What Dog Skin Cancer Looks Like | Signs, Pics | Walkerville Vet

updated April 13, 2021

In places like Australia, we all know how dangerous the sun can be. it can be just as bad for our dogs. Here I will help you decide three things:

Reading: Pictures of moles on dogs

  • Is my dog ​​at risk for skin cancer?
  • What should I be aware of?
  • What do I do if it happens?

By “skin cancer” I mean only those tumors caused by sun exposure. Visit this page for a larger list of skin lumps in dogs.

dogs of breeds prone to skin cancer

Any dog ​​with areas of pink skin without pigment is at risk. Common examples are:

  • american staffy
  • border collie
  • boxer
  • bull terrier
  • dalmatian
  • jack Russell Terrier
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier

The second crucial factor is the amount of ultraviolet exposure. That means skin cancer is rare in dogs in the UK and Northern Europe, and common in dogs allowed to sunbathe in the Americas, Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

dog skin cancer risk

The picture above shows a simple guide to see if your dog is at high risk. Lightly pinch an area of pink skin, and compare the width of the fold to an area of black skin. If the pink skin is thicker, it’s telling you your dog’s skin is being damaged. You need to act.

types of skin cancer & photos

There are only two common types of skin cancer caused by the sun. they occur primarily in areas with little or no hair coverage, primarily on the belly and inner thighs.

squamous cell carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma, or scc, is the most common and serious. Because it rarely forms a lump, it fools dog owners into thinking it’s just a wound or injury.

An early-stage SCC looks like any small cut on the skin, except it doesn’t heal. there is usually a dark crust on top like the first picture. note that it sits on the pink, non-pigmented area, not the blackheads.

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as they grow, they often become raw and open, with an ulcerated surface. the second image shows the classic appearance of a circular wound with a defined edge, very different from the jagged edge of a cut or scrape.

This photo shows an scc that has been left on too long. if it gets too big, it risks spreading to local lymph nodes, where it’s hard to stop.

Although there is no guarantee, it should be fine as long as it is removed soon.

cutaneous hemangioma

When small, a hemangioma looks like a small red bump or berry. here’s one on a dog’s paw, again starting at the pink skin.

Unlike SCC, a hemangioma (hemangioma in the US) rarely spreads to the lymph nodes. however, they often grow rapidly and can even cause death if left too long.

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They also have another unpleasant feature. As hemangiomas enlarge, their surface breaks open and bleeds with the slightest bump. such an example is shown in the second image.

once again, this can still be safely removed. Also note how unhealthy the rest of the pink skin looks due to years of solar radiation.

other skin cancers

Unlike in people, a melanoma on a dog’s skin is rarely caused by sun exposure. they are also much less likely to spread or metastasize. most still need to be removed, especially on sensitive places like the head or legs.

You can read here about melanomas in the mouth of dogs, which behave very differently. Other images of skin lumps can be found here.

prevention of skin cancer

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Once skin cancer appears, there is no good alternative to quick removal, so I won’t talk about that anymore. Much more important is preventing skin cancer.

step 1: get your dog out of the sun. As long as the UV index is 3 or higher, skin damage is likely. this is when susceptible dogs should be kept in the shade or indoors.

You can’t trust dogs to do the right thing, especially on those cool, sunny days of late spring and early summer. It’s not only smart, it’s cost effective to build a shady fenced area if your dog basks in the sun. what ends up causing the death of many dogs is the unsustainable economic burden of repeated operations.

step 2: wear sunscreen. here is loki’s nose. the pink area gets a dab of sunscreen. It also has a lot of pink skin underneath, but it’s not very practical to put creams on it because of the way it picks up dirt. however, if you’re prepared to bathe your dog every time, you’re fine there too.

step 3: sun shirts personally, I find it very difficult to get it right, as the area of ​​greatest risk is the most difficult to cover. if you can fit one that covers your groin but still allows you to urinate and doesn’t ride up every time you lie down, then go for it.

A regular fur coat protects the skin almost as well as a shirt. this is a reminder to take extra care if you have shaved your dog over the summer.

The main message is (of course) to control those small injuries before they become big. Have a safe summer!

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Do you have anything to add? comments (if open) will appear within 24 hours. by andrew spanner bvsc (hons) mvetstud, a veterinarian in adelaide, australia. meet his team here.

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