Preventing Dog Skin Cancer
Although not all contributing factors are preventable, you can do a lot to lower your pups risk of developing skin cancer. Limiting exposure to direct sunlight and applying dog-safe sunscreen could help reduce your pups risk, particularly with hairless breeds and those with white or light fur, thin fur, and pink and white skin. You can also use caution with the chemicals you use inside or outside your home by choosing pet-safe lawn products, insecticides, cleaning products, and similar products.
Dog Skin Cancer: Which Breeds Are At Risk
All dogs can get skin cancer, but certain types of cancer more commonly occur in particular breeds.
Benign melanocytomas are often seen in Vizslas, Miniature Schnauzers, Doberman Pinschers, Airedale Terriers, and Bay Retrievers, typically in animals between 5 and 11 years old. Malignant melanomas on the toe or in the toenail bed appear more frequently in black dogs. Schnauzers and Scottish Terriers are at greatest risk.
Squamous cell carcinomas tend to appear in dogs that are between six and 10 years old. Breeds that are more likely to get this type of skin cancer include Keeshonds, Standard Schnauzers, Basset Hounds, Collies, Dalmatians, Bull Terriers, and Beagles. In general, dogs with short coats are more prone to squamous cell carcinomas.
Mast cell tumors are most commonly seen in Boxers and pugs, and are also found with some frequency in Boston Terriers, Labrador Retrievers, Beagles, and Schnauzers.
How To Detect Skin Cancer In Dogs
This article was co-authored by Ray Spragley, DVM. Dr. Ray Spragley is a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and the Owner/Founder of Zen Dog Veterinary Care PLLC in New York. With experience in multiple institutions and private practices, Dr. Spragleys specializations and interests include non-surgical management of cranial cruciate ligament tears, Intervertebral Disk Disease, and pain management in osteoarthritis. Dr. Spragley holds a BS in Biology from SUNY Albany and has a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine. He is also a Certified Canine Rehabilitation Therapist through the Canine Rehab Institute as well as a Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist through Chi University.There are 8 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 46,881 times.
Most people dont consider that their dog can get skin cancer. The truth is that skin cancer is frequently diagnosed in dogs. There are three main types of skin cancer in dogs, all of which can be life threatening. Whichever type your dog has, early detection and diagnosis are key to increasing its chances of recovery.
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Treatment Of Mast Cell Tumors In Cats
The recommended treatment protocol will depend on where the MCT is located and how invasive the tumor is. The choice of treatment for cutaneous mast cell tumors is surgical removal.
Complete surgical removal of splenic and intestinal mast cell tumors may not be obtainable and cancerous cells can be left behind. Sometimes cutaneous mast cell tumors in cats can spread to other areas of the body, though unusual. Alternative treatment options may be recommended in these cases, such as chemotherapy or radiation. This will likely require a referral to a veterinary oncologist.
When pierced or ruptured , all mast cell tumors can cause systemic symptoms in your pet due to the release of histamine, and therefore your veterinarian will likely prescribe medications to avoid any negative side effects during treatment. Antihistamines, antacids, anti-nausea, and pain medications are common examples.
Causes Of Skin Cancer In Dogs
Skin cancer is, by definition, a mass that grows without normal cell regulations from any of the many cell types that make up your dogs skin.
We do not know all the reasons why a cell begins to replicate without the normal restrictions that the body has in motion to regulate cell growth. As it does with humans, sun exposure can increase the risk of skin cancer in dogs, especially those with light skin colors.
Beyond the sun exposure risk, further studies are needed to figure out what causes skin tumors to form in dogs. Additional known causes include genetic links, like mast cell tumors and viral infections, like papillomas.
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What Types Of Skin Cancer Can Dogs Get
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Skin squamous cell carcinoma is the most commonly diagnosed form of skin cancer in dogs and typically affects older animals. These tumors appear as raised wart-like patches or lumps that are firm to the touch and are most often found on the dogs head, lower legs, rear, and abdomen. Exposure to the sun may be a cause of squamous cell carcinoma, however, there could also be a link to papillomavirus. This form of cancer is frequently seen in Dalmatians, Beagles, Whippets, and white Bull Terriers.
Melanomas are raised bumps which are often dark-pigmented and frequently found around the dogs lips, mouth and nail bed. While most melanomas are benign they can be malignant. Malignant melanomas are a serious threat to your dogs health. These tumors grow quickly and have a high risk of spreading to other organs. Male dogs are more at risk of melanomas than females and certain breeds such as Schnauzers and Scottish Terriers also face an increased risk.
Mast Cell Tumors
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Treatment Options For Dog Skin Cancer
The treatment depends upon the type of tumor and its location.
Surgery is often the first step for malignant melanomas. If the melanoma cannot be removed in its entirety or if it has spread to nearby lymph nodes, radiation is commonly used. In these situations, the cancer may go into remission nearly 70% of the time, though recurrence is common. Chemotherapy is often used in combination with surgery and/or radiation therapy. There is also a vaccine that causes the dogâs own immune system to attack tumor cells, which often successfully extends the survival time of dogs with oral melanoma.
Squamous cell carcinomas can often be removed surgically, with no need for radiation or chemotherapy. If the tumors occur in inoperable locations, photodynamic therapy and the use of a drug called piroxicam may be beneficial.
Dog mast cell tumors are best treated by surgical removal with or without radiation therapy, depending on the size and location of the skin cancer. Based on the grade of the cancer and the degree to which it has spread, chemotherapy and/or steroids may be used, as well.
American Animal Hospital Association web site, Healthypet.com: âSkin Cancer.â
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Melanoma Tumors In Dogs
Reviewed and updated for accuracy on April 29, 2019 by Dr. Hanie Elfenbein, DVM, PhD
Melanoma tumors in dogs demand immediate attention. In fact, early recognition of these malignant tumors of melanocytes is key. It can lead to more successful attempts at removal and identification of the grade or stage of cancer in order to direct treatment.
As a group, though, melanomas can be either benign or malignant. The risk of metastasis for benign forms of melanoma is not very high, but these can be locally invasive, meaning there is harmful to normal tissue where the tumor forms.
Malignant melanomas in dogs, conversely, can metastasize to any area of the body, especially the lymph nodes and lungs, and present very challenging and dangerous prospects for the dog.
Heres what you need to know about melanomas in dogs.
How Much Will It Cost
The cost of removing warts depends on a few different factors. All vet offices will have different prices based on the offices size, the wart sizes, how many there are, and what kind of anesthetic is needed to be used. Your vet might charge you a flat fee for everything or charge you per lesion. Before you make any decision, your vets office will go over all of your options.
Typically, people can spend anywhere from $150 to $1,000 on removing their dogs warts. If your dog has multiple warts that you wish to remove, the total cost of the visit might be on the higher end than if you were to remove just one. There might be payment plans available to you to make paying more efficient for your pocket, but having a pet emergency fund cant hurt!
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Experimental Diagnostic And Therapeutic Considerations
Experimental models in the study of melanic tumors
The finding of an experimental animal model, even the ideal animal in a welldefined experimental scheme, is essential for cancer research.
In order to clarify some essential problems that might explain thedevelopment of melanoma in man, it is necessary to find some experimentalschemes in animals or cell cultures. The unanimous acknowledgement that theactivity of phenotypically defined premalignant cutaneous lesions canprogress directly into melanoma in predisposed individuals has led to theinvestigation of possible genetic influences on this progression. There arestill difficulties regarding the establishment of the genetic or molecularbase for the malignant transformation of a benign naevus-like cutaneouslesion, or of a melanocytoma into a melanoma, in humans.
The possibility to isolate and culture human melanocytes in successivegenerations, with the involvement of environmental agents that activate thegenetic components of the transformation, has opened the perspective for theunderstanding and explanation of the complex phenomenon of melanocytemalignization and the appearance and development of melanomas.
The dwarf Sinclair pig, used as an experimental model for the study ofmelanic tumors, has led to some clarifications and has opened perspectivesin the elucidation of some issues regarding the role of the genetic factorand ecological factors in the initiation and development of melanocyticmelanomas.
Diagnosis Of Malignant Melanoma In Dogs
Diagnosis is pretty easy if you are able to get a veterinary oncologist or one who specializes in skin diseases. Most veterinarians can do a physical examination and may suspect the diagnosis right away, but will not confirm it until blood tests and a biopsy are done. During the examination, be sure to tell the veterinarian as much as you know about the issue and if you have given your dog any medication prescription or otherwise. The examination includes a complete skin and haircoat analysis, reflexes, body temperature, weight, blood pressure, heart rate, respirations, breath sounds, pupil reaction time, and oxygen level.
Laboratory testing includes a complete blood count , serum analysis, platelet count, glucose level, blood urea nitrogen , liver panel, packed cell volume , and a urinalysis. A fine needle aspirate will be gathered for microscopic analysis. A biopsy may then be taken, depending on results.
Chest films , lymph node aspiration, and possibly a CT scan with contrast dye will all be used to stage the disease. There are four stages, as mentioned earlier.
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Basal Cell Tumors And Carcinomas
Basal cells lie at the base of the top layer of the skin . A benign growth of these cells is a basal cell tumor. A malignant growth is a basal cell carcinoma.
Basal cell tumors are common in dogs and most are benign. Canine basal cell tumors most commonly develop in middle-aged to older dogs. Many breeds are predisposed, especially Wirehaired Pointing Griffons and Kerry Blue and Wheaten Terriers. These tumors are found most commonly on the head , the neck, and forelimbs. These tumors generally appear as firm, solitary, dome-shaped elevated masses, which are often hairless or ulcerated. The lumps may stick out like stalks from the skin surface. They vary in size from less than 0.4 inches to more than 4 inches in diameter. These tumors are sometimes dark in color. Cysts may also form. Although basal cell tumors are benign, they can be large and may cause extensive ulceration and secondary inflammation. These tumors can break the skin, cause the death of skin tissue, and drain fluid or pus. The dog is often uncomfortable. Surgical removal is effective treatment and reduces the chance of secondary infection and inflammation.
Can Dogs Get Skin Cancer
Like humans, dogs can get skin cancer. But while the leading cause of skin cancer in humans is overexposure to ultraviolet rays in the sun, dogs are more likely to get skin cancer due to age or genetics, says Dr. Stephanie Sheen, a veterinarian at the online pet healthcare service Fuzzy.
Older dogs are more likely to have tumors develop because their cell repair mechanisms are less robust, Dr. Sheen says.
Besides age, a dogs breed can determine whether or not a dog gets skin cancer. For instance, breeds like Boxers, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Cocker Spaniels, and German Shepherds can be particularly susceptible to some types of skin cancer.
However, just about any dog of any age can get skin cancer, so its essential to look out for warning signs and symptoms and keep up with your dogs routine veterinary exams.
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Causes And Risk Factors Of Skin Cancer In Dogs
Just like in people, all of the causes of skin cancer in dogs are not completely understood but there are some specific things scientists know contribute to the likelihood of a dog developing it.
- Sun Exposure: Areas of skin that are not protected by thick fur are more likely to be develop some types of skin cancer, especially if that skin is a light color These areas may be completely hairless or just have a short or thin layer of fur.
- Specific Dog Breeds: Vizslas, all sizes of Schnauzers, Doberman Pinschers, Airedale Terriers, Bay Retrievers, Scottish Terriers, Keeshonds, Labrador Retrievers, Bassett Hounds, Collies, Dalmatians, Bull Terriers, Beagles, Boxers, Pugs, and Boston Terriers may all be more likely to develop different types of skin cancers than some other breeds.
- Black Dogs: Dogs of this fur color seem to be more likely to develop malignant melanomas.
- Adult and Senior Dogs: As dogs mature, they develop cancer at higher rates than younger dogs.
- Excessive Licking or Chewing: Because chronic inflammation can increase cancer risk, excessive licking or chewing at one area of skin may lead to cancer.
Clinical Presentation And Biological Behavior
On average, 80% of melanomas we see in dogs will be diagnosed in the oral cavity . They are typically seen in dogs ages 10 years and older, and small breeds are at higher risk of developing melanoma. Miniature poodles, cocker spaniels, chows and golden retrievers are the most likely breeds to be affected, although any breed can be diagnosed with melanoma. These are typically solitary tumors, however, they can be quite invasive, extending into underlying soft tissue and bone. Although many oral melanomas will exhibit dark pigmentation and appear black in color, this is not always the case. Some tumors may be pink or exhibit mixed coloring. Additionally, not all melanomas will present with as a distinct mass. Some will present as more of a flat plaque lesion rather than a mass.
Patients with melanoma typically present because the owner has noticed halitosis or a protruding mass or swelling. Many others are diagnosed on oral examination during dental prophylaxis.
Oral melanomas are considered aggressive tumors and typically exhibit a high rate of metastasis to local lymph nodes and the lungs. Even with complete removal of the local oral tumor, approximately 80-85% of dogs with oral melanomas will go on to develop metastatic disease. Some factors associated with a less aggressive behavior are rostrally located tumors, tumors less than 2 cm in size at time of diagnosis, tumors with no bone invasion, and tumors of the lip or mucocutaneous junction.
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Chemotherapy And Immunotherapy For Omm
Chemotherapy has a limited role in management of canine OMM. The overall response rates in dogs with gross disease have been low, with the most promising rates being 18% for cisplatin and piroxicam25 and 28% for carboplatin.26 Moreover, multiple studies have failed to identify a survival benefit with addition of chemotherapy to surgery and radiation.24-26
Systemic immunotherapy for adjuvant treatment of canine melanoma may be more promising than chemotherapy. A xenogeneic DNA vaccine, Oncept , has made headway as the first conditionally approved immunotherapy for the treatment of canine OMM. Initial literature described promising activity against OMM: dogs with stage II and III OMM treated with Oncept after surgical resection had longer median survival times than dogs in the control group.27 Subsequent studies failed to show similar significant differences in survival.28-30 However, these studies were retrospective, with small numbers of patients in vaccinated and nonvaccinated groups, among other weaknesses inherent to retrospective studies, and should be interpreted with caution. Other retrospective studies have shown evidence of complete responses to Oncept alone in dogs with gross disease.28,29
What Are The Signs Of Scc
Typically, these lesions are found in light-skinned areas and can be highly variable in their appearance. It may look like a small area of irritated, red, or ulcerated skin. Alternatively, there could be plaques or crusts that develop over the region. SCC lesions of the toe or nail bed tend to be red, irritated, bothersome, and ulcerated. Dogs may even lose nails on the affected toes.
Lesions of the skin or nose may become dry, irritated, and bothersome for your pet. The lesion may get larger, spread, and ulcerate which can be very painful as well. Your pet should not be allowed to scratch, lick, or bite the area.
SCC of the toe can be very painful. Your pet may be reluctant to go for walks, and you may notice blood on the floor or on your dogs toes. Your dog may attempt to lick or chew the affected toe aggressively and you may notice missing toe nails. These lesions are typically painful, and your veterinarian may prescribe pain medications. Secondary infection is also possible for which antibiotics may be required.
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