Did you know that your pet can suffer from skin cancer? Let’s take an in-depth look into skin cancer, which dogs are most at risk, and how you can help prevent skin cancer from affecting your canine companion or feline friend.
For many pet owners, skin cancer prevention for their companion animals is not a top priority, especially if you have never experienced a pet suffering from skin cancer. The most common skin cancer type is known as squamous cell carcinoma and accounts for around five percent of canine skin tumors and around 15% of all feline tumors.
This cannot be very comforting when you consider how much our pets love to bake in the summer sun. Interestingly it’s not just the sun that can lead to skin cancer in pets; some breeds can also be predisposed to develop certain types of skin-cancer tumors regardless of the amount of sun exposure.
Pet’s Most At Risk of Skin Cancer
White-coated cats and dogs are much more prone to skin cancer than pale-skinned breeds and hairless pets. Older dogs and cats are also more at risk of developing any cancer.
Malignant tumors or mass cell tumors are also more prevalent in Labradors, Boxers, Pugs, and Golden Retrievers, and in cats, Siamese are most at risk. These cancers are not caused by the sun but rather a mass of cells of the immune system that can turn into a lump under the skin. Genetics and inflammation are known causes of this cancer.
For these reasons, with all dogs and cats, if you are concerned about a lump, or a cut that will not heal, it is vital you check-in with your vet to ensure nothing is occurring that warrants further investigation.
Like humans, cancer in cats and dogs is categorized as benign (non-cancerous) and malignant (cancerous). The most common areas that are affected are the lips, nose, face, and belly.
Common symptoms include:
- Itchy masses with possible loss of hair
- Yellow or brown masses
- Wart-like lumps on the face
- Hairless masses
- Sores, lumps, or cuts that don’t heal
- Unusual skin lumps and bumps
- Redness or inflammation of the skin
- Wart-like lumps
If you are worried about any skin condition or unusual lump on your pet, it is important to seek veterinary treatment quickly. Your vet will advise the best procedure to examine and evaluate if your pet is suffering from any form of skin cancer and take the appropriate method of treatment.
- Malignant Melanoma – affects pigmented cells known as melanocytes. Most melanomas will occur on the parts of your dog’s body that does not have hair. Such as the mouth, nose, or belly. This is a very nasty form of cancer and can quickly spread.
- Squamous Cell Carcinoma a form of skin cancer that normally develops from overexposure to the sun and will affect pale skin and light coated breeds. These are commonly large tumors that do not heal. They may show a raised white skin mass or bump on the skin and often ulcerate in the middle with occasional bleeding.
Read Further: Dog Training & Care Tips
Cancer Prevention Tips
- Keep pets with pale skin and light coats inside during the hottest part of the day.
- Check your pet weekly for any unusual skin conditions.
- We’re All About Pets says to consider investing in a pet-safe sunscreen for ears and face.
- Ensure your dog has ample shady areas around the yard
- Use a pet sun-suit
- Discourage your pet from sunbaking
- Seek veterinary advice quickly for any unusual skin changes or conditions
- Feed a healthy, well-balanced diet
- Yearly vet checks, essential for older dogs
- Examine your dog for lumps and bumps
Read More: Why I Started Giving Salmon Oil to My Dogs