The information from this website is not intended to replace veterinary advice. If your dog or cat has skin cancer, please consult a veterinarian.


Why am I doing this article?

I am a big animal lover and recently had a personal experience with my own dog losing his battle with canine melanoma. The doctors believe he was around 10 years old when he passed away in January of 2013. He came into my life on October 17th, 2004 when my girlfriend at the time went to an animal shelter just to “look” and she walked out that day with him in hand. His name was Dax (Dexter spelled backward) We changed it when I met her because she didn’t like it much. That’s when we both started our journey together. On this website, I will give you information about his melanoma journey and share stories of people who lost their pets to the same condition.

I would like to start by saying, please check your dog’s skin at least once a week for any changes or abnormalities. When Dax was first diagnosed, he looked fine from the outside but when the doctor did a biopsy, it came back as dog skin cancer.

Melanomas are cancers that develop in cells called melanocytes, which produce the pigment melanin that colors your dog’s hair and skin. Melanomas typically arise from flat or raised spots on your dog’s skin; they also may occur inside your pet’s mouth, lips, anus, penis, vulva (in females), and nasal passages.

Dog melanoma symptoms include:

Sores on the skin that don’t heal

Changes in pigmentation on your dog’s hair or skin, such as gray, brown, black, tan, and multi-colored spots or patches of color (often black and white or red and white)

Lumps on the surface of your pet’s skin. These lumps may be flat and smooth or raised and rough. The size can vary from small to several inches across.

Canine melanoma is a cancer of dogs’ pigment cells called melanocytes. Although genetic factors play a role in canine melanoma, it has been shown that exposure to either natural or artificial sunlight increases the rate at which these pigment cells multiply. This increased rate of multiplication can lead to changes in the melanocytes that may result in the development of canine melanoma.

Dog owners are more likely to notice changes in their dog’s skin if they groom them regularly. Regular brushing, bathing, and inspection of your dog’s skin will help you spot abnormalities early. If you see anything suspicious, it is best to consult a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Melanoma tumors often develop near areas exposed to sunlight or artificial ultraviolet light…

…or areas covered with little hair where the underlying skin is exposed. Sometimes, these tumors can be itchy or painful depending on their location.

Although the cause of canine melanoma isn’t completely understood, one thing remains clear – dogs that spend lots of time in the sun are more likely to develop melanoma…

Dog skin cancer is very treatable when caught early, but it can be hard to diagnose if your dog’s skin cancer symptoms don’t show up until later. Here’s what you need to know about spotting the warning signs of melanoma and catching this disease at an early stage:

If you suspect that something might be wrong with your dog’s skin, schedule an appointment for a vet visit. Your veterinarian will take a look at all areas of your pet’s body, including inside their mouth and under their tail. They’ll also perform a biopsy on any suspicious-looking lumps or bumps.

In terms of canine melanoma treatment, surgery is the best option – especially in the early stages. However, when the tumor has already metastasized (spread to other areas in your dog’s body), chemotherapy and radiation therapy may be recommended.

While canine melanoma is usually curable when found and treated early, it can prove fatal if left untreated…

…Unfortunately, only about half of dogs with advanced melanoma survive for more than a year after diagnosis. This survival rate drops drastically once the disease spreads to other parts of the body

Still not entirely sure if your pet is suffering from canine skin cancer? Here is an image chart that helps you familiarize yourself with some common signs of this condition:

(Source) Please keep in mind that every case is different so you should seek immediate medical attention if something seems off.

Author Info  – A professional pet sitter with over eight years of experience in the industry, I have acquired the necessary knowledge to be able to offer my clients detailed, yet affordable care plans that are customized according to their needs and requirements. Currently working as a freelance writer, I have helped numerous individuals find reputable home boarding for dogs. If you need more information regarding the services I provide, simply click on this link.

How do you know if your dog has skin cancer?

We all know how dogs love to go out and play, and there’s always a chance that your dog may come into contact with something that could cause skin problems.

The most common problem for our dogs is skin cancer. There are three types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and malignant melanoma. Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer for dogs, accounting for about 80% of skin tumors.

Squamous cell carcinoma accounts for 15-20% of canine skin tumors. The cause is unknown, but it tends to occur more often in middle-aged to older dogs, with a median age of 10 years.

Malignant melanoma is responsible for 5-10% of skin tumors in dogs. Dogs of this type are usually young, with a median age of four years. Basal cell carcinoma accounts for about 80% of all canine skin tumors, while malignant melanoma accounts for only 5-10%. The risk factors associated with these two types of skin cancer are exposure to sunlight and a suppressed immune system.

No one knows what causes the increased risk of melanoma, but dogs that spend more time outdoors seem to be at a higher risk. Dogs with white, gray, or light-colored hair coats over their bodies are also at higher risk.

How Long Can dogs live with skin cancer?

There is no cure for skin cancer, but if it’s caught early, treatment can be very successful. Many dogs are cured of melanoma with surgery alone. After surgery, the prognosis is very good because melanomas typically don’t metastasize (spread) to other areas of the body. However, when melanoma has spread to other parts of the body, successful treatment becomes much more difficult. About half of the dogs with advanced melanoma survive for one year after diagnosis, and only 10 percent survive for five years.

What does a skin cancer lump look like on a dog?

A skin tumor will look like a bump or a growth on your dog’s skin. It may be pink, red, purple, black, brown, blue, white, or multicolored. The size of the tumor varies; it can be as small as a pinhead or as large as the size of an orange. Most skin tumors in dogs are cancerous.

Skin tumors usually appear on the skin, but sometimes they form within your dog’s mouth or nose. Tumors can also develop in your dog’s footpads or nails.

How do you treat a Dog with Skin Cancer?

There’s no cure for canine skin cancer at this time, so treatment consists of controlling the symptoms until your dog’s death. Treatment options for skin cancer may include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or a combination of these.

Cure rates are higher with skin cancers that haven’t spread to other parts of the body. The stage of the tumor at the time of diagnosis is also important. If cancer hasn’t spread beyond the area where it started, the prospect for successful treatment is much greater.

The earlier you catch skin cancer in your dog, the better the chances are of successfully treating it. Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian if you notice a bump or growth on your dog’s skin.

Can dogs survive skin cancer?

If you happen to notice a lump-like growth on your dog, first thing first. Don’t ignore it and hope it will go away by itself.

The earliest symptoms of skin cancer can be easily overlooked. Visible symptoms often appear as tiny lumps or sores that do not heal within two weeks. By this time, the tumor has been growing for a long time, and cancer has likely spread from the original tumor to other parts of the body.

The first step should be an examination by your veterinarian. Your vet will determine whether further testing is needed and start treatment as soon as possible. With melanomas, it’s important to catch them early because once they metastasize (spread) to other parts of the body, treatment is usually not successful.

If melanoma spreads to other areas in your dog’s body, the overall prognosis is poor. Still, with early detection, you may be able to prolong your pet’s life.

What are my chances of Dog Skin Cancer?

The risk factors for both types of canine skin cancer are exposure to sunlight and a suppressed immune system. No one knows exactly what causes the increased risk for melanoma, but dogs that spend more time outdoors seem to be at a higher risk. Dogs with white, gray, or light-colored hair coats over their bodies are also at higher risk due to greater sun exposure.

What does squamous cell carcinoma look like on a dog?

Dog skin cancers that start on the upper surface of the body are typically squamous cell carcinomas. Sometimes tumors develop in areas hidden from sunlight, such as the mouth or nose. In these locations, abnormal growths may be a tumor called oral melanoma. This type of cancer is more likely to metastasize (spread) to other parts of the body than is another canine melanoma.

What should I look for?

Pigmented skin tumors are typically round or oval and often have an ulcerated (raw) surface. Gray-colored tumors are likely to be basal cell carcinomas, while black spots on your pet’s skin may indicate either melanoma or benign growths.

Tumors that are white, pink, or red may be signs of either squamous cell carcinoma or hemangiosarcoma. Tumors that bleed easily or don’t heal within two weeks may indicate a malignant growth. A lump under the skin is usually indicative of cancer.

How do dogs get skin cancer?

Just like in humans, cancer in dogs sometimes runs in families. You may be at increased risk of developing melanoma if other family members have skin cancer. One theory suggests that sun exposure during childhood is a factor in causing skin cancer later on. However, there are no truly definitive studies to back up this idea.


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