Will Lipomas Shrink With Weight Loss In Dogs?

What are lipomas?

Lipomas are benign fatty tumors that commonly develop under a dog’s skin. According to WebMD, lipomas are “soft, moveable lumps made up of fat deposits” under the skin, typically arising from fatty tissues in the body (https://www.webmd.com/pets/dogs/what-to-know-lipoma-in-dogs).

Lipomas most often form on a dog’s torso, upper legs, or armpits, but can develop anywhere on the body. They usually start out small, ranging from the size of a pea to a golf ball, and tend to grow slowly over time. Some lipomas may reach several inches in diameter. Lipomas have a soft, rubbery texture and can easily be moved around under the skin when handled.

While they may grow larger over time, lipomas are benign (non-cancerous) tumors and typically do not pose a health risk. However, they can sometimes grow large enough to interfere with movement or breathing if they develop in certain areas. Overall, lipomas are usually slow-growing fatty masses that are common in older dogs (https://www.denvervet.com/site/blog/2022/08/31/fatty-tumor-lipoma-dog).

Causes and risk factors for lipomas in dogs

The exact causes of lipomas in dogs are not fully understood, but most veterinarians agree they are related to genetics and excess growth of fat cells. According to VCA Animal Hospitals, lipomas appear to be caused by “a complex mix of risk factors, some environmental and some genetic or hereditary.”

Certain breeds such as Labrador Retrievers, Doberman Pinschers, and Schnauzers have a genetic predisposition for developing lipomas. Additionally, middle-aged and older dogs are more prone to lipomas as they age. The fat cells tend to multiply more rapidly in these dogs, leading to benign tumor growths under the skin. While lipomas can occur in younger dogs, most cases develop in dogs older than 5 years.

Relationship between obesity and lipomas

There is a clear connection between obesity and the development of lipomas in dogs. Lipomas are fatty tumors that form from adipose tissue under the skin, so excess body fat is a major risk factor. According to the ASPCA, overweight and obese dogs tend to develop more lipomas compared to dogs at a healthy weight (Source). The more body fat a dog has, the greater chance lipomas have to form.

Lipomas can actually serve as an indicator that a dog’s diet contains too much fat. According to WebMD, large breed dogs fed high fat diets are more prone to developing multiple lipomas (Source). Reducing dietary fat intake can help minimize further lipoma development. Overall, maintaining a healthy weight is one of the best ways to lower a dog’s risk for lipomas.

Can weight loss reduce or shrink lipomas?

Potentially, but it’s not guaranteed. Losing fat may cause lipomas to shrink over time, but the results depend on the location, size, and specific weight management regimen (https://www.webmd.com/pets/dogs/what-to-know-lipoma-in-dogs).

Lipomas form from an accumulation of fat cells under the skin. Therefore, losing body fat through diet and exercise may help shrink some lipomas by reducing the fatty tissue around and within the growth (https://www.embracepetinsurance.com/health/lipoma). However, the location of the lipoma impacts whether weight loss leads to significant size reduction.

Lipomas located in areas with substantial fat deposits, like the torso, are more likely to decrease in size as overall body fat is lost. Lipomas in areas with less fat, like the limbs, may not change much (https://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/skin/c_multi_lipoma). Larger lipomas also tend to be more resistant to shrinking.

Implementing healthy weight loss through an appropriate low-calorie dog food, treats, and exercise can potentially cause lipoma reduction over time. However, lipomas may not disappear completely with weight management alone. Consulting your veterinarian is important when monitoring lipoma size and determining if additional treatment is necessary.

Developing a Weight Loss Plan

When trying to shrink lipomas through weight loss, it’s important to develop a customized plan with your veterinarian’s guidance. The first step is determining your dog’s ideal target weight by considering their breed, age, activity level, and other factors (1).

Once you have a healthy goal weight, your vet can advise you on gradually transitioning to a reduced-calorie diet. Decreasing your dog’s daily caloric intake by 10-20% can stimulate weight loss at a safe, sustainable pace (2). Monitoring your dog’s progress at regular weigh-ins allows you to adjust their diet as needed to reach their target weight.

Increasing exercise should be done slowly by adding low-impact activities like short walks, swimming, or play. Avoid strenuous exercise that could strain joints. With your vet’s support, a personalized weight loss plan can help slim your dog down in a healthy way to potentially shrink lipomas.


(1) https://www.nomnomnow.com/learn/article/shrinking-canine-lipomas

(2) https://animalwellnessmagazine.com/natural-remedies-for-lipomas/

Benefits beyond shrinking lipomas

While getting lipomas to shrink is one major goal of weight loss, helping an overweight dog slim down has many other important health benefits. Losing excess weight can greatly improve a dog’s energy levels. An obese dog that loses weight will typically seem much more energetic, playful and eager to exercise. Weight loss allows dogs to be more active and mobile since excess weight puts pressure on their joints and spine, limiting mobility.

Additionally, helping an overweight dog achieve a healthier weight can significantly increase their lifespan. Carrying around extra weight puts major strain on the body and its organs. This leads to higher risk of serious conditions like heart disease and diabetes in obese dogs, which can shorten their lives if not properly managed. However getting weight under control greatly reduces the likelihood of obesity-related diseases. Maintaining a healthy weight allows dogs to live longer, healthier lives overall.

In summary, effective weight loss provides wide-ranging benefits beyond just shrinking lipomas. It improves a dog’s energy, mobility, lifespan and reduces risk of related conditions like diabetes. Overall, losing excess weight enables overweight dogs to achieve better health and quality of life.

When to Consider Lipoma Removal

In many cases, lipomas in dogs do not require surgical removal. However, removal may be recommended if the lipoma is growing rapidly, becomes ulcerated, interferes with your dog’s movement, or causes discomfort.

If your veterinarian recommends removal, there are a few surgical options. Steroid injections can sometimes shrink lipomas by breaking down the fatty tissues. However, results are temporary and multiple injections are usually needed. Surgical excision completely removes the lipoma and provides longer-lasting results. This involves making an incision over the lipoma, dissecting it from the surrounding tissues, and closing the incision with sutures or staples.

According to the Animals Surgical Center, simple lipomas can often be removed through relatively small incisions. Larger masses may require more extensive surgery. Your vet can advise you on the specific risks and benefits of lipoma removal based on your dog’s individual case.

Overall, surgical removal is usually only pursued for problematic lipomas that are causing issues due to their size, rapid growth, or location. Regular monitoring is recommended for mild lipomas that do not impair your dog’s health or quality of life. Discuss all options with your veterinarian to determine the best approach.


Home remedies to try

There are some natural home remedies that may help shrink lipomas in dogs or relieve discomfort:

Applying a cold compress to the lipoma can help reduce inflammation and swelling. Wrap an ice pack or frozen vegetable bag in a towel and hold it against the lump for 10-15 minutes at a time, being careful not to overcool your dog’s skin.[1]

Apple cider vinegar contains acids that may help break down fatty deposits when applied topically. Mix equal parts apple cider vinegar and water and gently apply it to the lipoma with a cotton ball once or twice per day. Be sure to monitor for skin irritation.[2]

Natural supplements like turmeric contain anti-inflammatory compounds that may help shrink lipomas. Always consult your vet before giving any supplements.

When to see the vet

While most lipomas are benign and can be monitored, there are some instances when you should have your veterinarian take a look:

In these cases, your vet can evaluate the lipoma, recommend removal if needed, and provide guidance on next steps for care. It’s always better to be safe than sorry when monitoring lumps and bumps on your dog.


In summary, there is some evidence that weight loss may help shrink or reduce lipomas in overweight dogs. The fat cells that make up lipomas can decrease in size along with overall body fat reduction. Consulting with your veterinarian to develop a safe and effective weight loss plan tailored to your dog is crucial. Gradual weight loss of 1-2% of body weight per week is recommended.

While the impact on lipomas may be modest, reaching and maintaining a healthy body condition score has immense benefits for your dog’s overall health and quality of life. Weight management should be viewed as part of a broader approach to lipoma care, which may also include home remedies and surgical removal if they are bothering your dog.

Your veterinarian can provide guidance on monitoring lipomas and determining if and when surgical removal may be warranted. But weight loss alone can improve joint health, respiratory function, diabetes risk, longevity, and more. Partnering with your vet on weight loss and lipoma management is key to maximizing your dog’s health and wellbeing.

Scroll to Top