Skin cancer on the nose in dogs

Written by kay wagers
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Skin cancer on the nose in dogs
Sun exposure increases a dog's risk for skin cancer on the nose. (Dog image by CiberZoom from Fotolia.com)

Every summer, doctors issue warnings about sun exposure and skin cancer for human beings, but dogs can also develop skin cancer. If your dog has a light-coloured nose and is often outside in the sunlight, you should monitor its appearance and look for skin cancer growths on its nose, according to the "UC Davis Book of Dogs."

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Skin Cancer

A dog can develop skin cancer anywhere on its body, including its nose. Malignant cancer growths on a dog's skin are called carcinomas. According to the "UC Davis Book of Dogs," while benign tumours often grow slowly and pose no health risks, malignant skin cancer grows quickly and can metastasise and spread throughout a dog's body, leading to cancer growths within a dog's lymph nodes or in organs like the liver and lungs.

Risks

A dog with a light pigmented nose and thin fur growth is at an increased risk for developing skin cancer on its nose, especially if it is often outside in the sunlight. According to the "Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook," a condition called nasal solar dermatitis, or collie nose, causes a dog's nose to become ulcerated and raw. If your dog develops this condition, it is at risk of also developing skin cancer on its nose.

Symptoms

A dog with skin cancer on its nose will often have an irregularly shaped growth on its nose. Unlike benign growths, malignant cancer will have ragged edges. According to the "UC Davis Book of Dogs," skin cancer is often darker than the skin that surrounds it and its colour might be mottled or irregular. If your dog's skin has been damaged by sun exposure, then its nose could be ulcerated and raw, with hair loss around the nose, according to the "Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook."

Treatment

Because malignant skin cancer on the nose of a dog can spread to other parts of its body, treatment of the cancer focuses on completely removing it. A veterinary surgeon can surgically remove the cancerous tissue, along with a small border of healthy surrounding skin to be sure none is left behind. For skin cancers that are small and are caught early, cryosurgery is another treatment option, according to the "UC Davis Book of Dogs."

Considerations

You can help protect your dog from the risk of developing skin cancer on its nose by limiting its exposure to the sun, especially if it has a light-pigmented nose. Sunscreen can help protect your dog's skin when it is outside, according to the "Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook." To avoid the complication of the cancer spreading to other areas, you should bring your dog to your veterinarian to have any irregular growths examined as soon as you notice them on your dog's nose, according to the "UC Davis Book of Dogs."

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