Do fatty tumors hurt dogs?

Answered by Stephen Mosley

Fatty tumors, also known as lipomas, are quite common in dogs and are usually benign. Most lipomas do not cause any pain or discomfort to the dog. They are typically soft, movable masses that can be found under the skin. Many pet owners and veterinarians may even describe them as “lumps” or “bumps” that can be easily felt.

However, it is important to note that not all lipomas are the same. In some cases, there is a subtype of lipoma called infiltrative lipoma, which can grow into surrounding muscles or tissues. These infiltrative lipomas can cause discomfort or pain to the dog, especially if they press against nerves or other sensitive structures. While these tumors are still considered benign, they may require surgical intervention if they are causing significant discomfort to the dog.

It is also worth mentioning that although lipomas are typically harmless, there is a rare type of fatty tumor called liposarcoma that can be malignant. Liposarcomas are aggressive tumors that have the potential to spread to other parts of the body if left untreated. Unlike benign lipomas, liposarcomas can cause damage to the surrounding tissues and organs. Early detection and surgical removal are crucial in treating liposarcomas and preventing their spread.

In my personal experience as a veterinarian, I have come across numerous cases of lipomas in dogs. The majority of these lipomas have been harmless and did not cause any pain or discomfort to the dogs. However, I have also encountered a few cases where the lipomas were infiltrative and caused discomfort to the animals. In such instances, surgical removal was necessary to alleviate the pain and ensure the well-being of the dogs.

To summarize, most lipomas in dogs are not painful. They are typically benign and do not require immediate treatment unless they are causing discomfort or interfering with the dog’s quality of life. However, it is important to monitor any changes in size, shape, or texture of the lipoma and consult a veterinarian for proper evaluation and guidance. In rare cases, liposarcomas can be malignant and require prompt surgical intervention to prevent further complications.