Canine Melanoma

Canine melanoma is a malignant tumor. A melanoma is manifested through skin lesions that have unusual shapes or colors. Moles can turn into melanomas when they suddenly change shape and color. A melanoma is made up of melanocytes, which are the cells that also determine the dark pigmentation of the skin. Canine melanomas are typically located on the skin, toes, mouth or behind the eyes. Melanomas are more frequent in white coated dogs and certain dog breeds. Cancer is a serious disease and should be detected as early as possible, so as to be able to stop it from spreading and improve the life quality of the pet.

Symptoms of Canine Melanoma

Melanoma in dogs may pass unnoticed due to the coat, which covers the skin and the location of the lesions.

The most visible signs of melanoma are on the skin in the form of lesions that are dark in color and have irregular shapes. Watch out for moles that change their size, color and shape and can turn into melanomas. These moles may be itchy and can frequently bleed. Melanomas may also occur in the dog's mouth or on the toes. When the mouth is affected, there will be other symptoms such as bad breath, excessive drooling, sneezing, coughing or trouble swallowing. This may also cause refusal to eat and weight loss.

When the cancer is in metastasis, the dog will experience fatigue, nausea, depression and behavioral changes.

Causes of Canine Melanoma

Melanomas in dogs don't have a clearly established cause, but may be linked to genetics and extended sun exposure, especially in white coated dogs. Certain breeds are more susceptible to having melanomas. It is important to keep white coated dogs away from sun and use suitable sun screen, to prevent the occurrence of melanomas.

Diagnosing Canine Melanoma

Melanomas in dogs can be diagnosed through a medical examination. The vet must establish how advanced the cancer is. Blood tests may reveal a low white blood cell count. X-rays are also performed to establish if the cancer is in metastasis. The melanoma may also be checked, and in some cases a biopsy will be performed.

Treatment Options

The treatment of canine melanoma should focus on removing the melanoma or preventing the cancer from spreading. The vet will establish if surgery is possible or recommended. If surgery is not possible, the vet will prescribe chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

However, even with surgery or treatment, the cancer can still reoccur or spread further. The dog should be carefully monitored and any alarming signs should be reported to the vet. A dog with melanoma can live a quality life, provided he gets the necessary care and treatment.

It is highly important that the dog is groomed on a regular basis, so that you detect possible melanomas as early as possible. Check inside the mouth for dark spots or lesions and look at the toes as well. The early detection of a melanoma can help the vet administer therapy and possibly prevent the cancer from spreading through the rest of the body.