How Do Dogs Get Skin Cancer?
Skin cancer doesn’t pop up out of anywhere or without a reasonable cause. As the owner of a dog with skin cancer, you may be asking the question, “How do dogs get skin cancer?” And we applaud you for that because it shows you’re proactive about your dog’s skin health!
When you know the answer to the question you can better protect against the causes of canine cancer of the skin. There are a few ways that dogs can get cancer, the most obvious and likely of which is from too much sun exposure.
What Exactly is Canine Skin Cancer?
Skin cancer is a serious health concern resulting from a disruption in the normal process of skin cell growth. It’s important to note that not only do the quickly developing skin cells need to be abnormal, but they also have to be the cells multiplying at a rapid rate. When skin cells start to multiply at a rate so rapid the body cannot control the behavior of the cells, the cancerous cells slowly but surely begin outnumbering the healthy ones. Since the harmful activity takes place in layers of your dog’s skin, it is considered skin cancer, just as cancer of other organs would be cancer of that respective part of the body.
Types of Skin Cancer in Dogs
Like humans, dogs are susceptible to receiving a cancer diagnosis at some point in their lives. When it comes to the different types of this disease in dogs, there are three very common types of canine skin cancer that pet owners should know about, including:
- Malignant Melanoma
- Mast Cell Tumors
- Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Though the melanoma can present as both benign and malignant tumors, if the cancer is malignant it is denoted by the presence of malignant tumors. Usually, the tumors that appear in cases of malignant melanoma are dark, but sometimes, the tumors won’t be dark at all, but instead, they’ll look like parts of the skin that are void of pigment altogether.
This drastic difference in the possible aesthetics of skin tumors makes it confusing to know how you’re supposed to be able to determine if your pet has malignant tumors, which is understandable. Instead of focusing on the coloration of the tumors, we suggest looking more closely at the location of the tumors instead.
Malignant cancer will result in tumors on the lips, around the mouth, on the head, against the neck, near your pet’s nail beds, or somewhere close to the scrotum of your pet. Sometimes, the skin tumors will become irritated, which results in puffiness and swelling near the malignant melanomas.
Skin tumors of this nature can quickly become metastasized, so you must contact your vet right away should you notice tumors like these on your pet. When tumors are metastatic, there is a higher risk of cancerous cells invading the surrounding lymph nodes. Once the lymph nodes are affected by malignant melanoma tumors, your pet has a greater chance of developing cancer in other parts of the body as well.