Mast Cell Tumors in Dogs: Symptoms, Life Expectancy, and Treatment

Mast Cell Tumors in Dogs: Symptoms, Life Expectancy, and Treatment


If your vet said the word “cancer” at your last checkup, or you have reasons to suspect your pup is suffering from it, your heart is probably breaking and you’re most likely anxious and full of questions. 


Mast cell tumors in dogs commonly affect the skin, but they can affect other parts of your dog’s body too. Because this cancer can affect any dog, it’s important to know the causes, signs, life expectancy, and treatment so you can be better prepared for your pup!



Here at HomeoAnimal, we love pets just like you! As a group of professionals with decades in the industry, we are dedicated to using our extensive knowledge and expertise to help pet parents around the world be informed about their pet’s health, including dealing with a cancer diagnosis.


I hope you find this article to be helpful and informative during this difficult time so you can make informed decisions about your pet’s health!


Our complete guide to dog cancer contains all the information you need to know about cancers affecting dogs.



What Are Mast Cell Tumors In Dogs?


Mast cell tumors in dogs are a type of tumor that affects “mast cells”, a type of white blood cell the body uses for allergy response. With these tumors, the mast cells start releasing a high amount of chemicals into the body. 


Mast Cell tumors are the most common skin tumor in dogs, making up around 20% of all diagnosed cases. While many mast cell tumors are found in the skin, they can affect the lymph nodes, spleen, liver, intestine, and bone marrow too.



What Causes Mast Cell Tumors In Dogs?


We naturally want to know what caused our pet to get cancer. We know that there are certain genetic or hereditary factors, because some breeds are more commonly affected, such as Labrador Retrievers and Boxers, but unfortunately it is often difficult to pinpoint a specific cause.


As with all cancers, older dogs are diagnosed with mast cell tumors more frequently. 




What Does a Mast Cell Tumor Look Like on a Dog?


If a mast cell tumor is affecting internal organs, or the chemicals in the cells are being released in the body, you might see these symptoms:


  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Vomiting or Diarrhea
  • Lethargy and loss of energy
  • Collapse


Mast cell tumors on the skin can’t be diagnosed just by looking at them, because they don’t always look the same. You might notice other signs such as a lump on your pup’s skin, a bump underneath the skin, or a red, ulcer-looking growth. Sometimes these lumps can change size, getting larger and smaller with time. 


Remember that not all lumps or bumps found on or under your pet’s skin are cancerous! Also, not all lumps or bumps that don’t look dangerous are benign (not cancerous). If you’ve found something unusual on your pet’s skin, or in their behaviour, make sure to get it checked out right away so your vet can determine if it’s serious or not. 



What is the Life Expectancy of a Dog With a Mast Cell Tumor?


How long can a dog live with a mast cell tumor? Mast cell tumors in dogs have different “grades”, or levels of severity, and the life expectancy can vary from as little as a few months (with an average of 4 to 6 months) in a Grade III tumor, to years with a Grade I tumor.


It is very hopeful if the tumor is small, easy to remove, and cancerous cells haven’t spread far away from the tumor (meaning no cancerous cells are left after surgery). For Grade III tumors that have spread to other areas, life expectancy is often short with or without surgery, even following treatment such as chemotherapy, or radiation.


Dogs who have been diagnosed with a mast cell tumor are at a high risk for recurrence, meaning even if the cancerous cells have been removed, you should always be on the lookout for more tumors in the future!


When a mast cell tumor on the skin is bumped, moved, or agitated, this can cause the chemicals inside to be released and spread throughout the body, causing problems for your pup. So try not to feel it, and discourage your dog from licking, biting, or scratching it to reduce the chances of this happening.


The traditional treatments recommended by your vet most likely will include surgery, and possible radiation and chemotherapy as follow-up, depending on your pup’s specific circumstances. 


For a mast cell tumor removal in your dog, the cost can range from $500-$1000, depending on your location, options, and other factors. 



Natural Products for Mast Cell Tumors


Being faced with a decision on treatments for your companion can be stressful. It’s a big decision to make, and you are probably considering lots of information and doing lots of research! After all, there are many risks and benefits for each option. 


No matter what options you’re considering, or what choice you make, we know that you love your pet and want what's best for them! You can be sure that we do, too. It’s good to know that there are natural products for cancer in dogs!


We have used our years of experience to research and produce natural products for pet parents, and have created PIPTOPET, specifically designed to help your pup who's battling with cancer.


You will be happy to know that its anti-tumor properties promotes your dog's defense against cancerous cells. As a pet parent, you want to prevent recurrences and secondary infections.  It can be used on its own, or in addition to conventional treatments - even for long-term use!


Whether you’re dealing with a cancer diagnosis, or any other health concern for your pet, we are always here to help - fill out our Free Consultation form to see how we can help you! We can give you more information and help you come to a decision on treatment options available for you and your pet. 


Don’t hesitate to let us know what you think in the comments below, or contact us by phone, email, or web chat any time; we’d love to hear from you. 


Please share this article on social media so your fellow pet parents can be informed, just as you are!


About the Author

Denyse Lessard

Denyse Lessard is a therapist in alternative medicine. She is the creator of the company’s entire line of natural remedies.

She has an extensive educational background and has earned multiple degrees, including diplomas in Chinese medicine, Reflexology, Naturopathy & Iridology, and Homeopathy. She is also a member of the Association of Naturopaths and Naturotherapists of Quebec, and the Professional Union of Homeopaths of Quebec.

When working with her patients, Denyse believes in not only helping pets achieve optimum health, but keeping them in tip-top shape for their entire lives.

We invite you to learn more about Denyse's expertise in the alternative field.

Feel free to contact me anytime at

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Created on Posted by HOMEOANIMAL Comment Link

Dear Deanna,
We are so sorry to hear about your poor dog’s diagnosis and hope you have found some helpful information in this article. We will also send you a private email in order to give you even more personalized help for your dog’s fight against this terrible disease.
Warm regards,

Created on Posted by DEANNA PAULSON Comment Link


Created on Posted by HOMEOANIMAL Comment Link

Dear Debra,
Thank you for your comment and I am so sorry to hear about your poor dog. We will for sure do everything we can to help. For this reason we have sent you a private message to examine in more detail the situation and offer more targeted advice for your dog.

Created on Posted by Debra Clark Comment Link

Hi my dog has mask cell cancer dont know what grade. She had a fit this morning can it be related. She is 8yrs old. Thank-you.

Created on Posted by HOMEOANIMAL Comment Link

Hi Maggie, Thank you so much for sharing your beloved dog’s story with us!! We are happy to be working personally with your to find the most personalized and targeted help for her. We will be with you both every step of the way through this difficult time!

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