Skin cancer in dogs is very common and is found in different forms. It is not always possible to see any changes to the cancer cell, unlike in humans where we can see changes in color etc. Therefore a biopsy is the only guaranteed way to confirm if they are benign or malignant. A biopsy is simply the removal of a small sample of the tumor which is sent off for pathology testing. If the tumor is small your vet may remove all of it to be used for the biopsy.
If the growth is larger, over an inch in diameter, then your vet will take a cell sample by aspiration. This is a simple procedure where they insert a fine needle into the tumor and withdraw a small amount of the cell for further testing.
Skin papillomas on dogs are growths similar to warts which are usually benign and occur on the torso, on the foot pads, and underneath the nails. Canine oral papilloma virus is the usual cause of these lumps, and they tend to be found in older dogs, especially all breeds of Poodle and similar breeds of dogs.
No treatment is usually necessary other than keeping a watchful eye on them. Removal is not required unless they are causing a problem because of their location on the body. Rarely, will they become infected or bleed, but if they did removal would be recommended.
A hematoma is a blood clot beneath the skin, caused by a blow or contusion. These are not a skin cancer in dogs. You may need to have large ones drained. Hematomas on the ears requires special attention, please consult with your vet for advice as each case will be different.
If you find a hard mass that looks like bone then it is likely to be calcifying hematoma. They are often found near an old fracture site, and may occur as a lump on the head especially tall dogs who strike their head on the dining room table or other household furniture.
Because they have the potential turn into a canine bone cancer, calcifying hematomas should to be biopsied and possibly removed. They vary from other types of dog cancer as they are often difficult to treat and may reoccur.
Epidermal Inclusion Cysts (Sebaceous Cysts)
Another type of skin cancer in dogs is an epidermal inclusion cyst, also known as sebaceous cysts, these are common skin tumors found all over the body. Spaniels, Poodles, Schnauzers & Terriers are breeds of dogs more likely to be affected. Canine epidermal inclusion cysts form when dry secretions block hair follicles, this causes a build-up of hair and sebum (an oily/greasy matter), which leads to the formation of a cyst.
They are a dome like growth that can vary in size, anything up to an inch and a half but usually smaller. If they become infected drainage is recommended which occasionally leads to a cure. One option is to have it removed but this is rare.
Treatment and Prevention Of Skin Cancer In Dogs
Now that you are aware of the different types of dog skin cancer what should you do next?
1. Check your canine’s body regularly, looking for any signs of tumors or lumps. I usually do it when I bath or groom my dog
2. Ensure your loyal companion has a check up with a veterinarian at least once a year
3. Be mindful of their diet. A good balanced diet will help prevent many ailments and help build up natural immunities to many skin problems and canine cancers.
4. Do research on common illnesses and cancers that occur in your breed of dog
5. Lots of TLC, walks and bonding. Not a cure or prevention but it will make you both feel good;