Alternative Treatments for Fatty Tumors in Dogs
Adrienne is a certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, former veterinarian assistant, and author of "Brain Training for Dogs."
Dog Lump FAQs: Are Lipomas Dangerous?
Dogs get lumps very often. Many owners may suddenly find a lump after their dog's daily grooming session or when checking for ticks. One of the most common lumps found in dogs are lipomas. These are fatty deposits that collect under the skin. They are usually soft, smooth and movable. A lump may very likely be a lipoma, however, as with any lump we humans find in our bodies, it is always advisable to have it checked by a vet.
Have Your Vet Check It Out
The first step after finding a lump on your dog would be having your vet examine it and determine the best course of action. Commonly, the veterinarian may want to examine some cells under a microscope. This is done by collecting the cells with a biopsy needle, a procedure known as a fine needle aspiration. The good news is that lipomas are usually benign, they usually are soft and they seem to not cause any particular pain or problems to the dog. In many cases, the vet will recommend to just keep an eye on it and report if it seems to grow a whole lot and starts interfering with movement.
Is It Malignant or Benign?
Sometimes, lipomas may grow very large and depending on where they are located, they may cause discomfort and therefore, need to be removed. In such a case, it is best then to have the lump checked in order to rule out any possible malignancies such as basal cell tumors, sebaceous adenocarcinoma or mast cell tumors.
Fine needle aspiration and/or removal of the lipoma are often fundamental in the process of ruling out a malignancy. Yet, it's important to note that a fine needle aspirate is not 100% accurate. If no malignancy is detected some vets would recommend keeping an eye on the lump and keeping track of its growth. It is understandable that some owners are concerned about putting a dog through surgery especially if middle-aged or senior. In these cases, owners look for alternative treatments. Here are some alternatives to surgery.
Alternatives to Dog Lipoma Surgery
Monitoring the Lipoma
Sometimes a "wait and see" approach can be taken if your vet approves after having ruled out a malignancy. Sometimes the vet is actually the first person suggesting this approach. In the "wait and see" approach, the owner must carefully monitor the lump and watch for signs of shrinking or increasing in size.
Routine measurements with a ruler are necessary to ensure accurate results. Sizes recorded are then reported to the vet that can, therefore, suggest the best course of action.
The only treatment besides surgery, holistic or otherwise, is weight loss.
Reducing the amount of food she takes in by 1/4 daily, will eventually cause the lipomas to recede as the fat stored there is used by her body.
— Dr. Bob, veterinarian
Diet for Dog Lipoma
Some dog owners report their dog's lipomas shrinking after switching to a raw diet, but this is only anecdotal. What owners of dogs with lipomas can try is putting the dog on a diet. Weight loss can cause the lipoma to decrease in size, explains veterinarian Dr. Peter. However, things can be challenging for the simple fact that lipomas tend to be well encapsulated and they can be difficult to completely disappear or shrink.
Any dog who is overweight in any case benefits from a weight-loss program as this means less weight on the joints and lower risks for contracting certain medical conditions, so there's really nothing to lose.
Supplements for Dog Lipomas
Dog owners often wonder whether they can try some natural remedies or supplements to shrink their dog's lipoma. Truth is, the rate f success with these types of treatment are anecdotal at best. If we think about it, if there were truly any supplements that could magically shrink lipomas in dogs these would have major drug companies rushing for them because they would see a great opportunity for marketing them.
There are several products that have been crafted promising to dissolve fatty deposits in dogs, but often there are mixed reviews and many are quite poor. It's also important to talk to the vet before using any supplements, but most likely the vet will be the first to not recommend them.
Consulting with a holistic vet may be more helpful. Dr. Benedetta, a veterinarian specializing in homeopathy suggests trying with Thuja occidentalis. However, she warns that her expectation for lipomas to disappear is pretty low, but hopefully, it may work to prevent the existing ones from getting bigger or the formation of more.
Surgical Removal With Anesthesia
Lumpectomies (surgical removal of lumps) can be performed safely if your dog undergoes pre-anesthetic bloodwork and gets isoflurane anesthesia. Ask your vet about the pros and cons of a lumpectomy. I have checked many senior dogs after undergoing a lumpectomy, many over the age of 12. Most of them recovered just fine. Fatty lumps can be left alone under the vet's suggestion but they should not be allowed to grow to such an extent that they interfere with movement and your dog's general well being.
A Word of Caution
The above approaches should be taken with a word of caution. They may have worked for some people, but it is highly recommended that you abide by your vet's protocol. If your vet suggests surgery, very likely the lump is invasive and better off. You may want to get a second opinion should you do not agree with your vet.
© 2008 Adrienne Farricelli
Jerry bell on July 08, 2018:
home remedies for fatty tumor on my golden retrever
Sharon on August 13, 2017:
Can lipomas be injected with phosphatidylcholine since this is done for some people?
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on April 02, 2017:
Libby, I am not a vet,(just worked for as a vet assistant) but last time I talked to my vet about my older dog having 4 lipomas (fatty tumors) she said that surgery is generally necessary when they get too big and they interfere with natural movement. If you are sure they are indeed fatty tumors (meaning your vet has checked them out) and your dog is otherwise happy and healthy and the fatty growths aren't interfering, I don't think they are a major problem that warrants putting a dog down. About the surgery, the best person to ask is your vet as this may vary based on several factors (eg how big the tumors are, if they are in places that bother the dog, how healthy your dog is to go under surgery, etc)
Libby bassett on April 02, 2017:
With a dog being 12 or 13 years old and have many fatty tumors is it necessary to put the dog down or get surgery??
piiro626 on January 11, 2013:
all this information was helpful
Dr. John Simon on October 19, 2011:
I want to make it clear that needle aspiration biopsies are not infallible and I have had the unfortunate experience of having a malignant tumor hiding underneath a benign lipoma. If small growth is aspirated and only fat is found it is unlikely that a malignant tumor would be obscured by the benign growth, however, a large fatty tumor has a much great chance of covering up a smaller cancerous tumor.
Also I believe that a wait and see approach should only be taken after a needle biopsy has been performed. I went to veterinary conference where the speaker was a clinical veterinary pathologist. He was very emphatic when he said "Never just wait and see if a mass is growing. At the very least perform a needle aspiration biopsy. If the biopsy shows only fatty tissue then you can feel more comfortable watching it to see if it continues to grow"
Dr. John Simon, Woodside Animal Clinic, doc4pets.com
Beagle in ak on September 24, 2011:
My beagle has 2 really bad ones removed and there was no complication other than getting a few more years later. We were told though that they do not harm the pet just can get uncomfortable if in an area where there are joints and only if the fatty deposits are irritating to the dog. The limping expiriced may be something else, but you should get a second opinion before any final decisions.
Roseanne on September 11, 2011:
I have a maltese mix who is about to have a fatty tumor removed. The stories I have read are scaring me. Although I trust my vet, I am considering not having this done. It is a small lump on his side. I don't want him to be in pain, or uncomfortable. It doesn't seem to be bothering him. The vet wants to remove it to prevent it from growing bigger. He says it's a simple procedure. I want to believe him, but now I'm unsure.
Karen on February 21, 2010:
For Owl Creek Observer. I'm really sorry that your dog is experiencing so much pain. I hope he can fight through this. I know how heartbreaking it is to see them in pain. I know I'd rather suffer the pain than have my dog suffer. It sounds like they didn't give the right kind or may not the adequate strength of pain pills. I pray everything turns out okay and, in the end, the surgery will have been worth it. My dog's lipomas are continuing to grow and now she has one close to the front of her back leg. She's been walking a little stiff legged lately, so of course I'm worrying that this might cause some serious problems. I really don't want to put her through any type of clinical situation as she went through so much during the year she was been treated for nonregenerative anemia. In the end, none of the specialists helped, only hurt her. It was at the urging of a lay person that I put her on Doxycyline that saved her life and turned her around. We now have an open-minded holistic vet who makes house calls. Expensive, yes, but I'm going to make my dog as comfortable as can be after all she's gone through. I'm spoiling her rotten. Thanks for your post. I don't believe I'll be considering surgery for her after reading about your dog's experience. Good luck and God Bless.
OwlCreekObserver on February 21, 2010:
We had a lump removed from our dog's back a couple of years ago with no problems. Six days ago we decided to have two more removed, one on his back and the other near the base of his tail. We were given some pain pills to help him through his recovery.
Four days later the pain pills were nearly gone and our dog was in such pain that he was having trouble walking. I called the vet and she prescribed more pain pills. By the next morning (Saturday) his pain was even worse. I called the vet again and explained the situation, adding that we couldn't bear to see him in such pain and that we'd rather have him put down than see him suffer this much.
The vet refused, saying she wanted to "counsel" us first, but her schedule was full until Monday. She referred me to the emergency animal clinic and we took him there. They could find nothing obviously wrong but prescribed an antibiotic just in case there was an infection.
It is now Sunday evening and I have had to carry our little guy outside and back all day. He stays in his bed -- very unlike him. I've done everything I can do to relieve his pain but I know that I failed him by asking for the lumpectomies in the first place.
I would never again, under any circumstances, have surgery done on a pet. The pain, for both the pet and the owner, can be overwhelming.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on February 16, 2010:
The video is from you tube and I am not affiliated with it. All surgeries for lipomas have different costs, depending on the weight of the dog, the location of the lipomas, the age of the dog, the quantity of lipomas etc. Only your vet can give you an estimate based on all these factors. I can roughly imagine it can be anywhere from $700 to $1500.
Karen on February 15, 2010:
Thanks for this and I'm glad Haddy's surgery and recovery went so well. My beagle has several fatty deposits and one is huge, but not as large as Haddy's. I would let her have the surgery, but she is in recovery from IMHA and I have to watch her PCV levels and am afraid to have her put under an anthestic. As her other deposits continue to grow, I fear they will interfere with her movements. Just don't know what is best for her. Could you tell me how much the surgery cost and how long did it take. Thank you.
Best Treatment for Lipoma on Dog:
There are a few treatments available for reducing the size of the lipoma dog tumor starting with exercise. While exercise can burn away the fat, there is no guarantee that the fatty tumor itself will be reduced. Another method is surgery which will remove the tumor, but there are small risks involved. It is also one of the more expensive treatments available.
One device used to treat lipoma in humans is gaining favor for those who own dogs with this condition. The lipoma wand is safe, effective, and can be used to get rid of several tumors over time. The wand has proven to be the best treatment for lipoma that can be performed at home.
You simply apply oil to the dog’s skin above the lipoma to prevent scratching and rub the device over the top as instructed. You should see the lipoma reduction starting with the first treatment. In addition, the lipoma wand can be used to treat future tumors that may develop.
Be sure to consult with your veterinarian before using the wand. Plus, excessively large tumors may be better treated with surgery or other procedures. However, for most dog lipoma conditions, the lipoma wand is arguably the best way to reduce and eliminate the fatty tumors from your pooch.
A number of vets have come forward to say that they believe nutritional supplements could have the effect on your dog’s metabolism that can help to treat and prevent fatty tumors. Combinations such as the mineral chromium picolinate and the amino acid L-carnitine have been studied and recommended. An average sized dog could benefit from 100 mcg of chromium and 250 mg of L-carnitine. This can help bolster the efficacy of your dog’s metabolism and combat your dog’s fatty tumors head on.
This is a quick, easy and relatively inexpensive solution to fatty tumors. These supplements can be bought easily and will get to work quickly in your dog’s diet. If you want a safe alternative to surgery and harsh drugs, then this nutritional supplement is worth exploring and discussing with your vet.
Surgery is sometimes suggested for lipomas, especially if they are causing trouble to your pet. However, surgery can be stressful to your pet, expensive for pet owners, and does not solve the root cause of lipomas.
There are many natural remedies that are effective to heal lipomas.
Commercial dog food often contains chemicals, additives, msg, and food dye. Many dog foods also contain wheat and grains, which are not part of a dog's natural diet. Look for a higher quality of kibble that is grain free and chemical free. A homemade raw diet is also an excellent choice, though it does take more time to prepare.
Tap water usually contains fluoride, chlorine and other chemicals that have an adverse effect on your pet. Filtered water or spring water are better options for your pet's drinking water.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Raw and organic apple cider vinegar can be added to your dog or cat's food or water bowl. Some animals will drink it readily. Others may need to have it mixed into their food a couple of times a day.
Try adding 1-3 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar to each quart of water your give to your pet.
Turmeric can be added to your pet's food easily. For more information about turmeric dosages, see this page.
Turmeric can also be mixed with coconut oil or olive oil and applied topically to lipomas once or twice a day. Turmeric does stain clothing, bedding and furniture. You may wish to treat the lipoma at night and cover it with a bandage. Cohesive tape will keep many pets from getting a bandage off.
Iodine can be painted on to the lipomas twice daily. Regular iodine will stain the skin an orange color and can stain bedding or furniture while it is still wet. Your pharmacy may also sell decolorized iodine if the staining is a concern.
Have you tried any natural remedies for lipomas? Please send us some feedback!
Castor Oil, Tea Tree Oil, Frankincense Oil
1 User Review
My Samoyed has had a Lipoma that started out the size of a golf ball. It was round on all sides, including where it is attached under his skin. After researching online I started following a castor oil+frankincense oil+tea tree oil regime. It did break out of the 'skin' sheath leaving exposed raw lipoma. I did it once a day, and got the lipoma down to a large mushroom cap size with a 'stem.' It is now hanging by a flap of skin but still attached, smells ghastly, but oozes the 'matter' daily.
I have been bandaging it because it is messy. Are those of you who are achieving success bandaging or leaving it open? How much castor oil are you applying? Are you drenching the area or just a few drops? Are you doing 1X a day, 2X a day 3?
Getting discouraged as this has gone on for a few months now.
1 User Review
Re: Lipomas and Diet: DOGS DO GET THEM. and when they are taken off a a grain diet they STOP getting them. I'm starting to think they are from GMO sugar, wheat, corn, soy, rice etc.
My dog has been on a grain free diet for many years and he still gets them
Hello, I just would like to share my experience. I have a 15 year old Lab who has had fatty tumors/lipomas most of his life. Last month (late July 2012), one of his largest tumor (the size of baseball) got ulcerated and infected his back leg was swollen too. The vet put him on antibiotics. The medicines helped curb the infection, but the wounds were still open till now despite using the powder (PreDef) that the vet gave me. Anyway, I started to look for alternative medicines with minimal side effects.
First, I change his diet from dry kibble to no-grain kibbles. I also made his wet food using chicken, celery, carrots, and sweet potatoes. I made sure that the percentage of protein to vegetables was approx. 80%-20%. I've found an easy recipe for this on the net. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFs9Mto3bJE. I substituted rice with sweet potatoes and mixed the wet food with his dry food. I also put 1 teaspoon turmeric per meal. I also put the mixture of castor oil and almond oil on his tumor but NOT on the open wound only the sides which are not infected.
By week two, my dog has lost 10 lbs and I noticed the tumor has shrank about 30% but the wound was not closed and actually got worse. I went to vet again and he was put on another antibiotic at this time, I had to stop giving him turmeric because it does conflict with the antibiotic. By this time (week 4), I change his diet to completely raw food and give him yogurt between meals and one tablespoon of manuka honey to help fight the infection. I also put raw active manuka honey (I bought it at whole food) on his open wound. Three days later, the wound started to close. I've read on many threads that manuka honey is the best for closing wounds that have been resistant to antibiotic. Just do further research online regarding this. I also give 1 teaspoon of ACV in his water bowl daily. I take what he is taking too with the exception of raw meat.
The ulcerated lipoma is noticibly getting smaller, the wound starts to close however, another side of the tumor is starting to look as if it will "burst". I don't know whether it is the effect of putting castor oil daily or it is the sign of something is working because all of those above. I'm encouraged though and will update later. I know it will take time and patient to see whether all the treatments actually cure his problem, but it is moving to the right direction. Thank you for all of people who have posted natural remedy, I'm benefitting the results.
2 User Reviews
Just wanted to pass on the great success I had with turmeric and our dog.
Our 7 year old shepard husky cross had about a 6" x 3" fatty lipoma on his right side, just under the shoulder blade (confirmed by vet by drawing fluid out of it). It was very noticable. Looked like he was fatter on one side. I had read about turmeric on this site and shortly after went to the health food store and bought a scoop of tumeric from the bulk herb section. Cheap. don't buy the capsules, way more expensive.
I simply sprinkled about 2 teaspoons of it on his dry food and mixed it up with a little olive oil, twice/day. Within 3 weeks I could not believe how much it had shrunk. Another 3 weeks later. completely gone! Amazing! I have never before seen the benefits of a natural herb/spice work so well & so quickly.
I actually have a small fatty lipoma on my leg, and I'm trying it. You're supposed to mix it with black pepper so I just mix it up in a little water and down it quickly. Hope it works for me. All sorts of other benefit of it as well. In fact I can't believe how much more energy I have. vj
My Miniature Schnauzer is almost 12 years old. He weighs about 20 lbs. and is in excellent shape. He's on a good feed and exercise program. He has a number of small to larger lipomas that I would like to try using tumeric to heal rather than surgically remove. Has anyone tried using a capsule form of tumeric rather than the powder? I'm thinking that might be an easier way than have to worry about getting a staining powder in his beard and having him run around the house wiping it off like he does when I add Fish Oil to his feed. If so, what brand would you recommend and dosage? My dog also gets Apple Cider Vinegar in his water every day. That has not had any effect on his lipomas. This is my first post to this site. I would be grateful for any help and suggestions that you might have for my dog.
Turmeric needs to be taken with a little fat (Coconut oil )as it is fat soluble. Also a little black pepper for absorption.
Love turmeric and how it worked on your dog. How much would say for a 25 lb Boston terrier?
I wanted to share with anyone else out there trying to use turmeric for tumors or cysts. First, have some patience, give it time to work and don't think that more is necessarily better. I first used turmeric powder (a generic store brand kind costing about $3 for a jar) on my sheltie for a cyst about the size of a small pebble. It took 3 weeks for the tiny cyst to burst. She still gets turmeric with her food as maintenance, the cyst has not come back since she's had turmeric daily. I feed her 1/2 cup of dog food twice a day. She gets 1/8 tsp of turmeric sprinkled over the food, mixed with a little warm water, enough to create a 'gravy'.
After seeing this work on my sheltie I decided to give it to my then 12 yr old lab (who weighs 80 lbs). In 2007 she had a cancerous tumor removed from her chest. At the time I started giving her turmeric (Sept 2008) she had about 13 fatty tumors (lipomas) all over her, one was especially large around her shoulder, about the size of a tennis ball. I have read on this site that others are saying these lipomas have burst and oozed, which is a little disturbing and scarey. This did not happen with my lab, they simply shrank in size OVER TIME. My lab gets about 1/4 tsp of turmeric powder twice a day with her food mixed with warm water and over the year and a half her lipomas have either shrunk considerably or are gone completely, but a few have remained the same size. The large one on her shoulder is now about the size of a gold ball. I recently counted her lipomas, I could only find 6. I just wanted to caution those using turmeric for this, just using a little may be enough, and it takes time!
How many mg do you give your dog daily. I have a 65 lb springer with 6 fatty tumors that I would like to try this on. He just had a 2.5 lb pound mass removed that was a fatty tumor and do not want to put him thru this again in 4 weeks for the rest. Vet could not do all the same time of the large mass removal.
Turmeric, Coconut Oil, Castor Oil
I'm using grocery store bought turmeric powder and coconut oil for a base in her dogfood. I'm also placing a hot towel on the mass, then slathering castor oil over the entire length and width of the mass. Once a day.
EC : Hi Kathryn, best of luck! Please report back if these remedies worked so we can apply a 1-5 star rating to your post. Thank you!
4 Natural Remedies for Fatty Tumors in Dogs
If you’ve found a lump on your dog, or are worried they may have cancer, it can be very stressful and worrisome! It’s always a difficult experience to face a possible cancer diagnosis for a beloved pet .
However, while finding a lump is scary, not all lumps or tumors are cancerous! That’s good news! In fact, the lump you found on your dog may be a fatty tumor, otherwise known as lipoma.
What causes fatty tumors in dogs? Can they be cancerous? Are there natural remedies for fatty tumors in dogs? We will look at the answers to all these questions in this article.
We are a group of animal lovers and animal advocates who want to use our knowledge and expertise to help you! We know that thousands of pet parents around the world are looking for the best ways to treat their pet’s health concerns, and we have been helping in this domain for over 20 years.
I hope you find all the information presented in this article helpful so you can identify, understand, and treat canine lipoma!
Any other questions you might have about different cancers affecting dogs are answered in our complete guide to dog cancer .
There are many kinds of growths that can develop in your dog's mouth. Some growths cannot be easily seen but will cause signs like bad breath, trouble chewing, difficulty holding things in the mouth, oral pain, and pawing at the face or mouth. Of course, these signs could also indicate dental disease and should not be ignored.
- Papillomas are warts caused by the papillomavirus. They can appear on the dog's lips, face, and inside the mouth. Papillomas are benign but very contagious. They can be removed if they cause problems for your dog, but in many cases they will resolve on their own.
- An epulis is an oral growth that usually forms on the gum tissue around a tooth. Many epulides are benign, but some can be malignant, so further diagnostics are necessary.
- Gingival hyperplasia is a benign overgrowth of gum tissue that may look a little bit like a tumor in some dogs. This excess gum tissue can be removed if it's affecting the teeth or is bothersome to the dog. The removed tissue may be sent to a veterinary pathologist just to make sure there are no cancer cells present.
- Oral melanoma can occur in the mouth and may be black in color.
- Squamous cell carcinoma and fibrosarcoma are other common types of cancer that can develop within the mouth of dogs.
Some oral tumors can affect the teeth and bone in the mouth and face. If your dog has an oral mass, your vet will likely recommend putting your dog under anesthesia so a thorough examination and radiographs can be done.