaser. Even so, many months ago, I noticed a lump on his side. After a trip to my vet, it’s confirmed to be a fatty lipoma.
I’ve dealt with fatty lipomas in dogs professionally as a veterinary technician of over twenty years, and I’ve dealt with them personally in my own dogs.
Fatty lipomas are a type of skin tumor. They are a subcutaneous collection of fat cells. They are usually soft, slow-growing and somewhat ‘moveable’. Lipomas are benign- they can multiply, but they won’t metastasize. Fatty tumors are contained in a ‘fibrous case’ that keeps them from invading surrounding tissues. Troubles occur when these lipomas get so big, they hinder movement or internal organ function. Fatty skin tumors are rare in cats and horses, but one-third of all canine tumors are in the skin. Even humans can get fatty lipomas (check out the TV show Dr. Pimple Popper). Labrador Retrievers, Doberman Pinschers, overweight and senior dogs and dogs with hypothyroidism are all prone to getting fatty lipomas.
Traditional Chinese Medicine describes lipomas as a manifestation of ‘stagnant Qi’ or ‘energetic blockage’. These tumors can suggest that the body is congested and energy isn’t flowing as it should. Stagnation and blocked circulation occur when (toxin) elimination systems slow down.
A needle aspirate by your veterinarian will give a definitive diagnosis. When caught early, these tumors can usually be surgically removed without complication.
A concentrated protocol that includes the following measures can help prevent these tumors and even prevent the growth of existing fatty lipomas. Liver and kidney support is imperative- less toxins ingested by your dog means less work for the liver and kidneys in eliminating them. A high quality diet including lean proteins/meat, vegetables and probiotics will benefit liver and kidney function. Healthy blood flow prevents stagnation that can lead to fat cell accumulation- walking, acupuncture and even massage increase circulation and energy flow, thus toxin elimination. Omega 3 fatty acids and milk thistle are two supplements that can help support liver function, circulation and elimination. While fatty lipomas aren’t caused by a dog being overweight, excess fat in the body can, in fact, ‘feed’ these tumors. Keeping your dog at a healthy weight can only increase the chances that fatty lipomas won’t develop.
There are many options available to address fatty lipomas in dogs. I started a new protocol for Rex that includes Hawthorn and a turkey tail mushroom supplement… and I’m watching that lipoma like a hawk.