Degenerative diseases

Bone Cancer in Dogs

Cristina Pascual
By Cristina Pascual, Veterinaria. Updated: January 29, 2024
Bone Cancer in Dogs

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Some animals really do make excellent pets. However, dogs and cats are susceptible to many diseases that are also found in humans. Fortunately, awareness is being raised due to a veterinary medicine that has been developed and evolved. Now there are currently multiple means of diagnosis and treatment.

Studies on the incidence of tumors in dogs consider roughly 1 out of every 4 dogs will develop some form of cancer during their lifetime. We are dealing with a condition that must be widely know, so we can prevent and treat it as quickly as possible.

Keep reading this AnimalWised article, as we explain the symptoms and treatment of bone cancer in dogs.

You may also be interested in: Hemangiosarcoma in Dogs
  1. Bone cancer in dogs
  2. Symptoms of bone cancer in dogs
  3. Diagnosis of bone cancer in dogs
  4. Treatment of bone cancer in dogs
  5. Palliative and supplementary treatment

Bone cancer in dogs

Bone cancer in dogs is also known as osteosarcoma. It is a type of malignant tumor that, although can affect any part of the bone tissue, is mainly detected in the following structures:

  • Distal region of the radius
  • Proximal region of the humerus
  • Distal region of the femur

Osteosarcoma mainly affects large and giant dog breeds that are middle-aged or older. Rottweilers, St. Bernarda, German shepherds and Greyhounds are particularly susceptible to this disease.

Just like any other cancer in dogs, osteosarcoma is characterized by abnormal cell reproduction. In fact, one of the main characteristics of bone cancer is the rapid migration or metastasis of cancer cells through the bloodstream.

Bone cancer usually causes metastases in lung tissue. However, it is strange that cancer cells are found in bone tissue as a result of a previous cancer metastasis.

Bone Cancer in Dogs - Bone cancer in dogs

Symptoms of bone cancer in dogs

The most prevalent symptoms of canine osteosarcoma are pain and loss of mobility. A physical examination will reveal broader symptoms butmainlyat the osteoarticular level:

  • Inflammation
  • Pain
  • Limp
  • Nosebleed
  • Neurological signs
  • Exophthalmia (eyeballs projected outward)

Not all symptoms have to be present because the more specific, such as neurological symptoms, only occur depending on the skeletal area that is affected.

Often, a suspected fracture delays the diagnosis of osteosarcoma. Thus, delaying the implementation of appropriate treatment.

Bone Cancer in Dogs - Symptoms of bone cancer in dogs

Diagnosis of bone cancer in dogs

The diagnosis of canine osteosarcoma is mainly done through two tests.

The first is diagnostic imaging. The dog is subjected to an X-ray of the symptomatic area. In cases of bone cancer, the affected bone tissue will show areas of destroyed bone and others with bone proliferation; following a certain pattern typical of this malignancy.

If the X-ray raises suspicion of osteosarcoma, the diagnosis must be confirmed through a cytology, or study of cells. For this, a biopsy or tissue removal must be carried out first. The best technique for this sample is extractions using a fine needle, because it is painless and does not require sedation.

Then the sample will be studied under a microscope. This is to find out the nature of the cells and to determine whether they are typical of cancer and osteosarcoma.

Bone Cancer in Dogs - Diagnosis of bone cancer in dogs

Treatment of bone cancer in dogs

Currently, the first-line treatment is the amputation of the affected limb with adjuvant chemotherapy. However, the treatment of osteosarcoma should not be confused with the recovery from this disease.

If only the affected limb amputation is carried out, survival is 3 to 4 months. If the amputation is performed in conjunction with chemotherapy, survival amounts to 12-18 months. But, in any case life expectancy is similar to that of a healthy dog.

Some veterinary clinics are starting to rule out amputation and replace it with a grafting technique. This is when the affected bone tissue is removed but the bone is replaced by bone tissue from a cadaver. However, supplementation with chemotherapy is also necessary and the life expectancy after surgery is similar to the figures stated above.

Obviously the outcome will depend on each specific case. We have to take into account the dog's age, the promptness of the diagnosis and the possible existence of metastasis.

Bone Cancer in Dogs - Treatment of bone cancer in dogs

Palliative and supplementary treatment

In each particular case, the type of treatment must be assessed. This assessment should be advised by the vet, but they will always take into account the desire of the owners.

Sometimes, for older dogs whose quality of life is not going to improve after surgery, the best option is palliative treatment. This is a treatment that is not intended for the eradication of cancer but a relief of symptoms.

In any case, for a condition characterized by severe pain, treatment of this must be kept in mind during treatment. To do this, alternative therapies can be used, such as homeopathy for dogs with cancer.

Bone Cancer in Dogs - Palliative and supplementary treatment

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to Bone Cancer in Dogs, we recommend you visit our Degenerative diseases category.

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Bone Cancer in Dogs