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Fatty Tumors


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Benign trait or cause for concern?

The following is a summary by Marian Tyson of reader responses from the KB-L archives concerning fatty tumors. For full text of responses, please see the archives.

uestions and nswers

Almost everyone who owns a Kerry will find themselves confronted with lumps and bumps on their beloved terrier’s skin. What are they and what (if anything) should owners do?

What are fatty tunors?

Fatty tumors are benign growths.(Susan Dunivant).

Where are they often found?

They tend to form on the chest or flank of the dog and will “grow’ if the dog gains weight (Susan Dunivant).

How I can identify one?

They usually feel like discrete, smooth, rubbery masses under the skin and should not feel like they are sticking to the tissue under them. (Daryl Enstone)

What causes them?

They result from an altered fat cell that is continuing to divide and increase in size. (Daryl Enstone)

Why do we see them in Kerries?

Benign skin tumors of several varieties are common to non-shedding breed like Kerries. (Ann and Mark Lynch.)

Should I have them removed? What is the procedure?

Lumps and bumps should be monitored for changes in size and feel and should be checked periodically by a vet. Generally as Kerries age, they will have increasingly more lumps, bumps and growths. A problem with choosing to surgically remove a growth is that the Kerry will have to be anesthetized, not a recommended procedure for an older dog unless absolutely necessary. (Judith Bruno.) A smaller tumor may be removed while the dog is sedated with a local anesthesia and a mild tranquilizer. (Nancie Echeverria.)

When we (Anne & I) were active as Indigo Kerries, we intermittently had cysts on our dogs. When we found the [small] cysts during regular grooming, we ALWAYS removed them ourselves. Our method was to swab the area with alcohol and "freeze" the skin over the cyst with a spray-on topical anesthetic that we got from our vet. It comes in a small metal container with spray top. After a minute or two the anesthetic takes effect and we lanced the cyst with a sharp, pointed and sterilized Xacto knife (that we kept for that purpose.) After the cysts were popped out through the incisions, we packed the dimples/cavities with OTC triple-antibiotic ointment using a Q-tip. The wounds healed quickly and we had no further problems with infections. We checked REGULARLY to be certain. We discovered if the cysts were left unattended, they grew in size and either burst or became so large that the vet had to surgically remove them. (Paul O. Gygi)

Are some lines more prone than others?

From our observations, the appearance of sebaceous cysts varied by individual dog rather than by litter or variations in ancestry. (Paul O. Gygi)

Should I have them biopsied?

Don’t automatically opt to send it off for a biopsy. Get your vet’s opinion. In the words of Nancie Echeverria, “You will drive yourself nutz if you biopsy every interesting little item that arrives on their epidermis.”

Always check with your vet for professional advice, but to paraphrase Nanice Echeverria, you’ll go crazy if you obsess over every skin growth, particularly if you have a couple of older dogs.

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