Dogs get lumps very often. Many owners may suddenly find a lump after their dog's daily grooming session or when checking for ticks. One of the most common lumps found in dogs are lipomas. These are fatty deposits that collect under the skin. They are usually soft, smooth and movable. A lump may very likely be a lipoma, however, as with any lump we humans find in our bodies, it is always advisable to have it biopsied.
The first step after finding a lump on your dog would be having your vet examine it and determine the best course of action. Commonly, the veterinarian may want to examine some cells under a microscope. This is done by collecting the cells with a biopsy needle. The good news is that lipomas are usually benign, they usually are soft and they seem to not cause any particular pain or problems to the dog.
However, sometimes lipomas may grow very large and depending on where they are located, they may cause discomfort and therefore, need to be removed. It is best then to have the lump checked out in order to rule out any possible malignancies such as basal cell tumors, sebaceous adenocarcinoma or mast cell tumors.
Fine needle aspiration or removal of the lipoma are often fundamental in the process of ruling out a malignancy. If no malignancy is detected most vets would recommend keeping an eye on the lump and keeping track of its growth.
It is understandable that some owners are concerned about putting a dog through surgery especially if middle aged or senior. In these cases owners look for alternative treatments.
Here are some alternatives to surgery:
Sometimes a "wait and see" approach can be taken if your vet approves. Sometimes the vet is actually the first person suggesting this approach. In the "wait and see" approach, the owner must carefully monitor the lump and watch for signs of shrinking or increasing in size. Routine measurements with a ruler are necessary to ensure accurate results. Sizes recorded are then reported to the vet that can therefore suggest the best course of action.
Some owners have noticed an improvement once switching to a premium kibble or even better to a raw food diet. This may work in some cases since the underlying cause is addressed. When a dog develops a lipoma it is often a sign of the body being unable to get rid of materials as it is supposed to. Therefore, the body is out of balance and the imbalance must be corrected.
At times this can be done through diet changes however, the lipoma may not go away entirely but rather just slightly shrink in size.
DECREASE FAT INTAKE
Watch for treats or foods that have too much fat. Avoid giving greasy table scraps that can also cause pancreatitis. Since lipomas are fatty deposits, it is believed that a diet low in fat should help dogs exhibiting lipomas.
Based on the same principle that dogs producing lipomas are out of balance, herbal supplements may help give a boost to the immune system.
Omega 3 fatty acids may help promote great health from the inside out while antioxidants such as vitamin E and vitamin C could be beneficial as well.
In some cases, lipomas grow fast and are invasive. When a lipoma is difficult to remove and has infiltrated deep into the tissue then radiation therapy may be recommended.
The above approaches should be taken with a word of a caution. They may have worked for some people but it is highly recommended that you abide by your vet's protocol. If your vet suggests surgery very likely the lump is invasive and better off. You may want to get a second opinion should you do not agree with your vet.
Lumpectomies (surgical removal of lumps) can be performed safely if your dog undergoes pre-anestethic bloodwork and gets isoflurane anesthesia. Ask your vet about the pros and cons of a lumpectomy. I have checked out 14 year old dogs and 16 year old cats after undergoing a lumpectomy. Most of them recovered just fine. Fatty lumps can be left alone under the vet's suggestion but if they should not be allowed to grow to such an extent that they interfere with movement and your dog's general well being.