Canine Skin Cancer: Early Diagnosis Provides the Best End Result
Skin cancer common form of cancer in dogs.
Mast cell tumors are the most common form of dog skin cancer.
Skin cancer occurs more frequently in middle-aged to older dogs than young dogs.
Skin cancers can reside both on top of the skin or under the skin.
Benign tumors usually grow very slowly, are non-painful, and move freely.
Malignant tumors usually grow rapidly, contain ulcers, don’t heal well, and constantly ooze and bleed.
Dog skin cancer usually appears as a lump or bump, and may even look like a mole or a black spot on your pup’s skin.
Sometimes the tumor is ulcerated, sometimes not.
The skin surrounding the tumor may be red and itchy, causing your dog to scratch and lick the affected area.
You can examine your dog for skin cancer by separating the hair with your fingers and looking closely at the skin.
Skin cancer and benign tumors often look very much alike, so it is important to have any unusual growth checked by your veterinarian as soon as you find it.
You should perform a skin check at least once a month, especially if you find a growth that needs to be monitored.
Canine Skin Cancer Symptoms
The following are symptoms of skin cancer in dogs:
- Areas of color change
- Scaly or crusty lesions
- Tumors: new growths or a change in size and/or color of old growths
- Tumors that bleed easily
- Skin areas that do not heal
- Discharge from or swelling around a nipple
- Discoloration or lumps under the tail
- In the mouth, masses or tissue that differs from surrounding areas
If you find any of the situations listed above, contact your vet immediately. Many types of skin cancer can be eradicated if caught early enough.
You can compare what you see with online photos, images and pictures, but for a final diagnosis a trip to the vet is needed.
Sometimes dogs with skin cancer display systemic symptoms.
Systemic symptoms vary depending on the tumor’s location and how much the tumor has metastasized.
Signs of Systemic Involvement
The following symptoms
- Loss of appetite
- Vomiting and/or bloody vomit
- Abdominal pain
- Dark or black feces
- Irregular heart rhythm
- Irregular blood pressure
- Labored breathing
- Bleeding disorders
- Delayed wound healing
- Enlarged lymph nodes
For a diagnosis, your veterinarian might take a sample of the growth with a needle, which is called needle aspiration.
Or, your vet may decide to completely remove the tumor and send the biopsy to a lab for analysis.
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