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Multiple Skin Masses may be just Lipomas-or Maybe Not

Fine Needle Aspirates will make the Diagnosis


My 7 year old Rhodesian ridgeback has several fatty tumors and more keep appearing.  My vet said they were of no concern, but since I lost one Ridgeback to cancer, I am concerned.


Dr. Nichol:

Fatty tumors, called lipomas, are especially common in large breed dogs. They are benign, so they don’t spread, but they can grow slowly, especially on overweight pets. Lumps and bumps are common on middle aged and older dogs but ignoring them is a gamble. It is true that the majority are benign but potentially deadly malignancies aren’t rare. The watch-and-wait approach can lead to disaster. You need answers.


Getting a diagnosis is easy. Your veterinarian can take a tiny sample by syringe (fine needle aspirate) from each of your dog’s masses. A pathologist will read the slides and report the cell types. Fatty tumors are primarily fat. If all of your ridgeback’s masses are just lipomas you can diminish their size with a weight loss diet. Her new lean figure will reduce the load on her joints, meaning that she’ll be more active and have a lower risk of painful degenerative arthritis later.


Some benign masses should be removed because they can become malignant cancers. Treatment for malignant skin masses will necessitate early surgery and possibly additional treatment.  Don’t let this get out of control. Have your ridgeback checked out soon.