Dogs can get skin cancer too...and they're at a higher risk in Arizona

Posted at 4:49 PM, Aug 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-05 07:59:54-04

Skin cancer: a disease you probably never thought could affect dogs. However, one pup in a Valley shelter is suffering from multiple skin cancer tumors.

Debbie Wood-Lafave, an employee at Maricopa County Animal Care and Control, is fostering Vic.

“This one is growing into one right here,” she says, pointing to a cancerous lump.

Wood-Lafave has been fostering Vic since he underwent surgery to remove a few of the tumors. He’s being monitored very closely every day to make sure the disease does not spread.

Vic is also the perfect candidate for the disease as he is white, short-haired and has a bare belly. But, Wood-Lafave admits, the idea that all dogs are susceptible to skin cancer is new information to her.

"I have never heard of it either," Wood-Lafave exclaimed. "I mean, I just didn't think about it."

But, skin cancer in dogs is not so surprising to MCACC's chief veterinarian doctor Leo Egar.
"Oh, we probably see three to five [dogs] a week — at least," Doctor Egar said.

He explained that any dog who has a prolonged exposure to the sun is at risk, especially in Arizona.

Doctor Egar said as much as your pet may love to sunbathe, do not let them lounge too long.

“Make friends with your dog," Egar explained. "Spend lots of time brushing your hands through the coat once a week. Make it a point to kind of do a little pet self-exam. Make sure there's no lumps or bumps the are concerning anybody and that we need to get looked at."

And even though dogs like Vic are more likely to get skin cancer, Doctor Egar said even full coated animals, like Alaskan Huskies or Golden Retrievers, can get the disease too. That is why he suggests being even more methodical about checking those pets who can hide lumps and bumps in their fur.

Vic will be OK as they caught it early enough. But again, he will have to be carefully monitored.
But, he is looking for a loving home to be his sun shield. If you are interested, contact MCACC.