Lump on Dog’s Leg Likely a Lipoma

Golden and Labrador Retrievers are susceptible to harmless fatty tumors.

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Q. My 9-month-old Labrador-Golden Retriever mix has a soft, movable lump about the size of a golf ball on her right front leg at the elbow joint. Can you give my any idea of what it may be?

A. Aah, lumps and bumps on retriever mixes; sometimes, it seems this is what keeps veterinarians in business.
 
In evaluating a lump, it is important to answer the following questions to determine if it has the potential to be something bad: Is it growing rapidly? Is it firmly attached in place? Is it soft? Is it a regular shape? Is it painful? Does it have any discharge? Could it be a lymph node?
 
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, the lump should be investigated further with a fine needle aspirate, a simple procedure that collects microscopic cells from the lump, stains them, and allows them to be viewed under a microscope.
 
Based on what you describe, the breed of your dog, and the location of the lump, it is most likely a harmless fatty tumor, called a lipoma. A very simple way for your veterinarian to confirm this is by pushing a needle into the lump, and then pushing the cells collected in the needle onto a slide with a syringe. If they appear as a clear, oily substance, your dog has a fatty tumor.

Most lipomas are left alone unless they grow to a size that makes the dog uncomfortable, in which case they are surgically removed. It is not uncommon for older Labrador-Golden-Retriever-type dogs to have numerous lipomas. Don’t assume every lump is a lipoma, however, check each one out whenever you are “loving up” on your dog.


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kevin   NOTTINGHAM, International

8/27/2014 2:57:32 AM

My staffy has a lump the size of a large pea. It doesn't seem to bother her. It was bright red to start with now after I have been putting germination on it, has gone a dull red. It moves and doesn't seem to be attached to her joint. Sorry it's on her elbow rear left leg. Any ideas?

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Kim   BRUNSWICK, Ohio

7/24/2014 4:31:32 PM

Lumps on elbow joints are usually Hygroma's. Not painful not cancerous growths from laying on hard surfaces. Better to check the vet to be sure but my 5 month old Mastiff had one and it was not Lipoma

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Jessecca   akron, Ohio

2/4/2014 12:23:05 AM

My 9 mouth old cain corso puppy has a soft ball sized mass on his right elbow its not painfull for him but it was noticed around thanksgiving and its now the size of a soft ball it started out small I am going to get him to the vet this week just wanted to know if anyone has had experience with this before! I know he has not been injured

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Eileen - 249708   Port Perry, ON

4/21/2013 4:14:55 AM

Excellent information to know!

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