Skin Cancer and Your Dog: All You Should Know
Most people are aware of the dangers of skin cancer. They know to use sunscreen when they go out in the sun and to avoid indoor tanning. But did you know that your dog is also susceptible to skin cancer? Here’s what you should know about skin cancer in dogs. If you notice any skin abnormalities on your canine companion, take them to a veterinary doctor in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL, as soon as you can.
Types of Skin Cancer
Just as humans can get different types of skin cancer, there are also different skin cancers in dogs. Here are the common types:
- Mast cell tumors: These are the most common type of skin cancer in dogs. The exact cause of mast cell tumors is unclear, but they can develop on the skin as well as developing in the organs. They can vary in appearance from small bumps under the surface of the skin to much larger growths that appear inflamed or ulcerated.
- Malignant melanoma: While humans develop malignant melanomas from sun exposure, dogs typically develop this type of cancer from a combination of other factors, such as genetics. Melanomas can range from minor to severe depending on size and rate of growth; they do have a high tendency to spread, so it’s important to catch this cancer early on.
- Squamous cell carcinoma: This type of cancer actually can occur as a result of sun exposure, but it only accounts for about 5% of skin cancer in dogs, so it is uncommon. These tumors grow slowly and don’t typically spread like melanomas, but they can result in a great deal of tissue loss around the tumor.
Regardless of the type of skin cancer your dog has, early treatment is always the best way to ensure that your dog can fully recover.
So, what exactly are the treatment options if your dog develops skin cancer? Once you notice an abnormality in your dog’s skin, the first step would be to visit a vet for an assessment. The vet will determine if it is, in fact, skin cancer or if it is a benign cyst or wart. If your dog is diagnosed with skin cancer, surgical removal of the tumor is usually the first line of treatment.
Our veterinary surgeons aim to completely remove the tumor, as well as removing some of the seemingly healthy tissue surrounding it; this is to ensure that all cancer cells are completely removed. If your vet believes the cancer has spread (particularly in cases of malignant melanomas), they may also recommend radiation or chemotherapy.
However, in most cases of skin cancer, surgical removal of the tumor is the only necessary treatment. After the surgery, you’ll be given instructions on caring for the surgical wound and helping your dog to recover. But, soon enough, you and your best friend will be happily playing fetch once again.
If you’ve noticed any skin abnormalities in your dog, contact our veterinary hospital in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL.
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