Finding a lump on your dog can be frightening, but if your vet diagnoses your dog with a lipoma, that lump isn’t cancerous. While that’s a relief, these benign tumors can lead to other issues, and your dog may need to have the lipoma removed.
Depending on the lipoma’s location and size, your vet might recommend a removal surgery, which can cost anywhere from $200–1,000.
Where’s what we’ll cover:
- What is a lipoma?
- How much does it cost to remove a lipoma on a dog?
- If lipomas aren’t malignant, why would I remove them from my dog?
- Is lipoma removal covered by pet insurance?
- What does lipoma surgery removal entail?
- Is there any way to prevent lipomas?
What is a lipoma?
A lipoma is a benign mass that’s made up of fat cells.
Also called fatty tumors, they can develop just underneath your dog’s skin. They may also be found in various areas on your dog’s body, often including the chest or abdomen. Since canine lipomas are made up of fatty tissue, they are usually soft, and you can move them around easily.
How much does dog lipoma removal cost?
To confirm that your dog’s lump is a lipoma, your vet may start with a fine needle aspiration.
Your vet will insert a needle into the lump and withdraw some cells. Then, your vet can examine the cells and confirm if they’re fatty, indicating that the lump is a lipoma. A fine needle aspirate can range from $20 to $200 and can help to confirm that the lump isn’t cancerous.
If your dog’s lipoma is located within the muscle and connective tissue, your dog may need an ultrasound, x-ray, or CT scan to diagnose the lipoma, which will come with some additional costs:
- An ultrasound: $350 and $1,000
- X-rays: $75 to $400
- CT scan:$1,500 to $3,000.
These tests will help your vet to determine the best surgical route for your dog, including how to access the lipoma if it’s in a tricky spot.
The cost of surgery to remove a lipoma can range from about $200 to $800 per lipoma, on average. However, if your dog’s lipoma is unusually large or is in a spot that makes it difficult to remove, like close to your dog’s internal organs, your vet may need to refer you to a veterinary surgeon. These more complicated surgeries can cost $1,000 or more.
You might incur additional costs for things like anesthesia, bloodwork, medication, and follow-up care, after surgery.
Sometimes a surgical removal is paired with additional therapies, like radiation therapy, to help prevent lipoma regrowth.
If lipomas aren’t malignant, why would I remove them from my dog?
Some lipomas are completely harmless, and you can leave them in place with no problem.
Others can grow so large that they negatively impact your dog. A large lipoma by your dog’s mouth might restrict their ability to eat, and a big lipoma on your dog’s size could make it difficult for your dog to move around.
Sometimes lipomas simply grow in bad spots. A lipoma in the armpit would restrict your dog’s natural ability to move. If your dog develops a lipoma in a spot like their elbow, they’re likely to rub it when they lay down.
While rare, it’s also possible for a lipoma to turn into a liposarcoma, a cancerous growth.
For these reasons, your vet may recommend removing the lipoma.
Is lipoma removal covered by pet insurance?
In many cases, yes!
Your dog’s vet-recommended lipoma removal could be covered by pet insurance, and it could be covered by a Lemonade base accident and illness policy.
Keep in mind that if you notice a lump on your dog before you sign them up for pet insurance, or if you notice something unusual during the 14-day waiting period, your dog’s lipoma would be a pre-existing condition and would not be covered. As soon as your pup has had a single lipoma, any future lipomas would be considered a pre-existing condition.
For example, if your dog previously had a lipoma on their leg, then no other lipomas are eligible for coverage, even if your dog grows a new one on their stomach two years into the policy. Your dog’s coverage is based on the type of cells that the mass is made of, so having a previous lipoma means that no future lipomas will be covered.
What does lipoma surgery removal entail?
- Bloodwork: To confirm that your dog is healthy enough for surgery.
- Sedation and catheter: Your dog will be sedated, and the vet will insert an intravenous catheter. That catheter allows the vet to administer IV fluids and medication during the surgery.
- Intubation: Your vet will intubate your dog, passing a tube through your dog’s mouth and down their windpipe. The tube ensures that your dog receives enough oxygen during the surgery.
- Pre-surgical prep: Your vet will prepare the surgical site by shaving the fur and sterilizing the area.
- Surgery: Then, your vet will make an incision and extract the lipoma through that incision. The size of the incision needed will depend on the size of the lipoma, as well as the lipoma’s position and depth.
- Stitches: Finally, your vet will suture up the skin, and your dog will be carefully monitored as they wake up.
- Post-op care: When you pick up your dog, your vet will probably send them home with some pain medication for pain relief, as well as an anti-inflammatory. Your vet may recommend that your dog wear a cone to prevent licking or scratching at the sutures. You will also need to schedule a follow-up appointment so your vet can check on your dog’s healing.
Is there any way to prevent lipomas?
While there isn’t a proven method of preventing lipomas in dogs, these fatty lumps can shrink when dogs lose weight. Keeping your dog at a fit and healthy weight may help to minimize the size of any existing lipomas, potentially avoiding the need for surgery.
Before we go…
In many instances, lipomas are harmless and really won’t bother your dog. They’re often slow-growing, so you may just need to monitor them.
If your dog needs to have a lipoma surgically removed, having pet insurance can help you to afford the surgery and get your dog the care they need.