Did you know that dogs can get skin cancer too? We’ll if not, we’re sorry to tell you that it’s true. Bud don’t worry, like melanoma in humans, if diagnosed early, there is a really good chance that your dog will be just fine. But that doesn’t mean that you as a responsible and caring dog owner is going to be any less stressed out by hearing that your dog has been diagnosed with a melanoma.
This is why…
We wanted to take a moment and discuss what it’s like to have a dog that has been diagnosed with melanoma this way you’ll be better prepared to know what to expect. So, without further ado, let’s dive right in.
What is Melanoma in Dogs?
Have you heard the words malignant and benign? We’ll if so, then you probably already know that malignant tumors mean cancerous whereas benign means noncancerous. If your dog has malignant melanoma, then it is in fact cancer, but don’t get too stressed out just yet. Because not all malignant tumors are that bad, some can be quite manageable.
Most common types of Melanomas
The most common type of melanoma for dogs is oral melanoma or mouth skin cancer. Now it may sound contrary to everything you’ve ever heard about skin cancer (it’s caused by the sun; how does the sun get in your dog’s mouth?), but yes, it’s true. The mucus membranes in your dog’s mouth can get tumors.
That said however…
Dogs can also develop cancers on their noses as well as “fur-covered” portions of their body as well. This is why it’s important to know how to “check” your pet for any signs of skin cancer and be aware of some of the things you should look for.
Checking Your Dog
Humans prone to skin cancer are advised to do self-examinations regularly. This means surveying one’s own body looking for abnormalities on the skin. As a pet owner, you can do this with your dog as well. While regularly grooming your dog, take note if you see any suspicious skin lesions, moles or other things that could possibly be a tumor. Open your dog’s mouth and look in the oral cavity for signs of oral malignant melanoma. You may also check your dog’s nail beds for anything suspicious. This is especially important to do for older dogs.
Diagnosis of Melanomas in Dogs
The first thing your veterinarian will do is this same kind of exam; looking for signs. If you have pointed out a specific site, then your vet will look at that with careful consideration.
The only way to determine if there are tumor cells in the mass is with a biopsy. Your vet may perform surgical removal of the entire tumor and then test it or may just scrape a bit of it to test for cancer cells.
Treatment of Melanomas in dogs
If your dog already has malignant melanoma, then the vet will have to find out if it has spread. He/she will do this through a series of tests such as chest x-rays, ultrasound, and possibly an MRI. Your vet will decide which tests to conduct based on clinical observation. One of the main areas any cancer tends to spread is the lymph node system. This could be localized or throughout.
Once you know…
If the cancer has reached metastasis, a treatment plan can be put in place. There is some evidence that melanoma and dermal mast cell tumors go hand in hand, so your vet will definitely look into that. If your dog’s mast cells are cancerous, then there will be a treatment plan that specifically addresses that as well.
Your dog’s treatment plan for malignant melanoma could include:
The median survival time…
For your dog will absolutely depend on the extent of his/her cancer. As mentioned, your dog could just need a simple surgical excision to remove the tumor and then he’ll be fine! However, survival times drastically decrease if major organs have cancerous cells present.
Another treatment option…
That has recently been developed is the “melanoma vaccine”. This is something you may want to consider however; some people do wonder if it is controversial. This is something you should discuss with your vet and then decide what is best for your dog.
Which brings us to…
A very important point that we need to make which is that we here at IndulgeYourPet are not doctors, veterinarians or medical professions. All we are is a bunch of folks who just happen to be passionate about animals and only want what’s best for them.
If you feel like your dog may have a melanoma or may be suffering from any other medical condition for that matter, don’t rely on the internet to make a diagnosis, have your pet checked out by a professional!
You may not only save your pet from suffering from any unnecessary discomfort by having a simple condition become complicated, you could also save yourself a ton of money as well. Which brings us to our next topic which is what it might cost to treat your dog if he or she does develop a melanoma.
It’s something logistically you need to know: how much is this treatment plan going to cost? Again, just like survival times, it really depends on how far along the cancer is. If it is a basic cancer, it could cost you as little as $200. But, if things have gotten complicated, you could find yourself shelling out thousands of dollars over the course of a few months. Are you in the financial position to do that?
If not, you’re not alone.
Which is why…
We here at IndulgeYourPet also recommend that any new pet owner take a moment and see what it might cost for you to purchase a pet insurance policy for your new animal.
Now will a pet insurance policy be right for everyone?
No, probably not. But until you fully understand what these policies “will” and “won’t” cover and how much these pet insurance policies cost, how will you know if one might be right for you?
For more information on who we feel currently offers the “best” pet insurance policies out there, we would encourage you to check out our Best Pet Insurance Policies article.