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Osteosarcoma in Dogs—Symptoms, Treatment & Prognosis

Osteosarcoma is an aggressive bone cancer seen in dogs. Surgery to remove the affected limb is typically the only hope for achieving a good treatment outcome for dogs diagnosed with osteosarcoma. Our Huntersville vets discuss this heartbreaking condition.

What are the first signs of osteosarcoma in dogs?

At Carolina Veterinary Specialists, osteosarcoma is the most common form of primary bone cancer our Huntersville vets see in dogs. In fact, osteosarcoma accounts for approximately 95% of all bone tumors diagnosed in dogs. This aggressive condition is characterized by the malignant, abnormal growth of immature bone cells.

Sadly, unless caught very early and treated by removing the limb, osteosarcoma spreads rapidly throughout a dog's body causing other health issues and often becoming fatal remarkably quickly. Swift removal of the limb may help to prevent the disease from spreading.

The early symptoms of osteosarcoma are typically so subtle that a large proportion of dog owners fail to recognize them straight away. This means that most cases of this bone cancer are diagnosed once the condition has become more advanced.

Osteosarcoma will often appear first in your dog's front legs however, your pet's jaw, facial bones, vertebrae, ribs, and rear legs can all be affected by this aggressive disease.

When it comes to osteosarcoma in dogs, symptoms typically include one or more of the following:

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

When should I contact my vet?

Urgent veterinary treatment is essential when dealing with osteosarcoma in dogs since this is a very aggressive form of cancer that spreads extremely quickly. If your dog is displaying any of the symptoms listed above call your vet immediately to book an urgent examination for your pup. Never disregard symptoms associated with osteosarcoma, the speed at which this cancer spreads cannot be overstated. Osteosarcoma can quickly lead to fatal conditions such as respiratory distress.

Osteosarcoma in Dogs—Treatment

Due to the aggressive nature of osteosarcoma, the best treatment is often amputation of the limb followed by chemotherapy. Although amputation may seem extreme it can help to prevent the cancer from spreading and most dogs do very well with three legs. If surgery isn't an option for your dog, a combination of radiation and chemotherapy may be beneficial.

Following your dog's diagnosis of osteosarcoma, your vet will take the time to discuss the most recent bone cancer treatment developments with you so that you are able to understand your dog's treatment options. 

Osteosarcoma in Dogs—Prognosis

Sadly, osteosarcoma in dogs does not generally lead to a good prognosis. 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.

Dogs diagnosed and treated for bone cancer typically live for another 1 - 6 years. Unfortunately, bone cancer is very aggressive and often proves fatal even when treated with surgery and other therapies.

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.

Our veterinary specialists offer advanced diagnostics and treatment for cancers such as osteosarcoma in dogs. Contact Carolina Veterinary Specialists to learn more about specialist care for your pet.

Caring for Pets in Huntersville

At Carolina Veterinary Specialists, we accept new clients to our specialty services by referral. Our 24/7 emergency service accepts all clients.

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