Attention dog owners: your pet can get skin cancer too

Posted at 4:56 PM, Aug 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-11 16:56:47-04

When you think of skin cancer, you think of your own skin and ways to protect yourself from Florida's sun but pet owners don't realize dogs are at risk too. 

"We had no idea about skin cancer in dogs," said Trevor Beam.

Beam had to take five-year-old Zane, a German Shepherd and Golden Retriever mix, to Timberlane Pet Hospital in Plant City last year when another veterinarian could not figure out what was on his left ear. 

You can see in this picture that Zane had a skin tag on his ear, and when it was removed for a bioscopy it came back that it was a tumor on his ear.

Zane had half of his ear removed.

"Everyone always says he looks pretty happy and we say yeah, he's a happy dog," said Beam.

Dr. Christy Layton, veterinarian at Timberlane Pet Hospital said it's important for pet owners to run their hands through their pets' fur. 

"If you feel anything, any bumps or scabs, or thickening of the skin, those are all the important things to look for," she said.

Dr. Layton says she sees dogs every week with possible skin cancer so she suggests if you find any skin tags to consult with your veterinarian. 

Other things to look out for --- sunburns. 

Cain, 2, can be seen in this picture with a sunburn after a day at the beach in the Bay area. 

Dogs most at risk include light colored or short hair as well as light colored eyes. 

To prevent sunburns, you can purchase pet sunscreen specifically for animals or you can use a human sunscreen as long as it does not contain zinc oxide. 

Layton says to check the ingredients anytime you put anything on your pet because they often lick themselves and it can be ingested. 

Also, if your dog has long hair they can be at risk too. 

Teddy, an Old English Sheepdog has an abundant amount of hair but his nose can be at risk of skin cancer as well as his belly.