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Lumps, bumps, and more.

Lumps, bumps, and more

Finding a lump on your dog can be a scary experience, so it’s important to know when a lump is more than just a lump.

Lipoma in dogs: what is it?

Lipoma, despite sounding like a terrible disease, is simply a benign fatty tumor, that’s a build-up of fatty tissue under the skin.

More common in overweight, older dogs, the exact cause of lipomas is unknown. What we do know is that while generally benign, you should always have any lumps evaluated by your vet.

What do they look like?

Lipomas present as soft lumps and bumps that grow underneath your dog’s skin. They’re often movable, painless, and don’t seem to be attached to the skin or the muscle.

Are lipomas dangerous?

Lipomas themselves are generally benign, but if they continue to grow and connect with any muscle tissue they can inhibit your dog’s abilities to perform daily tasks. So while lipomas are quite common in dogs, you should always get them checked out by your vet.

So lipomas themselves are not dangerous—it’s the misdiagnosis of lipoma that’s dangerous for your dog.

The problem with any lumps

Without a proper diagnosis, there is always the risk that any soft lump or bump is actually a developing tumor. There are a number of malignant dog cancers that also appear as soft lumps under the skin, which include:

  • hemangiosarcoma
  • mast cell tumor, which make up 25% of tumors
  • hemangiopericytoma
  • liposarcoma

So for any soft lump under your dog’s skin, it’s important to get it tested, to be sure that it’s not something more serious.

How are they diagnosed?

Lipoma can’t be 100% diagnosed with a visual examination. This can lead to dangerous misdiagnoses. There are a number of tests we can do to determine the nature of the lump.


Fine needle aspirate (FNA)

A simple test performed in consultation, we insert a small needle into the lump and suck out some cells that can be used for examination. The majority of lumps can be diagnosed this way.


Impression smear

If the lump is discharging any fluid, we can use this fluid for examination.



If the FNA is unclear, then we’ll need to take a biopsy of the lump, and send this away for further testing. 

What’s next?

Lipoma diagnosis

Lipomas most commonly grow slowly, so if the results come back as simply being a lipoma, you can choose to leave it alone and come in for regular check-ups, or opt to have it removed. If they’re in places like behind the legs or armpits, —where it’s going to impede your dog’s mobility—then we’ll discuss the option of a lumpectomy. Otherwise, keep an eye on it, and let us know if anything changes.

Cancer diagnosis

A cancer diagnosis doesn’t mean the end—the important thing is that we catch tumors early. Performing these crucial diagnoses on your dog allows us to give them the best chance at continuing to live a long, healthy life with your family.

So for any cancer diagnosis, we’ll discuss with you the type of cancer present, the stage, and walk you through the treatment options we have available.

What to do when you find a lump

Our goal is to provide the right treatment for your dog, so it’s important that you bring them in for a diagnosis when you find any suspicious lumps or bumps.

While some vets may say that lipomas don’t require removal, it’s always safest to come in and have a chat with us, so we can provide you with all the options available to your dog.

So if you have found a lump, bump, or something else, call us on the details overleaf, or come in to your nearest clinic to talk through your options.

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