Don't let the snuggly fur fool you: May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month for humans but dogs aren't immune either! They can get a lot of the same kinds of skin cancer that we do -- both from sun exposure and from other causes. Here's a quick rundown on the most common skin cancers found in dogs, with links to more info if you want to check it out.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma:
If your pup is pale, put sunscreen on her exposed skin -- including her nose and belly -- when she's gonna be out in the sun. What to watch out for: firm, raised, wart-like tumors in the skin. (more here)
"Benign melanocytomas may range in size from very small to more than 2.5 inches in diameter. They appear on areas of the skin covered with hair and may be black, brown, gray, or red in color. Malignant dog melanomas tend to occur in the mouth, on the lips, and in the toenail beds, and pads of the feet. When dog melanomas occur in the feet, they often become infected, leading to misdiagnosis as a simple infection." (source) What to watch out for: check your dog's mouth and gums regularly for any changes, as well as his skin, even underneath the fur. Feel the skin as well as giving it the once-over visually.
Mast Cell Tumors
These can look like bug bites, an allergic reaction, warts, skin tags, and many other conditions, but mast cell tumors are most commonly found on the trunk, with the legs presenting about 25% of the cases. What to watch out for: Any weird skin or under-skin mass that doesn't go away or that seems irritated. Just get it checked out to be on the safe side. (more info)
So keep an eye -- and hand -- on your pup's skin, checking it at least monthly. Bring your pup in at least once a month and we'll help you keep an eye out, too. Many of these skin cancers are easily treated but all of them need to be dealt with sooner rather than later. Love the skin they're in, y'all.