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Alternative Treatments for Fatty Tumors in Dogs

Updated on December 17, 2016

When removal of lumps are necessary

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, a procedure known as fine needle aspiration. 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. Yet, t's important to note that a fine needle aspirate is not 100% accurate. If no malignancy is detected some 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 after having ruled out a malignancy. 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.


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 they should not be allowed to grow to such an extent that they interfere with movement and your dog's general well being.

Disclaimer: if your dog has a lump please see your vet and determine the best course of action. Never try home remedies without the consent of your vet.

Lipoma surgery on German Shephard viewer discretion advised


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      Sharon 3 months ago

      Can lipomas be injected with phosphatidylcholine since this is done for some people?

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 7 months ago from USA

      Libby, I am not a vet,(just worked for as a vet assistant) but last time I talked to my vet about my older dog having 4 lipomas (fatty tumors) she said that surgery is generally necessary when they get too big and they interfere with natural movement. If you are sure they are indeed fatty tumors (meaning your vet has checked them out) and your dog is otherwise happy and healthy and the fatty growths aren't interfering, I don't think they are a major problem that warrants putting a dog down. About the surgery, the best person to ask is your vet as this may vary based on several factors (eg how big the tumors are, if they are in places that bother the dog, how healthy your dog is to go under surgery, etc)

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      Libby bassett 7 months ago

      With a dog being 12 or 13 years old and have many fatty tumors is it necessary to put the dog down or get surgery??

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      piiro626 4 years ago

      all this information was helpful

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      Dr. John Simon 6 years ago

      I want to make it clear that needle aspiration biopsies are not infallible and I have had the unfortunate experience of having a malignant tumor hiding underneath a benign lipoma. If small growth is aspirated and only fat is found it is unlikely that a malignant tumor would be obscured by the benign growth, however, a large fatty tumor has a much great chance of covering up a smaller cancerous tumor.

      Also I believe that a wait and see approach should only be taken after a needle biopsy has been performed. I went to veterinary conference where the speaker was a clinical veterinary pathologist. He was very emphatic when he said "Never just wait and see if a mass is growing. At the very least perform a needle aspiration biopsy. If the biopsy shows only fatty tissue then you can feel more comfortable watching it to see if it continues to grow"

      Dr. John Simon, Woodside Animal Clinic,

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      Beagle in ak 6 years ago

      My beagle has 2 really bad ones removed and there was no complication other than getting a few more years later. We were told though that they do not harm the pet just can get uncomfortable if in an area where there are joints and only if the fatty deposits are irritating to the dog. The limping expiriced may be something else, but you should get a second opinion before any final decisions.

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      7th Heaven Animal Rescue Trust 6 years ago


      Our charity 7th Heaven Animal Rescue Trust has become aware of the dangers of microchipping eg carcinomas forming at implant site, soft tissue damage, allergic reactions etc. We would be interested in your views on this subject. We have recently put an information page on our website & a link to our petition to stop implants being compulsory -

      Stop Compulsory Microchipping of Dogs

      For the dangers of microchipping please see the link to our website

      and our petition:

      Thank you

      Stephen McMurray

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      Roseanne 6 years ago

      I have a maltese mix who is about to have a fatty tumor removed. The stories I have read are scaring me. Although I trust my vet, I am considering not having this done. It is a small lump on his side. I don't want him to be in pain, or uncomfortable. It doesn't seem to be bothering him. The vet wants to remove it to prevent it from growing bigger. He says it's a simple procedure. I want to believe him, but now I'm unsure.

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      Karen 7 years ago

      For Owl Creek Observer. I'm really sorry that your dog is experiencing so much pain. I hope he can fight through this. I know how heartbreaking it is to see them in pain. I know I'd rather suffer the pain than have my dog suffer. It sounds like they didn't give the right kind or may not the adequate strength of pain pills. I pray everything turns out okay and, in the end, the surgery will have been worth it. My dog's lipomas are continuing to grow and now she has one close to the front of her back leg. She's been walking a little stiff legged lately, so of course I'm worrying that this might cause some serious problems. I really don't want to put her through any type of clinical situation as she went through so much during the year she was been treated for nonregenerative anemia. In the end, none of the specialists helped, only hurt her. It was at the urging of a lay person that I put her on Doxycyline that saved her life and turned her around. We now have an open-minded holistic vet who makes house calls. Expensive, yes, but I'm going to make my dog as comfortable as can be after all she's gone through. I'm spoiling her rotten. Thanks for your post. I don't believe I'll be considering surgery for her after reading about your dog's experience. Good luck and God Bless.

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      OwlCreekObserver 7 years ago

      We had a lump removed from our dog's back a couple of years ago with no problems. Six days ago we decided to have two more removed, one on his back and the other near the base of his tail. We were given some pain pills to help him through his recovery.

      Four days later the pain pills were nearly gone and our dog was in such pain that he was having trouble walking. I called the vet and she prescribed more pain pills. By the next morning (Saturday) his pain was even worse. I called the vet again and explained the situation, adding that we couldn't bear to see him in such pain and that we'd rather have him put down than see him suffer this much.

      The vet refused, saying she wanted to "counsel" us first, but her schedule was full until Monday. She referred me to the emergency animal clinic and we took him there. They could find nothing obviously wrong but prescribed an antibiotic just in case there was an infection.

      It is now Sunday evening and I have had to carry our little guy outside and back all day. He stays in his bed -- very unlike him. I've done everything I can do to relieve his pain but I know that I failed him by asking for the lumpectomies in the first place.

      I would never again, under any circumstances, have surgery done on a pet. The pain, for both the pet and the owner, can be overwhelming.

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 7 years ago from USA

      The video is from you tube and I am not affiliated with it. All surgeries for lipomas have different costs, depending on the weight of the dog, the location of the lipomas, the age of the dog, the quantity of lipomas etc. Only your vet can give you an estimate based on all these factors. I can roughly imagine it can be anywhere from $700 to $1500.

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      Karen 7 years ago

      Thanks for this and I'm glad Haddy's surgery and recovery went so well. My beagle has several fatty deposits and one is huge, but not as large as Haddy's. I would let her have the surgery, but she is in recovery from IMHA and I have to watch her PCV levels and am afraid to have her put under an anthestic. As her other deposits continue to grow, I fear they will interfere with her movements. Just don't know what is best for her. Could you tell me how much the surgery cost and how long did it take. Thank you.