Lipoma in Dogs: Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment

If you've noticed a lump on your dog, he may have a lipoma. But what is a lipoma and what can your veterinarian do to treat the condition? Read on to find out more.

What is a lipoma?

First of all, don't panic; lipomas are not cancerous. A lipoma is a benign, fatty mass that forms beneath the dog's skin. Over time, these lumps tend to grow larger, and it's highly likely that your dog will develop multiple lipomas once one has appeared. Lipomas do not generally cause your dog pain or discomfort, although they can look unsightly on shorthaired breeds. 

Even though most subcutaneous lumps that form on dogs are harmless lipomas, they can also develop cancerous tumours, so it's important that you have your dog checked out promptly at the vet clinic.


Lipomas can develop anywhere on your dog's body, although they are usually found on the stomach or trunk. You may be able to gently move the lump around beneath the dog's skin, and it should feel smooth and soft to the touch.

Lumps that feel uneven or bumpy and are firmly attached to the tissues beneath the skin may be something more serious than lipoma and require immediate veterinary examination.

Diagnosis and treatment

Your veterinarian will give your dog a thorough physical examination, and that is usually sufficient to confirm the diagnosis of a lipoma. However, if your vet is not sure and has concerns that the lump may be a cancerous tumour, a small sample of the lump will be taken and examined under laboratory conditions. This sample will be taken using a very fine needle and won't cause your dog any pain. In some cases, where the diagnosis is inconclusive, your vet may elect to remove the lump.

Once the diagnosis of lipoma has been confirmed, and provided it is not located somewhere that it might restrict your dog's movement, your vet will usually recommend that the lump is left in.   

If it is necessary to remove the lipoma, the procedure is very straightforward. Unlike more complex tumours, lipomas are not attached to the tissues beneath the skin, so it's usually just a matter of excising the skin and lifting the lump out. Your dog will require a short general anaesthetic, and he will have a few closure stitches that will have to be removed at the vet clinic after about 10 days.

Lipomas are a common phenomenon seen in many dogs as they get older. Ordinarily, these fatty lumps don't cause a problem, but dogs can also develop cancerous tumours that may be mistaken for lipomas by the layperson. Always seek veterinary advice through resources like Ivanhoe Veterinary Clinic if you discover a lump anywhere on your dog's body.