May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month.  It was originally created for dermatologists to get the word out, about the seriousness of this disease, signs and symptoms, and the best way to prevent it in the first place.

Half of all adult dogs will get cancer.

Skin cancer is an overgrowth of cells in the sebaceous glands. If overgrowth occurs, a firm, raised bump will appear on the surface of the skin.  Although they are often benign, they can appear anywhere on the body, and can be itchy and become red, inflamed and/or infected.  

Symptoms of Skin Cancer in Dogs Characteristics of skin adenocarcinoma in dogs:

Common in dogs 7 years and older

One or more “wart-like” growths on the skin, 2mm to 1cm in diameter

May appear anywhere but frequently seen on eyelids, face or head

Yellow, brown or black in color

Loss of hair on and/or around the growth

Itchiness Redness or inflammation Bleeding or ulceration

May develop secondary infection

Causes of Skin Cancer in Dogs:

The exact cause of skin adenocarcinomas is unknown.

These growths are not infectious and not transmitted between animals or from animals to humans.

Risk factors include:

Hormonal dysfunction Age (dogs over the age of 7 years)

Genetic predisposition (breeds include Basset Hounds, Beagles, Cairn Terriers, Cocker Spaniels, Dachshunds, Miniature Poodles, Samoyeds, Shih Tzus, Siberian Huskies, and West Highland White Terriers)

Treatment of Skin Cancer in Dogs

Once the veterinarian has examined the growth and cytology, the most common treatment route is surgical removal.

The majority of skin adenocarcinomas are benign, technically an overgrowth of cells rather than a malignant tumor with metastatic potential.

Surgical Removal Surgical removal of small growths can be done under local anesthesia during the veterinary appointment in most cases.

Anesthetic is injected in and around the growth under the skin.

After a few minutes, the growth is cut from the skin with a surgical blade and the area sutured closed and bandaged.

General Surgical removal of larger growths, growths in vulnerable areas (like the eyelid, nose, ears), or growths deep under the skin may require general anesthesia for surgical removal.

An appointment will be made for another day and the pet will undergo surgery to remove the growth and be released the same day if there are no complications.


After surgical removal, the veterinarian may send the growth out for histopathology to determine that the entire mass was indeed excised.


If a skin adenocarcinoma is determined to be malignant, radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy may be used to destroy any remaining cancer cells and prevent growth in other areas.

Rate of regrowth is low with benign skin adenocarcinomas as long as the entire mass has been removed.

Skin adenocarcinomas tend to develop on numerous areas of the skin throughout the years so the pet may require future growths to be removed.

Sebaceous epitheliomas have a higher rate of regrowth and may recur after surgery.

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“The conventional approach is that cancer is a disease separate from the animal.”


“The homeopathic approach is to understand the new growth as generated by the body. It’s the same energy (life force) that grew other parts of the body. So homeopathic treatment doesn’t fight against the growth or see it as separate. Instead, nutrition and homeopathic treatment work with the natural healing mechanisms. They rebalance the life energy so the tumor is no longer needed or supported. ”  ~Richard Pitcairn DVM PhD

Instead of weakening the body, the far more rational (and scientific) approach is to strengthen the body. To give it the nutritional tools that allow it to fight the cancer. At the same time I use appropriate nutritional means that weaken and take the power away from the cancer. ~Ian Billinghurst BV Sc Creator of the BARF Diet. Author of Give Your Dog a Bone, Grow Your Pups With Bones and The BARF Diet.

I like to use a Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine approach. Clean up the food, detox the dog and use herbs as well as acupuncture. I also use herbal chemotherapy agents like Neoplasene and Essiac.  Neoplasene comes from bloodroot extract. It comes in topical, oral and injectable forms. Its role is to cause apoptosis (cell death) in cancer cells. There are many cases showing its successful use in treating tumors. It’s especially good for tumors of the skin (like mast cell tumors and mammary tumors).  Essiac is a herbal formula. It contains burdock root, slippery elm, sheep sorrel and Indian rhubarb root. Canadian nurse Rene Caisse (Essiac is Caisse spelled backwards) invented in the 1920s. Essiac is controversial though. It has many fervent supporters but there are others who doubt its efficacy. Other options include intravenous vitamin C and B vitamins. I’ll also use nutraceuticals in cancer treatments. ~Patricia Jordan DVM Author of Vaccinosis – The Mark of the Beast Hidden in Plain Sight.

CBD oil is also an excellent homeopathic treatment for cancer.  We love the products we carry by Pet Releaf!

Check out this awesome article by Dogs Naturally, with 5 great ways to prevent this horrible disease in your pet…