Can Dogs Get Skin Cancer?

As a dog owner, you know how important it is for you to stay on top of potential health risks and hazards for your pet. But did you know that skin cancer is a potential threat to dogs, just like it is to humans?

In the article below, we’ll help you learn more about skin cancer in dogs. We’ll teach you some of the symptoms and help you understand what a skin cancer diagnosis could mean for your pet as well. Read through the information below to get a better idea of what to expect when it comes to skin cancer and your pet.

can dogs get skin cancer

Symptoms of Skin Cancer in Dogs

There are a few different signs that could mean a dog has skin cancer. If your dog is showing any of these symptoms book an appointment with your veterinarian. 

Lumps

Lumps are the most common sign of skin cancer in dogs. Pet owners may notice lumps when petting or grooming their dogs. If you find a suspicious lump on your dog’s body and it doesn’t seem to go away in a couple of days, take them to the veterinarian to have it checked out.

Warts

Warts are another common indicator of skin cancer in dogs. These warts may or may not be dark in color, but they typically grow suddenly, as opposed to warts that your pet may have had their whole life.

Pimples

Pimples may sometimes be nothing more than an actual pimple on your dog’s skin. They could also indicate benign cysts, infected flea bites, or a variety of other problems. However, if they don’t clear up in a week or so, then it’s time to see the vet.

Tenderness

If your dog has any concerning lumps that seem to be tender when you touch them—or if they become guarded or aggressive when you try—then this may indicate skin cancer.

Risk Factors for Skin Cancer in Dogs

There are many different risk factors that could put a dog at higher risk of having skin cancer.

Genetics

Genetics are the top contributor when it comes to skin cancer in dogs. If your dog’s parents had skin cancer, then your dog is likely to have it at some point, too. Additionally, specific breeds are more likely to have skin cancer than others—although any dog breed can contract skin cancer at any time.

Sunlight

Sunlight can cause skin cancer in dogs, just like it can in humans. Dogs who spend more time out in the sun than others are at a greater risk of skin cancer. Parts of your dog’s body that are bare or have less fur may be the most likely locations for cancerous skin tumors.

Hormone Issues

Hormone issues can sometimes contribute to the growth of cancerous tumors in and on a dog’s body. Although this risk factor is not as significant as some others, it may still play a part in whether your dog suffers from skin cancer at some point throughout their life.

Viruses

In dogs, some kinds of viruses are likely to cause cancerous tumors upon exposure. Dogs who are exposed to these viruses may be at a greater risk of contracting skin cancer. Talk to your veterinarian about your pet’s risk if they become sick with a virus.

Treatment and Management of Skin Cancer in Dogs

Should a dog be diagnosed with skin cancer there are different options for treatment and management for the pet.

Surgical Removal

In many cases, canine skin cancer can be surgically removed. This is true any time the skin cancer is surface-level only and has not metastasized to other parts of the body. Your vet will perform multiple tests to determine whether your dog’s skin cancer is removable via surgery.

Chemotherapy

Many types of skin cancer in dogs are treatable with chemotherapy. If your dog’s skin cancer is caught early, your vet may recommend that you speak to a veterinary oncologist for more information about treating your pet’s condition with the help of chemo.

Radiation

Radiation may work in situations when chemotherapy does not do the trick. Some types of skin cancer in dogs are not susceptible to radiation treatments, but others are. Your vet and veterinary oncologist can give you more information about choosing the right solution for your dog.

Managing Symptoms

If your dog’s skin cancer is severe, if it has metastasized to the rest of their body, or if they are very old and not a good candidate for treatments, then your vet may recommend simply managing the symptoms for the rest of the pet’s life. This is a difficult decision and one you must make with your vet’s help.

In Conclusion

Based on this information, you can better understand the relationship between dogs and skin cancer. Although it is not common for dogs to suffer from skin cancer, it is also not a rare condition for pets to deal with. You can significantly reduce your dog’s risk of skin cancer by paying attention to their risk factors.

If you suspect your pet has skin cancer, take them to your Heart + Paw vet to be examined. Your vet will help you find the right diagnosis for your pet and then help you choose the best treatment or management solutions moving forward. Use the online form to book an appointment at any of our Heart + Paw locations.

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About Us

Heart + Paw was founded in 2018 by Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. George Melillo, who currently serves the Mid-Atlantic area. Heart + Paw offers a combination of veterinary care, pet grooming, and dog daycare to help be a resource in your pet parenthood journey.

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