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There are bumps on my dog's skin - could that be skin cancer?

Discovering a bump on your dog's skin can be worrying for any pet parent. Here, our Toledo vets explain when bumps on a dog's skin may be cancerous. 

Bumps on Dogs' Skin

Have you discovered a bump, lump or discolored patch of skin on your four-legged friend? If so, you're probably worried about cancer. It's important to keep in mind that not all bumps and lumps are cancerous. And, of those that are cancerous, many are treatable if found early. 

If you've found something suspicious on your dog's skin, get in touch with your vet as soon as possible to schedule an examination for your dog. How early treatment begins may determine how successful your pup's treatment outcome will be. 

Types of Skin Cancer in Dogs

Malignant Melanoma

  • These raised bumps can have dark pigment (although not always) and are often found around a dog's nail bed, mouth and lips. While most melanomas are benign, malignant melanomas grow quickly and are a very serious threat to your pooch's health, as they have a high risk of spreading to other organs. Scottish terriers and Schnauzers appear to be at increased risk of developing melanoma, and male dogs have a higher risk than females.  

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

  • The most commonly diagnosed form of skin cancer in dogs usually impacts older animals and is often seen in Beagles, Dalmations, White Bull Terriers and Whippets. These wart-like patches or lumps are firm to the touch and are most often discovered on a dog's head, abdomen, lower legs and rear. Squamous cell carcinoma may be linked to sun exposure. However, these tumors may also have 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 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.

Treatment should be performed by an animal hospital that offers oncology services, including diagnoses and treatment.

Monitoring Your Dog's Health

Spotting the signs of skin cancer while the disease is still in the 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.

Our vet has extensive experience in diagnosing and treating cats with skin cancer. To have your dog seen by Dr. Riker-Brown, request a referral from your primary care vet today or contact us

Welcoming New Patients

Shoreland Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our veterinary team is passionate about the health of Toledo pets and is looking forward to meeting you and your furry friend. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!

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