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Lumps, Bumps & Skin Cancer in Dogs

Lumps, Bumps & Skin Cancer in Dogs

Not every lump or bump you find on your dog's skin will turn out to be cancerous, but any suspicious bumps you discover should be checked out by your vet. Today our vets in Matthews NC discuss common skin cancers in dogs.

Lumps & Bumps on Dog's Skin

Discovering a discolored patch or skin bumps on your dog is bound to get you worrying about skin cancer, but it's important to remember that not all lumps and bumps are cancerous. For those that are cancerous, many are treatable if detected early.

When it comes to treating skin cancer in dogs, successful treatment outcomes depend in large part upon the very earliest detection! If you have found something suspicious on your dog's skin, contact your vet immediately to book an examination for your pooch. While it's most likely not skin cancer, it's always best to err on the side of caution. 

Skin Cancers Common in Dogs

Like people, there are a vast variety of cancers that can affect the health of your dog. Some of the most common skin cancers in dogs include:

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

  • This type of cancer often occurs on areas with less hair and more exposed skin, such as the ears, nose, and abdomen. It usually appears as raised, crusty, or ulcerated patches that may bleed. Exposure to the sun may be a cause of squamous cell carcinoma, however, there could also be a link to papillomavirus.

Malignant Melanoma

  • Melanomas are raised bumps that can be dark-pigmented (but not always) and are frequently found around the dog's lips, mouth, and nail bed. Most melanomas are benign, however, malignant melanomas are a very serious health threat. These tumors grow quickly and have a high risk of spreading to other organs. Schnauzers and Scottish terriers appear to face an increased risk of developing melanoma, and male dogs are more at risk than females.

Mast Cell Tumors

  • Mast cell tumors are one of the most frequent skin cancers in dogs. These tumors originate from mast cells in the skin and can range from benign to highly aggressive. They can appear as raised, ulcerated, itchy, or red lumps. This form of skin cancer can occur in any breed but is most often seen in boxers, pugs, Rhodesian ridgebacks, and Boston terriers between 8 -10 years old.


  • These tumors arise from fibrous connective tissue and can occur in various areas, including the skin. They might feel firm or hard to the touch and can sometimes be invasive.

How Skin Cancer is Diagnosed in Dogs

To diagnose skin cancer in dogs, your vet may perform a biopsy to take a small sample of the tumor's cells for examination. This sample will be analyzed at a lab in order for your veterinarian to provide you with an accurate diagnosis of your pup's condition. 

In order to determine the extent of your dog's cancer, additional diagnostic testing may be recommended. This can help to optimize treatment and give a more accurate prognosis for your pet.

Treating Dog Skin Cancers

Many early-stage dog skin cancers can be treated successfully, allowing pets to continue living comfortable, happy lives for years to come.

Your dog's skin cancer treatment could include surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapies, or palliative care when appropriate. When it comes to the prognosis and treatment for skin cancer in dogs, options will depend on a number of factors, such as the type of cancer, the location of cancer, and how advanced your dog's cancer is.

Always Monitor The Overall Health of Your Dog's Skin

Detecting and diagnosing skin cancer while the disease is still in the early stages is the key to good treatment outcomes. During your regular grooming routine familiarizing yourself with all your dog’s normal lumps, bumps, and spots so that you can spot changes in your pup's skin right away.

Visiting your vet for routine wellness exams, even when your dog appears perfectly healthy, can help to catch skin cancers in the early stages.

Whenever you notice an unexplained or unusual lump or bump on your dog, or if you notice swelling around your dog's toes consult your vet right away. When it comes to your pet's health it's always better to err on the side of caution. 

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your dog showing signs of a painful knee injury? Our experienced vets are here to help. Contact Carolina Veterinary Specialists today to book an examination for your canine companion.

Caring for Pets in Matthews

Carolina Veterinary Specialists in Matthews accepts new clients to our specialty services by referral only. Our emergency service accepts all clients.

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