How to Protect Your Canine Companion from Skin Cancer This Summer
Your dog is not up to date on the latest scientific research. Instead, he relies on you to protect him from the dangers of the world that he cannot even begin to comprehend. Fortunately, you live in the Information Age, and answers to how to protect your pup from skin cancer are right at your fingertips.
How Dogs Get Skin Cancer
Sun damage is the most common cause of skin cancer in dogs. Compulsive licking, cuts or scrapes, and other trauma to the skin causes cells to reproduce quickly and increase the chance of cancer-causing mutations. Squamous cell carcinoma tumors may be caused by the papilloma virus. Other factors that can cause skin cancer in pups are their genetic background and the color of their coat.
How Do You Know Your Dog Has Skin Cancer?
Bumps or lumps on the surface of their skin are the most obvious signs of skin cancer. The look of cancer will depend on its location and type:
- Squamous Cell Carcinoma– Frequently occurring on the genitals, feet, and abdomen with a wart-like appearance.
- Mast Cell Tumor – Typically appears in lumps on the legs or trunk. It may ulcerate and cause bleeding open sores.
- Melanoma – Occurring on the feet and mouth, a mole-like growth that can get up to 2.5 inches in diameter and appears black, red, gray, or brown.
Keep Your Dog Protected
There is only so much you can do since many skin cancer types in dogs are simply genetic. Before you spay or neuter a dog from a breed that is known to be at higher risk for skin cancer, talk to your vet. Altering your dog can increase the risk of some cancers according to recent studies. But, the many benefits of spaying and neutering – preventing unwanted litters, eliminating wandering, and reducing aggression – likely outweigh this risk.
Warts, or papillomas, are believed to be a precursor to skin cancer. Therefore, we want to prevent your dog from getting papillomas, which are caused by a virus spread by infected pets. So, if the health status of a dog is unclear or if they are clearly sick, steer clear. Also, if you notice your furry companion licking hot spots compulsively, prevent the stimulation of cell reproduction by using an E-collar or pet cone to prevent excessive grooming along with a cooling spray and oatmeal baths to relieve itchiness.
Be Safe in the Sun
The easiest way to block skin cancer in dogs is to stop sun damage. Limit how long your pup is in the sun. This is particularly important if your dog has white or thin fur. When your pet is outside, give them a shaded area, especially during the hottest parts of the day. Outfit your dog with protective booties if she is going to spend time on concrete, sand, asphalt, or other hot surfaces.
You can never go wrong with a dog-safe sunscreen. A pair of dog goggles or sunglasses can protect the eyes of more adventurous pups from sun damage and trauma. This is especially true if you have a breed with eyes that bug out, such as pugs.