That’s because cancer is both extremely common in dogs and a leading cause of death. The National Cancer Institute’s Center for Cancer Research says that about 6 million of the 65 million pet dogs in the United States will be diagnosed with cancer each year.
Additionally, in 2011, researchers at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine found that cancer was the most common cause of death in older dogs. (It’s also the leading cause of death for 71 of the 82 breeds studied.)
Erika Krick, DVM, an assistant professor of oncology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine says signs of cancerous tumors often include skin wounds that don’t heal or unexplained weight loss. That said, many dogs often have lumps and bumps that are completely benign. “If you notice something new, take your dog to the vet,” she says. “You need to know what it is, and the smaller it is when it’s diagnosed, the easier it is to treat.”
Not all dog tumors are cancerous, but all of them should be evaluated by your veterinarian. Continue reading for eight common and notable types of dog tumors, the breeds that are most susceptible, and what treatment looks like for each.
Mast Cell Dog Tumors
Krick notes that mast cell tumors are one of the most common type of canine skin tumors. “These grow quickly and are usually red and very itchy,” she says.
That’s because the lumps contain a chemical called histamine, one of the substances responsible for itching associated with allergies. “Histamine tells the stomach to make more acid, so dogs with these tumors are also at risk for gastrointestinal ulcers,” Krick says.
Short-faced dogs—including Boxers, Pugs, and French Bulldogs—are most at risk for mast cell tumors. Typically, these breeds develop lower-grade, less aggressive tumors, while Chinese Shar-Peis are prone to very aggressive mast cell tumors. Unlike many tumors that are significantly more common in older dogs, there is a weaker correlation between age and mast cell tumor susceptibility.
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