What You Need to Know about Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Dogs
Underwritten by American Pet Insurance Company

What You Need to Know about Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Dogs

Squamous Cell Carcinoma in dogs can affect any dog regardless of breed, age, or size.

No pet owner wants to hear that their pet is sick. The stress of a sick pet can be devastating and can affect the family emotionally and financially. Naturally, there is no way to predict which pet will become unlucky in health. For instance, medical conditions like squamous cell carcinoma in dogs can occur in any pup, regardless of their breed, size, or age. We sat down with Trupanion veterinarian, Dr. Caroline Wilde to learn more about squamous cell carcinoma in dogs and what watch for in your furry friends.

Everything you need to know about Squamous Cell Carcinoma in dogs

everything you need to know about squamous cell carcinoma in dogs.

What is Squamous Cell Carcinoma in dogs?

With so many medical conditions that can occur at any given time, it can be hard for any new or established pet owner to keep track of everything. Because of this, Wilde breaks down what squamous cell actually is:

Squamous cell carcinoma is a type of cancer that generally occurs on non-pigmented, thinly haired areas of skin, though it can also occur in the mouth, eyelids, or tissues surrounding the eyes.”

How do dogs get squamous cell carcinoma?

Cancer can come in many shapes and forms. Because of this, it can be hard to know what to look for in your pets. Just like with humans, there might not always be a clear indication of the reason for the condition. “It is not known how dogs get SCC, though it may be associated with increased exposure to UV light,” states Wilde. If you detect anything abnormal with your dog, you should seek medical care immediately.

Consider the following common signs of Squamous cell carcinoma in dogs according to Wilde –

SCC of the skin generally appears as:

  • A discrete lesion may be pinkish/reddish in color, and often has an irregular surface

When it occurs in the mouth, ease of detection varies with location, as it can occur on:

  • The gums, under or on the tongue, or deeper in the oral cavity, like on the tonsils

Due to difficulty in visualizing lesions inside the mouth or oral cavity, the owner may first notice:

  •  Drooling
  • Bad breath
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • Weight loss

While every dog is different, some pets might experience some of these signs or only a few. Regardless, if you notice any of these to please check in with your veterinarian. Also, the earlier a medical condition like this is detected, the sooner you can start a treatment plan.


The diagnosis of your dog starts with a biopsy or fine needle aspirate. From there your veterinarian will determine the next steps based off of the results. In addition, several diagnostics might be performed including radiographs, a sample of lymph nodes, ct scan, or ultrasound.

Treatment options for squamous cell carcinoma in dogs

With the expertise and help of your veterinarian, there are a wide variety of treatment options for cancer. Wilde breaks down the treatment process:

“Goal of treatment is always the elimination of all cancerous cells and depends on location and evidence of spread. Treatment may involve surgery, radiation therapy, and sometimes chemotherapy. Surgical removal, if possible (depending on location), is the first step, with the goal being the removal of all cancerous cells. Radiation therapy is indicated when surgery isn’t an option, or when tumor removal was incomplete. Chemotherapy may be indicated, depending on the specific circumstances.”

Trupanion historical claims for Squamous Cell Carcinoma

We sat down with Trupanion’s data team to look at the historical claims when it comes to Squamous Cell Carcinoma.

  • Trupanion has received 1,579 claims from 213 dogs for Squamous Cell Carcinoma
  • The most the Trupanion policy has paid on a claim for Squamous Cell Carcinoma was $10,777 on a Labrador retriever

The importance of a strong family foundation

Without a doubt, your furry friend will need the love and support of their family. No amount of kisses or cuddles could be too much during this transition. Also, your pet might be scared, confused, or in pain during the treatment process. Further, having you there to comfort and hold them can truly help them overcome this battle.

A strong family foundation is important if there is a diagnosis of squamous cell carcinoma in dogs.

Remission is possible

Early detection is always a key factor to a successful treatment plan. Naturally, by notating any new growths, staying on track with your dog’s treatment plan, and checking in with your veterinarian your best friend can obtain remission and be on the road to recovery.

To learn more about Trupanion, call to speak to one of our pet-loving specialists at 888.626.0932.

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