Effects of Skin Tumors in Dogs
How a skin tumor will affect an animal depends mainly upon the underlying cause of the lump and its location. Slow-growing, benign masses tend not to be particularly bothersome, unless the dog becomes busy with licking or chewing at the area from boredom, itchiness or otherwise. Malignant tumors usually grow more rapidly and are more likely to ulcerate and bleed, which can be quite painful for the dog. Most canine skin tumors don’t cause much distress to the dogs that have them, unless or until they ulcerate or spread. Owners usually are more disturbed by lumps and bumps on their dogs than the dogs are themselves.
Symptoms of Skin Tumors in Dogs
Tumors of the skin (cutaneous masses) or just beneath the skin (subcutaneous masses) become more noticeable as they increase in size. Owners of dogs with skin tumors often notice one or more swollen or raised areas somewhere on the dog’s body, including the face, belly, back or legs. They may see these lumps, or they may feel them while petting or grooming their dog. Skin tumors can present in a number of different ways:
- Smooth, roundish nodule
- Lumpy nodule; rough cauliflower-like surface
- Pedunculated mass; attached to normal tissue by a stalk or stem-like projection
- Multiple conjoined masses; grape-like clusters; may be rough or smooth
- Lump covered by scales or flaking skin
- Hairless lump
- Ulcerated, weeping, oozing or bleeding lump
Dogs At Increased Risk
Hairless breeds and dogs with white coats or lightly pigmented skin are more likely to develop certain types of skin tumors, especially squamous cell carcinoma. Dogs that are exposed to sunlight for prolonged periods of time also tend to develop skin tumors. Young dogs are predisposed to viral skin tumors, while older dogs are at a higher risk for developing neoplastic (cancerous) masses. Genetics also contribute to a dog’s chance of getting lumps or bumps on or under the skin. The breeds generally considered to be most prone to developing skin tumors include the Boxer, Scottish Terrier, Bullmastiff, Basset Hound, Kerry Blue Terrier, Weimaraner and Norwegian Elkhound.