Skin Tumors and Emergency Vet Care
The skin is the largest human organ. It is also the largest organ of many pets, including cats and dogs. Skin cells grow extremely fast. However, sometimes their growth is abnormal and when this happens, it can cause something called a tumor. Skin tumors seen in pets are the same as those seen in humans. Some aren’t anything to worry about and will go away of their own accord in a matter of time. Others are more concerning, and may require prompt, evasive action to prevent them from having a considerable impact on the health of your pet.
What does a skin tumor look like?
Exactly what a skin tumor looks like can vary tremendously. While papilloma tumors look cauliflower-like in appearance, melanomas tend to appear as dark brown or black patches or lumps. If you notice a lump, swelling or any sort of patch of skin that looks unusual or different to before, we would recommend that you get it checked out as soon as possible. If you can’t get a regular appointment quickly, consider taking your pet to a walk-in emergency veterinary clinic so that she can be assessed quickly.
Most common types of skin tumor in pets
There are some types of skin tumor that are more common than others. These include the following three varieties:
Mast Cell Tumors
Mast cell tumors are one of the most commonly diagnosed malignant tumors in dogs and cats. Mast cells usually play a role in your pet’s body’s response to inflammation and allergens. When tumors form, they are usually discovered as individual masses. However, some pets will experience multiple mast cells tumors.
Although most people associate melanomas with skin cancer, in pets, melanoma tumors are nearly always benign. They usually appear individually and look like small, dark masses that can be wrinkled or smooth. If your pet is unfortunate enough to be diagnosed with a malignant (cancerous) melanoma, aggressive treatment will be required if she is to survive.
Hair Follicle Tumors
As you might guess from the name, these tumors occur in the hair follicles of pets and are nearly always benign. Surgical removal is normally successful, and pets go on to make a full recovery.
How are skin tumors diagnosed?
Skin tumors in pets can only be diagnosed by a professional veterinarian. This process may involve a series of tests including bloodwork, urinalysis, ultrasounds, radiographs and a biopsy of the tumor itself using a process called fine needle aspirate (FNA). This is where a very fine needle is placed into the mass to remove a sample of the abnormal cells so that they can be looked at under a microscope.
It can be difficult for busy owners to schedule veterinary visits at a convenient time, particularly if they pick a renowned local practice where appointments are in high demand. If your pet has a skin tumor or mass that you are concerned about and you feel that an appointment cannot wait due to symptoms your furbaby has or an inability to see your vet at the usual time, don’t hesitate to visit a walk-in emergency vet clinic instead. In the event that your pet’s tumor is malignant, prompt treatment could make a difference to the outcome of her situation.