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10 Types of Tumors in Dogs You Can See on the Skin

Get to the Bottom of the Bumps on Your Dog's Skin

By December 04 | See Comments

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Smalll Puppy Getting Checked Out By The Veterinarian

Tumors can crop up in dogs of every breed and age. Many of these skin tumors end up being benign and nonthreatening. Here is a quick list of the most common types of skin tumors in dogs.

10 Nasty Dog Tumors Detectable on the Skin (Vet Approved)

While some tumors occur deep within the canine body and are impossible to detect visually others can be discovered by pet owners during grooming, petting or via simple observation. Don’t be alarmed and start looking at scary dog skin cancer pictures on the internet every time you find a new lump or bump. In most cases, a small red bump on dog skin can turn out to be a simple skin abnormality or a tumor that’s either benign or easily treatable.

If you do detect a weird growth, it’s very important to visit the vet to learn about the cause and if it needs to be treated. Below are some tumors that you might find by visually inspecting or touching your dog’s skin.

1. Mammary-Gland Tumors

These tumors are rarely found in unspayed females. However, if your dog is not spayed, these tumors are fairly common. The tumor can be detected by touch, can be large or small in shape, and they are most often located in the glands closest to a dog’s groin. Larger tumors, measuring more than an inch and a half tend to have a worse prognosis. Tumors that are attached to the skin often are cancerous, whereas tumors that can be moved with by applying pressure are more likely to be benign.

Detection:The tumors can be seen as swollen pea-sized growths on the mammary glands. Conduct a simple touch test and lookout for abnormally hard swellings under the skin.

2. Testicular Tumors

Testicles that are enlarged, or the presence of one testicle that is larger than another, is often a likely tip-off to testicular cancer. If you notice any change in the shape of a dog’s testicles, get in touch with a vet for an examination. Note that dogs with undescended testicles are very likely to develop testicular cancer, so if that is this case with your dog, be vigilant to swelling of the descended testicle or your dog’s abdomen. Neutered dogs can’t develop testicular cancer.

Detection: Testicular Tumor is marked by noticeably enlarged testicles. Swelling can occur in either one or both the testicles.

3. Mast Cell Tumors

One of the most common skin tumors in dogs, mast cell tumors are raised growths that appear on your dog’s skin. Tumors caused by mast cells are cancerous. Vets can determine if a lump on your dog’s skin is the result of mast cell growth through a needle aspiration of the lump.

Detection:Easily noticeable wart-like growths that are soft to touch. There is usually one single growth in one area instead of a cluster of bumps. Only 11 to 15 percent dogs have more than one MCT growths.

4. Histiocytoma

If you spot a bright red hairless bump on your dog’s skin, you may feel alarmed, particularly since histiocytomas often appear overnight. The good news is that histiocytoma tumors are benign. However, as with any bumps, it’s always recommended that you have a vet inspect and diagnose the issue.

Detection:Painless and hairless bumps commonly occuring on the ears, head, or legs. These bumps have a tendency to grow rapidly in the first month.

5. Hemangiosarcoma

These cancerous tumors occur from blood cells and they commonly appear in internal organs like the liver and heart. However, hemangiosarcoma can also occur on a dog’s skin. Most commonly, hemangiosarcomas on the skin will appear on a dog’s hind legs or neck, or any body part that is hairless. They are very often red or black in color and can be treated with a combination of surgery and chemotherapy.

Detection:Hard and dark-colored growths that usually occur on a dog’s hind legs. Tumors can change in size due to internal bleeding. These tumors do not cause skin ulcerations.

6. Melanoma

Melanomas are dark brown or black in color and they look a lot like a mole. These marks can appear on the eyelids, nail bed, mouth, or skin. While some are benign, others are malignant, so it’s important to check in with the vet since appearance alone cannot reveal reveal if the tumor is malignant or benign.

Detection:Benign melanomas are usually round dark-colored masses often occuring on the head, back and on the paws. Malignant melanomas are ones that spread rapidly.

7. Lipoma

These fatty skin tumors are benign and appear in the subcutaneous layer of a dog’s skin. These tumors have a soft feel and can be moved by applying pressure.

Detection: Lipomas are usually soft lumps underneath the skin that move ever so slightly when touched. These lumps are usually seen occurring under the armpits, neck or belly.

8. Basal Cell Tumors

These tumors are quite common in dogs. Often times a single basal cell tumor is seen as opposed to multiple growths. The size of the tumors vary and they are usually hairless and raised above the skin. You’ll spot these tumors on a dog’s neck or shoulders. Generally, they are not malignant and can be surgically removed.

Detection:Measuring 1 to 10 centimeters, these lumps are usually pigmented and they typically occur on the head, neck, shoulders, or leg. Basal cell tumors may ulcerate and can thus be painful.

9. Squamous Cell Carcinoma

These tumors are a result of sun exposure and generally, occur in hairless areas on your dog’s skin. They appear to have various different colors including red, white, or gray. More often than not, these tumors are malignant and thus need surgical intervention.

Detection:These sores occur in areas with light colored fur or places where there is no hair. The growths are usually flaky and prone to bleeding. Growths can occur on nose, scrotum, legs, and paws.

10. Lymphoma

Also known as lymphosarcoma, this cancer of the lymph nodes has several classification types. Multicentric lymphoma is the most common variety of tumors in dogs. It’s characterized by swollen glands in the dog’s neck. Although there is no cure for lymphoma, chemotherapy can be used to reduce symptoms and extend a dog’s life.

Detection:Multicentric Lymphoma tumors typically have a rubbery texture and they move freely under the skin.

Keep an eye out for growths and swollen areas on your dog. While some growths are benign and can be ignored without a second thought, it’s always a good idea to get every lump checked by a veterinarian.

More on Cancer In Dogs

Cancer in Dogs and Cats
Bone Cancer in Cats and Dogs
Cancer Drugs for Dogs -- What Are Your Options?

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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