The RVC has published a new study which has revealed several risk factors for canine lipomas, fatty masses which because of their large size and rapid growth often cause extreme and long-term anxiety to the owners of affected dogs.

The College says that until now, veterinary research has largely ignored lipomas because they are rarely referred for specialist treatment.

For the study, the RVC identified 2765 lipoma cases from a population of 384,284 dogs in its VetCompass Programme (which collects anonymised clinical data on dogs under primary veterinary care in the UK) in 2013. 

The study found that 1 in 50 dogs are affected by lipomas each year and that Springer Spaniels, Dobermann Pinschers, Weimaraners and Labrador Retrievers are the most susceptible to lipomas (5-8% prevalence).

The study also found:

  • At least one lipoma was diagnosed in 1.94% of dogs during the single year of the study.

  • Individual dogs with an adult bodyweight that was equal or higher than their breed/sex average had 1.96 times the odds of lipoma.

  • As dogs age, their odds of getting lipoma increase. Dogs aged between 9-12 years were over 17 times more likely to be diagnosed with lipoma compared to dogs aged 3-6 years old.

  • Neutered dogs had higher risk.

  • Insured dogs had 1.78 times the odds of diagnosis. 

  • Purebred dogs had 1.16 times the odds compared with crossbred dogs. 

Dr Lynda Rutherford, Clinician and Lecturer in Small Animal Surgery at the RVC, said: "This paper has supported the theory that lipomas are more common in older, overweight dogs.

"This information is useful as it can be discussed with owners and used as another reason to keep pet dog’s weight under control. It also provides a useful insight into how common lipomas are within the UK dog population."

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