Skip to content
Featuring Demian Dressler, DVM and Sue Ettinger, DVM, Dip. ACVIM (Oncology), authors of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide

Lipoma and Liposarcoma in the Dog: Fatty Tumors

Updated: October 27th, 2019


Is that soft squishy lump on your dog something to worry about? It depends.

lipoma, liposarcoma, fatty tumors in dogsMany times dog lovers will arrive in my hospital and point out that their canine companion has a bump. They are soft, kind of like very firm jello. “Doesn’t seem to be causing any pain,” they say.

Hmmm. Well, it could be a “fatty” tumor. This is simply a tumor made out of fat. Yes, a big glob of fat, the same stuff that makes us chubby.

Some clients have used natural means to help their dogs with these tumors. I have had my clients say they have had luck with curcumin given by mouth.  Curcumin is a part of the spice turmeric.  In The Dog Cancer Survival Guide, I wrote about this bioflavonoid.  It can be purchased as an ingredient in Apocaps, and also by itself as a sole agent.

Many dog lovers have heard of fatty tumors, and have been told by their vets that there is nothing to worry about. And many times, they are right.

Not every time, though.

Some Fatty Tumors Are Cancers

Here’s why: first of all, not every soft tumor is a “fatty” tumor. Remember mast cell tumors, the Great Imitators? Some mast cell tumors are aggressive, life-threatening cancers. And they can feel just like a benign fatty tumor.

Your vet can differentiate between a fatty tumor and a mast cell tumor with a simple fine needle aspirate. This is an easy outpatient procedure where the vet takes a sample with a needle and sends it to a pathologist. Many of us will review the slide right in house.

Another soft gushy tumor, especially on the limbs, in called a hemangiopericytoma. This is an unfriendly tumor, folks.

Because two dangerous tumors can look like fatty tumors (lipomas) I recommend that all such tumors get aspirated.

Some Fatty Tumors Are Dangerous In Other Ways

Secondly, not every tumor made out of fat is truly benign. Most are, and they are called lipomas. However, a small portion of them grow aggressively. They invade surrounding tissue. They often grow fairly quickly, over months, and expand. These fast growing lipomas have crossed the line and become what are called liposarcomas.

Get the Dog Cancer Survival Guide to learn more on how veterinarians diagnose and stage cancer in Chapter 9

The reason it matters is that they can become quite large. And you remove them and they will often regrow, since they are difficult to remove. You think you got ’em, and they come back.

Liposarcomas are not good news. So again, if you have a rapidly growing, fatty tumor, get it out. You might be dealing with a liposarcoma, and they can be tough. Have the vet biopsy the edge, and make sure they include adjacent muscle, or the path folks may complain they don’t have enough data to make a call.

Best to all,

Dr Dressler


Leave a Comment

  1. debbie on July 6, 2020 at 9:51 am

    I have a new foundland and she has a hard growth on her leg. We were told it was cancer. We had treatment for about 5 months and were told the cancer was gone. After about 4 months it came back and is now getting bigger and bigger. She is 10 years old and we did not really want to put her though the cancer treatment again. We are not sure what to do anymore. She is on Remadyl and it does help her but the growth is just so big now. Is there anything else we can do for her? She is eating and drinking and does even play once in a while. Please anything we can do for her would help us. Thanks

  2. melissa mejia on February 9, 2020 at 3:00 pm

    Thank you for blog. I may try Apocaps.

  3. Josephine Testa on October 30, 2019 at 10:57 am

    why does my holistic vet state that a aspirate wakes up the cancer and she does not recommend this.

  4. Lisa R on October 30, 2019 at 4:31 am

    When you say “liposarcoma” aren’t you speaking of Infiltrative lipomas?

    • Molly Jacobson on November 1, 2019 at 1:53 pm

      Hello Lisa, thanks for your question. The clue here is whether the name of the tumor ends in -oma or -sarcoma. -Oma means benign, and -sarcoma means malignant. Infiltrative lipomas are lipomas that grow between the muscle layers, but they are still lipomas, and considered benign and not malignant. Infiltrative lipomas are named for their location, not their malignancy. Now, depending upon where they are in the body, lipomas (including infiltrative lipomas) can have malignant effects, like causing discomfort, but they are not malignant tumors themselves. Liposarcomas are malignant tumors. They are harder to remove and tend to recur. They are definitely malignancies, not benign, and should be removed. A fine needle aspirate can usually determine whether you are dealing with a lipoma or a liposarcoma. Hope that helps!

Scroll To Top