Early Signs of Skin Cancer in Dogs

As a pet owner, you should be vigilant about checking your dog for early signs of skin cancer as early detection is the key to successful treatment for this form of canine cancer.

Canine Skin Cancers

Skin cancers are the most common cancers in dogs. They are prevalent in older dogs that are more than 6 years old although younger dogs can also be afflicted with this condition. These cancers are characterized by superficial or subcutaneous tumors. At least 20 percent of all skin tumors are malignant and it’s vital that the malignancy is diagnosed at an early stage so that it’s treated successfully.

Types of Canine Skin Cancers:

  • Epithelial tumors that involve the skin, hair follicles, sweat glands or sebaceous glands such as papillomas, sweat gland tumors and sebaceous gland tumors.
  • Mesenchymal tumors that are derived from the cells that surround or support the skin such as connective tissues, blood vessels, fat and nerves. These tumors include lipomas, fibrosarcomas and hemangiosarcomas.
  • Round cell tumors that include mast cell tumors, lymphosarcomas, histiocytomas and plasmacytomas.
  • Melanomas that occur more commonly in dogs with heavily pigmented coats. Malignant melanomas can metastasize to all organs of the body particularly the lymph nodes and the lungs.

Signs of Cancer in Dogs

Skin cancers have symptoms that are visible. It’s important that you regularly groom your pet as this regular grooming will help you identify anything unusual. You should check your pet every month and look for any new lump or growth. Also look for any change in color or size of a previous growth.

Other symptoms include

  • lesions
  • abrasions
  • infections
  • ulcers

If your pet has lesions or abrasions that don’t heal even after treatment or if he has lumps that bleed easily, you should take him to the vet at the earliest.

It’s important that you check his whole body, even the base of his tail. There might also be some discharge oozing from his nipples or swelling in the breast tissue. This is worrisome and should be shown to a vet at once. A change in coloration of the skin to red and black is another symptom of skin cancer in dogs.

More Symptoms of Skin Cancer in Dogs

Other symptoms include:

  • fatigue
  • lethargy
  • loss of appetite accompanied by loss of weight
  • diarrhea
  • enlarged lymph nodes
  • vomiting
  • blood in the vomit and feces
  • coughing
  • depression
  • itchiness in certain areas

Hair loss resulting in bald patches, crusty patches on the skin and spots that grow in size are also symptoms of skin cancer.

Hair loss is a relevant symptom and although it can be caused by an allergic reaction, it can also be caused by excessive grooming.

If your pet is grooming himself to the extent that he loses hair, there is a high possibility that he might have skin cancer. You might also observe that some tissue masses in his mouth are different from surrounding areas. This is another important symptom of skin cancer and should be taken seriously.

You should protect your pet from exposure to the sun for long periods of time and feed him a nutritious diet that includes proteins, carbohydrates and fats in appropriate proportions in order to boost his immune system and ensure that he remains healthy.