How to Protect Your Dog from Skin Cancer

Dog Shade Pet Shade
June 28, 2022

Just like humans, dogs can get skin cancer. Dogs can have skin tumors, with mastocytomas (mast cell tumors) being the most prevalent ones. But not all growths are malignant. The most typical growths in dogs are lipomas (under the skin masses).

Although genetic factors, hormones, and some types of viruses play a part, all pets are susceptible to skin cancer, particularly in their hairless areas. Such as the ears, abdomen, paw pads, and nose. Too much sun exposure can lead to the animal developing skin cancer.

Luckily, you can prevent skin cancer in dogs. With practical dog shade ideas and other useful tactics, you can give the dog the protection it needs. Here is a more detailed outlook on melanoma on dogs.

How Can Dogs Get Skin Cancer?

Skin cancer in dogs can have a range of causes. Just like with humans, genes have a major role to play, making the skin more susceptible to carcinoma. As a matter of fact, genes are considered the number one risk factor for a dog to develop skin cancer.

Other triggers can include:

  • Excessive sun exposure
  • Chemicals present in the environment
  • Some types of viruses
  • Hormonal abnormalities

Many people think that dogs don’t need protection from the sun’s UV rays. They are animals after all. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Skin carcinoma and sunburn can occur in canines that spend too much time under direct sunlight.

Although the majority of dogs have hair that acts as a natural sunscreen, the constant UV exposure will leave a mark. Anytime dog sunburn is visible as flaky, warm, or reddened skin, then move the animal inside or bring them to an outdoor dog shade.

Even if smearing pet sunscreen can come in handy, it won’t always be 100% effective. The best way to keep the animals safe is to provide them with a dog sunshade or keep them indoors. The reason for that is relatively simple – dogs too have sensitive skin.

And some breeds get sunburned more easily than others. Such as the hairless breeds. Like the Hairless Terrier, Chinese Crested, and Xoloitzcuintli. Including those with thin or white coats and light-colored eyelids or noses. For example, Dalmatians, Whippets, and Collies.

How Do You Know If Your Dog Has Skin Cancer?

What does skin cancer in dogs look like? How do I know if my dog has melanoma? These are common questions people ask when they are worried. The dog's skin cancer symptoms will vary based on the type of ailment the animal is dealing with. Including the location of the affected area.

Most of the time, dogs experience a drop in weight, reduced appetite, and lethargy. If the joint or bone is affected, then there can be swelling of the limb. If there is a tumor in the lung, then the animal might have trouble breathing, exercising, or coughing.

Here is a classic example of the dog skin cancer types and the ways you can recognize them.

  • Squamous cell carcinomas – These tumors look like a wart. They are raised and firm. They tend to appear close to the genitals or on the abdomen. If they do emerge on the feet, then your dog may have trouble walking.
  • Melanomas – Benign cases develop on spots where the body is covered with hair. They can be very small or grow to over 2.5 inches in diameter. They could also have a red, gray, brown, or black color. Whereas malignant cases often emerge on the toenail beds, lips, mouths, and pads of the feet.
  • Mast cell tumors – Most of the time, these skin carcinomas develop on the trunk of the body. But they can also emerge on the legs, roughly 25% of the time. Causing rubber-like and inflamed sores. They tend to grow slowly. But, when they are aggressive, they can grow a lot faster. Causing inflammation and sores.
  • Histiocytic cell tumors – Canines with hemophagocytic histiocytic sarcoma tend to feel drained. They can have severe anemia, bleeding, bruising, yellow, or pale gums.
  • Spindle cell tumors – These tumors can look different and can form on the limbs. They can also invade the surrounding structures and hinder their function. In some cases, the tumors could get infected, ulcerate, or bleed.
Dog ShadeDog Shade

How Can I Protect My Dog's Skin?

Some carcinomas can be prevented. Just like the human body, many cancers in dogs are the result of a genetic predisposition, which may be tricky to avoid. But, when you put together a practical protection strategy, you can curb the odds of your dog experiencing this type of ailment. You can use a dog sunscreen and an outdoor dog sun shade to set your pet’s health on the right track.


Sunburns can cause secondary infections, skin damage, and skin cancer in dogs. That’s because the fur won’t always be enough to protect the dog from the harmful rays of the sun. Every dog breed can benefit from proper sun protection. But, the dogs that are most prone to sunburn can experience the biggest benefit.

Sunscreen is very important for dogs at higher risk of skin carcinoma and sunburns. These include dogs who:

  • Have been shaved
  • Are experiencing hair loss
  • Have light/white skin or coat
  • Have super thin coats

You should be smearing sunscreen on your pet if they are spending more than a couple of minutes under direct sunlight. The dog likes to lie down in a warm and sunny spot. This is a key protection tactic when the sunlight is at its peak between 10 am and 2 pm. Like when doing boat rides, taking a walk at the park, going to the beach, etc.

Talk to your vet about which pet sunscreen to use. Canines need specifically formulated products that are non-toxic. Sunscreens should offer at least 30-factor sun protection and be waterproof. Especially if your dog is spending time outside in hot climates. Products such as these are easy to apply and smell wonderful on the skin.

They can also have potent moisturizing properties, which can be highly beneficial for the dog’s skin. Opt for sunscreens that don’t contain any harsh ingredients or zinc oxide, as zinc oxide can be toxic to dogs. If the skin is showing any signs of irritation, then consult your vet. You might need to change the brand and find the option that is best tailored toward your dog’s skin.

Outdoor dog shadeOutdoor dog shade

Protect Your Pets!

Give your pet protection from the elements wherever it’s needed. The portable ShelterLogic Pet Shelter is designed to give pets a comfortable place to avoid the blazing hot sun.
The 1 inch diameter steel frame gives the pet shelter strength and stability. The heavy duty 300D polyester cover is engineered to keep your pet cool.
The shelter includes 15 in. auger anchors to keep it secured to the ground for safety.

A Dog Shade

In the summer, it’s a good idea to have a couple of dog shade ideas at hand. That’s because the heat can take its toll. So, you would be providing your dog with adequate shade and water to keep them cool, safe, and hydrated. Having an outdoor dog shade, they can depend on comes a long way.

Your canine friend can experience heatstroke without water and shade. Dog houses don’t offer proper ventilation. So, the dog can end up feeling like it is stuck in a “hot box” rather than a cool resting place. Ideally, you would bring the pet indoors on a very hot day. But, when that is not possible, then make a cool shady area available for them.

If you are in the mood for some dog sun shade ideas, then planting an umbrella stand can be a good choice. You would be creating a great dog sun shade canopy. Other people also like to tie a fabric roof for shade. Both options can prevent some light but will still let moisture and the hot air through. What you need is a solution that won’t block the breeze but will avoid the harsh sun rays.

That’s where a product like the ShelterLogic Pet Shades can turn the tide. It offers pets a comfy place to stay cool while allowing for adequate airflow and a great view in different directions. You can use this dog sunshade at the beach, lawn, patio, or deck.

It is a portable and convenient product that you can set up in a couple of minutes. And fold it back up when you don’t need it. This is a long-term solution and a functional dog sun shade to have on the go. Particularly if you are traveling a lot and taking the dog on journeys with you.

Dog Skin Cancer is Preventable

Canines can experience skin carcinoma. And not all dog skin cancers are the same. But some varieties can be triggered by excessive sun exposure. Luckily, some of these ailments can be prevented. Applying sunscreen and making sure the dog spends time under the shade can all make for a worthwhile strategy. Don’t forget to do regular vet check-ups. The vet can take a closer look at your pet’s overall health.

They can spot any cancerous or non-cancerous growth, such as lipomas, skin tags, or other problems. Anything you consider unusual, like a discolored area or a strange lump, is best that you mention to your veterinarian. They will inform you if the color, shape, and size of the growth is a particular health problem. Now that you know how to spot the ailment, its signs, and its impact, you will have an easier time taking care of your canine friend.

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