Diagnosis of Skin Cancer in Dogs

Skin cancer in dogs is very common and dogs with lighter skin are more exposed to developing tumors. Most frequently, dogs are affected by melanomas and ademomas, but other malignant tumor may also be found. The tumors are not always cancerous (i.e. lipomas or papillomas), so the dog needs to be properly diagnosed. The diagnosis can be made after examining the dog and performing a few lab tests.

Symptoms of Skin Cancer in Dogs

The symptoms of skin cancer should be present in order for you to suspect that there may be something wrong with your pet.

A skin tumor can be detected if you inspect the dog’s skin. Malignant tumors are typically asymmetrical, irregularly shaped and colored growths, but even regular shaped tumors should be examined.

Dogs with cancer may also present other symptoms such as:

  • Lethargy
  • The dog will have various skin wounds that won’t heal or heal very slowly
  • Vomiting, which can contain blood
  • Weight loss
  • Swollen lymph nodes

Physical Examination

A physical examination should be performed. The vet will take a look at the tumor and see if the dog has additional symptoms that you may have missed.

Let the vet know about all the symptoms that you find unusual in your dog.

Skin Biopsy

The skin growth has to be tested. A skin biopsy is the most conclusive test when it comes to diagnosing skin cancer.

A skin sample will be taken and analyzed under the microscope. If the tumor is malignant, the vet will detect the presence of cancerous cells. The type of cells should also be established, as some forms of cancer are more aggressive than others and the vet will know what to do next.

Additional Tests

If the skin biopsy is positive for cancerous cells, the vet will have to investigate the extent to which the cancer has developed in the dog’s body. The vet will establish if the tumor has only affected the skin or has already spread to other areas of the body.

The vet can perform a number of tests that may include:

  • X-rays of the neighboring vital organs
  • Ultrasounds
  • CAT scans or MRIs

If the cancer is in the first 2 stages, the tumor can be removed and the dog can be fully cured. The cancerous cells can grow back in some cases, but this cannot be predicted.

Early detection of skin cancer is essential and can be a life saver. For this reason, you should always massage your dog and notice if there are growths on or under the skin.

Skin cancer is aggressive and the cells can spread quickly, so if the disease is detected early enough, the tumor may still be operable. If the cancer affects vital organs or migrates to the lymph nodes or the lungs, the dog is in the last stage of cancer and there are no chances of recovery.