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Can Dogs Get Skin Cancer? Signs And Symptoms

Can Dogs Get Skin Cancer? Signs And Symptoms
Can dogs get skin cancer

One thing every dog owner fears is getting a cancer diagnosis for your furry friend. But many people don’t even know what types of cancer a dog can get. Can dogs get skin cancer, for example?

The answer is yes! And unfortunately, skin cancer is fairly common in some dog breeds. If you ever see a strange lump or bump in your dog, don’t just ignore it. Unfortunately, those skin abnormalities can be cancerous. Make sure to contact your vet immediately and schedule an appointment.

But what if your dog got already diagnosed with skin cancer? Even though your vet should be the one answering health related question, you might still be left with some unanswered ones. It’s hard to process all of the information at once when your vet first informs you. Because of that, we’ll answer the most common questions dog owners have after receiving this diagnosis for their pup.

How can dogs get skin cancer?

Skin cancer is the most common type of tumor in dogs. It’s fairly common among some dog breeds, such as golden retrievers. Skin cancer is mostly visible with the naked eye, which helps with early diagnosis.

Early diagnosis for any type of cancer is key for and effective treatment and a better prognosis. If the cancer is not detected in time, very often it metastasizes to other parts of the body.

Check up your dog regularly, and look for any lumps, bumps or changes in color.

Golden retriever looking at its owner with a sad look in his eyes
Skin cancer is the most common tumor in dogs. It’s fairly common in some breeds. Golden retrievers, for example.

What can cause skin cancer in dogs?

The factor number one is genetics. If other dogs from that specific litter had skin cancer, your dog is more likely to develop it too. But also, like we already stated, some breeds are more prone than others. But there are also a number of other factors that can cause skin cancer in dogs. Such as exposure to the sun, chemicals, some virus infections and hormonal abnormalities.

What types of skin cancer can a dog get?

Just like in humans, dogs can develop different types of skin cancer. The type depends on the layer of skin that is primarily affected. The three most common types of canine skin cancers are:

Malignant melanoma

This type of skin cancer is typically found in the mouth or on mucous membranes. They tend to grow rapidly fast and metastasize to other organs. Such as the lungs, liver or kidneys. Malignant melanomas look like raised lumps, often ulcerated, and can also look like gray or pink lumps in the mouth.

Squamous cell carcinoma

It’s often caused by excessive sun exposure. They are very aggressive, but don’t have the tendency to metastasize. They cause damage in the tissue surrounding the tumor. These tumors usually appear on your dog’s abdomen. Because this area is least protected from the sun by hair.

Mast cell tumors

This is the most common skin cancer type in dogs. They develop in the immune system’s mast cells. Mast cells release histamine, which is the chemical that causes some of the symptoms of allergic reactions in dogs, like irritation and itching. Most often these tumors develop on the limbs, lower abdomen, and chest.

Skin bump on a dog being inspected by owner who wonders can dogs get skin cancer?
Always be on the lookout for any type of skin bumps, lumps or rashes on your dog.

Signs and symptoms

Depending on the type cancer your dog has, different symptoms will appear. Clearly, as your dog ages you want to carefully monitor the skin for abnormalities. Such as lumps, bumps and also rashes.

What does skin cancer look like on dogs?

Different types of skin cancer have a different type of manifesting in your dog’s skin.

Firm, raised wart-like blemishes (squamous cell carcinomas)
Rubber-like, inflamed sores (mast cell tumors)
Strange-colored lumps or bumps on the lips, mouth, pads of feet, toenail beds (melanomas)

Treatment options

Treatment for skin cancer depends on how developed the tumor is. However, there are other factors that determine the type of treatment. Such as: tumor location, tumor type and also possible metastatic dissemination.

Treatment options include:

  • Surgical treatment
  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • A combination of different methods

Prevention is always the best possible treatment.

Cancer is most often the result of a variety of factors coming together. However, there are always some things you can do to lower the risk.

Control your dog’s exposure to sunlight. Especially if you own a light-skin, short-hair breed. Limit the exposure especially during the peak hours.

Also, inspect your dog and be on the lookout for lumps, bumps and rashes. always contact your vet if you notice anything suspicious.

If you’re wondering how long dogs with cancer live, read this.