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Osteosarcoma in Dogs - Bone Cancer

Osteosarcoma is an aggressive bone cancer seen in dogs that requires very early detection and treatment in order to achieve good treatment outcomes. Here, our North Asheville vets discuss signs and treatments for this very painful condition.

What are the first signs of osteosarcoma in dogs?

At Animal Hospital of North Asheville, osteosarcoma is the most common form of primary bone cancer our North Asheville 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.

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 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 to Contact Your 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.

Osteosarcoma in Dogs - Treatment Options

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. 

Prognosis for Dogs with Osteosarcoma

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.

Contact Animal Hospital of North Asheville right away if your pup is showing any signs of osteosarcoma. Our experienced vets are here to help.

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