Bones cancer in dogs, otherwise known as osteosarcoma, is an aggressive form of bone cancer that is seen in dogs. Our La Mesa vets talk about the signs of bone cancer in dogs, what the concerns are, as well as when you should talk to your vet. 

Bone Cancer in Dogs

Bone cancers can originate from cells that normally reside in the bone space (primary cancer) or as a metastatic disease that has spread from cancers elsewhere in your pet's body. The most common form of bone cancer in dogs is Osteosarcoma which makes up approximately 95% of bone tumors. Other types of bone cancer include:

  • Myeloma (Bone marrow cancer which affects the white blood cells)
  • Chondrosarcoma (The second most common type of bone cancer in dogs, often found in the nasal cavity and ribs)


Osteosarcoma is an extremely aggressive cancer that causes malignant, abnormal growth of immature bone cells. This intrusive form of bone cancer can spread quickly throughout the body. This means that it is imperative to have your dog examined if they are exhibiting any possible signs. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential to ensuring the best possible outcome for your dog.

While osteosarcoma is a very serious condition in dogs, there is hope. If diagnosed in the very earliest stages, life-saving surgery may be possible to amputate the cancerous limb.

Breeds That Are Susceptible to Osteosarcoma

It's important to note that any breed of dog can develop bone cancer although some breeds face a higher risk of developing the disease than others, including:

  • Scottish Deerhounds which are genetically predisposed to osteosarcoma
  • Rottweilers and other large-breed dogs
  • Great Danes and other giant-breed dogs

Veterinary Oncology

Booking an appointment with your veterinary oncology team as soon as possible once your notice any possible signs of cancer is important. Your veterinarians at Rancho Village Veterinary Hospital have state-of-the-art technology to diagnose bone cancer and offer an effective treatment plan.

Bone Cancer Symptoms in Dogs

Osteosarcoma commonly first appears in the front limbs of your dog near the shoulder, wrist, and knee. That said, your dog's jaw, facial bones, vertebrae, ribs, and rear legs are other areas that can be affected by osteosarcoma. The early signs of bone cancer in dogs can be difficult to notice as symptoms tend to be subtle. Below are some of the most common symptoms of bone cancer that pet parents should watch for:

  • Loss of appetite and Lethargy
  • Neurologic signs, such as a wobbly gait
  • Indications of severe pain
  • Discharge from the nostrils
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Swelling in the ribs, spine, legs, or jaw
  • Limping or lameness
  • Growth of a mass on the dog's body

When to Book an Appointment

Bone cancer is known to spread throughout the body at a rapid rate. Because of this, dog owners should always take symptoms seriously and make an appointment with their vet as soon as possible if they spot any of the symptoms listed above. Your pet's health comes first and you should never take any chances.

Diagnosing Osteosarcoma in Dogs

If your vet believes that your dog is displaying signs of bone cancer they will perform a comprehensive physical and orthopedic examination of your pet and recommend an X-ray be completed to look for signs of bone cancer.

If the x-ray of the area shows signs of a potential tumor then your vet will recommend that the area will be biopsied for a definitive diagnosis. Blood tests, urinalysis, chest X-rays or a CT scan may also be utilized in order to help assess your dog’s overall health and determine whether the cancer has spread to your pet's respiratory system or other organs. 

Treatment of Bone Cancer in Dogs

Due to the aggressive nature of osteosarcomas tumors, amputation followed by chemotherapy is typically the most successful form of treatment.

If surgery is not an option for your dog then your vet may recommend radiation treatment in order to relieve the symptoms of pain that your dog may be experiencing. As few as two treatments could help to relieve your dog's cancer-related pain for as long as several months.

If your dog is diagnosed with osteosarcoma your vet will develop a specialized treatment plan to coordinate cancer treatments and help your pet achieve the best possible outcome. New therapies and procedures are always being studied and alternative options may be available to help your dog. 

At Rancho Village Veterinary Hospital our veterinarians will discuss all available treatment options for the cancer that your dog has been diagnosed with to ensure that you can make an informed decision regarding the health of your beloved pet.

The prognosis for Dogs With Bone Cancer

Unfortunately, most cancers are not detected until they have already spread throughout the body and therefore the prognosis is usually poor.

The prognosis for your dog will depend on the severity and spread of the disease, as well as the treatment you choose, and factors such as age, weight, and where the tumor is located. 

Your veterinarian will take the time to discuss the best treatment options, and prognosis for your dog.

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 is showing symptoms that are associated with bone cancer, contact our La Mesa vets to book an appointment.