What you need to know about skin cancer in dogs

Even though they’re covered by fur, dogs are susceptible to skin cancer, just like people. In fact, skin tumours are the most common tumours found in dogs.

What are the signs of skin cancer in dogs?

The symptoms of skin cancer can take many forms, but some of the most common signs include:

  • Lumps or bumps that appear suddenly or change in size or shape
  • Bleeding from the skin
  • Sores that don’t heal
  • Red, irritated skin
  • Hair loss

Which dogs are most at risk?

All dogs can get skin cancer, however, certain factors can increase their susceptibility. Dogs with short hair or light-coloured fur with less protective pigmentation are more prone to developing skin cancer. Breeds such as Boxers, Vizslas, Bull Terriers, Dalmatians, Schnauzers and Beagles are particularly at risk.

Just like with humans, dogs that spend a significant amount of time outdoors face a higher likelihood of developing skin cancer compared to indoor pets.

However, there are several things you can do to reduce your dog’s risk of developing skin cancer, including:

  • Limiting their exposure to the sun, especially during the midday hours
  • Providing shaded areas for dogs who spend their days outside
  • For dogs with short and light-coloured fur, applying a special dog sunscreen on areas of exposed skin, such as the ears and nose
  • Examining your dog’s skin regularly for any changes
  • Taking your dog to the vet for regular check-ups

While taking preventive measures is crucial, it is equally important to be aware of the signs that may indicate skin cancer. Keep an eye out for any changes in your dog’s skin, including the appearance of new growths, lesions that do not heal, or any signs of discomfort or pain. If you notice any of these signs, it is imperative to have your dog examined by a vet. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential for improving your pet’s chances of a full recovery.

What will happen if my vet suspects my dog has skin cancer?

Skin cancer is a serious but treatable condition in pets. If one of the Cameron Veterinary Services vets suspects your dog may have a skin tumour, they will perform a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis. Treatment options will vary depending on the type and stage of cancer but may include surgery, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy.

Early diagnosis is key

If you have any concerns about your dog’s skin health, please contact us to make an appointment. During your pet’s annual health check, our vets will always do a thorough skin check, and can provide you with more information and advice on how to keep your pet safe from skin cancer.

To make an appointment at our Gawler East small animal vet clinic, you can book online or call us on 08 8318 1801.