Many of you know the sinking feeling you get when you find a lump underneath your dog’s fur. Any kind of cyst-like bump can cause panic, but it helps to know that most are benign (non-cancerous) and are known as lipomas, or fatty tumors in dogs.
Obviously, prevention is the best way to deal with fatty tumors in dogs but they can be elusive, appearing almost overnight.
What Are Lipomas?
Lipomas are a collection of fat cells found just beneath the skin. They have certain characteristics:
- They range in size from small to large, sometimes growing bigger than a tennis ball.
- Most are found on the chest, flanks, legs and neck.
- They’re soft and somewhat moveable.
This movability is the key difference between a benign fatty tumor and what is known as a lipsarcoma, a malignant (cancerous) tumor that grows in fatty tissues. These types of tumors don’t move under the skin and fortunately, they’re rare.
Lipomas aren’t painful unless they grow in a nerve rich area. Referred to as infiltrative, they really like the endocrine system, muscle tissue and fascia. In some cases, invasive lipomas impair movement and cause pain which can warrant surgery.
Weekly grooming can go a long way in early detection. Numerous holistic methods help soften and dissolve lipomas, stimulating the body to slowly absorb and process the contents of the lump thus shrinking and removing them.
Yes, you read that correctly, lipomas can be healed holistically especially when detected early.
Before we go into how to shrink lipomas, first let’s take a look at some of the reasons your dog gets them in the first place.
What Causes Fatty Tumors In Dogs?
Allopathic medicine is baffled by the cause of fatty tumors in dogs, usually attributing them to random chance, age and genetics. While age and genetics can contribute to the formation of lipomas, there’s something else that needs attention …
The build-up of toxins is often overlooked by mainstream veterinary medicine. From a holistic perspective, when lipomas form it’s a sign that the body is congested and energy isn’t flowing like it should. Toxins and fat get trapped and walled off by the body’s immune system as it pushes contaminants to the outside in an effort to protect and sustain internal organ function.
Your dog’s lymphatic system consists of a network of lymph ducts, nodes and vessels that transport lymphatic fluids to the bloodstream. A major player in the body’s immune function, the lymph system delivers nutrients to its cells while removing wastes.
When your dog’s elimination systems become congested and slow down, this stagnation can lead to blocked circulation causing lipomas and other chronic diseases. This build-up of wastes is sometimes referred to as a dog’s “toxic load.”
So where do these toxins come from? Your dog’s every day environment. Toxins can include:
- Environmental contaminants like glyphosphates, pesticides and herbicides
- Water contaminates like chlorine and fluoride
- Heavy metals
- Flea and tick medications
- Grooming products like chemically laden shampoos
Another contributing factor to toxic load is diet. Everything you feed your dog either contributes to disease or fights it. The cleaner his diet, the less your dog’s body needs to process it.
When your dog eats, his organs (liver, gallbladder and pancreas) decide how to react. This means they either release the enzymes needed to break down and assimilate nutrients or assume the body is under attack and issue an immune response. This leads to inflammation and slow digestive motility resulting in food staying in the digestive tract too long.
When foods aren’t properly broken down, it can result in the formation of toxins which can lead to a vicious cycle of stagnation and chronic inflammatory conditions.
Too Much Fat?
One of the problems about fatty tumors in dogs is the belief that too much fat equals fatty tumor formation. This isn’t true if the body is breaking down the fats.
It’s actually the type of fat that’s the problem, like the rancid and oxidized oils found in kibble. Some examples are rendered animal fat, vegetable oil and GMO soy and canola oils. Sadly, canola oils can be found even in higher end and “all natural” treats.
Your dog’s body sees these undigested oils as immune attackers and the body goes into defense mode, protecting itself by depositing and walling off fat mixed with toxins in the form of a lipoma.
If you suspect your dog isn’t breaking down his food properly, make sure he’s getting clean filtered water, pre and probiotics and digestive enzymes daily. If you’re a kibble feeder, consider moving your dog to a fresh food diet.
When traditional raw isn’t in your realm of possibility, options like commercial raw food, dehydrated and freeze-dried dog foods are available. You can also home cook for your dogs to add variety, especially if you have senior dogs.
There are also some natural foods that you can add to your dog’s food to help prevent lipomas. Here are some of my favorites:
- Add a basic regimen of burdock, milk thistle and dandelion can help support liver function, circulation and elimination. Pulse these herbs giving them for six days on, one day off for six weeks, then take one week off for six months. Take one month off and start again.
- Phytoplankton is an excellent source of a wide range of bioavailable vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids.
- Antioxidants like vitamin C and amino acids can help the body work more efficiently and support elimination and cell health.
- Organic apple cider vinegar (ACV) can be a powerful ally in the prevention and treatment of lipomas. ACV assists in liver detoxification as it stimulates circulation and energy flow. ACV works with the body’s lymphatic system by cleaning out the lymph nodes and supporting the body’s elimination channels. Give 1 tsp daily for dogs 15 pounds and under, 2 tsp for dogs between 15 and 30 pounds, 1 tbsp for dogs up to 80 pounds and 2 tbsp for giant breeds.
Movement Is A Must
Circulation is the key to the continuous elimination of toxins from the body. Since the lymphatic system doesn’t have a pump like the circulatory system, (the heart) it needs movement to efficiently work. Chiropractic care, acupuncture and acupressure help support energy flow but don’t forget about walking! The average American dog gets less than 15 minutes of exercises per day. That also means 15 minutes or less of breathing fresh air.
For any dog with lipomas or prone to forming fatty tumors, walking and fresh air are a must.
One of the best things you can do for yourself and your dog to stay healthy is walking outside. The simple movement helps circulate energy throughout the body and keep the lymphatic system moving as well as stimulate motility in the digestive system.
6 Herbs To Help Shrink Fatty Tumors In Dogs
Along with exercise, herbal remedies can help the body expel toxins, support the liver, kidney, and digestive systems and shrink and eliminate fatty tumors.
1. Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) and dandelion (Taraxacum officinale). These bitter herbs can help break down fats in the body by stimulating the digestive system. Dandelion and chamomile help clear heat (inflammation) from the body and decrease stagnation of fluids and energy. Dandelion increases circulation by thinning fluids and supports the linings of the gut by decreasing permeability. It stimulates the release of bile by the gallbladder to help digest fats. Dandelion is a potent lipoma fighter due to its ability to facilitate the removal of toxins through the kidneys and liver.
- You can add dandelions to your dog’s diet or use a tincture of dandelion giving 1/2 drop of tincture for every pound of weight twice daily. Chamomile makes an effective infusion (a tea steeped 20-30 minutes) added to your dog’s food. Add 1 Tablespoon for every 30 pounds of body weight.
2. Burdock root (Arctium lappa) supports the lymphatic system, the liver and the kidneys. Burdock root combined with milk thistle (Silybum marianum) is an excellent way to help the body rid itself of pharmaceuticals and move heat through the liver. Like dandelion, burdock root helps the gall bladder release bile to support the digestion of fats. Burdock root is cooling to any inflammatory condition of the liver and digestive system.
- Give as a tincture, 5 drops for every 30 pounds twice a day.
3. Chickweed (Stellaria media) moves fluids through the body and brings down inflammations throughout the entire system. It clears toxins out of the tissues with the help of the kidneys and liver. Used internally and externally, Chickweed helps dissolve lipomas and break up clumped fatty tissue. Diuretic in nature, it helps export toxins through the kidneys especially when combined with a lymphatic stimulant like cleavers (Galium aparine).
- Give as a tincture, 5 drops for every 30 pounds twice a day.
4. Self-Heal (Prunella vulgaris) is an herb often overlooked for preventing and treating tumors. Like dandelion, self-heal is common in yards and treated like a weed. A superlative lymphatic herb moving fluids in and out of tissues downward through the kidneys. Self-heal removes heat in the liver moving stagnant fluids and improving circulation. It is safe to use internally and externally to redistribute and break up fatty tissue.
- Give as a tincture, 1/2 drop of tincture for every pound of weight twice daily.
5. Turmeric (Curcuma longa) a popular anti-inflammatory increases blood flow with its warming nature. It improves digestion and soothes intestinal muscles while protecting the liver as well as stimulating bile secretions from the gallbladder. Turmeric should be used cautiously with dogs that can’t control their body temperature.
- Give 150 mg per 30 pounds of your dog’s weight twice a day.
6. Violet (Viola odorata) is one of the best lipoma herbs and it’s also safe for long-term use. Violets help dissolve hard and soft accumulations in the body through the lymphatic system. They’re cooling so they work especially well for hot conditions like fatty tumors. You can use violets internally and externally. Herbalist Juliette de Bairacli Levy used violet leaf as a poultice along with an infusion of the leaf and flower to remove any type of cyst or lipoma.
- To make an infusion, use 1 tsp for small dogs in a half-cup of water and divide into morning and evening doses. For medium dogs use 1 tbsp and 2 tbsp for large dogs. As a tincture, give 5 drops for every 30 pounds twice a day.
Note: General guidelines for using these dosages is giving them for six days on, one day off for six weeks, then take one week off for six months. Take one month off and start again.[Related: Do you know how to use herbs for pain relief for your dog? Here’s how]
Easy Lipoma Salve Recipe
What you need:
- 36 fresh violet flowers with leaves
- 14 fresh sage leaves
- 1/4 ounce of fresh chickweed
- 8 ounces olive oil
- Organic vitamin E
- 1 ounce of beeswax
- 10 drops frankincense essential oil (optional)
It’s easy to make:
- Add olive oil to small crockpot and place herbs in and stir.
- Cover and let warm for 12 hours at 100 degrees. The oil should take on some of the color and odor of the herbs when infused.
- When your oil is ready, pour through a strainer into a glass pitcher.
- Add the essential oil and 10 ml of vitamin E and stir for two minutes.
- When you’re ready to make your salve, use a double boiler to melt the beeswax (approx. 145 degrees). Pour the wax into the infused oil and stir, then pour into containers and cap when cool.
Apply salve to lipomas twice daily. This salve is safe to lick. I like to make large batches of this salve in the springtime when fresh herbs are available.
Using herbal remedies with patience and consistency can support the body’s elimination channels. Recovery from lipomas is individual and some dogs will respond at a faster pace than others.
The goal is to slowly dissolve fatty tumors so the body isn’t overwhelmed with toxins and the herbs and the other healing methods I’ve mentioned in this article as well as homeopathy offer effective ways to support the body’s elimination channels while working to get the body back in balance. Working with these methods will not show success quickly but with patience and consistency, you’ll see these fatty lumps get smaller and in many cases disappear.