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Adenocarcinoma of the Sebaceous and Sweat Glands in Dogs

What Is Adenocarcinoma of the Sweat and Sebaceous Glands in Dogs?

Dogs possess two distinct types of sweat glands: apocrine and eccrine. Apocrine sweat glands, distributed at the base of hair follicles throughout the dog’s body, do not produce sweat. Instead, they secrete a thick fluid containing pheromones, aiding dogs in scent-based communication and identification.

Eccrine (or merocrine) sweat glands, akin to those found in humans, emit a clear, odorless fluid primarily through the paws, assisting in temperature regulation. However, sweating remains a secondary cooling mechanism for dogs, with fewer eccrine glands compared to humans. Furthermore, dogs feature sebaceous glands adjacent to hair follicles, known for secreting sebum—an oily substance that moisturizes and safeguards the skin and coat.

Adenocarcinoma, a malignant tumor, can develop in a dog’s skin, encompassing sweat and sebaceous glands. While rare in eccrine glands of the paws, these tumors predominantly manifest on the skin’s surface. Typically, adenocarcinomas present as raised, irregular masses or skin ulcers, commonly occurring in regions like the dog’s “armpits” and groin. Mixed-breed dogs and larger breeds such as German Shepherds and Norwegian Elkhounds are most susceptible to these tumors.


The primary indication of a sweat gland or sebaceous adenocarcinoma is a swiftly emerging bump or mass on the skin, which may exhibit rapid growth. These masses typically have irregular shapes, firm textures, and can match your dog’s skin color or appear differently. While generally not tender to the touch, they might sporadically bleed or release fluids.


The causes of sebaceous adenocarcinoma in dogs are not fully understood. Nonetheless, they tend to be more prevalent in older animals, and specific breeds have a higher likelihood of developing sweat gland sebaceous adenocarcinoma.


When veterinarians suspect a sweat gland or sebaceous adenocarcinoma in dogs, they conduct a thorough examination. This involves reviewing the dog’s medical history and discussing any observed symptoms such as difficulty swallowing or eating, bad breath, and other relevant indicators.

Fine Needle Biopsy:

Your veterinarian might opt for a fine needle biopsy to gather cells from the tumor for microscopic examination. During this procedure, a very fine needle is inserted into the tumor to extract a small cell sample. These cells are then scrutinized under a microscope to ascertain whether they are cancerous.

Surgical Biopsy:

Alternatively, your veterinarian may conduct a surgical procedure to extract either the entirety or a portion of the tumor. The excised tissue is then forwarded to a pathologist, a specialized medical professional, for detailed examination to determine if the tumor is an adenocarcinoma.


Surgical Procedure:

The primary treatment for skin adenocarcinomas involves surgically removing the tumor.


If the tumor cannot be completely removed or if the cancer has spread to the dog’s lymph nodes, chemotherapy may be recommended as a supplementary treatment.

Radiation Therapy:

Additionally, radiation therapy may be prescribed to address skin adenocarcinoma.

Living and Management

After surgery, your veterinarian may recommend medication to alleviate pain and inflammation, coupled with antibiotics to prevent infection. Your dog may need to revisit the veterinarian for follow-up appointments to monitor the surgical site and ensure appropriate healing.

What Is the Survival Rate for Skin Adenocarcinoma in Dogs?

If a sweat gland or sebaceous adenocarcinoma is entirely removed before spreading to other body parts, your dog is likely to fully recover. However, in rare cases, the cancer may spread to nearby areas or even extend to larger regions of the dog’s body.

Adenocarcinoma of the Sebaceous and Sweat Glands in Dogs FAQs

How long can a dog live after being diagnosed with sweat gland, sebaceous adenocarcinoma?

Most dogs lead full lives following diagnosis and treatment for sebaceous adenocarcinomas.

How aggressive is sweat gland, sebaceous adenocarcinoma in dogs?

Skin adenocarcinomas are locally invasive and easily spread to nearby lymph nodes, but they typically do not metastasize to other body parts.

Is sweat skin adenocarcinoma curable in dogs?

Yes, skin adenocarcinomas are curable through surgical removal and chemotherapy, if necessary.

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