Warning to dog owners: Your pet can get skin cancer too

PHOENIX, Az. — A warning for dog owners: don’t let your pup bask in the sun for too long. Pups can get cancer too, just like humans.

Debbie Wood-Lafave, who works at Maricopa County Animal Care and Control in Phoenix, Arizona, also fosters a dog with skin cancer. “Vic” was unfortunately the perfect candidate to get it, with his white, short fur and bare belly.

“He has skin cancer. It’s not a one-time fix,” Wodd-Lafave says.

For Debbie and most people, the idea that all dogs are susceptible to skin cancer was surprising.

Wood-Lafave says, “I have never heard of it either. I mean, I just didn’t think about it.”

But, skin cancer is not so surprising to MCACC’s Chief Veterinarian, Dr. Leo Egar.

“Oh, we probably see three to five a week, at least,” he says.

Doctor Egar says any dog with a prolonged exposure to the sun is at risk, especially in Arizona. He advises, as much as your pet may love to sunbathe, don’t let them lounge for too long.

Dr. Egar says, “So, really make friends with your dog; spend lots of time brushing your hands through the coat once a week; make it a point to kind of do a little pet self exam; make sure there’s no lumps or bumps that are concerning anybody and that we need to get looked at.”

As for Vic, his lumps were found soon enough to save his life. So, now he’s at the shelter, looking to go home with someone who will be both his sun shield and his cuddle partner. Vic will still have to be monitored because his cancer can return.