In this article, we are going to examine types of skin cancer in dogs, how to identify them, their causes, as well as treatments available. I hope you find the information you need to be better informed and able to protect your pet!
As with in people, there are many types of skin cancer that affect dogs. Some of the most common are:
Mast Cell Tumors in dogs
Mast cell tumors are the most common type of skin cancer found in dogs. As the name suggests, they affect the mast cells (a type of blood cell found in the immune system). While they can occur in any dog breed, they are most commonly found in Boxers, Boston Terriers, and Golden Retrievers.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma in dogs
Squamous cell carcinomas are a cancerous tumor that affects the squamous cells of the epidermal layer (top layer) of the skin. While they can occur in any breed, they are most commonly found in Dalmatians, Standard Poodles, and Basset Hounds.
Malignant Melanoma in dogs
Malignant melanomas are cancerous tumors that affect the pigmented cells called melanocytes. They are often found on mucous membranes (ocular melanoma), mouth (oral melanoma), or nail beds (subungual melanoma). While they can occur in any breed, Miniature and Standard Schnauzers and Scottish Terriers are considered more at risk.
Benign vs Malignant
If you’ve found a tumor on your dog, though, it doesn’t necessarily mean cancer! Between 60-80% of skin tumors in dogs are benign - which means that they are considered non-cancerous, and they don’t spread to other parts of the body.
What Does Skin Cancer in Dogs Look Like?
Although there are different types of skin cancer with varying symptoms, there are some signs you can be alert to. Look out for anything out of the ordinary, for example: unexplained lumps in the skin; a firm, raised nodule that resembles a wart; a solitary black or brown mass; or grey/pink lumps in the mouth and bad breath.
The time you spend regularly washing and grooming your dog gives you a perfect opportunity to check up on your pup - in between snuggles, of course! The earlier you can detect and treat any cancer found in your pup, the better.
What Causes Skin Cancer in Dogs?
Generally, genetics are viewed as the leading causes of cancer in dogs. Environmental factors have their effects as well.
Squamous cell carcinomas in particular are thought to be caused by prolonged exposure to the sun, however, connections have also been made to papilloma virus (oral warts).
Some believe that excessive licking due to itchiness or irritation can also increase risk of skin cancer, as it causes skin cells to reproduce more often, increasing the chances of cancerous mutations.
Unfortunately, older dogs are at a higher risk of developing any form of cancer, including skin cancer.
Can Skin Cancer in Dogs Be Treated Naturally?
If you’ve noticed an abnormal lump, and your veterinarian has confirmed a skin cancer diagnosis, you want to start treatment right away. Of course, you want to do anything you can to help your companion. Here at Zumalka, we share your desire to provide natural products to support your dog's health during his fight against cancer.