Friday, May 10, 2024

Dog Skin Cancer: Risks, Treatment & Prevention

white german shepherd outside

Did you know? Just like humans, dogs are susceptible to the harmful effects of UV radiation from the sun. Overexposure to the sun's rays can damage the DNA in skin cells, leading to mutations that can result in cancerous growths. Exposure to the sun is the most common cause of skin cancer in dogs. The ears, nose, paw pads and belly are the most sensitive areas since they have less fur.


Is Your Dog At Risk Of Getting Skin Cancer?


Certain breeds of dogs may be genetically predisposed to developing skin cancer. While any dog can develop skin cancer, certain breeds may be more predisposed to it due to skin pigmentation (lighter color) and coat density. Some breeds that are commonly associated with a higher risk of skin cancer include white or light-colored breeds such as Dalmatians, Bull Terriers, and West Highland White Terriers, which have less protection against the sun's UV rays, making them more susceptible to sun-induced skin damage. Hairless breeds like the Chinese Crested, Mexican Hairless (Xoloitzcuintli), and American Hairless Terrier, with minimal hair coverage, have less natural protection against sun exposure. Additionally, thin-coated breeds such as the Boxer, Doberman Pinscher, and Weimaraner are at higher risk due to decreased natural protection. Dogs with pink or lightly pigmented skin, like the Bull Terrier and Chinese Shar-Pei, are more prone to sunburn and subsequent skin cancer, while breeds with exposed skin areas, such as the Whippet, Greyhound, and American Bulldog, may be more vulnerable to sun damage due to thin fur on their bellies or noses.


Signs of Skin Cancer in Dogs


If you notice any textural or color changes in your pup's skin or growths, be sure to point them out to your veterinarian. Look for lumps, bumps and sores that don't heal especially if you have a light colored dog that spends a lot of time outside.


Types of Skin Cancer in Dogs


Skin cancer in dogs can manifest in various forms, including:


Squamous Cell Carcinoma: This type of cancer typically affects the skin on areas exposed to the sun, such as the ears, nose, and belly. It often appears as raised, crusty lesions that may bleed or ulcerate.


Melanoma: Melanoma in dogs can occur in pigmented areas of the skin or mucous membranes, such as the mouth or eyes. It can appear as darkly pigmented masses or irregularly shaped growths.


Mast Cell Tumors: Mast cell tumors can develop in the skin or internal organs and vary widely in appearance. They may present as raised lumps, ulcerated sores, or areas of thickened skin.


Preventing Skin Cancer in Dogs


Prevention is key when it comes to protecting your dog from skin cancer. Here are some tips to reduce their risk:


1) Limit sun exposure, especially during peak hours of UV radiation.

2) Provide ample shade in outdoor areas where your dog spends time.

3) Use dog-safe sunscreen on sensitive areas of your dog's skin, such as the ears, nose, and belly.

4) Consider protective clothing or accessories, such as UV-blocking shirts or hats, for dogs with light-colored fur or skin.


Treatment of Skin Cancer in Dogs


If your dog is diagnosed with skin cancer, treatment options may vary depending on the type and stage of the cancer. Your veterinarian may recommend surgical removal of the tumor, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or a combination of these treatments. Additionally, supportive therapies, such as OncoPet Cancer Vitamin, can help bolster your dog's immune system and overall health during cancer treatment.


In conclusion, skin cancer is a serious health concern for dogs, but with proper prevention and early detection, you can help safeguard your dog from skin cancer. Always bring any unusual growths or skin changes to the attention of your veterinarian right away.


Author: Susan Blake Davis

Date: 5/10/2024