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wag expert advice | ruff guide: melanoma melanoma: sunny side up Melanomas are tumors that arise from pigment cells found in the skin and mouth. In humans, they’re usually the result of skin damage from too much time in the sun, but this is not the case in dogs. Canine melanomas can be benign or malignant. In general, melanomas on the haired skin of dogs are benign, while those found in the mouth and near the toenails are malignant. Malignant melanomas are aggressive, locally invasive and metastatic. signs + symptoms Signs of melanoma will vary depending on the location: • Skin Melanomas of the haired skin appear as dark, raised masses with well-defined borders. They account for about 5% of all canine skin tumors. • Oral cavity Melanomas in the mouth are firm raised masses. They start out small, but because most owners don’t regularly examine the inside of their dog’s mouth and gums, they can go unnoticed. Dogs with oral melanomas may drool and have trouble chewing. As the mass grows, it can become ulcerated, so you may see blood-tinged saliva or notice a bad odor from the mouth. • Toe Melanomas that occur on the toe may cause the toenail to be easily damaged. Swelling of the toe and lameness are common clinical signs. ewww! 26 fun in the sun issue


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