Dog Care, Pet Health

Dog Skin Cancer: Types, Symptoms, And Treatment

Nothing prepares a dog owner enough for the day their beloved pet is diagnosed with an illness as grave as cancer. No...

Written by mypettutor · 7 min read >
Dog Skin Cancer and Treatments

Nothing prepares a dog owner enough for the day their beloved pet is diagnosed with an illness as grave as cancer. No matter the breed, dog skin cancer, as frightening as it sounds, can cause immense concern and danger for unsuspecting dog owners.

Of course, this ailment may not necessarily be due to your dog’s hygiene or the owners’ inability to care for it. There are different types of dog skin cancer and their related causes. It could partly be because of environmental contaminants, chemicals, and solar radiation reaching the sun.

If your dog has been diagnosed or you’re a cautious fellow who just wants to be aware of what all this entails, you’re in the right place. In this post, you will receive detailed information that will help you understand this illness better. 

What Does Skin Cancer Look Like On A Dog?

What skin cancer looks like dogs

Dog skin cancer could appear in the form of lesions, scabs, warty lumps, and pimples on the dog’s skin. These are just a few of the indicators. They come in a variety of colors, including black, brown, grey, pink, and red. 

It is important to note that not all lumps or bumps on your dog’s skin are cancerous. The majority of lumps are benign.

The moment you notice any suspicious details on your dog, contact your vet immediately. Because there’s no need to panic so soon, even some cancerous lumps when detected early can be treated.

Eventually, if the growth is confirmed, your dog’s best chance of recovery lies in your ability to act quickly. So well done if you can see these signs quickly and save your dog just in the nick of time by going to the doctor.

Types Of Skin Cancer In Dogs

The multiple layers of dog skin are a first-hand indicator that the dog could be affected by a wide range of skin cancer types.

However, the most commonly observed and diagnosed skin cancer in dogs are of three (3) types. These 3 prevalent dog skin cancer types are discussed below.

Melanomas or Malignant Melanomas

Melanoma Dog Skin Cancer
Dog with a Melanoma Skin Cancer

These are commonly found in the locations of the mucous membrane of the dog, such as the mouth and nose. Though on some rare occasions, you can see them on the parts of the skin covered by fur.

The melanocytes, which are the pigment-producing cells of the skin, are the origin cells of this cancer. These tend to grow super-fast and extend to other organs like the liver and lungs.

Mostly, they appear in the form of raised bumps, often found around the lips, mouth, and nail-bed of the dog affected. Oftentimes, melanomas turn out to be benign, but they can be malignant as well. Male dogs are more susceptible to this than females. 

The primary cause of this type of skin cancer in dogs is more or less apparent, but in humans, UV light is the predominant causative agent. In dogs, genetics could play a role in causing this serious life threat.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Dog with Squamous Cell Carcinoma

The major cause of this cancer type is exposure to sunlight. It ranks as the most diagnosed among other forms of dog skin cancer. Skin squamous cell carcinomas are easily mistaken for minor abrasions but are quite aggressive. 

Typically, older dogs are the most affected when it comes to this type of skin cancer. It is crucial that it is treated fast and at once to avoid a spread. In some cases, it ends up spreading to the surrounding tissue and causing destructive damage. This can make surgery a hassle and possibly non-effective.

Though it hardly enters other parts of the body and organs unless the disease has become well advanced and critical.

Oftentimes, seen on breeds like Beagles, Dalmatians, White Bull Terriers, etc. the tumor appears as raised wart-like patches or lumps. They are firm to the touch and are most noticeable on the dog’s head, lower legs, abdomen, and rear.

Mast Cell Tumors

Mast Cell Tumor on a dog

These tumors are very common, and they frequently appear in the mast cells of dogs. They develop in the immune system and can grow just about anywhere. You can see them on the skin and even in several other organs of the dog.

Furthermore, they could be seen on parts of the dog like the limbs, lower abdomen, and chest. Often, it attacks breeds like the Rhodesian Ridgebacks, Boston Terriers, pugs, and boxers. Note, however, that this dog skin cancer type has no particular breed preference.

Though the exact causes are disputed, research suggests that genetics have a role, and hormones such as progesterone and estrogen can influence development.

Genetics, inflammation, and irritation are all factors in the development of the illness.

How To Know If Your Dog Has Skin Cancer 

Skin cancer is the most prevalent form of tumor found in dogs. This is because it is easier for bare eyes to detect others and may not require any equipment or medical gadgets to detect.

Common Signs and Symptoms Of Dog Skin Cancer

As a dog parent, you must bear in mind that these are mere tips to enable you to look out for your furry companion and seek help early when necessary. You must go to your vet for a clear and direct diagnosis of dog skin cancer.

As a matter of fact, different types of skin cancer will exhibit varying signs and indicators. So if you want to know if your dog has skin cancer, look out for these indicators.

Squamous cell carcinomas will probably appear as wart-like lesions that are firm and elevated. Mast cell tumors grow sores that look like rubber and are inflamed. While melanomas appear on the lips, tongue, pads of feet, and toenail beds, they have strange-colored lumps or pimples.

These sores and lumps can be painful for your dog. Pay close attention to their reactions, and if your dog has a limp, then it is most probably in pain.

Diagnosing Dog Skin Cancer

Your veterinarian, while attempting to diagnose skin cancer in your dog, may use fine needle aspiration to take a small sample of the tumor’s cells to analyze. Or he could use a biopsy to take a section of the tumor’s tissue to examine the cells. These samples will be tested in a lab so that your veterinarian can give you an accurate diagnosis of your puppy’s illness.

Additional diagnostic testing may be necessary to evaluate the extent of your dog’s cancer. This can aid in treatment optimization and provide a more precise prognosis for your pet.

How Long Can A Dog Live With Skin Cancer?

If you can detect your dog’s skin cancer in time, then your dog can be treated and go on to live a very long and happy life. Dog skin cancer is not a death sentence. The best line of action is to consult your vet and follow his or her every directive. Trust that your veterinarian is looking out for your dog’s and your own best interests.

Nonetheless, your veterinarian should be able to tell you how your dog’s disease will proceed and whether or not viable therapies are available. While your veterinarian can provide you with statistics on the average lifespan of dogs with a specific type of cancer, this figure may not be true in terms of how long your beloved pet will live.

Your veterinarian realizes how difficult it is to learn that your dog has cancer and that you’ll want to obtain all the facts so you can make the best decision for your canine partner. Some pet parents may be the ones to decide how long their pets live, as they might choose to euthanize their dogs to prevent suffering on the part of the dog.

Equally, your dog’s age, breed, and general fitness may affect just how long he continues to live after a skin cancer diagnosis.

How To Treat Dog Skin Cancer 

Treating dog skin cancer is dependent on several factors, such as the type of cancer, the time of diagnosis, and the breed and age of the dogs, amongst others.

Fortunately, most skin cancers may be effectively treated and cured, generally with an operation to remove the lump. The type and location of your dog’s skin cancer can also determine how it is treated. You may be given radiation or chemotherapy.

Depending on how far it has developed, surgery may be necessary.

Many dogs with early-stage skin malignancies can be effectively treated, allowing them to enjoy comfortable, happy lives for months or years to come.

Surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapies, or palliative care may be used to treat your dog’s skin cancer.

What Is The Prognosis For Skin Cancer In Dogs?

The type of tumor, its location, and the stage of your dog’s sickness are all factors to consider in giving a prognosis. For dog skin cancer, like almost every other illness, your dog’s case must be treated as unique.

In many circumstances, the prognosis for dogs is very good; most of them heal completely and live a regular life with no future issues. The type of cancer and how advanced or aggressive it is will determine how well you recover.

How Much Does Dog Skin Cancer Treatment Cost?

There’s no denying it: cancer is a terrible disease for both you and your dog. Knowing what to expect will help you plan for the chance that your pet could be affected in their life, as well as how to budget for it.

Unfortunately, as widespread as cancer and its underlying ailments are becoming, the cost of treatment is not getting any cheaper.

However, treatment costs vary greatly depending on the pet and the location of the cancer. On average, cancer care for a cherished pet might cost $10,000 or more. This can range from tumor removal procedures to blood tests, X-rays, medication, and even particular dietary requirements.

According to the Veterinary Cancer Society, a chemotherapy dose can cost about $150 to $600, with a full treatment series costing thousands of dollars. An initial cancer diagnosis alone can cost between $1,000 and $2,000.

Also, note that costs vary by region and the type of cancer, among other factors. Cancer has become one of the most costly illnesses to treat. This should encourage all pet owners to learn about and get involved with pet health insurance.

Frequently Asked Questions About Dog Skin Cancer

What happens if dog skin cancer is left untreated ?

Some forms of dog skin cancer can be fatal if left untreated. If left untreated, tumors can develop deeper into the skin and cause damage to the surrounding skin, tissue, and bone. 

It can become aggressive at times, spreading to other parts of the body and possibly posing a life-threatening hazard.

How do you tell if a mass on a dog is cancerous?

The mass on your dog could be cancerous if it is suspiciously large and develops suddenly. If it changes color, especially to black or purple. Some cancerous lumps produce discharge.

Are tumors painful for dogs?

Some tumors are slightly painful due to swelling, while some are essentially painless until an advanced stage of the illness. Most of the time, pain in dogs with cancer might start slowly and build up over time, or it can be caused by cancer treatment rather than the illness itself.

Is skin cancer curable in dogs?

Dog skin cancer can be cured in most cases, as long as you detect it early enough. You can carry some surgical operations out to remove tumors.

Are black spots on dogs cancer?

This could either result from hyperpigmentation or be a sign of melanoma on your dog’s skin. Cancer cells produce skin pigmentation in this condition. Males have a black or brown patch on their torsos, while females have a black or brown spot on their lower legs. It can also appear on the palms of the hands, the soles of the feet, and the undersides of the nails.


The key to successful treatment outcomes is spotting the indications of skin cancer when the disease is still in its early stages. Become familiar with all of your dog’s usual lumps, bumps, and rashes during your daily grooming process so you can identify changes in his skin, straight away.

Even if your dog looks to be in ideal health, visiting your veterinarian for routine wellness checkups can help detect skin malignancies in their early stages.

Consult your veterinarian at once if you notice an inexplicable or odd lump or bump on your dog, or if you observe swelling or limping on your dog’s toes. It’s always better to be safe than sorry about your pet’s health.


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