Lump, Bumps & Lipomas 

A few weeks ago, my 7 year old Golden Retriever, Chilly, was lying on the floor in the computer room.  I decided it was “cuddle-time.”  I stretched out beside him and starting talking to him, telling him what a handsome man he was, and petting him and just enjoying spending some quiet time with him.  Suddenly, I felt what everyone does NOT want to ever feel on his or her dog!  A LUMP!  A small  lump about the size of a Robin’s egg located on his left side, right where his leg meets his chest.  For a split second, time stood still and I don’t mean in a fairytale good way! 

            After taking a deep breath…I prodded and pushed and poked.  I was hoping to be able to lift it to prove to myself that it was “nothing” but it wouldn’t budge.  Why I thought if I could lift it up it would be nothing…I don’t know.  Just seemed like the thing to try!!  The lump seemed to be attached to his chest wall or rib area and was in the general vicinity (or so I thought) of a lymph node.  Since it was 10:30 p.m., there wasn’t anything I could do but get back into my chair and start searching “lumps and bumps” on the Internet.  Not a good idea!  I had a very sleepless night, fearing the worst! 

            The next morning I called the vet office almost as soon as my feet hit the floor and got an appointment for later in the day.  I will be honest, I spent my day thinking the worst!  When we got into the exam room, I told the vet what I found, and expressed my concern that it was an enlarged lymph node.  The vet did a needle biopsy and I am THRILLED to report that Chilly’s lump is nothing more than a LIPOMA!  The vet indicated that when he put the fluid extracted under the microscope, there were absolutely no cells present other than the easily recognizable “fat cells.”  He said the fluid was the consistency of oil.  He then went on to explain to me what a Lipoma is:

            A Lipoma is merely a “fatty cell tumor.”   The word "lipo" comes from the greek word lipos, which means fat or fatty tissue.  They usually appear on middle aged to older dogs and can appear in multiples. Lipomas are contained in a thin capsule of tissue, and have a relatively limited blood supply. They are soft, rounded, non-painful masses, usually present just under the skin but occasionally arising from connective tissues deep between muscles.  They are slow growing tumors that for the most part stay in one place, do not invade surrounding tissues and do no metastasize to other areas of the body.  They grow to a certain size and just sit there in the tissues and for the most part, behave themselves.  Lipomas can be removed surgically; however this is usually only done if the tumor grows large enough to restrict movement, or if the owner wants it removed for cosmetic reasons.  The majority of Lipomas are benign; however, it is still best to keep a close watch on them so at the first sign of change in structure or size, they can be reassessed.

            My story had a happy ending.  Chilly is no worse for the wear and probably doesn’t even know he has a lump!  I will continue to monitor it though and should it ever “change” in size or shape or should I ever find another….off to the vet we shall go! 

            Lumps and bumps are not to be ignored.  Be proactive!  When doing your weekly grooming, give your dog a quick going over!!  They will enjoy it and you will have the peace of mind, knowing they are lump and bump free!!

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