Dog Malignant Melanoma
Dog Malignant Melanoma
Cells that produce pigment are called melanocytes. When these cells are out of control, they become melanoma. More common in dogs than it is in cats, it is important to keep a check on any changing growths on your dog. More common in the mouth, digits and skin, it can be very aggressive. There is no organ in a dog’s body that is safe from metastasis of melanoma.
Breeds most commonly affected
• Springer Spaniel
These breeds are most common for a melanoma originating on the skin or between the toes.
These breeds are the most common breeds that are affected by oral melanomas.
Growths on the skin will occur on the face, trunk, feet and scrotum. They may be pigmented or clear.
Signs and Symptoms
• Bleeding in the mouth
• Difficulty eating
• Facial swelling
Eventually there will be Dog Difficulty Breathing. This is due to the spread of the disease to the lungs.
It will be necessary for your veterinarian to do a complete blood and urine profile. These will usually be within allowable limits. X-rays will also yield normal results unless it has metastasized.
Fine needle aspiration can be very helpful in the diagnosis. This as well as aspiration of lymph nodes are recommended.
Surgical removal is the treatment of choice. The tumor should be removed as well as a large area surrounding the tumor.
Chemotherapy may be recommended if the removal is not complete or if the tumor cannot be completely removed.
Radiation therapy may also be helpful in some instances
If the tumor is very large, chemotherapy may be recommended along with surgery.
There is now a vaccine that has been used conditionally in stage II or III melanomas. The protein is injected into the body and puts the body on alert for the increase in the cells.
There are some cases where immunotherapy can also be beneficial.
Prevention and Care at Home
The prognosis for malignant melanoma survival is guarded at best. The most important things are early detection and treatment. Between twenty and fifty percent of skin melanomas are malignant. Those that occur in the scrotum, toes or mouth are usually malignant. Radical surgery increases the survival time and will also decrease the disease of reoccurring.
When your dog returns home after surgery it is important to observe the surgical area. Any abnormal changes need to be addressed. This includes swelling, redness, Dog Fever or bleeding. Your veterinarian should be contacted of any of this occurs.
Your pet will have pain and will try to soothe the area himself and that is not particularly good. Often an Elizabethan collar will be used to prevent the dog from being able to reach the surgical area.
There is no known prevention for this disease.