Dog Skin Cancer – The Different Types And How Serious Are They?

Dog skin cancer – First of all, if you are worried your dog might have skin cancer, please make an appointment with your vet to get it checked. Cancer is not something you want to sit around on.

dog skin cancer

Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in dogs over 10 years old. However, dog skin cancer caught early, has a much better prognosis.

There are many types of dog skin cancer, and not all are caused by sun damage.

Golden Retriever

Different Types of Dog Skin Cancer

Malignant Melanoma

Likely to appear in the mouth or mucous membranes Melanoma is a type of cancer that affects pigmented cells.

Malignant Melanomas often present with ulcerations or as pink and grey lumps in the mouth. If growing in the dog’s nail beds they can form inflammation and cause the toes to swell. In extreme cases, loss of the toe-nail and bone can occur.

It is fast-growing and quick to metastasize or spread to other parts of the body.

It is not exactly known how these tumors develop but genetics is suspected to play a role.

Mast Cell Tumours

The most common of dog skin cancers.

It is not yet known why mast cell tumors occur but again genetics is likely to suspect.

Forming in the mast cells of the body’s immune system, it is speculated by veterinarians that hormones, like estrogen, and progesterone also play a role in speed of tumor growth.

dog skin conditions

Squamous Cell Carcinoma – Dog Skin Cancer.

Caused by sun damage, these tumors can be aggressive and spread through lymph nodes in the body.

Often appearing as a whitish raised lump. They can die off in the middle and appear as open sores.

They work quickly also destroying tissue surrounding the tumor. Scientists believe there may also be links between papillomavirus and this type of dog skin cancer.

Papilloma Virus causes wart like lesions often appearing around a dogs mouth. Some say they have a cauliflower like appearance.

How Will You Know Or How Can You Prevent Skin Cancer In Your Dog.

There is no known prevention for all dog skin cancers. However, avoid letting your dog sunbathe excessively, and do regular lump checks over your dog.

How to check your dog for lumps

Use the flats of your fingers to run over the surface of your dog, Searching for lumps small or big.

Check their mouth if they will let you. Dogs gums have many layers so search for changes and if concerned ask your vet at your dog’s next check-up.

Lady hugging her husky

What to do if you find a lump?

If you find a lump, mark the area or make a note of its location on the body.

Make an appointment with your vet to have it checked. They will likely perform an FNA and look at the cells in the lump. From this, they can determine if its potentially a skin cancer or something benign.

Don’t panic lumps don’t always mean skin cancer in your dog. Lumps can also be benign – Non-Cancerous.

See my post on benign lumps your dog can grow on their skin here:

In Conclusion

Malignant melanoma, Mast cell Tumors, and Squamous cell carcinomas are all different types of skin cancers your dog can get.

All are serious and need to be treated by your vet.

There is no known prevention for all dog skin cancers.
However, you can help by, avoid letting your dog excessively sun-bathe and do regular lump checks on your dog.

Most importantly if you find or suspect lumps or see changes to your dog’s skin, contact your vet and get them checked out immediately.

The earlier dog skin cancers are found the better the prognosis.

As always thanks for reading.

What does skin cancer look like on a dog?

Any lump found on a dogs skin/body can be a potential skin cancer. Malignant Melanomas often present with ulcerations or as pink and grey lumps in the mouth.

How Long Can dogs live with skin cancer?

If in later stages and metastasized to other parts of the body the average life expectancy can be anywhere between 4-6 months. All depending on which stage the cancer is when found.

Do dogs die from skin cancer?

Yes, Skin cancers metastasize to other parts of the body. Once spread organ failure and other medical issues can ultimately lead to the dog needing to be euthanized or death.

Can dog skin cancer be cured?

If found early. It is likely the cancer will not have metastasized. Once removed dogs can potentially fully recover from skin cancer.