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Dog Skin Cancer

Dog Skin Cancer

A bump on your dog's skin is concerning for any pet parent, as it could be a sign of cancer. Today, our Plains vets discuss what pet owners should know about skin cancer in dogs.

Bumps on Dogs' Skin

If you've discovered a bump, lump, or discolored patch of skin on your four-legged friend you're bound to be worried about cancer. It's important to remember that not all lumps and bumps are cancerous and even for those that are cancerous, many are treatable if detected early.

If you have found something suspicious on your dog's skin, contact your vet right away to book an examination for your dog. Successful treatment outcomes heavily depend on how early treatment begins. 

Types of Skin Cancer in Dogs

Malignant Melanoma

  • Melanomas are raised bumps that can be dark-pigmented (but not always) and are frequently found around the dog's lips, mouth, and nail bed. Most melanomas are benign, however, malignant melanomas are a very serious health threat. These tumors grow quickly and have a high risk of spreading to other organs. Schnauzers and Scottish terriers appear to face an increased risk of developing melanoma, and male dogs are more at risk than females.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

  • Skin squamous cell carcinoma is the most commonly diagnosed form of skin cancer in dogs. This dog skin cancer typically affects older animals and is often seen in dalmatians, beagles, whippets, and white bull terriers. These tumors appear as raised wart-like patches or lumps that are firm to the touch and are most often found on the dog's head, lower legs, rear, and abdomen. Exposure to the sun may be a cause of squamous cell carcinoma, however, there could also be a link to papillomavirus.

Mast Cell Tumors

  • Mast cell tumors occur in the mast cells of the immune system and are very common in dogs. These tumors can grow anywhere on the skin, and even on the dog's internal organs. Some of the most common sites for mast cell tumors to appear are the limbs, lower abdomen, and chest. This form of skin cancer can occur in any breed but is most often seen in boxers, pugs, Rhodesian ridgebacks, and Boston terriers between 8 -10 years old.

Diagnosing Skin Cancer in Dogs

To diagnose skin cancer in dogs, your vet may perform a biopsy to take a small sample of the tumor's cells for examination. This sample will be analyzed at a diagnostics lab for your veterinarian to provide you with an accurate diagnosis of your pup's condition. 

To determine the extent of your dog's cancer, additional diagnostic testing may be recommended. This can help to optimize treatment and give a more accurate prognosis for your pet.

Treatment for Skin Cancer in Dogs

Many early-stage dog skin cancers can be treated successfully, allowing pets to continue living comfortable, happy lives for years to come.

Your dog's skin cancer treatment could include surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapies, or palliative care when appropriate. When it comes to the prognosis and treatment for skin cancer in dogs, options will depend on several factors, such as the type of cancer, the location of the cancer, and how advanced your dog's cancer is.

Our animal hospital offers specialty oncology care by a certified veterinary oncologist. We are more than equipped to diagnose and care for your pet.

Monitoring Your Dog's Health

Spotting the signs of skin cancer while the disease is still in its early stages is the key to good treatment outcomes. During your regular grooming routine, familiarize yourself with all your dog’s normal lumps, bumps, and spots so that you can spot changes in your pup's skin right away.

Visiting your vet for routine wellness exams, even when your dog appears perfectly healthy, can help to catch skin cancers in the early stages.

Whenever you notice an unexplained or unusual lump or bump on your dog, or if you notice swelling around your dog's toes consult your vet right away. When it comes to your pet's health it's always better to err on the side of caution. 

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Have you found a concerning bump on your dog's skin? Contact our Plains vets to have your pup diagnosed.

From Happy Pet Owners

  • They saved my dog’s life three years ago with a spinal surgery. He’s still doing great!
    Kevin C.

Contact (570) 208-8877