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I am not a veterinarian or an animal nutritionist. This blog is a personal blog about feeding my dogs a raw food / fresh food diet and what I'm learning as I research their health and nutrition. Do not use this blog to diagnose your dog. If you have a medical concern, please contact your veterinarian.
Recently, I had a cancer scare with one of my dogs. As I type this, I’m only 99% sure that my girl doesn’t have cancer. Maybe even 99.9% sure. This experience underlined what I’ve learned as a dog nutrition blogger:
- Seek the advice of people who know what they’re talking about; including my veterinarians.
- Don’t spend the day Googling “is my dog going to die,” because the answer will always be “YES!”
- Stay positive and don’t freak out, because that negative energy negatively impacts my dogs.
- Don’t post about the experience on social media until you’re ready for unsolicited advice.
On Labor Day Weekend, I found a lump when I was snuggling with Sydney. I have a history of anxiety and depression and thanks to therapy, exercise, and a good diet, I’ve managed to control my emotional freakouts, so while my first instinct was to have a complete meltdown, I shelved that and called a friend who has a lot of experience with canine cancer. As we chatted, I grabbed Sydney’s harness and leash so that I could take her to the veterinarian.
Sydney wasn't in pain and wasn't exhibiting any signs of being sick. And although there was a good chance that the lump was a fatty tumor, I still set up veterinarian appointments and called friends who could help me with switching Sydney to a Keto diet if she did, in fact, have cancer.
What is a Fatty Tumor?
A fatty tumor, or lipoma, is a mass that is beneath the skin and are common in senior dogs (Sydney is 8-1/2 years old). Fatty tumors are usually soft (fatty), you can get your fingers almost around it (but not completely), and they have limited mobility. There are no sores, rashes, or irritations on the skin over the lump, fatty tumors do not cause pain, and while they can grow larger, they are not cancerous. I’ve spoken to many people and have been advised that it’s not necessary to remove the tumor unless it is causing Sydney discomfort or making it difficult for her to walk.
Why Do Dogs Get Fatty Tumors?
Based on my readings, Sydney may have developed a fatty tumor because she has a low metabolism and she’s not a very active dog. The inability to eliminate toxins. Sydney is seen by two veterinarians, and one practices Chinese medicine and sees the fatty tumor as a sign that Sydney is blocked and this stagnant Qi is a sign that she too much phlegm in the system.
With the help of my friend Ronny LeJeune of Perfectly Rawsome, who is a certified dog trainer, I changed Sydney’s exercise regimen. We began walking at her pace for up to 30 minutes a day. In 5 months, Sydney lost 7 pounds, and she’s more energetic and active than we’ve seen her in a long time.
I also began adding bee pollen for vitality and energy and milk thistle* for liver health to Sydney's diet. And one of Sydney's vet has suggested that I follow the food energetics chart for transforming phlegm and I will be adding (alternating) the following foods to Sydney's diet
- bell peppers
- shiitake mushrooms
- lemon peel
- orange peel
* Order your milk thistle from Herbsmith, Inc. and save 10% when you use the code KTTW10 at check out.
Other Ways to Reduce or Get Rid of Fatty Tumors
Fatty tumors can grow in size, which is disconcerting to me, so I switched my focus to learning how I can either reduce the size or make them go away altogether. There are a few simple changes, other than what I shared above, that may accomplish my goals.
Exercise – I have to keep my girl moving, so we continue to walk around the house daily. I was tempted to let her rest up because of the trauma of going to the vet three times, not on Sydney's list of favorite things to do. But Sydney wasn't having it, we got home, and she was racing to the door with her siblings, ready for her daily walk.
Golden Paste – my dogs get golden paste daily, but I've run low and have been adding it sparingly until I had the time to make another batch. I made a HUGE batch the other night. Turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory that also supports digestive health and protects the liver. The golden paste recipe I follow is quick and easy to mix up.
Natural Detox – Fatty tumors are said to be a result of the system not eliminating toxins efficiently (or at all), so I ordered Dr. Becker's Bites Detox and PetsVeratrol shakers (meal toppers), which Sydney enjoys daily, to help rid her system of toxins. These shakers are formulated by the world-renowned holistic veterinarian, Dr. Karen Becker. They support the immune system, provide anti-oxidants to slow/stop the growth of cancer cells while helping to naturally rid the system of environmental and other toxins.
Keto Diet – Sydney already eats a raw food diet, and now I'm making plans to put her and my other dogs on a keto diet periodically. I'm still learning about the diet, but I'm thankful to friends who have offered to help me formulate the diet, and I purchased the equipment I need to test for ketosis and glucose levels. I wrote a post about Keto diets for dogs recently that includes a video with a friend who feeds her dog a keto diet to prevent cancer; check it out to learn more.
CBD Oil – The jury is still out about whether or not CBD oil can prevent cancer. I did read that CBD oil helps reduce inflammation, can change cancer cells, and can reduce the reproduction of some cancer cells. I usually give my dogs CBD oil for anxiety and joint pain. At the moment, I alternate between IrieCBD for Pets and Natural Pet Organics Hemp Oil, which is a full spectrum CBD oil available on Amazon.
Should I Have My Dog's Fatty Tumor Removed?
I have spoken to several people, including four veterinarians, and the consensus was a little all over the place. Before any tests were done, I was told not to aspirate because we could get false positive or false negative results. Instead, my vet wanted to start with x-rays and blood work, both of which came back clean. Sydney has some arthritis (we knew about this) and her blood work is perfect (damn right it is!).
Her veterinarian originally wanted to remove it because of where it's located (near her mammary glands). However, we're going to hold off since all of the tests were positive. Instead, I've been told to watch it for growth, and I'm going to address the fatty tumor through diet and exercise (as mentioned above).
Several of my friends and followers were kind enough to share their unsolicited advice – remember, don't share on social media unless you're ready for it – and they all have had similar experiences with their senior dogs. Everyone suggested that I leave it; there's no point to putting Sydney through the stress of surgery for something that is harmless, isn't causing her pain or discomfort, and isn't impeding with her way of life.
So I'll hit pause on the surgery.
Update on My Dogs
Since writing this post (September 2018), I found a second fatty tumor on Sydney and our vet found one on Rodrigo. I've checked their lipomas twice a month since the discoveries and they haven't increased in size. One of Sydney's lipomas became smaller, reducing from the size of the first segment of my pointer finger to the first segment of my pinkie finger.
Sources for This Blog Post
Cancer is a serious topic, and if you’re coming across this blog post because you’ve discovered a fatty tumor on your dog, I highly encourage you to get in touch with your holistic veterinarian. Once you have a game plan, here are some additional resources that have helped me learn what’s going on with my dog.
- Why I Don't Remove Lipomas – Unless They Do This, Dr. Karen Becker
- 6 Herbs To Get Rid Of Fatty Tumors In Dogs
- Food Energetics Charts by Herbsmith, Inc.
- Understanding How to Feed a Keto Diet to Dogs
Other Blog Posts About Canine Cancer
- Understanding How to Feed a Keto Diet to Dogs
- Rodney Habib, Vegetables, Canine Cancer, and the Keto Diet
- 10 Foods that May Prevent Dog Cancer
- Learn How To Protect Your Dog from Cancer
- 10 Early Warning Signs of Dog Cancer
- 7 Reasons Why Raw Feeding Doesn't Prevent Cancer
- How a 14 Year Old Dog Beat Canine Cancer