Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Dogs

Squamous cell carcinoma in dogs may be referred to as malignant tumors, and is frequently diagnosed as carcinoma of the skin. Skin squamous cell carcinoma and subungual squamous cell carcinoma are the two forms that are known to occur in dogs. All domestic animals, including dogs and cats, can develop squamous cell carcinoma.

Skin Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Dogs

Older dogs are more likely to develop skin squamous cell carcinoma, which may appear on the head, abdomen, lower legs and rear of the dog. Standard poodles, bloodhounds and basset hounds are known to have an increased risk for developing skin squamous cell carcinoma.

The dog may appear to have a firm lump or ulcerated patch on his body. It is possible for the growth to resemble a wart. It is common for these tumors to grow on the underside of the dog on their lower abdomen, where there is not much hair that could provide protection from the ultraviolet rays of the sun. These tumors may develop in white-skinned breeds, such as bull terriers, dalmatians and beagles. Some dogs enjoy lying on their backs outside on a sunny day. Prolonged sun exposure can cause skin squamous cell carcinoma in dogs.

It may be helpful as a preventative measure to limit your dog's exposure to excessive ultraviolet rays by keeping him indoors during hours when the sun is at its peak. You may want to talk to your vet about using appropriate sunscreen for your dog.

It is important to note that dogs will usually develop thickened or discolored skin, referred to as solar keratosis, before they actually develop a malignant tumor. If you find any suspicious areas on your dog's body where his skin is thick or discolored, it is essential to have your veterinarian check your dog for skin squamous cell carcinoma.

Subungual Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Dogs

Subungual squamous cell carcinomas are tumors that develop under a dog's nail or claw. These tumors are more common among dark-haired breeds, such as Kerry blue terriers, Gordon setters, briards, giant and standard schnauzers and standard poodles. Female dogs are slightly more prone to develop these tumors.

Subungual squamous cell carcinomas can grow as solitary tumors, or they can develop on multiple toes on different legs of the dog. Solitary tumors may have a tendency to grow slowly, while multiple tumors close to each other are more likely to spread.

Dogs with subungual squamous cell carcinoma may have the following symptoms:

  • Infection
  • Lameness
  • Loss of a claw
  • A growth that appears as a raised mass with ulcers
  • Pimples

It is important to have your dog checked by your veterinarian if he is experiencing problems with his toes or claws.

Treatment for subungual squamous cell carcinoma may include surgical removal of the affected toe. Radiation treatment or chemotherapy may be combined with the surgical removal of the subungual squamous cell carcinoma. Medication may be prescribed to treat infection that can possibly develop in that area. Prognosis depends on the size of the tumor before surgery and the malignancy of the tumor.