Causes Of Bone Cancer In Dogs (Osteosarcomas) Diagnoses, Symptoms And Treatment

Bone cancer otherwise known as Osteosarcoma is a common bone ailment in dogs. Middle-aged and adult age dogs are at higher risk of having the disease.

The disease is extremely aggressive and painful, as well as bone destruction at the body site where the tumor grows. We are more interested to find out the cause of Bone Cancer in Dogs in this informative piece alongside other vital information that will enlighten you about the disease.


Causes Of Bone Cancer In Dogs (Osteosarcomas) Diagnoses, Symptoms And Treatment

Table of Contents

Osteosarcoma in Dogs
Osteosarcoma in Dogs

Osteosarcomas are the most common type of primary bone cancer in dogs. Over the years, there have been several types of research on Bone Cancer in Dogs intending to find the root cause of the disease and get a suitable and adverse treatment than what is obtainable now.

Osteosarcomas can be primary, that is when the tumor or cancer originates in the bone and it can be secondary as well when there is metastasizing of cancer into the bone from somewhere else. It is responsible for over 95% of all bone tumors.

Canine bone cancer can develop in any bone in a dog’s body with most tumours appearing in the front limbs near the shoulder, wrist, and knee.

Despite the vast researches carried out overtimes, the cause of canine bone cancer is yet to be understood and found out.


Common Types Of Bone Cancer In Dogs.

There are different variants of bone cancers in dogs. The most common Type of Bone Cancer Dogs in dogs is osteosarcoma.

Other common types of bone tumours include chondrosarcoma, fibrosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma, liposarcoma, histiocytic sarcoma, multiple myeloma, and metastatic tumours. Also, the disease is highly metastatic and can spread to the lungs and other sites in the bone. In addition, osteosarcoma can metastasize to lymph nodes and intra-abdominal organs.

Symptoms Of Bone Cancer In Dog.

Amputated Dog with Bone Cancer
Amputated Dog with Bone Cancer

Now that you are familiar with the occurrence of canine bone cancer, we will further our discourse by providing you with Symptoms of Bone Cancer in Dogs to look out for. Your god tends to exhibit some behavioral patterns that may not be consistent with its normal way of life.

Should your dog act sickly or fatigued or aggressive, you should begin to watch out for Osteosarcomas symptoms as they can be subtle and sometimes not manifest on time.

#1. Swelling or a Mass.

Bone cancer leads to swelling and mass which is often the first sign of a tumour in the skull, jaw, or ribs.

#2. Loss of Appetite. 

There is also the characteristic of difficulty in eating especially if a tumour affects the jaw.

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#3. Neurologic Signs.

When you observe signs such as seizures or a wobbly gait, it can be as a result of the skull or spinal/vertebral tumours.

Other signs of canine bone cancer include breathing difficulties due to rib tumours, loss of appetite and lethargy.

Immediately you spot any of the above signs in your dog, waste no time to call upon an expert to examine your dog for a quick examination and possible treatment.

4. Lameness:

Due to bone cancer, your dog can suffer from impaired movement characterized by swelling of the affected bone especially when a tumour affects a limb.


Diagnosis For Bone Cancer In Dogs.

The Symptoms of Bone Cancer in Dog is to help you identify or detect the disease early in your dog. That’s because the disease spreads quickly to other body sites, making early detection and treatment vital.

#1. Physical Examination.

Bone cancer in dogs is diagnosed through physical examination, which allows for the identification of disease and as well establishes a baseline for future monitoring.

#2. Blood Test.

Blood tests including CBC/Chemistry can help to reveal changes that affect prognosis in addition to assessing a patient’s overall health.

#3. X-Rays.

X-rays of the primary site and the lungs are recommended to evaluate for metastatic disease or reveal any changes. More so, X-rays help to establish a baseline for future monitoring.

#4. Biopsy.

Biopsy or aspirate of the affected bone site is frequently recommended to differentiate between cancerous and infectious processes.

#5. Abdominal Ultrasound Scan.

Abdominal ultrasound is not mandatory but may be recommended to further assess for an underlying primary tumour or other condition that could impact the outcome of the disease.

Treatment Of Bone Cancer In Dogs.

Although there is yet to be a definitive cure for bone cancer, the essence of the available treatment is to help your dog live the longest and best quality of life possible despite been diagnosed with cancer.

There are several treatment options and it depends largely on the results of the prognosis.

#1. Systemic Therapy.

Systemic Therapy is effective in the case of infection. This includes the use of antibiotics, antifungal, or antiviral agents.

#2. Chemotherapy.

Among the commonest treatments of bone cancer is Chemotherapy. It is typically recommended for many primary bone tumours and administered alongside primary therapy like surgery or radiation therapy to slow the rate of metastasis. Unfortunately, Chemotherapy hardly cures most dogs with osteosarcoma but can prolong a good quality of life.

#3. Amputation through Surgery.

Amputation is an aggressive therapy and it is commonly recommended especially for tumours of the limb. This is effective for primary bone cancer and it stops the spread of cancer to other body sites when detected at an early stage.

#4. Radiation Therapy.

Radiation therapy also provides pain relief and a course may be provided to this effect. Radiation Therapy used includes Conventionally Fractionated Radiation Therapy (CFRT), and Stereotactic Radiation (SRS/SRT). Radiation can be done alone or it can be alongside surgery.

#5. Palliative Therapy.

Palliative therapy options are available for dogs and the essence is of this treatment method is to alleviate pain and clinical signs.

This means that it focuses more on managing the disease rather than providing a cure.

Palliative treatment options include oral medications and the administration of bisphosphonates (IV bone supportive medications).

Drugs To Give Dogs With Bone Cancer. 

Bone Cancer in Dogs is not often a palatable experience and it requires you to give extra care.

The Symptoms of Bone Cancer in dogs can help to quickly detect and treat the disease at an early stage. Once treatment has commenced, there are drugs also recommended.

Most times, anti-inflammatory medications such as Rimadyl or Metacam are prescribed to help ease the pain. This drug can help resolve to limp for a while, but the more the tumour grows, the pain tends to worsen.

Also, chemotherapeutic drugs are prescribed and used for treating osteosarcoma to alter the course of the metastatic disease process.

That is, to slow down the metastatic component and process of the disease. Chemotherapeutic drugs that are commonly prescribed include platinum drugs (i.e., carboplatin or cisplatin) and doxorubicin.

Cost Of Treating Dogs With Bone Cancer.

Osteosarcomas treatment is costly. The cost of the surgical procedure depends on the surgeon’s specialization along with the location of the tumour on the dog. However, the average treatment cost is between $1,000 to $3,000.

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If chemotherapy is involved, it will further increase the cost topping about another $2,000 to $4,000.

Dog Breeds Prone To Cancer.

Bone Cancer in Dogs happens to both dog sex and across every age. Just that, older dogs from 5 years and above are at a higher risk. Also, certain dog breeds are more prone to developing bone cancer.

The Scottish Deerhounds are genetically predisposed to osteosarcoma. Likewise, the disease occurs frequently in other large-breed dogs such as Rottweilers. Large, giant, and tall dog breeds are also at greater risk.

The Life Span Of Dogs with Bone Cancer.

As earlier mentioned, canine cancer is a grave illness and it can shorten the life span of your dog. Despite the several treatment protocols available, there is no guarantee that your dog can reach the actual expected age.

Bone Cancer in Dogs is a severe medical condition and can shorten their life span if not detected early and properly managed. The life span of dogs with osteosarcoma treated with surgery and chemotherapy is approximately a year.

FAQ Section.

There are series of questions that have been asked in regards to Bone Cancer in Dogs, so we have carefully picked out some of the questions and we provide appropriate answers to it all.

How Long Do Dogs Live After Being Diagnosed With Bone Cancer?

50 percent of dogs with osteosarcoma who are treated with the current standard of care should expect to live for about a year, and some dogs can live for up to six years after diagnosis.

What Are The Symptoms Of Bone Cancer In diogs?

Are there any tell-tale symptoms that osteosarcoma is present? Osteosarcoma is a highly painful disease to suffer with.

Osteosarcoma of the limb (appendicular osteosarcoma) in dogs can result in lameness or a noticeable swelling.

Due to the pain caused by the tumor on the bone, your dog may become more lethargic, lose his appetite, and refuse to move or play.

How Does A Dog Die From Bone Cancer?

Pulmonary metastatic osteosarcoma is the most common cause of mortality. In order to treat dogs with appendicular osteosarcoma, systemic chemotherapy is prescribed.

While chemotherapy is unlikely to cure most dogs with osteosarcoma, it can extend their good-quality lifetimes.

Should I Put My Dog Down If He Has Bone Cancer?

Should I euthanize my dog if he’s been diagnosed with cancer of the bones? Sadly, euthanasia is the most humanitarian and logical therapeutic option. Pets with bone cancer are rarely euthanized because of complications.

Does Bone Cancer Spread Fast?

Metastases to the bones indicate that cancer has reached a stage that is no longer treatable.

It should be noted, however, that not all bone metastases progress quickly. As a chronic condition, it can be treated as a chronic condition in some situations.

Does Bone Cancer In Dogs Spread Quickly?

When it comes to dogs, most of the tumors appear near the shoulder, wrist, and knee. Due to the aggressive nature of osteosarcoma, early detection and treatment are essential.

Will An X-ray Show Bone Cancer In Dogs?

It is common for a veterinarian to perform an examination on your dog and request X-rays to check for bone cancer, which appears “moth-eaten” on an X-ray.

There may also be a need for another diagnostic testing, such as blood work, histology, fine-needle aspiration, and bone biopsy.

Is Bone Cancer In Dogs Fatal?

Surgical excision of the damaged bone is sometimes achievable and can save a dog’s life.

As soon as you notice signs of bone cancer in your dog, contact your veterinarian so they may properly diagnose the condition and make treatment recommendations.

Do Dogs know When They Are Dying?

As a result, dogs and other animals may be able to sense their own or others’ death and dying.

How Common Is Bone Cancer In Small Dogs?

However, it occurs less frequently in smaller dogs than in larger ones. About 80 percent of people will get lung cancer.

On the basis of tumor kind, initial site, and extent of disease dissemination, bone tumors’ biological activity, prognosis, and treatment vary.

What Is The Longest A Dog Has Lived With Osteosarcoma?

The good news is your dog diagnosed with Bone Cancer can live up to 10 years. CSU’s longest-living osteosarcoma dog has lived for 10 years, according to university records.

Dogs’ treatment and cause of death are tracked over time in a CSU database to better understand how different treatments work on canines.

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When Is It Time To Put Down A Dog With Cancer?

When your dog is in pain, you will have to decide whether or not to put him down. Add the scores from each category.

Your dog’s quality of life is satisfactory if your total score is above 35. It is recommended that you contemplate assisted suicide if your score is below 35.

Can Bone Cancer In Dogs Be Misdiagnosed?

It is easy to misdiagnose bone cancer due to the non-specific indications and symptoms.

Dogs with swollen or uncomfortable damaged bones may be unable to bear weight on their legs.

Is Bone Cancer A Painful Death?

When does bone cancer manifest itself? Not all bone tumors cause pain, which is the most prevalent sign.

Tumor or other disorders can cause bone discomfort or swelling that lasts longer than normal.

How Is Bone Cancer Treated In Dogs?

What is the treatment for canine osteosarcoma? This aggressive form of cancer is usually treated by amputating the afflicted extremity and then using chemotherapy to treat metastases. If surgery is not an option, radiation therapy can be an effective pain reliever.

How Does Bone Cancer Progress In Dogs?

Deep within the bone, it causes pain that increases in intensity as it spreads outward as the bone is eroded from within.

Intermittent lameness becomes constant during a period of 1 to 3 months. As the tumor grows and normal bone is replaced by tumorous bone, swelling becomes visible.

Can Bone Tumors In Dogs Be Benign?

When it comes to canine bone tumors, are they benign or malignant? It is rare to find non-cancerous or benign bone tumors. In one survey, 7.9 canines out of 100,000 were diagnosed with malignant bone cancer.

Eighty percent of all canine bone tumors are osteosarcoma, and the remaining 10 percent are chondrosarcoma.

Does Bone Cancer In Dogs Show Up In Blood Test?

There is no commercially available blood test that can consistently detect all forms of cancer at this stage.

Routine veterinary appointments are still your best bet for early detection!

Does My Dog Have Bone caincer Or Arthritis?

Is my dog suffering from bone cancer or arthritic joint disease? The symptoms linked with a bone tumor will depend on where the tumor is located.

In most cases, lameness is the result of tumors in the limbs. Sometimes, long-bone tumours go undetected because they present similarly to arthritis or acute injury.

In cases where rest and pain medications are ineffective in relieving bone pain, X-rays are often required to diagnose bone malignancy.

Should I Amputate My Dog’s Leg With Osteosarcoma?

In order to treat bone cancer pain and prevent fracture, the tumor must be removed, which may sound drastic. Your pet’s quality of life can be greatly improved by amputation.

Does osteosarcoma hurt to touch?

Is it painful to touch osteosarcoma? Osteosarcoma is characterized by the following symptoms: Pain or discomfort in the bones.

You may be aware of a warm mass or lump (tumor) that may be felt through your skin. There is a lot of swelling and redness around your tumor.

How Long Can A Dog Live After Chemotherapy?

When can a dog expect to live after undergoing chemotherapy? We are happy to have her with us today, as the usual survival time after chemotherapy is 10-12 months.

Will An X-ray Show Bone Cancer In Dogs?

It is common for a veterinarian to perform an examination on your dog and request X-rays to check for bone cancer, which appears “moth-eaten” on an X-ray.

There may also be a need for another diagnostic testing, such as blood work, histology, fine-needle aspiration, and bone biopsy.

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I believe you had fun reading through this informative piece and have learned something new. Osteosarcomas in the dog are a grave medical condition and it spreads rapidly via the bloodstream.

For this reason, pet owners should learn the signs and symptoms of this disease and contact an expert that will give professional advice and treatment plan needs to address the secondary spread of cancer and not just the primary tumor alone.

Author: David Arthur

David's lifelong passion for animals blossomed into a dream profession in 2020. He founded Petscareway Inc., a professional pet care company situated in the Texas. Several veterinarians have educated him in Pet First Aid and CPR since 2003. David decided to become a certified Pet First Aid and CPR instructor in 2011 after completing an instructor training course. David decided he had to be a part of ProPetHero when he discovered them in 2016 and saw how they were offering ER veterinarian-led training to everyone. As a result, he became a member of the ProTrainings family, the designers of ProPetHero. He volunteers and fosters for The Boxer Rescue Inc in his spare time, is a health-conscious Boxer breeder, and is a member of the Middlesex Boxer Club and Wachusett Kennel Club. David has served as a mentor to many people in the pet industry and in the small company world. When he's not working or helping, he's competing with his dogs in agility, lure coursing, and conformation trials across the country. David can be seen training with his puppies, hiking with them on trails, or playing in his backyard when he is not at a trial or trying to find a nice home for a Boxer through the rescue.

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