Mast cell tumors are among the most common cancers diagnosed in dogs and are usually found in the skin and subcutaneous regions of the body. They are considered to be malignant, meaning that they can spread to other areas of the body and eventually become fatal if untreated.
The first step in treating this condition is a thorough physical examination by a veterinarian. This will include an exam of the affected area and a blood test to determine if the dog has any underlying health problems such as diabetes or cancer. The veterinarian may recommend additional tests such as X-rays, ultrasound, or CT scans to determine if there is any evidence of metastasis (spread) elsewhere in the body.
If it is determined that your dog has a mast cell tumor then treatment options will depend on what type of tumor it is:
Cutaneous: These tumors occur on top of the skin but do not spread beyond its borders; they may require surgical removal along with radiation therapy to ensure complete removal from the body.
Subcutaneous: These tumors occur under the skin but do not penetrate deeper than 1 cm into surrounding muscle tissue; these types of tumors may require radiation therapy followed by surgery.
Dogs At Most Risk
They occur most often in older dogs but can also happen in younger ones. Mast cell tumors are more common in certain dog breeds, including:
- English bulldogs
The cause of mast cell tumors is unknown. Some factors that may increase your dog’s risk include:
- Being female (female dogs have a higher risk)
- Being overweight or obese
- Having a history of allergies