Can Cbd Oil Shrink Fatty Tumors In Dogs?

Lipomas are benign fatty tumors that commonly develop in middle-aged and older dogs. They form slowly under the skin and can occur anywhere on the body, but are especially prevalent on the belly, chest, and upper legs. While generally harmless, lipomas can sometimes impede movement or become ulcerated if they grow too large. Owners are often concerned about the appearance of lipomas and wonder if they may be cancerous. This article provides an overview of lipomas in dogs – what they are, what causes them, diagnosis and treatment options, including a look at whether CBD oil can help shrink lipomas.

What are Lipomas?

Lipomas are benign (non-cancerous), slow-growing tumors that form from fat cells under the skin. They are typically soft, movable lumps that feel doughy to the touch. Lipomas are one of the most common types of benign tumors found in dogs 1. They are made up of mature fat cells surrounded by a thin fibrous capsule. Lipomas usually grow between the skin and the underlying muscle layer, most often occurring on the torso, upper legs, and armpits. However, they can develop anywhere on the body where fat is present under the skin.

While lipomas are benign and do not typically cause any health problems on their own, owners may want them removed for cosmetic reasons or if they interfere with movement. Some lipomas may also grow very large over time. Most lipomas in dogs are isolated growths, but some dogs can develop multiple lipomas across their body.

Causes and Risk Factors

The exact causes of lipomas are not fully understood, but there are some factors that seem to increase a dog’s risk of developing them:

Genetics – Certain breeds like Dobermans, Labradors, Schnauzers, and Sheepdogs are more prone to lipomas, suggesting there may be a genetic component [1].

Age – Lipomas usually develop in middle-aged to older dogs, between the ages of 6 to 10. As dogs age, their risk increases [2].

Obesity – Overweight and obese dogs have a higher chance of developing lipomas. Excess fat seems to encourage lipoma formation [1].

Hormones – Hormonal imbalances may promote lipoma growth. Dogs who are neutered/spayed at an early age are at increased risk [2].

Trauma – Injury to an area may trigger a lipoma growth, though the link is not fully proven.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Dog lipomas often present with similar key symptoms (https://www.southernazvets.com/lipomas-and-lumps-on-dogs-common-causes/). The most common symptom is usually the appearance of a soft, movable lump under the skin. Lipomas are typically painless, although they can become irritated if they are in an area that receives a lot of friction, such as the leg (https://firstvet.com/us/articles/lipomas-in-dogs).

Diagnosing lipomas requires a veterinary exam and often some diagnostic tests. Your vet will physically examine the lump by feeling it and moving it around. They will look for key characteristics of a fatty tumor like softness and mobility under the skin. However, lipomas cannot be definitively diagnosed just through a physical exam (https://www.pawlicy.com/blog/lipomas-in-dogs/).

To confirm it is a lipoma, the vet will likely recommend a fine needle aspirate. This involves inserting a small needle into the lump and drawing out some cells for examination under a microscope. They will look for fat cells and rule out the presence of cancerous cells. Additional tests like blood work or imaging may also be recommended to further evaluate the lump.

Conventional Treatment Options

There are a few conventional treatment options that veterinarians typically recommend for fatty tumors (lipomas) in dogs:

Observation – Since lipomas are usually benign, many vets recommend just monitoring them and making sure they don’t impact the dog’s mobility or quality of life. As long as the lipoma doesn’t grow rapidly or affect the dog’s movement, it may not require treatment.

Surgical Removal – If a lipoma interferes with a dog’s mobility or becomes irritated, a vet may recommend surgical removal. This involves putting the dog under anesthesia and surgically extracting the fatty tumor. There is a risk of recurrence after surgery in some cases.

Liposuction – In some instances, a vet may use liposuction to remove the fatty tissue instead of invasive surgery. This also requires anesthesia but is less invasive. However, liposuction carries risks of recurrence, swelling, and bruising.

Steroid Injections – Steroids like cortisone may help shrink lipomas temporarily in some cases. However, the results are often not permanent and there are risks of side effects.

Cryosurgery – This technique uses extreme cold to destroy abnormal tissue. Some vets may use cryosurgery to remove lipomas, but there’s limited evidence on its effectiveness.

In rare cases of large, invasive lipomas, radiation therapy may be used. But surgery is still more common for treatment. Overall, surgical removal tends to be the most utilized conventional treatment for problematic lipomas in dogs.

CBD Oil for Lipomas?

CBD or cannabidiol has been gaining popularity as an alternative treatment for many health conditions in pets, including fatty tumors like lipomas. CBD is a compound derived from the cannabis plant that does not cause psychoactive effects. There is some early research that indicates CBD may help shrink lipomas through its anti-tumor and anti-inflammatory properties:

Several studies have shown that CBD can inhibit the growth and spread of various types of tumor cells, including breast, lung, colon, and brain cancers (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4791144/). The anti-tumor effects seem to be related to CBD’s ability to induce tumor cell death and stop growth and angiogenesis (blood vessel formation) in tumors.

CBD is also known to have potent anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive effects (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2828614/). Inflammation is thought to play a role in the development of lipomas. By reducing inflammation, CBD may help shrink or prevent the growth of existing lipomas in dogs.

While research on CBD for lipomas specifically is still very limited, the anti-tumor and anti-inflammatory properties of CBD make it a promising potential natural treatment. However, more studies are still needed to confirm the effectiveness and optimal dosage of CBD oil for reducing lipomas in dogs.

Research on CBD and Lipomas

While there have not been many in-depth studies on CBD for treating lipomas specifically in dogs, some initial research shows promise. One study published in 2021 looked at using CBD to treat lipomatosis in rats (source: https://www.laboratorioscanalanza.com/blog/how-cbd-can-help-for-lipomatosis/). The researchers applied a CBD-based gel to rats with multiple lipomas and found it helped reduce swelling and inflammation. They concluded that CBD could be an effective treatment option due to its anti-inflammatory properties.

Another small preliminary study looked at using CBD to treat mast cell tumors in dogs (source: https://www.relievet.com/blogs/tips/can-cbd-oil-shrink-lipomas-in-dogs). While not directly focused on lipomas, it did find that CBD helped regulate the immune system response that contributes to tumor growth. The researchers suggested CBD could potentially help control lipoma development as well.

While more research is still needed, these initial animal studies provide some evidence that CBD may be helpful for reducing lipomas in dogs. However, we do not yet have definitive proof of effectiveness or dosage guidelines. As with any treatment, it’s important to consult your veterinarian before using CBD oil for your dog’s lipomas.

Using CBD Oil Safely

When giving your dog CBD oil, proper dosage is important. Always consult your veterinarian before starting CBD. They can advise you on a safe starting dose based on your dog’s weight. Start with a low dose and gradually increase over several weeks, monitoring for any side effects. The AKC recommends starting with 1-5mg for every 10 pounds of body weight, twice per day.

Potential side effects of CBD for dogs include: lightheadedness, drowsiness, dry mouth, diarrhea, and lowered blood pressure. Side effects have generally been mild at appropriate doses. Reduce the dose or stop CBD if you notice any concerning reactions. As with any supplement, consult your vet before making changes or if any worrisome symptoms develop.

Only purchase CBD products designed specifically for pets. Avoid THC-containing marijuana products. Opt for natural, high-quality CBD oils without unnecessary additives. Confirm the product has been third-party tested for purity, safety, and potency. Proper storage and dosage per your vet’s guidance can help make CBD use safe for your dog.

Other Alternative Treatments

In addition to CBD oil, there are other natural and alternative treatment options that some owners have tried for their dogs’ lipomas. These include:

  • Herbal remedies: Certain herbs like turmeric, milk thistle, and stinging nettle may help reduce inflammation or shrink tumors. Always consult a vet before giving herbs.
  • Dietary changes: Some veterinarians recommend feeding foods low in carbs and high in protein, or raw food diets. There is limited evidence this helps but may be worth trying.
  • Acupuncture: Acupuncture involves stimulating specific points on the body. There are some studies showing it may help reduce lipoma size and symptoms in dogs.
  • Homeopathy: Homeopathic remedies use highly diluted natural substances. There is limited research on their efficacy for lipomas in dogs.

As with any alternative therapy, it’s important to consult your vet before trying something new. While natural, these options may have side effects or interact with medications.

When to See a Vet

While most lipomas are benign and do not require treatment, it’s important to monitor their growth and be aware of any changes. Lipomas that rapidly increase in size, become ulcerated, impede movement, or interfere with bodily functions warrant a veterinary visit.

According to veterinarians, lipoma removal may be recommended if the lump grows larger than 2-3 inches in diameter, inhibits mobility, becomes ulcerated or infected, presses on internal organs, or is located in areas like the armpits or groin where rubbing and skin irritation can occur.[1]

Surgery is usually a straightforward procedure with a high success rate. The vet will use anesthesia during the removal and close the incision with sutures or staples. Most dogs recover fully within 2 weeks.

While lipomas themselves are harmless, it’s still wise to point out any new growths on your dog to a veterinarian. They can confirm it’s a benign fatty tumor and not something more serious that requires treatment.

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