If you are a dog parent, you must know about mast cell tumors because it is widespread in the dog population. Also, it accounts for 20% of all skin tumors in dogs. Because it is such a common occurrence in dogs, yet many dog parents might have heard about mast cells for only the first time, this article will focus on all the essential details related to mast cell tumors.
To understand mast cell tumors, one needs to know about mast cells. So let’s first understand what a mast cell is.
Mast Cell – Mast cells are found in many tissues, and it is a type of white blood cell. Mast cells have an essential job to do for allergic responses. When exposed to allergens, it is the responsibility of the mast cells to release chemicals that will start a process called degranulation. One of the chemical compounds released for this degranulation process is histamine, which handles runny nose, itchiness, sneezing, and runny eyes, and these are usual symptoms of allergies. But, sometimes histamine can be released in excessive amounts, resulting in life-threatening allergic reactions.
Now that we have gathered some knowledge about mast cells let’s now understand the formation of mast cell tumors.
Mast Cell Tumor – Mast cell tumors are the mast cells present inside a tumor. Masses or nodules in the skin mostly form mast cell tumors. They can affect different body parts like bone marrow, liver, intestine, and spleen. But, mast cell tumors are skin, and around 70% of dogs with mast cell tumors only develop one tumor.
After understanding the mast cells and mast cell tumors, it is essential to understand the cancerous changes in these cells.
Can mast cell tumors be cancerous for dogs?
So there is no conclusive evidence that can straightforwardly explain why any dog will develop mast cell tumors and whether or not this cell will be cancerous. Only a few cancers can be related to one cause. Most of the time, cancer is caused by several complex factors. These factors can be genetic, hereditary, and environmental. Also, multiple genetic mutations are required for their development. One mutation known so far is the KIT protein development needed for cell division and replication. One thing that every dog’s parent should know is that any breed can get mast cell tumors. Still, some species are more susceptible to this condition, like Labrador Retrievers, Bull Terriers, Boston Terriers, and Boxers.
So these are some things you need to know about mast cells as a responsible dog parent. If you stay in touch with a veterinarian and take your dog for regular checkups while keeping a close eye on them at home, the dog’s health deteriorating because of mast cell tumors is very slim. During the routine checkups, vets can recognize the problem early and then treat as required. As a responsible pet parent, one thing that can be done is to get pet health insurance so that if your pet requires extensive medical treatment; you are prepared financially. Pet health insurance can provide peace of mind which you won’t have while paying out of your pocket. So if you have pet insurance, that’s great, but if you don’t have a policy, make sure you get it as soon as possible.