How Much Does Dog Lipoma Removal Cost?

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If you ever notice a somewhat rubbery, raised mystery lump under your dog’s skin, it’s likely a lipoma — although confirmation from a vet is always wise. Lipomas, also called adipose tumors, are benign clusters of fatty tissue usually safe to be left alone unless they start to cause lameness or unnecessary discomfort in your dog. In that case, lipoma removal surgery is the next most logical approach. 

So, how much does a dog lipoma removal cost? Our guide on the most cost-effective treatment options for canine lipomas will discuss:

  • The lowdown on lipomas — cause, identification, and diagnosis
  • Average veterinary cost of lipoma removal surgery 
  • Breeds commonly predisposed to lipomas
  • Treatment options

Breakdown: Dog Lipoma Removal Costs

On average, the cost of lipoma removal surgery ranges from $200 to $600 per mass. If the problematic lipoma is located in a more out of reach part of the body, like intramuscularly or on an internal organ, that price can jump to at least $1,000.

Bear in mind that these are just averages, and the cost to have a lipoma surgically removed from your own dog will depend on the size of the tumor and where in the body it’s located as well as the age, breed, and overall health of your pup.

Although virtually harmless in most instances, larger lipomas do sometimes require surgical removal if they’ve formed in areas inhibiting your dog’s mobility like near the armpit, on the backs of the thighs, against major joints, or in more severe cases, between muscle layers. Oral lipomas and growths around the throat can result in restricted breathing and swallowing, also mandating removal surgery.

In rare instances, diagnostics might reveal that a fatty lump is actually a liposarcoma — a malignant soft tissue tumor. The silver lining with liposarcomas is that they’re slow to metastasize (spread to other parts of the body), which cuts dog parents a bit more time to solidify a treatment plan with their vet. The most proactive approach for eradicating liposarcomas typically involves a combination of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. 

Typical Costs and Factors

While veterinary scientists haven’t yet been able to pinpoint what exactly causes lipomas to affect some dogs more than others, they’ve managed to identify some major risk factors in the meantime, including:

  • Age — Lipomas are most common in middle-aged and older dogs. And if one lipoma is present, odds are they’ve had enough time to develop a couple more. If this is the case for your dog, your vet may recommend multiple biopsies at once, just to be on the safe side. Diagnostic costs will vary mostly based on how accessible the tumor is for testing.
  • Breed — All canine breeds are equally susceptible to lipomas. However, Labrador Retrievers, Poodles, Weimaraners, Doberman Pinschers, Cocker Spaniels, Dachshunds, and Miniature Schnauzers seem to be more genetically predisposed to these fatty tumors.
  • WeightOverweight and obese dogs are especially prone to lipomas. Lipomas may be more difficult to notice in overweight dogs as they can become easily hidden by excess fat. This can prove particularly dangerous in the event of a malignant tumor like liposarcoma.

Minimum Costs Associated

Simple lipomas — ones that you might notice mid-belly rub since they can be felt and sometimes even moved around through the top layer of skin — are going to be cheaper to diagnose than infiltrative lipomas. 

Because simple lipomas are subcutaneous, sitting just beneath the fur and superficial tissue, a biopsy can be easily performed through a fine-needle aspirate, which averages in cost from $30 to $70. Diagnostics like this are included in most pet insurance wellness plans

For this minimally invasive test, your veterinarian will use a syringe with a thin needle to withdraw a cell sample from the lump in question. They’ll then transfer the extraction to a microscopic slide and examine it up close to ensure no cancerous cells are present

If your veterinarian gives you the all-clear and diagnoses your dog with a simple lipoma, there’s really not much else that needs to be done in terms of treatment. Some pet owners might feel compelled to have the mass removed for cosmetic reasons, but doing so puts your dog at an unnecessary risk for surgical complications and infections. Small, simple lipomas also have a high rate of regrowth following excision. 

Maximum Costs Associated

Infiltrative lipomas, which are named for how they infiltrate muscular layers and connective tissues, aren’t as accessible as simple lipomas and will require radiography like an ultrasound, X-ray, or CT scan to diagnose. Medical imaging tends to be a rather pricey veterinary service, usually costing upwards of $150 per scan. 

The most expensive aspect of a canine lipoma removal is going to be the surgical procedure itself, especially if the lipoma of concern is large or in a location that is hard to access, like perhaps between major organs. 

As we covered, most veterinarians will not perform a lipoma removal for unproblematic simple lipomas. However, if a simple lipoma is behind your dog’s discomfort, the cost for removal would start at a minimum of $200 per mass. 

Surgical removal of infiltrative lipomas is far more complex and aggressive than the procedure required for simple lipomas. Given that infiltrative lipomas tend to latch onto major muscles and connective tissue, the excision needs to be extremely precise. Due to the difficult nature of this surgery, infiltrative lipoma removals can often exceed $1,000. This number likely doesn’t include the cost of the preoperative exam, initial blood work and vitals, general anesthesia, follow-up visit, or any other itemized fees.

What Unexpected Costs Can Occur From Lipoma Removal?

Radiation therapy, which can easily creep into the thousands of dollars, is sometimes used in conjunction with surgery for larger infiltrative lipomas in order to further prevent future regrowth. 

Lipoma Removal Overview: What To Expect

What Happens During Lipoma Removal?

Prior to the lipoma removal surgery, an initial sedative will be administered to make your dog more comfortable before the vet inserts an intravenous catheter, which is the port that delivers IV therapy into your dog’s body. Your dog will also be intubated with an endotracheal tube which will be used to maintain proper oxygenation and anesthetic levels during the procedure.

Once the area of operation is shaven and sterilized, an incision will be made over the lipoma for its extraction. Simple lipomas are usually excised with minimal invasion, whereas infiltrative lipomas will sometimes require more intensive surgery, sometimes removing bits of affected muscle or tissue. Liposarcomas often entail a type of tumor removal called a radical excision, which is when the surgeon removes the tumor as well as a significant amount of normal tissue around it. 

After the excision is complete, the affected area will be sterilized and closed with sutures. Post operation, your dog should receive pain relief and anti-inflammatory prescriptions to aid in the recovery process. 

Potential Side Effects

The potential side effects of canine lipoma removal surgery are minimal. Other than local skin inflammation and irritation, as well as nausea or upset stomach due to the anesthesia, your dog will just need a bit of downtime and minimal activity in order to recover successfully. 

If your dog’s lipoma treatment plan involves supplementary radiation or chemotherapy after surgery, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and decreased appetite may occur following each round. 

Alternatives To Removal

Surgery is still considered the most effective treatment option for terminating large or malignant lipomas. However, veterinary science has begun to explore liposuction and steroidal injections as alternative treatment approaches for shrinking simple lipomas. 

Steroidal injections and liposuction are still seldom used as legitimate alternatives in the veterinary field because risk of infection and regrowth is still widely understudied. 

Recovery Time

Full recovery can take as little as two weeks to as long as four months. The true duration of time your dog needs to recover will depend on their age, how invasive the surgery was, and whether or not post-op infections occur. It’s imperative that healing dogs do not lick or chew on the surgical site. For dog owners who already know their dogs are likely to lick, an Elizabethan collar will limit their ability to reach the wound. 

Geriatric dogs tend to take a bit longer to regroup after anesthesia, so if you have an older dog, keep a close eye on its overall body temperature for a day or two after surgery – a cold nose can be an indicator of abnormally low body temperature. 

Does Pet Insurance Cover Lipoma Removal Costs?

Like any other health matter, whether or not lipoma removal is covered by your pet insurance provider depends on if lipomas are a pre-existing condition for your dog. 

If your dog already has a few benign tumors before enrollment, the surgical cost for potentially larger or more problematic future lipomas will not be reimbursed. However, if your dog is diagnosed with a liposarcoma or any other form of cancer, the majority of Accident-Illness pet insurance policies will cover the diagnostics, removal surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and more. 

Final Thoughts

Even if your dog already has an impressive collection of simple lipomas, new lumps and bumps are always something worth having looked at by a licensed veterinarian. Ultimately, dog lipoma removal cost will be defined by the severity of the tumor, the scope of necessary treatment, as well as how your dog responds to surgery and recovery. 

One key differentiator between lipomas and unrelated malignant tumors to keep at the forefront of your mind is that benign bumps are slow-growing. If you notice a mass on your dog that is quickly augmenting in size, seek out veterinary attention immediately.