Osteosarcoma, more commonly known as bone cancer, is one of the most common types of cancer in dogs. Our La Mesa vets discuss the signs and treatment options for osteosarcoma in dogs.

What is osteosarcoma?

Osteosarcoma is the most common type of cancer in dogs diagnosed by our La Mesa vets. This aggressive form of cancer causes a malignant, abnormal growth of immature bone cells and is responsible for roughly 95% of all bone tumors diagnosed in dogs.

As with many forms of cancer, it is possible for osteosarcoma to spread rapidly throughout the body, create other health issues and can be fatal for dogs if not treated quickly. If your dog develops this form of bone cancer and is diagnosed quickly, it is possible to have life-saving surgery in order to remove the cancerous limb and potentially prevent the disease from spreading to other areas of your dog's body.

What are the signs of bone cancer in dogs?

It is easy to miss the signs of early osteosarcoma. Osteosarcoma commonly begins to develop in a dog's front legs, but your pet's jaw, facial bones, vertebrae, ribs, and rear legs can also be affected by this aggressive form of cancer.

Some of the most common symptoms of osteosarcoma in dogs 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?

It is incredibly important to bring your dog to the vet and have it examined as soon as possible if you notice any of the symptoms above. Osteosarcoma is very aggressive and is known to spread extremely quickly so urgent diagnosis and treatment are necessary. It is imperative that all pet owners take any signs and symptoms of cancer in their dogs very seriously as Osteosarcoma can quickly lead to fatal conditions such as respiratory distress.

What is the treatment for dogs with bone cancer?

Typically the best treatment option for osteosarcoma is amputation of the affected limb followed by chemotherapy. We understand that this may seem like an extreme form of treatment but this is recommended in order to prevent the bone cancer from spreading to other areas of the body. There may be situations in which amputation isn't an option and so a combination of radiation and chemotherapy may be used for your dog. 

If your dog is diagnosed with osteosarcoma, your vet will take the time to thoroughly discuss the most recent bone cancer treatments available with you so that you are able to understand your dog's treatment options. 

What is the prognosis for dogs with bone cancer?

Your dog's prognosis will be affected by factors such as age, weight, and where the tumor is located. Your veterinarian or veterinary oncologist will develop a specialized treatment plan to help your dog achieve the best possible outcome based on its prognosis.

Unfortunately, osteosarcoma is an incredibly aggressive form of cancer and can be fatal even when quickly diagnosed and treated. It is possible for dogs diagnosed and treated for bone cancer live for another 1 - 6 years following successful treatment. 

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.

If your dog might be showing signs of osteosarcoma, contact our La Mesa vets to have your dog examined.