Should I Worry About My Dog’s Lumps?

I have a nine-year-old female Cockerpoo. The past few years she has developed lumps on her abdomen and chest. She seems to get more and...
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I have a nine-year-old female Cockerpoo. The past
few years she has developed lumps on her abdomen
and chest. She seems to get more and more. My
vet says that these tend to develop on dogs as
they get older. She has never felt the need to
biopsy them. I am concerned about them. Daisy is
in good health otherwise and feeling fine. Could
you please ease my mind? Thanks so much.

Arnold, CA

I suspect that Daisy’s lumps are benign (harmless) masses called lipomas (link is an article covering lipomas in humans, which are similar clinically).

Lipomas are extremely common in older dogs of all breeds. They are soft, well-defined masses the develop under the skin. They are made of adipose tissue (fat). Dogs do not have to be overweight to develop lipomas.

Lipomas are also called fatty tumors. I do not use this phrase often. It contains the T-word, which is frightening. Lipomas generally are harmless.

To confirm that Daisy’s masses are, in fact, lipomas, I recommend a procedure called fine needle aspiration. To perform this procedure, a small needle is inserted into each lump. This allows a small amount of each mass to be harvested for analysis. The procedure generally can be performed without sedation or anesthesia. Fine needle aspiration should be performed on all of the masses if possible.

If the masses are confirmed as lipomas, then you have little to worry about. The lumps should be monitored to make sure that they are not growing or changing rapidly. However, the overwhelming majority of lipomas never compromise longevity or quality of life.

I generally do not recommend removal of lipomas unless they are growing rapidly or interfering with basic activities (for instance, extremely large lipomas in the arm pit can interfere with walking). Keeping Daisy svelte may help to control the size of her lipomas, but this is not guaranteed.

There is a high likelihood that Daisy will develop more masses in the future. I recommend that your vet sample all of them. If they all turn out to be lipomas, then you can sleep easy.

Photo: Firefly has no reported lipomas.

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