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Skin Cancer (Squamous Cell Carcinoma) in Dogs

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The course of treatment will depend on how large your dog's tumor is and how many tumors there are. In some cases, when sores are diagnosed before they become cancerous, they can be treated with topical medication.


If your dog only has one small tumor that has not spread to other organs, it may be removed by cryosurgery - freezing technique, or with a special type of light therapy called photodynamic therapy. It may also be surgically removed.


If your dog has a large tumor, it will be treated with surgery. During surgery, the tumor and a lot of the tissue surrounding it will be removed to ensure that all of the caner cells are removed. In some cases, so much tissue may be removed during surgery that skin will need to be taken from another area of the body and used to cover the area where the tumor was, a technique called skin grafting.


Some cases will result in a more severe removal of tissue. For example, tumors that are on the toes require amputation of the affected toe, and tumors on the nose will require a partial removal of the nose. If the tumor is found on the ear, part of the ear will be removed. These types of surgeries will result in a cosmetically different appearance for your dog, but otherwise, dogs recover well from these surgeries.


If the tumor cannot be completely removed, your veterinarian may recommend radiation or chemotherapy after surgery. Sometimes, when surgery is impractical, chemotherapy and radiation are used solely to treat tumors. In this case, the chemical treatment will keep the tumor from growing as quickly and help to make your cat more comfortable.


Living and Management


After surgery, or while your dog is being treated for the tumor, you should expect your dog to feel sore. Your veterinarian will give you pain medication for your dog to help minimize discomfort. Use pain medications with caution; one of the most preventable accidents with pets is overdose of medication. Follow all directions carefully. You will need to limit your dog's activity while it heals, setting aside a quiet place for it to rest, away from household activity, children, and other pets. It might be practical to consider cage rest for your dog, to limit its physical activity. Your veterinarian will tell you when it is safe for your dog to take exercise again. Until then, only take your dog for short walks.


It is important to monitor your dog's food and water intake while it is recovering. If your dog does not feel up to eating, you may need to use a feeding tube or a high protein liquid supplement so that it is getting all of the nutrition it needs to completely recover. Your veterinarian will show you how to use the feeding tube correctly, and will assist you in setting up a feeding schedule.


If you are treating your dog with a topical medication for its sores, it is important to follow all of your veterinarian’s instructions. You will probably need to wear gloves to apply the medication.


After your cat has recovered, your veterinarian will set up a schedule for regular progress checks. Recurrence is possible, so your doctor will check for any new tumors, and x-rays of the chest and abdomen will be taken to see if there are any new tumors in the lungs or internal organs.


A full recovery will be dependent on the size and location of the tumor.




Limit the amount of time your dog spends in the sun, especially between the hours of 10:00 am and 2:00 pm, when the sun is at its highest and the rays most damaging. When you must take your dog outdoors during daylight hours, apply sunscreen to your dog's ears, nose, and other areas that are either lightly furred or colored before going out in the sun. In some cases, tattoos can be applied to light colored skin as a permanent sunscreen. If you notice any new sores or masses, take your dog to the veterinarian as soon as possible so that it can be treated immediately.



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