Our blue roan Cocker Spaniel, Tosca, is nine years old, and has started to develop fatty lumps. One, on the side of her chest, is growing, so she’s going to have it removed next week.
Internet info says that lipomas are most common in overweight dogs, but Tosca weighs just 12.5 kilos and is very active – most people who see her in action think she’s a puppy, and can’t believe how old she is. We feed her on raw meat and lightly-cooked vegetables, about 220g of each per day, divided into two meals. For treats, we give nuggets of Burns or James Wellbeloved dried food, about 15g per day. If we reduce this quantity of food, she loses weight.
Our previous cocker, Corran, also slim, had the same problem and, at 13 years old, the front of her chest was a mass of fatty tissue. Before that I had a Springer, who lived to be 14 and didn’t have any fatty lumps at all.
I was wondering whether there’s any way to reduce the formation of these lumps? We prefer natural remedies whenever possible.
Ellie Judson, by email
Richard Allport, vet, advises…
Yes, if you scan the ‘infernalnet’ you will find that lipomas are supposed to be most common in older dogs, in overweight female dogs, and in certain breeds (Dobermans, Miniature Schnauzers, Labradors). This may well be true, but I do see lipomas in many other breeds; in males and in females; and in dogs that are under, normal or over weight. Lipomas are, essentially, fatty lumps, and are almost always benign. However, very rarely, malignant lipomas, (known as liposarcomas) do occur, so fatty lumps should always be checked regularly and be examined by a vet if growing very rapidly.
It seems that some dogs are prone to lipomas and some are not, and many dogs that are predisposed to them will keep producing new ones. Surgery to remove lipomas is therefore not undertaken routinely; otherwise the affected dog would have to undergo multiple anaesthetics and operations. However, rapidly growing lipomas are often removed to prevent them becoming extremely large, and lipomas in places that could interfere with movement might also be removed.
Lipomas are usually soft, pliable and mobile, and commonly just under the skin without strong attachment to the flesh beneath. Some are more ‘infiltrative’ and are found in muscle or other tissue under the skin.
It is difficult to control lipomas. I have had reasonable success using natural medicines and supplements, although more in limiting size, growth rate and number of new lipomas rather than eliminating them entirely.
Supplements such as Vitamin E and Selenium can help, as can Kelp (especially for dogs that are overweight). One supplement I am finding useful is a combination of minerals and trace elements known as ‘Volcanic Elements’. Although this is intended as a general strengthening and energising supplement, it does seem to help in reducing size and numbers of warts, cysts and lipomas.
Homoeopathic medicines such as Thuja, Baryta carb, Calc carb and others can also help, and one client appeared to have success with rubbing Sage extract on the lipomas directly.