Can My Dog Get Skin Cancer?

Dogs can get skin cancer. They can get most of the same kinds of skin cancer as humans.

You probably don't give a lot of thought to canine skin cancer, because your loyal companion is almost completely covered by fur. But you need to know that skin tumors, some of which can become cancerous, are the most common kind of tumors found on dogs. If your dog's skin cancer is diagnosed and treated early, it often can be cured.

Let's consider three common kinds of canine skin cancer.

1. Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma is a kind of cancer activated by prolonged exposure to the sun. The body parts of a dog that are most susceptible to solar radiation are lightly pigmented or not pigmented at all, such as the scrotum, perineum, legs, and oral cavity. Dogs can also develop squamous cell carcinomas in the nasal passages, larynx, lung, esophagus, bladder, prostate, penis, cervix, vagina, and anal sac.

With squamous cell carcinoma, no study has ever found that putting sunblock on your dog would prevent this type of cancer, and most of the places it occurs in dogs aren't on the skin. But it's still important to keep an eye out for skin changes in dogs with short coats, especially Bull Terriers, Basset Hounds, Collies, Dalmatians, Keeshonds, and Beagles. Squamous cell carcinoma causes tumors with a firm, wart-like appearance.

2. Mast Cell Tumors

Mast cell tumors, sometimes referred to as MCTs, are the most common form of skin cancer in dogs. These lumps of aberrant white blood cells most commonly form just under the skin, but they can also appear in the lungs, intestines, spleen, or liver.

This form of cancer is genetic. The "wrong" genes code a protein called KIT that causes the specialized white blood cells known as mast cells to multiply uncontrollably. It is not clear to scientists what activates the mast cell tumor gene, although it seems to be influenced by changes in estrogen and progesterone in female dogs.

It's not hard to recognize a mast cell tumor. They form ulcerated sores. Mast cell tumors are most common on the trunk of the dog's body, although about 25% of them occur on the legs.

Mast cell tumors are most common in Boxers and Pugs. They also occur in Beagles, Boston Terriers, Labrador Retrievers, and Schnauzers.

3. Malignant Melanoma

Malignant melanomas in dogs are like malignant melanomas in people in that they spread very fast. The first signs of a malignant melanoma of the mouth may be drooling, bad breath, reluctance to chew, and bleeding from the mouth. Malignant melanomas in a nail bed can cause a swollen toe. Melanomas that pop up in hairy parts of a dog's body usually are benign.

Malignant melanomas are most common in black dogs, especially Scottish Terriers and Schnauzers.

Veterinary medicine can often work wonders with skin cancer in dogs. Taking your dog to the vet soon enough that surgery alone solves the problem is the best option. Canine skin cancer in its later stages may still be treatable with chemo and radiation, which can relieve pain and add months and even years to your dog's life.

What can you do for your dog with skin cancer? Get the best veterinary treatment you can and feed your dog Canine Biologics.

Canine Biologics is veterinarian-formulated to provide the best food for dogs with cancer. Our three-part approach to a canine cancer diet features human-grade food for dogs, the best supplements for dogs, and wild-caught Alaskan salmon oil all in an integrated nutrition 

Diet doesn't cure cancer by itself, but diet and veterinary intervention can help your dog live as active, and happy a life as possible. Contact us today learn more about Canine Biologics.