Skin Cancer in Animals

By: SA Perillo

Cancer is fatal and its treatment is difficult for humans and animals. Skin cancer is one of the most threatening diseases that dogs and other animals suffer from. Dogs have been reported to have six times more cancer especially skin benign skin tumors than cats do occurring during their middle ages particularly six to fourteen years of age. Boxers, Scottish terriers, bull mastiffs, basset hounds, weimaraners, jerry blue terriers as well as the Norwegian elkhounds breeds of dogs usually acquire the highest rate of skin cancer or skin tumors.

Skin cancer is said to be the most common form of cancer in dogs especially when they are thin haired and are exposed from too much sunlight. The most common cause of skin cancer is unidentified however the exposure to sunlight has been reported to cause high incidence of two types of skin cancer such as squamous cells carcinoma and hemangioma.

It comprises a broad classification of skin tumors that may involve any uncontrolled growth of cells of the skin or in skin glands, hair follicles, other supportive tissues such as fat and connective tissue. cancer of the skin is divided further into four groups such as the epithelial tumors, or the tumors involving the skin itself, the glands, hair follicle; mesenchymal tumors that came from cells that surround and supports the skin like fats, connective tissues, blood vessels and nerves; round cell tumors that include lymph sarcoma, mast cell tumors, histiocytomas, plasma cell tumors, and transmissible venereal tumors; and lastly, melanomas which came from melanocytes or the cells that give skin pigmentation.

Skin infections whether caused by bacteria or parasites causes redness of skin, itchiness, flakiness as well as hair loss are similar signs of skin cancer specifically lymph sarcoma. Nail infections is also a manifestation and this could cause lameness, swelling of feet especially toes and may excrete discharges. Melanoma and squamous cells may have these kinds of manifestations. Another is abscess, which may be caused by an infection that brings swelling. Immune mediated diseases such as systemic lupus and pemphigus cause ulcers, and skin sores that may be cancerous. The ears, lips, nose and foot pads are the usual areas affected by this immune mediated disease.

Meanwhile, cysts of several types may likewise be found in the skin as swelling that opens and closes irregularly. The fluid substance coming from cyst may be as thick as that of toothpaste. Trauma, however, from injury to the skin may also look like skin cancer that’s why proper veterinary diagnosis should be performed to identify whether it really is skin cancer or other skin diseases in dogs.

To prevent skin cancer, dog owners should not let their dogs be exposed to too much sunlight for longer hours especially when their dog’s hair is think or sparse. Another is regular clinical visitation that may include physical check up and follow up whn other skin diseases are being treated. If treatment of a particular disease has just finished, it is suggested that keen observation on after effects such as redness or swelling to the treated part is done to make sure that infection has not penetrated the healing area and that skin tumors are not starting to grow.

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