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D2011-02

Dear Daisy Dog

Maggie, my 6-year-old Labrador mix, has a soft lump on the side of her chest. Her veterinarian examined a sample under the microscope, proclaimed it a lipoma, and said not to worry. What exactly is a lipoma?

Daisy Responds

A lipoma is a benign fatty tumor common in dogs but rare in cats. The prefixes lip- and lipo- are Greek for fat, as in lipid or liposuction. The suffix -oma is Greek for mass or tumor.

Lipomas usually develop in the subcutaneous space, between the skin and the underlying musculature. Fortunately, they don’t cause discomfort.

These soft masses arise most frequently in older, overweight dogs. Often afflicted, in addition to Labradors, are golden retrievers, Dobermans, miniature schnauzers, cocker spaniels, dachshunds, poodles and terriers.

If a lipoma is in a location that will bother the dog –- for example, in the armpit, where it may grow large enough to interfere with walking –- it should be surgically removed. It sounds like Maggie’s is not, so it can remain, as long as it doesn’t get so big that it embarrasses her.

A dog that develops one lipoma often forms more, so pet Maggie often, and have your veterinarian check any other masses you find.

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