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Most Common Cancers in Dogs

Our Cordova vets understand that finding a lump on your canine companion can be upsetting. While many lumps are not cancerous, there are a number of cancers which are commonly found in dogs, and it can be helpful to know the signs of this serious condition.

Types of Cancer in Dogs

Dogs are much loved members of our families and frequently our most loyal of friends. While it can be upsetting just to think about our dog's developing cancer, knowing what the signs and symptoms of cancer in dogs are, means that you may be able to spot symptoms early, giving your pet their best chance of a good treatment outcome. When it comes to cancer in dogs, early diagnosis and treatment are key. 

Dogs can develop many of the same cancers as humans, and with very similar symptoms. Here are some of the most common types of cancer that our Cordova vets see in dogs:


Lymphoma is a very common form of cancer in dogs. Lymphoma is actually a generic term used by vets to describe a group of cancers that stem from a type of white blood cell called lymphocytes which help the immune system to fight off infection. While there are more than 30 different types of lymphoma which dogs can develop, the most common types of dog lymphoma are, multicentric, alimentary, mediastinal and extranodal lymphoma. 

Mast Cell Tumor 

In dogs, most mast cell tumors occur in the skin or just underneath the skin, although they are occasionally reported in other areas, including around eyes, mouth, throat, and spine. Depending on the location of the cancer, these tumors can be difficult for your vet to remove. That said, this type of cancer in dogs can be cured if the tumor is detected early and fully removed.


Like mast cell tumors, melanoma tumors are also found on the dog's skin. Melanoma tumors are frequently benign and easily treated, however malignant melanomas are a serious condition. Sadly, malignant melanoma is prone to spreading quickly to other areas of the dog's body. Typically these tumors are dark-pigmented although they can also lack pigment. Melanoma in dogs is often found in and around the mouth or on the feet.

Osteosarcoma (Bone Cancer) 

Osteosarcoma is a very painful form of bone cancer that is most often found in the larger or longer bones of a dog such as leg bones or pelvis. Although any breed can be affected by this type of cancer, our vets most often see osteosarcoma in larger breed dogs including dobermans, boxers, golden retrievers, German shepherds, Irish wolfhounds, rottweilers, and weimaraners.


This form of cancer is very serious and requires emergency intervention or it may be quickly fatal! Hemangiosarcoma tumors in dog's can grow quite large and are often found in the spleen, but may grow anywhere blood vessels are present and can spread to other organs, including the dog's heart and lungs.


This is a slow spreading form of cancer in dogs but can be difficult to treat. Amputation and radiation are commonly used to treat dog's with fibrosarcoma, in order to prevent recurrence.

Signs of Cancer in Dogs

It can be difficult to detect signs or symptoms of cancer by simply looking at your dog. In fact, even blood work often cannot detect certain cancers in dogs. That said, there are some signs that you can watch for that can indicate your dog may have cancer.

As with people, early detection is the key to positive treatment outcomes when it comes to cancer in dogs. If your dog is displaying any of the following signs, make an appointment to see your vet as soon as possible. 

  • Sores that don't heal
  • Bleeding or discharge
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Strong odor
  • Swelling
  • Lumps or bumps beneath the skin
  • Lethargy, depression, disinterest in exercise
  • Difficult or painful breathing or coughing
  • Straining when going to the bathroom
  • Challenges when eating or swallowing
  • Pain or difficulty walking, lameness or stiffness


As a pet parent it's important to be aware of changes in your dog's behavior and pay attention to any bumps or lumps you may feel while petting and grooming your dog. If your canine friend is displaying one or more of the symptoms listed above, make an appointment to see your vet as soon as possible.

Your Cordova vet may perform a biopsy or other test that will be sent to a lab for testing, as well as palpate your dog to feel for any lumps or bumps. Through testing and a thorough examination, your vet will be able to determine if your dog has cancer and what the best treatment options are.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your dog is showing any of the symptoms listed above or showing other signs of illness contact your vet to schedule an appointment. If your pet is in need of more urgent care, contact Germantown Parkway Animal Hospital in Cordova for help.

Cancer in dogs, Cordova Animal Hospital

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