Can Pets get Skin Cancer?

Unfortunately, Yes! Like Humans, pets are susceptible to cancer and other form skin related diseases. Many domesticated and wild animals suffer from some form of cancer too.

Skin tumors are the most common form of cancerous tumors found in Dogs.  However, if it’s caught during early onset, it can be treated effectively. The disease is generally classified into Benign and Malign cancers. The term ‘Benign’ is used for less harmful cancer tumors, while ‘Malign’ is used for harmful cancer tumors.

Dogs have certain sensitive areas in the body where there is less or none protection from hair, like nose and ears. Many dog breeds lack enough fur in their body making them more susceptible to skin related diseases. Too much unprotected sun exposure may cause cancer in dogs.

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Dog melanomas and mast cell tumors are two major types of cancer found in dogs. These are fatal and life-threatening if left treated.


Six Common Types of Cancer in Pets

Malignant melanoma

Malignant melanoma is a type of skin cancer in dogs that affects pigmented cells known as melanocytes. This tendency is common in humans too. Dogs often develop tumors in pigmented cells that do not metastasize (spread to other parts), which are called melanocytomas.

It mostly occurs in the empty spots, however, some may develop in the body part with hair too. Experts believe that it is mostly a Genetic factor which causes the development of melanoma.

Compulsive licking and unhealthy lifestyle must be prevented in the pets to stop spreading the cells to other body parts.

Squamous cell carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma is a rare form of skin cancer prevalent in dogs. Pets with light-skin or hairless body are akin to this type of cancer. Dalmatians, Keeshonds, Standard Schnauzers, Basset Hounds, Collies, Bull Terriers and Beagles are few breeds mostly affected by it. Most squamous cell carcinomas appear as firm and raised or often ulcerated plaques and nodules.

As reported by PetMD.com, “Tumors can often grow outward into large masses and have a surface that resembles a wart. Treatment includes surgery to remove the primary tumor. Incompletely excised tumors should be treated with radiation therapy to prevent regrowth. These tumors infrequently spread to local lymph nodes and the lungs.”

Mast cell tumor

Mast cells tumor generally occur through allergic reactions. The immune cells contain chemicals or granules that are released upon stimulation by an allergen. These cells are located throughout the body and within the skin. This is a more slow-growing cancer in dogs, however, more aggressive mast cell tumors grow faster and may ulcerate.

Mast cell tumors are mostly found in Boxers, Boston Terriers, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Beagles, Pugs, Shar Peis, and Bulldogs.

As reported by Pets.WebMD.com, “Mast cell tumors most commonly occur on the trunk of the body, though they are found on the legs about 25% of the time.”

Melanomas

Melanomas or Benign melanoma in pets are less harmful. It occurs frequently in dogs with dark pigmented skin. Malignant melanoma is a type of Melanomas which is more aggressive. These tumors are usually solitary and appear as small brown/black masses. They can also appear as large, flat, or wrinkled tumors.

As reported by PetMD.com, “Most melanoma tumors are diagnosed after they are removed. Fine needle aspirates can be done on such tumors; however, they are less likely to exfoliate (distribute into the syringe during aspiration), so the sample obtained in this manner might not be diagnostic.”

Hair Follicle Tumor

Most hair follicle tumors are benign or less harmful and can be cured with surgical removal. They develop as a result of the disordered growth of the hair follicles in dogs. Malignant hair follicle tumors need special care and treatments.

Epitheliotropic lymphoma

Lymphoma is a type of blood-borne cancer of lymphocytes (white blood cells). They are found throughout the body, including the skin, where they offer protection against various pathogens that this organ can come into contact with.

According to PetMD.com, “While technically not a skin tumor, another common cancer that occurs in the superficial layers of the skin is Epitheliotropic lymphoma.”

There can be several forms of lymphoma in dogs. Epitheliotropic lymphoma occurs mostly on skin. Chemotherapy is a common form of treatment.


It is important that you provide proper care, diet and environment to your dog. Each breed of dog may have specific conditions, hence, you must consult your vet for medical guidance. To ensure that your pet is safe, get it checked from a reliable veterinarian today.

Tapeworm in Pets: Symptom, Cause, Diagnosis, Treatment & Prevention

Tapeworms are flat, white worms that attach themselves to the wall of gut using hook-like suckers. They feed there and grow. They typically settle in the small intestine and can grow from 4 to 8 inches. Medical name for tapeworm infestation is 'Cestodiasis'. Tapeworm species that infect dogs are mainly Taenia, Diphylidium Caninum, Echinococcus and Mesocestoides. 

Cause

The primary reason of tapeworm infestation is the ingestion of immediate hosts containing larvae. Tapeworm eggs can also be transmitted through adult fleas. Our pets are fond of scavenging, which can result to tapeworm infestation. It can also be transmitted via other animals, such as rabbit and birds. 

Symptoms

Sometimes tapeworm breaks into segments and passes into the intestine. These come out with feces as dried, white to cream colored segments of tapeworms. Some of the segments might also be seen in the fur under the tail.

Some break off into small pieces that are hard to see. Some of these resemble to sesame or cucumber seeds in size and appearance. 

Pets bite or lick the anus and scoot in response to itching. 

Tapeworms, sporadically makes pets vomit. Long, 4 to 8 inch, worms can be seen in their vomit. 

Pets also lose weight in case of heavy infection.

Diagnosis

Veterinarians look for segments of tapeworms crawling on dog's body, specially under the fur. They also examine dog's feces for segments or eggs of tapeworms, under a microscope. Not every time the segments come out in feces, so several sample might be needed for examination.

Treatment

If the veterinarian diagnoses tapeworm infestation, she will prescribe medication. Medication can be oral and/or injection. It is curable. 

Prevention

Control flea around your pet keeping your home and around clean. You can use flea spray, powder, collars, oral medication or topical liquid. 

Do not allow unsupervised roaming to your pet.

Be careful about other animals' company with your pet. 

Always cleanup after your pet, yard and park. 

Skin Cancer in Pets

It's a new information for many pet parents, but skin cancer is quite common in both dogs and cats. Skin cancers are basically the tumor on skin or subcutaneous tissue (the tissue under the skin). 60 to 80% of tumors in pets are benign, meaning, they are just appear on the body but doesn't affect by any mean. Lipomas (fatty tumors, sebaceous adenomas, papillomas (mole-like growth) are benign tumors. Melanomas, Squamous cell carcinoma and Mast cell tumor are most common malignant tumors in pets that require medical attention. 

Types of Cancer in Pets

There are number of cancers that have been diagnosed in dogs and cats, among which Melanomas, Squamous cell carcinoma and Mast cell tumor are most common and fatal. 

Melanomas

It affects pigmented cells known as melanocytes. This tumor grows fast and and spreads to other organs such as lungs and liver. It is more frequent in dogs but much less in cats. 

Signs and Symptoms

Benign melanomas vary in sizes ranging from very small to 2.5 inches in diameter. It appears in the area of skin covered with hair. It may be black, brown, gray or red in color. In orange cats, freckles on lips and gums can appear which is very normal and harmless. It is known as letingo simplex.

Malignant melanomas appear on the body parts where is less or no hair, such as mouth, lips, toenail pads and/or pads of the feet. It is more common in black dogs. 

Treatment

First procedure of melanomas treatment is surgery. If surgery is unable to remove the tumor, radiation therapy is applied. 70% times it is successful but recurrence is common. Depending on the severity of the tumor, chemotherapy is also used combining with surgery and/or radiation therapy. In case of oral melanoma, vaccination is a popular practice.

Squamous Cell Carcinomas

The tumor affects thinly furred skin. It doesn't spread but can be aggressive and may lead to destruction of tissue around the tumor. Though the cause of this cancer is still unknown, most of the times it is induced by exposure to the sun. That is why, the best preventive measure for this is to limit the exposure of your pets to the sun. 

All the pets are prone to this tumor, yet pets with short coats, especially with light skin are likely to develop it much faster. It typically appears on the dogs of age 6 to 10 years. 

Signs and Symptoms

This tumor is firm and raised with a wart-like appearance. It appears on abdomen, around genitals and feet. 

Treatment

Surgical measures are used to remove squamous cell carcinomas. Photodynamic therapy is used to cure this tumor in inoperable locations. Use of a drug called Piroxicam has proven effective in developing immune system within the body of the animal to fight back the tumor cells. 

Mast Cell Tumors

It occurs in the mast cell of the immune system. It is common in both cats and dogs. It sometimes disappears and returns back in few days. This can be confusing for pet parents to predict the disease. Although it is common in most of the breeds, Labrador retrievers, Boxers, Pugs and Golden retrievers are predisposed to develop this tumor. 

Signs and Symptoms

Mast cell tumors are slow growing, rubber-like tumor. It is unusual skin masses, specially raised, hairless pinkish-yellow masses. These appear on trunk but 25% times it is on the legs. Itching, swelling and redness occurs in unbearable amount. 

Treatment

Like other tumors, first attempt of cure is through surgery for mast cell tumors, too. That may include radiation or may be not. Depending on the severity of the case, surgery might be accompanied by chemotherapy and/or steroids.

Diagnosis

Veterinarians diagnose pet cancer using either of the two methods: biopsy or needle aspirate cytology. Biopsy involves removing of small amount of tissue from the tumor and testing. Whereas, in Needle aspirate cytology, a needle is used to remove a microscopic amount of cells from the tumor in order to examine cell structure. 

Cancer is curable in pets if promptly identified. Take your pets to the veterinarian as soon as you seen any sign of cancer, do not ignore any. If it not cancer then it is a good news, but if it is, your pet will be cured in early stages.