Can Lipomas Cause Limping In Dogs?

What Are Lipomas?

Lipomas are benign (noncancerous) fatty tumors that commonly develop in middle-aged to older dogs ( They form when fatty tissue begins to multiply rapidly in a localized area under the skin. Lipomas can occur anywhere on a dog’s body where fat is stored, but the most common locations are the chest, abdomen, and upper legs (

Lipomas usually feel soft and movable under the skin. They are not painful in most cases. The surface of the skin covering a lipoma generally looks normal. Lipomas range in size from a pea to a few inches across. They have defined edges and can sometimes cause a bulge visible beneath the skin.

Do Lipomas Cause Pain or Discomfort in Dogs?

Lipomas are typically slow growing, benign fatty tumors that form under a dog’s skin. According to experts, lipomas are generally painless ( The fatty lump of a lipoma is soft, movable, and painless in most cases (

However, in some situations lipomas can cause discomfort for dogs. Large lipomas or ones that grow rapidly may impinge on surrounding tissue and nerves, leading to pain. Lipomas that form in joint spaces or compress major nerves can also be uncomfortable and cause pain for dogs (

So while small lipomas are usually painless, larger lipomas or ones in sensitive body areas may cause pain and discomfort in dogs. Monitoring the size and growth of lipomas is important to watch for signs of pain developing.

Can Lipomas Lead to Limping in Dogs?

Yes, lipomas can sometimes lead to limping in dogs if they grow large enough or are located in certain areas that affect mobility and joint function. According to VCA Animal Hospitals, “Some pets will develop these tumors in their armpit region, between their legs, or around the neck, which can cause discomfort and/or lameness.”

Lipomas that develop near joints or on the legs may interfere with normal motion, causing pain and limping. For example, a lipoma growing on the back of a dog’s leg may make bending the leg difficult and uncomfortable. According to the Animals Surgical Center, “Lipomas growing between the muscles of the limb will eventually impede the function of the limb and cause lameness.”

In some cases, lipomas can also cause limping if they compress nerves that control leg function and mobility. The pressure on the nerves from the fatty tumor can lead to weakness, pain, and limping. Catching and treating nerve-compressing lipomas early is important to prevent permanent nerve damage.

So in summary, lipomas can definitely be a cause of limping in dogs, either through restricting joint motion, irritating tissues around joints and legs, or compressing key nerves. If your dog develops limping or other mobility issues, it’s a good idea to have your vet evaluate them for lipomas or other underlying issues that may require treatment.


Diagnosing the Cause of Limping

If a dog is limping, the first step is for the veterinarian to perform a thorough physical exam to try to pinpoint the location and cause. They will palpate and manipulate the dog’s legs, joints, and muscles to identify any pain, swelling, or decreased range of motion. The vet will also look for any wounds, bites, rashes, or other abnormalities.

If the physical exam doesn’t reveal an obvious cause, the vet may recommend imaging tests like X-rays or an MRI. These can help identify bone fractures, arthritis, or tumors that could be causing the limping. According to PetMD, X-rays are especially useful for locating lipomas since they are composed of fat and show up well on films [1].

The vet may also run lab tests on joint fluid or bloodwork to check for signs of inflammation or infection. They will review the results of all the diagnostic tests together to try to pinpoint the underlying issue.

If a lipoma is suspected, the vet will identify its exact location and size through palpation and imaging. They will also assess whether manipulating or putting pressure on the lipoma causes any signs of pain or changes in the dog’s gait or mobility.

By performing a thorough diagnostic workup, the vet can determine whether a lipoma is directly contributing to or causing limping in an affected dog.

Treating Lipomas Causing Limping

If a lipoma is causing limping or discomfort in a dog, there are several treatment options to consider:

Monitoring small asymptomatic lipomas – For small lipomas that are not causing pain or mobility issues, vets typically recommend monitoring their size and watching for changes. Small lipomas may not require treatment unless they grow and start interfering with movement.

Surgical removal – Extracting lipomas surgically is an effective treatment option for large, bothersome lipomas according to VCA Animal Hospitals ( Surgery to remove painful lipomas is usually minimally invasive. Early removal when lipomas are small helps prevent future discomfort and limping.

Non-surgical options – In some cases vets may try steroid injections or liposome injections to shrink lipomas before resorting to surgery, according to Embrace Pet Insurance ( However these non-surgical options do not always work.

Discuss all treatment options with your veterinarian to determine the best approach for your dog’s specific situation. The goal is to relieve any limping and discomfort caused by lipomas.

Preventing Lipomas in Dogs

While there is no definitive way to prevent lipomas from forming in dogs, maintaining a lean body weight may help reduce their frequency. According to [Embrace Pet Insurance], lipomas occur more often in overweight dogs. Keeping your dog at a healthy weight through proper diet and exercise can help minimize excessive fat buildup under the skin where lipomas develop.

It’s also important to monitor your dog’s body frequently for any new lumps or bumps. Catching lipomas early, when they are small, allows for easier treatment if necessary. Check areas prone to lipomas like the torso, upper legs, and armpits. Look for soft, movable lumps under the skin. According to [PetMD], rapid lipoma growth may indicate a more serious mast cell tumor, so notify your vet promptly about fast-growing lumps.

While no specific diet has been shown to prevent lipomas in dogs, feeding a high-quality food designed for your dog’s age, size, and activity level can help maintain lean muscle mass. Provide plenty of exercise and mental stimulation as well to keep your dog fit. Though you can’t eliminate the risk entirely, keeping your dog’s weight in check and conducting routine body checks are your best tools for reducing lipomas.

Outlook for Dogs with Limping Lipomas

The outlook for dogs with lipomas causing limping is generally good with proper treatment. Lipomas are benign fatty tumors that typically do not spread or become cancerous (VCAAH, 2023). Surgically removing the lipoma causing discomfort and limping often resolves the symptoms. Most dogs recover well after lipoma removal surgery if the tumor was localized and could be fully excised.

One study found over 80% of dogs had no complications after lipoma removal surgery (Animalsurgicalcenter, 2023). The prognosis is excellent as long as the lipoma does not originate from muscle tissue, which would require more involved surgery. After surgery, the dog should regain normal function and no longer limp once healing occurs.

However, lipomas can recur after surgical removal, with studies showing recurrence rates between 30-50% (Animalsurgicalcenter, 2023). So monitoring for potential regrowth of the lipoma is recommended. But even if the lipoma returns, it can usually be removed again. Overall, the benign nature of these fatty tumors makes the outlook good in dogs with proper treatment for any associated limping or discomfort.

When to See the Vet

If your dog develops limping or begins showing signs of pain or discomfort related to a lipoma, it’s important to schedule a veterinary appointment. Limping or changes in mobility can indicate the lipoma is interfering with normal movement or putting pressure on muscles, joints, or nerves.

According to VCA Animal Hospitals, lipomas located in the armpit region, between the legs, or around the neck can potentially cause discomfort and lameness. Restricted mobility or range of motion, especially in the limbs or neck, warrants a vet visit.

You should also see your vet if your dog’s lipoma ruptures, grows rapidly, or shows signs of inflammation like redness, heat, or swelling. Neurological signs like weakness or lethargy combined with limping require prompt veterinary attention.

Your vet can perform a physical exam and determine if limping or changes in mobility are due to the lipoma or an unrelated health issue. They may recommend treatment options like surgery, medication, or home care to address any pain, inflammation, or impaired movement caused by the lipoma.

Catching changes from a lipoma early allows for quicker treatment intervention, which can help minimize limping and discomfort in your dog. Contact your vet at the first signs of limping, mobility issues, or pain associated with a lipoma.

Caring for a Dog with a Lipoma

If your dog has a lipoma that is causing limping or discomfort, there are some at-home care tips to help keep your dog comfortable while monitoring the lump.

It’s important to restrict your dog’s activity level and avoid strenuous exercise that could put pressure on or irritate the lipoma. Gentle walks and light activity is recommended. Joint supplements may also help support joint health if limping is present.

Check the lipoma daily when caring for your dog. Look for any changes in size, shape, firmness, or if it seems to spread under the skin. Redness, bleeding, discharge or sudden growth can indicate problems, so contact your vet if you notice anything concerning.

You’ll also want to monitor for improvements or worsening of limping over time. Keeping a log of your dog’s symptoms can help the vet determine next steps.

While most lipomas are benign, it’s important to catch any negative changes early. Routine vet checkups are advised to keep an eye on the lump. With proper at-home care and monitoring, many dogs can manage lipomas well.


Lipoma Limping Key Takeaways

Lipomas, which are fat-filled tumors, are common lumps found under the skin in dogs. While lipomas are usually benign, if they grow large enough they can cause discomfort and even limping by pressing on nerves, muscles, or joints. Limping and stiffness needs to be addressed, since it can indicate pain and impact your dog’s quality of life. The cause of limping should always be diagnosed by a veterinarian, and may require imaging tests like X-rays.
Treatment for limping lipomas usually involves surgically removing the growth. With proper care and monitoring by a vet, most dogs recover well from this procedure. Some natural remedies like fish oil may help prevent lipomas. However, limping should never be ignored – schedule a veterinary visit if you notice your dog limping, as many conditions besides lipomas could be responsible. By seeing your vet promptly and following their treatment recommendations, you can help get your furry friend back on all four paws. Please consult your veterinarian if you have any other questions or concerns about limping or lumps in your dog.

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