Alternative Treatments for Fatty Tumors in Dogs
Dog Lump FAQs: Are Lipomas Dangerous?
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 checked by a vet.
Have Your Vet Check It Out
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 a 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. In many cases, the vet will recommend to just keep an eye on it and report if it seems to grow a whole lot and starts interfering with movement.
Is It Malignant or Benign?
Sometimes, lipomas may grow very large and depending on where they are located, they may cause discomfort and therefore, need to be removed. In such a case, it is best then to have the lump checked in order to rule out any possible malignancies such as basal cell tumors, sebaceous adenocarcinoma or mast cell tumors.
Fine needle aspiration and/or removal of the lipoma are often fundamental in the process of ruling out a malignancy. Yet, it'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.
Never try home remedies without the consent of your vet.
Alternatives to Dog Lipoma Surgery
Monitoring the Lipoma
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.
The only treatment besides surgery, holistic or otherwise, is weight loss.
Reducing the amount of food she takes in by 1/4 daily, will eventually cause the lipomas to recede as the fat stored there is used by her body.— Dr. Bob, veterinarian
Diet for Dog Lipoma
Some dog owners report their dog's lipomas shrinking after switching to a raw diet, but this is only anecdotal. What owners of dogs with lipomas can try is putting the dog on a diet. Weight loss can cause the lipoma to decrease in size, explains veterinarian Dr. Peter. However, things can be challenging for the simple fact that lipomas tend to be well encapsulated and they can be difficult to completely disappear or shrink.
Any dog who is overweight in any case benefits from a weight-loss program as this means less weight on the joints and lower risks for contracting certain medical conditions, so there's really nothing to lose.
Supplements for Dog Lipomas
Dog owners often wonder whether they can try some natural remedies or supplements to shrink their dog's lipoma. Truth is, the rate f success with these types of treatment are anecdotal at best. If we think about it, if there were truly any supplements that could magically shrink lipomas in dogs these would have major drug companies rushing for them because they would see a great opportunity for marketing them.
There are several products that have been crafted promising to dissolve fatty deposits in dogs, but often there are mixed reviews and many are quite poor. It's also important to talk to the vet before using any supplements, but most likely the vet will be the first to not recommend them.
Consulting with a holistic vet may be more helpful. Dr. Benedetta, a veterinarian specializing in homeopathy suggests trying with Thuja occidentalis. However, she warns that her expectation for lipomas to disappear is pretty low, but hopefully, it may work to prevent the existing ones from getting bigger or the formation of more.
Surgical Removal With Anesthesia
Lumpectomies (surgical removal of lumps) can be performed safely if your dog undergoes pre-anesthetic bloodwork and gets isoflurane anesthesia. Ask your vet about the pros and cons of a lumpectomy. I have checked many senior dogs after undergoing a lumpectomy, many over the age of 12. 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.
A Word of Caution
The above approaches should be taken with a word of 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.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2008 Adrienne Farricelli