Detecting Skin Cancer in Dogs

Common cases of skin cancer in dogs, such as melanoma and tumors, are not uncommon. Delays in medical treatment can result in serious harm to your dog, so early detection of the disease is key to providing effective treatment.

Skin cancer can be visibly detected because it appears as lumps, lesions, ulcers, abrasions and infections on the skin. Here's what you can do to spot the disease in the initial stages of development:

Step 1 - Set the Stage

At least once a month, thoroughly examine your dog in order to spot things as soon as they appear. Doing this during grooming or while massaging him can make this monthly routine more relaxing and enjoyable for both of you.

Step 2 - Visual Examination

Separate his fur with your fingers to expose your dog's skin. Look for new lumps, sores that do not heal, areas of color change or lesions that are crusty or scaly. Be sure to check under his tail.

Step 3 - Tactile Examination

If your dog has a long or thick coat, it can be difficult to observe subtle skin changes or his coat can obscure tumors. Use your fingers to feel for soft masses and unusual changes in skin texture. Be sure to check his armpits.

Step 4 - Watching for Change

Not every lump or patch of scaly skin will be skin cancer. If you find something, continue to observe the area for a week or two to see if it worsens or heals on its own. If you find a tumor that easily bleeds, or areas that don't heal on their own, or if you have any concern at all, consult your veterinarian.

Step 5 - Observe Behavior

If you notice your dog continually licking a particular area, examine it for signs of skin cancer. If there is swelling in your dog's breast tissue or discharge from the nipple, contact your veterinarian to schedule an examination as soon as possible. The most commonly occurring types of canine cancer are skin cancer and cancer of the mammary glands

We cannot fully prevent or predict cancer. It happens when the natural process of cell division and multiplication goes awry. Something disturbs the cell's ability to replicate as it normally would. This unorganized, rapid cell growth leads to the formation of benign or malignant tumors; invasion and destruction of adjacent tissue, and sometimes the spread of disease to other locations in the body (metastasize).