Types of Skin Cancer in Dogs

Learn about the different types of skin cancer in dogs. Most cases of skin cancer occur in older dogs, though there are certain types that affect young dogs. What is most important is understanding the types of cancer and seeking treatment as early as possible.

Basal Cell Tumors

Basal cell tumors are a benign cancer. They move freely when touched and are usually on the head, neck or shoulders. Poodles are most susceptible to basal cell tumors. Surgery is the best way to treat a basal cell tumor.

There is research that finds sun exposure causes basal cell tumors, so limiting your dog's time outside or applying a thin coat of baby sunscreen to your pet is often advised before heading out for a exercise.

Hemangioma Skin Cancer in Dogs

Hemangioma skin cancer appear as a red or black growth on the skin if they are the dermal form or bruises if they are subcutaneous. They are most common in areas of a dog's body where there is little hair.

Because this skin cancer spreads quickly, it's important to remove them as soon as they're discovered. Surgical removal is the best option and may be followed by radiation or chemotherapy.

Mast Cell Tumors

Mast cell tumors grow anywhere on a dog's body, including internally, and appear as hard or soft lumps. On the skin, the most common sites are the abdomen, back and legs.

Boston terriers, boxers, pugs and Rhodesian ridgebacks are most susceptible to mast cell tumors. This form of skin cancer in dogs requires surgical treatment to stop the cancer from spreading.

Melanoma Skin Cancer in Dogs

Melanomas can be benign or malignant. If the cancerous growths are malignant, immediate treatment is needed to keep them from metastasizing. Treatment includes surgical removal of the tumor and surrounding tissue. Radiation or chemotherapy may also be advised.

Melanomas appear as dark, raised areas that are usually up to two inches wide. They're most common on the back, head and paws, but they can grow anywhere.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

This is the most common form of skin cancer in dogs. Squamous cell carcinomas are typically found in areas with little or no fur, particularly the abdomen, head, perineum and scrotum. They're prevalent in certain breeds including basset hounds, beagles, bloodhounds, bull terriers, dalmatians, Gordon setters, poodles and schnauzers.

Squamous cell carcinomas appear as hard, raised nodules. Surgical removal is the best treatment and may be combined with chemotherapy.

Many veterinarians believe that limiting a dogs exposure to intense sun is one of the best ways to prevent squamous cell carcinomas. However, not every squamous cell carcinoma is caused by sun exposure, so limiting time in the sun is not a guaranteed way to prevent this form of canine skin cancer.

Checking for Skin Cancer in Dogs

Make it a routine to check your dog's entire body for dark spots, raised lumps or irritated patches of skin. Many pet owners find it easiest to do this check at the same time they brush their dog's coat.

Many skin cancers are treatable if caught early. Paying attention to your dog's coat is the best way to catch these tumors in the early stages.