Detecting Skin Cancer in Dogs

Skin cancer dogs get is very similar to melanomas found in humans. Skin cancer is more common in dogs with short, light colored hair, but can be found in any breed. Skin cancer usually develops on the limbs rather than on the trunk of the body. As with any canine tumor, early detection is key to a positive prognosis. Careful examination of your dog both visually and physically will help you to locate any possible areas of concern at a much earlier stage of the disease should it develop.

How to Check for Skin Cancer in Dogs

Detecting skin cancer in your dog requires regular examination of your dog's entire body. Getting into the routine helps you become very familiar with your dog's body so that you will notice when something seems amiss. This is a great habit to get into when you dog is young, but even in older dogs you can still get started. The sooner you start the better off your dog will be.

  • Visually inspect your dog to see if you notice any masses, sores or spots on your dog that weren't their prior.
  • If you noticed masses, sores or spots at your last inspection you should look to see if you notice any changes in color, shape or size.
  • Carefully feel your dog's body for to see if there are any masses or sores you could not see when you inspected visually.
  • Gently separate your dog's hair so you can carefully examine your dog's skin for spots or sores otherwise hidden beneath the hair.
  • Look for tumors that bleed or seem to ooze fluid and for sores that don't seem to heal.
  • Look for swelling of breast tissue or any nipple discharge.
  • Open your dog's mouth and examine it for any sores or tumors.
  • Tumors, sores and areas of discoloration do occur underneath a dog's tail, so careful inspection of this area is important.
  • Pay close attention to any area that your dog seems to be licking often.
  • Observe your dog's behavior. Look for things like lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting and areas of the body that seem to be causing your dog discomfort.
  • Discoloration and spots that change color, shape or size will require closer inspection by trained veterinarian. Your monthly inspections of your dog will help you provide the information your veterinarian will need to make a more accurate diagnosis prior to doing a biopsy.

There are effective treatments available for dog melanoma. Treatment is more effective when the cancer is discovered in its early stages and prior to the cancer spreading to other areas of the body. It is also important to note that skin cancer can come in the form of tumors, not just discolorations of spots on the skin. Pay close attention to any mass that forms on your dog because while it may be a benign cyst it can also be a cancerous melanoma.