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What is Foot or Toe Cancer?

One-third of all dogs get cancer, and it is fatal for half of those. As a matter of fact, cancer is the leading cause of 50% of the deaths in older dogs (10 years and over). The most important thing about cancer is finding and treating it early. There are several different types of foot and toe cancer in dogs and each have unique symptoms, causes, diagnoses, and prognoses. For that reason, it is essential to be vigilant with your dog’s health and grooming so you can pick up on some of the subtle changes that can give you early warning of cancer, such as swelling, sores that will not heal, and deformed or missing toenails.

Foot or toe cancer (digital and soft tissue cancer), which can include squamous cell carcinoma, melanoma, osteosarcoma, mast cell tumor, and malignant soft tissue sarcoma is common in dogs. Each of these types of cancer has their own set of symptoms and treatment, but the main symptom in all of these is a swelling or ulcer on the foot or toe. If the cancer is found before it metastasizes (spreads), it can usually be completely contained by amputating the affected toe or foot.

Foot or Toe Cancer Average Cost

From 64 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $12,000

Average Cost

$7,500

Symptoms of Foot or Toe Cancer in Dogs

Each type of foot or toe cancer has its own set of symptoms, which are:

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

  • Swollen toe or foot
  • Sore or ulceration on toe that will not heal
  • Crusted lump on toe/foot
  • Deformed toenail
  • Pain in foot
  • Limping
  • Unable to walk

Melanoma

  • Loose or missing toenail
  • Swelling of foot or toe
  • Sore that will not heal on toe/foot
  • Foot pain
  • Limping
  • Inability to walk
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss

Osteosarcoma

  • No symptoms in many cases
  • Swelling
  • Limping
  • Pain in affected limb

Mast Cell Tumor

  • Swollen toes/foot
  • Pain in toes/foot
  • Sores or ulcer on toes/foot
  • Limping
  • Deformed toe or toenail
  • Nail loss

Malignant Soft Tissue Sarcoma

  • Swelling of the toe/foot
  • Pain in the affected area
  • Large lump in foot/toe
  • Limping
  • Inability to walk
  • Misshapen toe or toenail

 Types

Squamous cell carcinoma is a skin cancer that is usually easy to see and has an excellent chance of survival if found and treated early enough. Malignant melanoma is a fast-moving cancer made up of darkly pigmented skin cells most often in dogs with dark skin and fur, such as the Terrier and Doberman Pinscher. Osteosarcoma is a common bone tumor found most often in giant dog breeds, such as Great Danes older than seven years. Mast cell tumor is a change in malignancy of the cells that affect allergic reactions that affect Bulldogs and Boxers most often. Malignant soft tissue sarcoma is a connective tissue disorder usually right under the skin that is easily detected by owners when grooming or petting.

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Causes of Foot or Toe Cancer in Dogs

Squamous cell carcinoma

  • Exposure to sunlight and UV light
  • Dark coated dogs (Black Labrador, Poodle)
  • Large dogs (i.e. Rottweiler, Black Labrador, Giant Schnauzer, and Standard Poodle)

Malignant melanoma

  • Unlike people, it does not seem to be caused by the sun
  • Dark skinned dogs with dark fur (i.e. Terrier, Doberman Pinscher)

Osteosarcoma

  • Giant breeds (i.e. Great Dane, German Shepherd)
  • Older dogs (over seven years old)

Mast cell tumor

  • Boxer
  • Bulldog

Malignant soft tissue sarcoma

  • Unknown
  • Large breeds (i.e. Doberman Pinscher, Rottweiler, Labrador)
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Diagnosis of Foot or Toe Cancer in Dogs

The veterinarian will do a complete and thorough physical examination including body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate. You should be prepared to give the veterinarian your dog’s complete medical history, when the symptoms started, and whether the symptoms have gotten worse. Any changes in diet, exercise, and personality should be noted as well. The veterinarian will also need to run some tests on your dog, such as:

  • Complete blood count (CBC)
  • Blood gas
  • Blood chemistry panel
  • Urinalysis
  • Stool sample
  • Fine needle aspiration of swelling or lump
  • Biopsy
  • Digital radiographs (x-rays) of affected area and possible areas of spread

If the veterinarian suspects the cancer may have spread he will need to do some more tests, such as an MRI, CT scan or ultrasound.

 

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Treatment of Foot or Toe Cancer in Dogs

Squamous cell carcinoma and malignant melanoma are both treated by immediate removal of the affected area. If the cancer has metastasized (spread) amputation of the toe, foot, or limb is necessary and depends on how much the cancer has spread. Osteosarcoma usually requires surgery to remove the affected toe, and possibly the foot as well. Mast cell tumors are graded low, intermediate, or high after removal, and may require more tissue or the entire limb being amputated. Chemotherapy is usually recommended if the grade of the tumor is intermediate or high. Malignant soft tissue sarcoma is graded between low, intermediate, and high. Low and intermediate are treated with surgery to remove the tumor as well as the tissue surrounding the area. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy may also be needed for both intermediate and high-grade.

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Recovery of Foot or Toe Cancer in Dogs

The recovery chances for your dog depends on the type of cancer, grade of the tumor, and if it has spread. In many cases, if you have found the cancer early and were able to get treatment right away, chances of recovery is good. Unfortunately, some of these cancers are fast moving and recurring so the survival rate may only be about 10 to 12 months. Be sure to follow up with your veterinarian when you are supposed to and always let him know if there are any changes in your dog’s condition.

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Foot or Toe Cancer Average Cost

From 64 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $12,000

Average Cost

$7,500

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Foot or Toe Cancer Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Mixed

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9 months

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Unknown severity

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2 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Lump On Foot

Small lumps showed up 5 days ago. Pup is holding up foot when standing, but walks fine. It seems painful. Vet probed first bump which had a small scab and didn't find anything. Put him on novox for pain and antibiotic. 2nd bump showed up yesterday. It's small and smooth - not ulcerated. Any help is appreciated!

July 16, 2020

Owner

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Jessica N. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for reaching out. If the problem is not improving I highly recommend reaching out to your veterinarian to follow up. Your veterinarian may need to do some further testing to assess what the cause of the lumps are since therapy is not causing resolution of them. I hope he feels better soon!

July 16, 2020

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Alfie

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Labrador Retriever

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2 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Redness
Lump
Iritating
Bubble Like

My 2yr old lab has a medium size lump on his toe is circle and red not painfull no limping just irritating soft to touch but he keeps nibbling it bit hun in it look like it is filled with some fluid and it sits on his toe between his web paws

Aug. 8, 2018

Alfie's Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

Without examining Alfie I cannot determine whether the lump is something to be concerned about or just due to some localised irritation; you should place a cone on Alfie to prevent further nibbling and bathe the area twice per day with a dilute antiseptic and apply a little Neosporin, if there is no improvement or it gets worse visit your Veterinarian. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 8, 2018

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Teegan

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Rottweiler

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7 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Redness
Limping
Swelling,
Overgrown Nail
Broken Nail

Hello, my dog was just diagnosed with cancer in one of her toe. Teegan is a 7 years old female Rottweiler mix in really good overall health. She is scheduled to have the toe completely removed tomorrow. The reason why I’m reaching out to you is to get your opinion on this situation. Her veterinarian has done a chest X-ray and found no other sign of cancer and is confident that after removing that toe that the chance of her developing another tumor are slim. I’d like to know from your experience if it is in fact rare that another tumor will appear after one was removed. Thanks for your time. Max

July 31, 2018

Teegan's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

It really depends on the type of tumour on the toe, there are different types of cancers which may be benign or malignant and different malignant tumours spread at different rates; there are varying statistics on recurrence and spread but again it depends on the specific type of cancer. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 1, 2018

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Lexy

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Goldendoodle

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14 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Limping
Swollen Toe W Nail Infection

Lexy had 3 toes amputated over a period of 4 months due to squamous cell carcinoma. She is a black goldendoodle who will be 15 in September. The first amputation was a year ago, and the vet said that each time he removed all the cancer plus large margins around it. Each toe was on a different foot. Now she has another toe showing symptoms. She is limping badly. It's on a front paw that already has lost a middle toe. We just put her on antibiotics and she's taking Novox for discomfort. After we finish the course of cephalexin, we'll consider what to do next. The question is, because of her age, what is the value of amputation? She still seems healthy. Her lungs and breathing are good. Her heart is good. But with two toes missing on that foot, will that make life difficult for her? If we don't do surgery, what is the likelihood that the cancer will spread so slowly that the only thing she will be dealing with is a limp? At 15, she probably has about a year left. Do we amputate, and keep that cancer at bay, but make it difficult for her to use that foot, or do we leave it alone, treat the symptoms, and help her have happy and comfortable final months/years? Read more at: https://wagwalking.com/condition/foot-or-toe-cancer

July 11, 2018

Lexy's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

I'm not sure that I can answer this question for you very well, as it really is a personal decision for you. I'm not sure how quickly the previous tumors have come and gotten worse, so it is hard for me to say whether you will have a little time, or more time with her if you don't amputate. Whether she'll have problems with mobility depends on the toes affected. Since I cannot see her, it would be a good idea to have an honest conversation with your veterinarian, let them know your concerns, and see what the risks and benefits of both doing the surgery and leaving the cancer might be. I hope that you have more time with her.

July 11, 2018

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Dozer

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Labrador Retriever

dog-age-icon

10 Years

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Serious severity

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1 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Weight Loss
Lethargy
Not Playful
Cannot Chew
Teeth Separating
Huffing
Tumor On Hind Foot

My almost 11 year old male Labrador retriever was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in February. Over this past weekend his face has changed, his teeth are separating and he won't chew his food but instead swallows it whole. He has an tumor on his hind paw but is not limping. He is currently on prednisone daily and spends a lot of his day sleeping but he is also a senior. He is still wagging his tail, drinking water, eating (although not chewing), and going to the bathroom normally. He almost huffs when he breathes and has become very clingy and wide eyed. How will I know if he's in severe pain or that it's time?

July 9, 2018

Dozer's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

That does sound like you may not have much time left with Dozer, and I am sorry. What I often recommend is to make a list of things that Dozer always loved to do. As he stops being able to do those things, it will get to a point where his quality of life has decreased to the point where it isn't fair. Dogs will wag their tails far past when they are suffering, so that is not a great indicator of pain. Your veterinarian will be able to help you assess him, as well. I hope that you have him for a while longer.

July 10, 2018

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Wilson

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Jack Russell Terrier

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9 Years

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Moderate severity

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3 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Ulcerated Tumour

My 9 year old Jack Russell has a lump behind his front paw pad which became ulcerated quite quickly. Biopsy came back clear but it would not clear up with steroids etc. We tried all sorts of medications. We got a second specialist opinion and had the mass removed. Because of the location it couldn’t be removed totally and unfortunately it was cancerous. We knew it would grow back eventually and was prepared to have his leg amputated as and when it became uncomfortable for him. Unfortunately he then lost his eyesight quite rapidly (within a couple of months). We now do not think we can amputate his leg now that he his blind as his quality of life will be very limited so will make the decision to have him sadly PTS when the time comes. Is this the right thing to do?

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rodney

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Beagle

dog-age-icon

9 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Licking

My dog is having surgery on Mon. We will find out whether it is cancerous or benign. What are the odds that this will turn out benign. He has large mass in between toes. The vet will remove and take out toe. His blood work came out great no elevated white or red blood cells.

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Hagan

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Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier

dog-age-icon

4 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Lump Between Toes
Lame Back Foot
Toe Is Swollen To Twice It’S Size

Hello, My dog, Hagan is a 4 y/o Wheaten Terrier who has been struggling with foot issues for the past 6 months- mainly hot spot issues from allergies. Lately, he has become lame with his back right foot. I took him to the vet, and they feel it’s a granuloma infection from him licking it. But as I have watched him, he doesn’t lick it, it’s been about a week and hasn’t gotten better. There is a dime sized hard lump in the web of his outer toe, the toe is swollen to twice the size, he refuses to walk on it, and has become aggressive when other dogs play nip at his back right leg. He is on cephelaxin, apoquel, and ketoconazole. He has follow up appointment in three days. What questions should I be asking the vet

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Poppy

dog-breed-icon

Poodle

dog-age-icon

10 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Ulcer On Paw

Our Cavapoo, Poppy, had an ulcer on her pad. The vet arranged for a biopsy which confirmed malignant melanoma. We have since had CT scans which do not indicate any sign of cancer. The ulcer has also heeled and is hardly noticeable. Is it possible that the biopsy was incorrect?

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Rambo

dog-breed-icon

Pit bull

dog-age-icon

11 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen Paw

I missed cutting a toe nail on my PIT because he always fights me and while laying on the ground next to couch husband accidentally stomped on it.. then a few days later it happened again smh... Yes i know dumb... So his foot got swollen and I tried putting it in epsom salt & warm water and instead it made it look like a sore (Plus dog started licking it more) I took my dog to vet today who claims she had to put him under to mess with his foot.. She came back after a few and told me she didn't have to put him under but that it didn't feel like it was an infection ie had puss in his paw because she claims its solid. That's unbelievable to me because I barely touch his paw and he whimpers in pain yet she claimed she pushed on it and he let her... So her finding was xray she had done showed he was missing a toe bone which automatically meant CANCER.. She said she could still do a biopsy to confirm things but they wanted to do a chest xray that would show if cancer had spread to lungs then with her goofy smile stated good news though his blood test shows his organs are great... She then said she wanted to cut his toe off if cancer hadn't spread but that no matter what my dog had a life expectancy of 5mths - 1yr. The cutting of the toe would incapacitate him for 2mths.. So if he had 5mths 2 of those would be left in pain and on lock down... I chose to leave her office with just pain meds for my dogs, but i'm left thinking she's freaking nuts.. He had no growth on his toe or pain or anything else wrong with him.. My hubby stepped on him that was that... How can I find out more as I really distrust what was done or not done.. How does being stepped on become cancer or have a missing bone as she claimed reflect cancer? What can I do?

Foot or Toe Cancer Average Cost

From 64 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $12,000

Average Cost

$7,500