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Tumors - Lipomas in Birds

By Rick Axelson, DVM

Nutrition, Surgical Conditions, Tumors, Pet Services

What is a lipoma?

Lipomas are benign fat tumors commonly found in Budgies, some Amazon parrots, galahs and sulphur crested cockatoos. They are most often found under the skin on the sternum (breastbone or keel bone) or on the ventral abdomen, but can be anywhere on the body. They appear as soft, pale yellow, sometimes lobulated, solitary or multiple enlargements under the skin. They may be noticed as a "lump" or you may just notice that the bird is getting fat. They can become so large that they will affect the way the bird perches or impair its flight. Formation of lipomas is associated with poor nutrition, obesity, hypothyroidism and genetic factors.

"Formation of lipomas is associated with poor nutrition, obesity, hypothyroidism and genetic factors."

Malignant liposarcomas are rare and tend to be firmer.

Is there any treatment for lipomas?

If caught early, most lipomas can respond to nutritional therapy. Often, affected birds are on high fat, all seed diets. Weaning slowly onto a balanced, low fat diet (pellets + fruits and vegetables) is often successful in reducing or resolving lipomas. Iodine supplements may help stimulate the thyroid gland and increase the metabolism of fatty tissues. Stimulate your bird to exercise at least twice daily to help with weight reduction.

If the lipoma is becoming too big or problematic then surgery to remove it is required.

Malignant liposarcomas are surgically removed but have the potential to spread or metastasize.

Consult a veterinarian familiar with birds for further guidance.

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