We tend to think of cancer as a human disease, but it can also affect dogs. Skin cancer, in particular, is a real risk to canine health. Approximately 33%of tumors in dogs begin in the skin, with one-third of them being malignant. You can start taking important steps to prevent dog skin cancer in your furry friend today.

Watch For Dog Skin Cancer Risk Factors

Although you can never predict if your dog will get cancer, there are some factors that could increase your dog’s risk. Some breeds are more prone to skin cancer because of their pale skin or thin hair, such as white pit bulls and white boxers. Try to protect them from the sun as much as possible.

Pugs, as well as Labrador and Golden Retrievers, are also more prone to skin cancer. If you own one of these breeds, you’ll want to discuss with your veterinarian how to minimize their skin cancer risk.

How much time your dog spends in the sun makes a difference. The longer your pup spends under the harsh UV rays, the more the risk of getting dog skin cancer increases. If your dog spends a lot of time outdoors, be sure there are plenty of areas to rest in the shade. Remember, even lying in the sun indoors— such as on the floor next to a window— can result in your dog getting too much sun.

Regularly Check Your Pet

One of the most important things you can do is check your dog for signs of cancer regularly. You can do this by looking at their skin all over for anything that seems strange, including on the stomach, and both between toes and on the pads of their feed.

Look for lumps, swelling, a persistent sore, or areas of color change. If you find any of these signs, you should have your pet checked out immediately by a veterinarian. Early detection can save Fido’s life!

For more information about signs of dog cancer, visit this guide to common dog diseases from the ASPCA.

Apply Dog Sunscreen

Learn what you can do to prevent dog skin cancerDogs need sunscreen just like humans do, but be sure to choose a non-toxic product that is safe for dogs. Certain ingredients in human sunscreen, like PABA, could harm your dog if they lick it off. A good tip is to choose a sunscreen that’s made specifically for dogs.

When applying sunscreen to your dog, pay special attention to its ears and muzzle as the delicate skin in these areas are most often exposed to the sun. You may also want to use a nose and paw balm to help soothe and hydrate any dry or cracked skin.

Heading out to the beach? Check out our guide for dog beach safety tips.

Avoid Peak Sun Hours

Don’t walk your dog when the sun is at its hottest, which is usually at around two or three in the afternoon but could begin earlier on hotter days. It’s safer to let Fido out early in the morning or around sunset. This also prevents the sun’s UV rays from reflecting off white surfaces or the sidewalk, which can also increase cancer risk.

Cancel That Haircut

If you get your dog’s fur cut drastically or shaved off during summer, you may want to reconsider. “Summer Shaves” makes your pup more vulnerable to the sun’s damaging rays. Make sure you keep at least an inch or two of his fur intact all year round.

Diet and exercise are an important part of your dog’s health, but so is the rest of their lifestyle! Remember that too much sun exposure can lead to skin cancer no matter how healthy your dog otherwise is. Boost Fido’s sun protection daily to prevent dog skin cancer and keep his tail wagging.


This guest post was written by Jackie Edwards.

Remember: All data, information, and advice reflect the views of the authors alone and in no way reflect those of Pawstruck.com. Everything is provided on an as-is basis and every situation is different. Always consult a veterinarian with safety and health-related questions.