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Healthy Pet Care Tips

Bone Cancer in Dogs - What Pet Parents Need to Know

Osteosarcoma (bone cancer) is one of the most common types of cancer our vets see in dogs. To achieve good treatment outcomes bone cancer needs to be detected and treated in the very earliest stages. Today we share more about this aggressive disease in dogs...

What is osteosarcoma?

At our PetVet Care Centers animal hospitals, osteosarcoma is the most common type of primary bone cancer our vets see in dogs. Osteosarcoma accounts for approximately 95% of all bone tumors diagnosed in dogs. This aggressive condition leads to the malignant, abnormal growth of immature bone cells.

Sadly, without treatment osteosarcoma spreads quickly throughout the body causing other health issues, and can quickly become fatal for dogs. That said, if bone cancer is diagnosed early, life-saving surgery may be possible to remove the cancerous limb and help to prevent spreading.

What are the signs of bone cancer in dogs?

The early signs of bone cancer are so subtle that many pet parents don't recognize them straight away. Bone cancer often appears in the dog's front legs however, your dog's jaw, facial bones, vertebrae, ribs, and rear legs may all be affected by this disease.

Symptoms of bone cancer to watch for include:

  • Swelling in the ribs, spine, legs, or jaw
  • Severe pain
  • Growth of a mass on the dog's body
  • Loss of appetite
  • Limping or lameness
  • Respiratory distress
  • Discharge from the nostrils
  • Lethargy or weakness

When should I take my dog to see a vet?

Bone cancer is a very aggressive disease prone to spreading quickly, that's why pet parents should always take symptoms of bone cancer in their dogs very seriously.

In order to give your dog the best chance possible, it is essential to keep a close eye on your pet's overall health and immediately book an appointment with your vet if you notice any of the symptoms listed above, even if they are subtle. Osteosarcoma can quickly spread to other organs and cause fatal conditions such as respiratory distress.

What is veterinary oncology?

If your dog is showing signs of bone cancer, book an appointment with a veterinary oncologist immediately. Veterinarians with specialized training in oncology have the appropriate technology to diagnose bone cancer in dogs and quickly begin treatment.

What is the treatment for dogs with bone cancer?

Because osteosarcoma is such an aggressive disease, treatment is often amputation of the limb followed by chemotherapy. While amputation may seem extreme it may help to prevent the cancer from spreading and most dogs do very well with three legs. If surgery isn't an option a combination of radiation and chemotherapy may be beneficial.

New therapies and procedures are always being studied. Your vet will take the time to discuss recent bone cancer treatment developments with you so that you are able to understand your dog's treatment options. 

What is the prognosis for dogs with bone cancer?

Factors such as age, weight, and where the tumor is located will all influence your dog's prognosis. Only your vet will be able to provide you with an accurate prognosis for your pet. Your veterinarian or veterinary oncologist will develop a specialized treatment plan to help your dog achieve the best possible outcome.

Typically, dogs diagnosed and treated for bone cancer live for another 1 - 6 years. Unfortunately, bone cancer is very aggressive and often proves fatal even when treated with surgery and therapy.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Many of our PetVet Care Centers across the US offer veterinary oncology services to pets in need of specialized care. Our veterinary oncologists are committed to providing the very best in advanced cancer care to dogs and cats. If your dog has been diagnosed with bone cancer contact PetVet Care Centers specialty animal hospital nearest you to find out more about cancer care for pets. 

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