Dog Care: Fatty Skin Tumours Explained

Fatty skin tumours, known as lipomas, are soft masses that sit just underneath the skin. There are not typically any changes to the skin itself and these type of tumour are rarely malignant, but they can grow and should be investigated to confirm they are benign. A fatty skin tumour can grow anywhere on your dog's body, but they are commonly found on the chest and legs and can cause discomfort when your dog is walking or lying.

It's not clear why some dogs develop fatty skin tumours, but when one tumour develops, more tend to follow. Read on to learn about the signs of this type of tumour and how it's diagnosed and treated.

Signs Of Fatty Skin Tumours

Fatty skin tumours are soft when squeezed gently, but they don't tend to move much in response to pressure. They start as a small pea-sized lump and can grow quickly. Due to being situated under the skin, dog owners often don't spot these kinds of tumours until they have grown to a significant size and can be easily seen or felt when petting or grooming their dog. Fatty skin tumours that develop in places that cause your dog discomfort, such as in the axillary region between the front leg and chest, can impact on your dog's willingness to engage in exercise and social contact. Localised irritation may also make your dog bite or scratch at the tumour.  

Diagnosing Fatty Skin Tumours

Your vet will carry out a full physical exam to confirm how many tumours are present and will collect a sample from the tumour by inserting a long, thin needle into the mass. The sample will be analysed to determine whether cancerous cells are present. Your vet may also want to carry out diagnostic imaging, such as a CT scan, to confirm the tumour has not infiltrated the surrounding muscle tissue.  

Treating Fatty Skin Tumours

Fatty skin tumours are surgically removed to prevent your dog from experiencing discomfort. The surgery typically requires an overnight stay at the clinic to ensure your dog recovers well. In cases where cancerous cells have been found in the tumour, your dog may also require additional treatment, such as chemotherapy. Dogs with benign fatty skin tumours generally recover well after a short period of rest at home, but they are at an increased risk of developing more fatty skin tumours, so it's important to check them over regularly.

If you find a growth anywhere on your dog's body, don't assume it's benign. Take your dog to a veterinary hospital to have them examined.