Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

Skin and Toe Cancer (Melanocytic) in Dogs

Melanocytic Tumors of the Skin and Digits in Dogs

Melanocytic tumors, originating from melanocytes and melanoblasts, represent both benign and malignant growths in dogs. They do not appear to stem from genetic factors. However, certain breeds, particularly males including Scottish Terriers, Boston Terriers, Airedale Terriers, Cocker Spaniels, Boxers, English Springer Spaniels, Irish Setters, Irish Terriers, Chow Chows, Chihuahuas, Schnauzers, and Doberman Pinschers, demonstrate a susceptibility to this condition. Additionally, dogs aged 10 years or older are more prone to developing melanocytic tumors. Notably, these tumors can also manifest in both dogs and cats.

Symptoms and Types

Melanocytic tumors can arise in various regions of a dog’s body, with a higher incidence noted on the face, trunk, feet, and scrotum. Depending on where they appear, these tumors may exhibit pigmentation or lack thereof. Additionally, nearby lymph nodes could swell in response to the affected area. The growth of these masses may occur gradually or rapidly. In advanced stages, the dog may experience respiratory difficulties or emit harsh lung sounds due to cancer metastasis to the lungs. Moreover, if the tumors spread to a limb, the dog might display lameness or struggle with walking.


At present, the cause of melanocytic tumors in dogs remains unidentified.


To differentiate amelanotic melanoma from poorly differentiated mast cell tumors, lymphoma, and carcinoma, cell examination and special stains are employed in diagnosis. Additionally, veterinarians may utilize X-rays to assess potential bone compromise, particularly in cases where the tumor affects a toe or digit.


Treatment options vary based on the tumor’s severity and location. Your veterinarian may opt for surgical removal, particularly if the tumor is deemed severe. Additionally, chemotherapy might be recommended if surgical removal is incomplete or if the cancer has metastasized to other vital organs.

Living and Management

Regular follow-up exams, scheduled every three months for 24 months after surgery, are essential for early detection of recurrence, as advised by your veterinarian. If you suspect the mass has returned at any point, it’s crucial to promptly bring your dog back to the veterinarian for evaluation.

Scroll to Top