In dogs, skin cancer can manifest in various ways. Malignant cancers can be very painful for dogs. To protect their dogs, dog parents need to know more about skin cancers. A common cause of skin cancer is sun exposure. But there are other causes of skin cancer in dogs. And so, it is important to dog parents to know more about these causes, types of cancer and the best way to prevent them.
Skin Cancer In Dogs – What Is It? How Long Can Dogs Live With Skin Cancer?
Cancer in humans and dogs occurs due to the rapid multiplication of abnormal cells. Tumors are one of the manifestations of skin cancer in dogs. This rapid growth of abnormal cells can quickly spread to other organs and parts of the body. The spread of cancerous cells from the primary infection area to other parts of the body is known as metastasis. (1)
Some types of skin cancers are life-threatening and dangerous. And so you need to treat them as soon as you find any signs of them in your dog. A lump on the skin, bleeding and infected area on the skin, discoloration of an area on the skin, thickened or abnormal skin textures, and excessive licking and itching of the skin are some of the signs of skin cancer to look out for in your dog.
The most common sign of skin cancer in dogs is a lump on the skin. The good news is that not all lumps are cancerous. There are two types of lumps – malignant and benign. Malignant lumps are dangerous and life-threatening, while benign lumps are not. If you notice even a small lump on your dog’s skin, take him to the vet immediately. The vet’s examination and diagnosis will determine if the lump is dangerous or benign.
If your dog is furry, it may be difficult to spot small lumps while larger lumps are easier to spot. So, it is always good to do regular skin checks for your furry friend. You may also notice bleeding or oozing out of the cancerous areas. While normal wounds heal quickly, these cancerous areas do not heal quickly. This is primarily due to the presence of cancerous cells in that area.
Situations where the dog’s skin is bleeding and oozing may be very painful for them. This causes the dog to lick and itch at the skin frequently, causing more bleeding and infection. Some other skin cancer signs to look out for are discoloration, thickening, and flakiness of the dog’s skin.
What Are The Different Types Of Skin Cancer In Dogs? 4 Types Of Skin Cancers In Dogs
The different types of skin cancer in dogs are:
Squamous Cell Carcinoma: This type of carcinoma skin cancer generally occurs due to exposure to the sun. The other triggering factors for this type of cancer are yet unknown to doctors and scientists. Research suggests that surgical intervention is the best type of treatment for this cancer. (2) This type of cancer can also spread to surrounding areas but does not enter the lymph nodes and internal organs.
Malignant Melanoma: This type of cancer usually occurs on the parts of the dog’s body that does not have fur. (3) Melanomas are common tumors in dogs and occur due to melanocytes (melanin-producing cells). Melanocytes cause pigmentation in the skin, and these tumors can be of various colors. (4) This type of cancer spreads rapidly and can also spread to other organs. Oral melanoma is the most common type of cancer in dogs. (5)
Melanocytomas: This is a type of benign melanoma. It does not spread to other areas of the body and occurs under a dog’s furry skin areas. (6)
Mast Cell Tumors: These types of tumors also common tumors occurring in dogs. MCTs are divided into three grades, depending on their level of danger. (7) Grade 1 MCT tumors are not too dangerous and can generally heal when they are surgically removed.
Grade 2 MCT tumors are slightly riskier than grade 1. This grade involves the mitotic index. The mitotic index indicates how fast the cancer is spreading. A low mitotic index tumor is often easy to cure with surgery. And a high mitotic index may need more intervention than surgery like radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and others. (8)
Grade 3 MCTs are the most aggressive and dangerous type of tumors. They spread easily, and the most aggressive treatment gives the dog only a fair chance of survival.
What Are The Causes Of Skin Cancer In Dogs? Can Skin Cancer In Dogs Be Cured?
Just like in humans, often the root cause of skin cancers in dogs cannot be known. However, there are a few things that contribute to causing skin cancer in dogs.
Morning sun (before 12 pm) exposure is healthy for dogs. However, overexposure to harsh sun rays can lead to skin cancer in dogs. The skin areas that are not covered with thick fur are more prone to developing skin cancer.
Different breeds are also more prone to developing skin cancer. Some of those breeds are Schnauzers, Keeshonds, Doberman Pinschers, Bay Retrievers, Airedale Terriers, Bassett Hounds, Keeshonds, Scottish Terriers, Labrador Retrievers, Collies, Dalmatians, Boston Terriers, Boxers, Bull Terriers, Beagles, and Pugs.
Dogs that have black skin are also more prone to developing malignant melanomas. And as dogs mature and become old, they too are more prone to develop skin cancer. Excessive licking and chewing of a skin area can also make a dog more prone to skin cancer.
Can Dog Skin Cancer Be Cured? Diagnosis And Treatment Of Skin Cancer In Dogs
The vet will do a thorough examination of your dog’s skin to look for lumps, infections, and decolorization. Depending on the type of skin cancer, he may suggest surgical intervention or may also recommend radiation/ chemotherapy.
The vet may also take samples of the tumor or skin infection and study it under the microscope to know more about your dog’s cancer. The treatment suggested by the vet will depend on the type, size, and location of the skin cancer. While some cancers can be cured by surgical intervention, others may need chemotherapy and other modes of healing.
How Can I Prevent Skin Cancer In My Dog? Skin Cancer Prevention in Dogs
You can limit your dog’s sun exposure. Make sure he goes out only when the morning sun is out. The morning sun is warm and nourishing. Train him to come inside after 12 pm as the sun gets harsh and hot after that. You can also increase your dog’s antioxidant intake. Antioxidants reduce oxidative stress (toxins) in the body and increase the flow of oxygen.
They help keep your dog healthy and disease-free. And most importantly, feed your pooch a healthy, clean, and nutritious diet, keep him active and maintain a healthy weight to keep in free from illness and disease.