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Tumors on Dog Paws

What Are Tumors on Dog Paws?

Tumors can manifest in various locations on a dog’s body, including their paws. It’s crucial to incorporate paw examination into regular veterinary check-ups to detect any new masses.

Tumors on a dog’s paw typically present as growths resembling masses. They can emerge anywhere on the paw, spanning between toes, on paw pads, and around the nail bed.

There is a range of tumor types affecting dog paws, each with distinct appearances.

For instance, melanomas at the base of nail beds often appear black, while mast cell tumors may exhibit red or pink hues, sometimes with a raw surface. Some may resemble warts. Any newfound growth on your dog’s foot warrants examination by a veterinarian.

Common tumors that can develop on dogs’ toes or feet and potentially be cancerous include melanomas, squamous cell carcinomas, soft tissue sarcomas, mast cell tumors, and plasma cell tumors.

Cancerous tumors have the potential to metastasize to other parts of the body, such as the lymph nodes, lungs, or other organs.

However, not all paw tumors fall into this category. Veterinarians typically collect cell samples for microscopic examination and may recommend sending a mass sample to a laboratory for further analysis by a pathologist.

A paw growth on your canine companion may cause discomfort. Some may lead to wounds or itching, possibly resulting in secondary infections.

While a paw growth isn’t an emergency, prompt veterinary attention is advisable. Early intervention often yields better outcomes than a wait-and-see approach. Your veterinarian can advise whether monitoring or treatment is necessary.

If your veterinarian suggests monitoring the mass at home, be vigilant for changes in size or color, or the development of any sores, and promptly inform them of any such changes.


Signs indicating the presence of a tumor on your dog’s paw include:

  • Noticeable growth in any part of the paw
  • Limping
  • Excessive licking of the foot
  • Bleeding or development of sores on the foot
  • Alterations in nail appearance, such as splitting or falling off


Determining the exact cause of a tumor on your dog’s paw is often challenging for veterinarians.

Some tumors are believed to have a genetic influence. For instance, dogs with black skin may have a heightened predisposition to melanomas.

Breeds that may have an increased susceptibility to melanoma include:

  • Chow Chows
  • Doberman Pinschers
  • Golden Retrievers

Certain breeds are also predisposed to mast cell tumors, including:

  • Boxers
  • Boston Terriers
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Staffordshire Terriers

While ultraviolet (UV) exposure is a recognized factor in human melanoma development, its role in canine melanoma isn’t as firmly established. Nonetheless, veterinarians speculate that UV light might contribute to the development of some canine melanomas. Additionally, dogs frequently develop melanomas in their mouths, which are unlikely to be attributed to sunlight exposure.


When examining your dog’s paw for tumors, veterinarians follow specific diagnostic procedures. They might extract tumor cells using a needle and syringe for microscopic examination. Alternatively, they may send a sample to an external laboratory to identify the tumor type. Since paws are sensitive, sedation might be necessary for this process.

X-rays of the foot may be conducted to assess the impact on nail structure or underlying bone. If malignancy is suspected, your veterinarian may advise lymph node sampling to detect cancer cells.

Additional in-house tests could involve chest X-rays or abdominal ultrasound to detect cancer spread or metastasis.

For more comprehensive evaluation, advanced imaging like a CT scan may be recommended to assess the tumor’s extent and plan surgical intervention. Since most veterinary practices lack CT units, referrals to specialty clinics for such procedures are common.


Treating a tumor on your dog’s paw involves addressing the primary tumor and managing any potential cancer spread.

Surgical removal of a paw tumor can be challenging due to limited skin for closure. In cases of extensive tumors, leg amputation might be recommended. Alternatively, if only one toe is affected, toe amputation could be considered. Your veterinarian will likely advise sending the tumor for evaluation at a reference laboratory to determine its type, aggressiveness, spread, and the completeness of removal.

Incomplete tumor removal may result in recurrence. Surgery duration typically ranges from one to two hours, potentially longer if amputation or reconstruction is required. Costs vary depending on factors like tumor size and the need for amputation, ranging from a few hundred to over a thousand dollars.

Radiation therapy may be suggested for certain tumors, necessitating visits to specialized facilities with sedation for each session.

However, discussions with your veterinarian are essential if your dog’s paw mass is identified as a mast cell tumor.

For pet owners unable to afford extensive treatments, ensuring their pet’s comfort remains a priority. Pain medications like carprofen or gabapentin may be prescribed, and protective measures such as soft booties could prevent mass-related injuries.

Recovery and Management

Recovery typically spans around two weeks following most surgical procedures for paw tumors. During this period, your dog may need to wear a recovery cone as advised by your veterinarian. Adherence to prescribed antibiotics or pain medications is crucial.

For dogs undergoing chemotherapy, regular blood work is necessary due to decreased white blood cell counts, which compromise their ability to fight infections. Promptly inform your veterinarian of any adverse reactions observed in your dog.

Survival rates vary based on tumor type and severity. According to one study, most dogs diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma and undergoing toe amputation survive beyond one year, with survival rates ranging from 50% to 83%. However, survival rates tend to decrease in the second year.

Another study reported that for squamous cell carcinoma, the one-year survival rate was 50%, declining to 18% by the second year post-diagnosis and treatment. Additionally, malignant melanoma exhibited a one-year survival rate of 44%, with only 11% surviving beyond two years.


Preventing tumors on dog paws is often not feasible. However, early detection through regular paw inspections can significantly improve outcomes. Make it a habit to examine your dog’s paws frequently for any abnormalities or changes.

Tumors on Dog Paws FAQs

Why does my dog have lumps on his paws?

Bumps on your dog’s paws can stem from various factors, including cysts and tumors. It’s essential to promptly seek evaluation by a veterinarian for any bumps that appear on your dog’s paws.

What happens when you don’t remove a mast cell tumor from a dog?

Untreated mast cell tumors can lead to the formation of painful open sores, causing discomfort for the dog. As malignant growths, they pose a risk of spreading to other areas of the body, including the lymph nodes, spleen, or liver.

Given the potential fatality of mast cell cancer, surgical removal of mast cell tumors is imperative at the earliest opportunity.

Why is my dog’s paw tumor bleeding?

Certain tumors are inclined to develop bleeding sores, while others may bleed due to your dog’s licking or chewing of the mass. Additionally, tumors may bleed if they are bumped or scraped, which is common with paw tumors.

Can there be benign tumors on dog paws?

Indeed, certain growths that develop on dog paws can be benign. Nonetheless, it’s crucial for any paw growth to be examined by a veterinarian to ascertain whether it is cancerous or benign.

What is a pink growth on my dog’s paw?

A pink growth observed on your dog’s paw warrants veterinary evaluation. While it could signify a cyst or indicate infection, it’s essential to note that pink growths can also manifest as tumors.

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