Some of my blogposts are more popular than others. For instance, a blogpost I wrote about fatty tumors, or lipomas, in dogs was the top blogpost of 2018 and has continued to rank in the top 10 of my blogposts dating back to 2009. Clearly, lipomas are a topic that’s important to my readers, so today’s blogpost expands on the previous fatty tumor post and focuses on when AMC’s board-certified surgeons recommend removal of fatty tumors.

Reasons to Test Canine Skin Masses

Lipomas are benign tumors that occur right under the skin. Pet families can readily identify these masses when petting or playing with their dog. These subcutaneous balls of fat are not dangerous to your dog, but because they look identical to malignant skin tumors, lipomas pose a challenge to veterinarians. The challenge is figuring out which masses are benign lipomas and which are more sinister, a task not easily accomplished in a very lumpy dog. Veterinarians recommend testing each mass to determine its type and to allow prompt removal of malignant tumors.

Mapping Canine Skin Masses

Skin masses are tested using a procedure called fine needle aspiration. Fine needle aspiration collects a few cells from a mass, then the sample is sent to a central laboratory for analysis. There, veterinary clinical pathologists use a microscope to determine if the mass is malignant or not. To keep track of masses, we’ll often use a line drawing of a dog to map the masses that have been tested and note the development of any new masses over time.

When to Remove Lipomas

Since lipomas are benign tumors, there is usually little reason to remove them. However, there are instances when removing a lipoma will improve the dog’s quality of life, and surgery is appropriately recommended. For example, AMC board-certified surgeon Dr. Daniel Spector recently removed two very large lipomas from two different dogs. In both patients, the lipomas impeded the dogs’ ability to walk. Because a picture is worth a thousand words, I will let the pre- and post-op photos of Snoopy, a mixed breed dog, and Hudson, the black lab, explain why they had lipoma surgery!

Snoopy lipoma pre- and post-op photos
Hudson before and after surgery with x-ray of lipoma

The post My Dog Has a Fatty Tumor, Now What? appeared first on The Animal Medical Center.

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