Fatty tissue tumours can occur in dogs of all breeds at any age. Most of these tumours are benign and do not require removal unless they are very large. If your dog develops a fatty tissue tumour, consult a veterinarian to be certain it is a benign tumour.
Fatty tissue tumours are also known as lipomas in dogs. Lipomas occur most often in overweight dogs and female dogs. These tumours are not malignant and pose no threat to the dog's health unless they become very large or limit the dog's mobility. It can be difficult, however, for an untrained pet owner to distinguish between a lipoma and a malignant tumour. For this reason, you should visit your veterinarian for a proper diagnosis.
Fatty tissue tumours or lipomas are best described as fat deposits that are in an abnormal area on the dog's skin. Lipomas are usually located in the subcutaneous tissue and are painless. Although firm, this type of tumour can be moved and is not associated with any type of infection in the dog.
A veterinarian can confirm the diagnosis of a fatty tissue tumour by needle aspiration. This involves taking a sample of cells from the tumour and examining them underneath a microscope. If any of the cells appear abnormal and likely to be malignant, then the veterinarian may take a tissue sample from the dog for further examination.
The only way to get rid of a fatty tissue tumour in dogs is to surgically remove it. There are risks associated with anaesthesia in dogs, so that is an important point to consider. Many veterinarians only surgically remove the tumour if it is very large or affects the dog's ability to move. Occasionally, fatty tissue tumours get large and may need to be removed. However, this type of tumour may grow back. Most veterinarians take measurements of the tumour and observe it for several months. If it does not grow larger, then no treatment is necessary.
Fatty tissue tumours are not dangerous and cause no symptoms in dogs. If your dog has a tumour and has symptoms, consult your veterinarian. The symptoms of canine cancer are enlarged lymph nodes; sores that do not heal; bleeding from the mouth, vagina, nose, rectum or urinary tract; difficulty eating; trouble breathing; difficulty urinating or defecating; loss of appetite; weight loss; lack of energy; lumps in the breast; or a difference in testicle size.