How to Prevent Fatty Tumors in Dogs

Older dogs are prone to developing lipomas as they age.
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Fatty tumors are known as lipomas. They are non-painful lumps of fat that grow in the subcutaneous tissues -- those just beneath the skin -- of the dog's body. These lumps are always benign, so they don't cause the dog any trouble unless they grow in places where they can interfere with the movement of the dog's legs while walking. Veterinarians typically recommend lipomas be left alone.

Prevention of Lipomas

One way to reduce the chances of your dog's developing lipomas is to change the dog's diet, lowering his carbohydrate intake to reduce fat intake. Digestive enzyme supplements help the body pass carbohydrates faster to prevent fat from building up in the body. Hormonal imbalances can cause fat buildup in the dog -- so treating his hormone imbalance can help prevent the formation of lipomas. Adding veterinarian-recommended vitamins and minerals to the dog's diet builds up his immune system.

Causes of Lipomas

The actual causes of lipomas are unknown, but they are commonly seen in dogs of middle or old age -- and certain breeds of dogs have a strong predisposition to lipomas, such as Labrador retrievers. Some dietary or environmental toxins, such as preservatives in food or chemicals in drinking water, could play roles in the growth of lipomas. Hormonal imbalances are also suspected as culprits, as they interfere with the digestion of fats.

Symptoms of Lipomas

The dog with lipomas has a lump or lumps of varying sizes on his body, which can be felt as firm, movable and painless mounds. These are composed of fat and can sometimes infiltrate muscle tissues, but they are most commonly located in the subcutis layer of skin, located below the dermis and epidermis layers. While only one lump might manifest at first, over time several more can form and grow -- without harm to the dog.

Treatment of Lipomas

Lipomas can be surgically removed, but no guarantee exists that they won't grow back. Since these tumors are always benign and painless, most veterinarians recommend that lipomas just be left alone unless they grow so large that they interfere with the dog's movement or normal quality of life. Quite often, lipomas are removed at the same time that the animal is in the veterinarian's office for another procedure in which he must be under anesthetic.