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Osteosarcoma in Dogs - A Pet Parent's Guide

Osteosarcoma in Dogs - A Pet Parent's Guide

Osteosarcoma is a painful and aggressive bone cancer seen in dogs that must be detected and treated in its very earliest stages in order to achieve the best possible treatment outcomes. Here, our Santa Cruz vets discuss the symptoms and treatments for this common bone cancer in dogs.

What is osteosarcoma?

At Pacific & Santa Cruz Veterinary Specialists, osteosarcoma is the most common form of primary bone cancer our Santa Cruz 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.

Left untreated osteosarcoma will spread rapidly throughout your dog's body causing other health issues and often becoming fatal remarkably quickly. However, if osteosarcoma is diagnosed early, life-saving surgery to amputate the cancerous limb may be possible. Swift removal of the limb may help to prevent the disease from spreading.

What are the first signs of osteosarcoma in dogs?

The early symptoms of osteosarcoma are typically so subtle that a large proportion of dog owners fail to recognize them straight away.

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 often include:

  • 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 take my dog to see a vet?

This form of bone cancer is a very aggressive disease and has a tendency to spread extremely quickly, that's why urgent veterinary treatment is essential. If your pooch 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, early treatment is essential. Osteosarcoma can quickly lead to fatal conditions such as respiratory distress.

What is the most common osteosarcoma 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. 

What is the prognosis for dogs with osteosarcoma?

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.

Are you concerned that your dog might have bone cancer? Contact Pacific & Santa Cruz Veterinary Specialists immediately to learn more about our veterinary oncology services and how we could help your dog.

New Patients Welcome

Pacific & Santa Cruz Veterinary Specialists is always accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about restoring good health to Santa Cruz companion animals. We are open 24/7 to provide your pet with care, whenever they need us.

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