- Melanomas in dogs appear to be knobby, fleshy and dark. They also feel solid to touch.
- Relative to the location, these skin tumors can be malignant or benign.
- Tumors found on skin are called cutaneous melanoma. They are generally benign; 85% of melanomas on the skin are benign.
- When tumors are found in mouth, toes, and below their eyes, they tend to be malignant. Worse, these malignant tumors are likely to metastasize to other organs like liver, adrenal glands, lymph nodes, and lungs.
- Tumors in the eyes are called ocular melanoma, while tumors in mouth are known as oral melanoma.
- Meanwhile, tumors in nail bed are called subungual melanoma.
- Skin cancers in dogs occur from abnormal and uncontrolled growth of cells producing melanin, the dark sulfur-containing pigment found in the skin, eyes, hair, and some nerves.
Dog Melanoma Symptoms
Melanoma in dogs is not aggravated by excessive exposure to sunlight. Dark brown and black dogs are even pre-disposed to developing skin cancer. Genetics, too, play an important role in developing melanoma because some domestic dog breeds are more commonly affected.
Typically, melanoma in dogs begins as a single or multiple brown or black nodules on areas which are dark-pigmented like skin and eyelids. These nodules are also common on the dog’s toes, lips, skin of trunks or limbs, and mouth. In rare cases, the mass is unpigmented.
Oral melanomas are aggressive, invasive, very metastatic, and malignant. They show the following signs:
- Halitosis or obvious bad breath
- Ptyalism or excessive salivation
Nail bed melanomas are moderately metastatic and locally invasive. They have the following symptoms:
- Single or multiple raised dark bumps
- Single or multiple raised skin sores
Melanomas in the eyes are benign and rarely metastatic.
- Eye redness
- Changes in the appearance of the eyes
- Swelling around the eyes
- Darkening of the iris of the eye
- Mass near or on the eye
- Ocular pain
- Twitching of muscles around the eye
- Impaired vision
Dog Melanoma Treatment
The objective of any treatment in melanoma in dogs is to relieve the symptoms accompanying the disorder. It shall also restore the quality life of dogs. Part of the treatment is good nursing of dogs and other supportive and medical techniques available. Some of the common treatments of dog melanoma are the following:
- Surgical removal. Mostly, surgical removal of melanoma is followed by a radiation therapy.
- Chemotherapy. With or without surgery, chemotherapy can be administered because of the extremely metastatic nature of some forms of melanoma.
Radiation therapy. In some cases, radiation treatment is recommended even in the absence of surgery or chemotherapy.