Dog Skin Cancer
Veterinarian Reviewed on March 29, 2014 by Dr. Janice Huntingford
Dog Skin Cancer
The skin is the outermost layer the body of a dog. It consists of several layers of tissue, and its main functions are to protect the muscles and organs that lie underneath it from harm. Whilst skin tumors can be found on dogs, there are several different forms. They can be malignant (such as Dog Malignant Melanoma) or benign, and the most common forms are responsible for about 75% of all tumors found on a dog’s skin. These tumors are not always primary, meaning they may form as a result of another type of Dog Cancer in the dog’s body, such as Dog Lung Cancer.
Most Common Skin Tumors in Dogs
A Dog Mast Cell Tumors are the most commonly occurring skin tumor in canines. It makes up for almost 19% of all tumors on the skin. The next most popular is a Hepatoid adenoma/carcinoma, making up 10% of all cases. Other frequently seen types of skin tumors include Lipoma, Sebaceous hyperplasia/adenoma, Histiocytoma, and Squamous cell carcinoma.
Signs and Symptoms
Skin tumors are generally first noticed by a dog’s owners. These may be found while grooming or inspecting the dog’s body for Dog Fleas and ticks. Tumors that are benign grow slowly, some taking years before they are of substantial size to worry about. Many vets that see benign tumors do so because of the dog licking or injuring the area where the tumor is located. Malignant tumors grow much faster and have poorly defined boundaries compared to those that are harmless and pain free.
Diagnosis of Skin Tumors in Dogs
The skin tumor’s size, location, and degree that it is moveable are the first things a veterinarian will look at to determine a diagnosis. Cytology is beneficial, as it can tell if the mass is really a tumor. Histopathologic analysis will also be performed, as that is the only way to truly know the type of tumor, how serious the situation is, and the method of treatment to use. Biopsies will be performed, and may remove a piece or the entire tumor, depending on its size and location. Blood tests and x-rays may also be necessary to check for other cancers in the body.
The actual treatment that the dog receives will be dependent on what the exams have shown regarding the tumor. The majority of smaller tumors are treated right away, being completely removed during the biopsy. Surgical removal may be performed on larger tumors once the results of the biopsy are known. For those that cannot be completely removed, radiation and chemotherapy may be necessary. If a tumor is located on an appendage, the body part may need to be removed to prevent the spread of cancer cells.
The prognosis of skin cancer in dogs depends heavily on several factors. These include the size, location, aggressiveness, and type of tumor the animal is experiencing.
Additional Dog Cancer Pages
Dog Cancer | Dog Lung Cancer | Dog Bladder Cancer | Dog Pancreatic Cancer | Dog Bone Cancer | Dog Cancer Prevention | Dog Cancer Diagnosis | Dog Lymphoma Cancer | Dog Gastric Cancer | Dog Mast Cell Tumors
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Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for over 30 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan