Canine Bone Cancer

Canine bone cancer or osteosarcoma is common type of cancer that advances quickly and may be fatal. Bone cancer is more frequently met in larger dog breeds, but may occur in smaller breeds as well. Senior dogs are more prone to developing osteosarcoma and the number of male dogs affected by bone cancer is bigger.

Causes of Canine Bone Cancer

The causes of cancer are still unidentified; bone cancer may be an inherited disease, as certain breeds are more often affected.

The cause of bone tumors may also be the sudden growth of bones, which is present in the larger dog breeds that are most frequently affected by osteosarcoma.

Trauma or injuries may also influence the development of cancerous cells.

Symptoms of Bone Cancer

The bone cancerous tumors may be located in different areas of the dog's body. The general symptoms of bone cancer include swelling of the affected bone, the difficulty to move, lethargy and depression.

The symptoms will also be determined by the position of the tumor. For instance, if the tumor is located on the bones of the limbs, the dog will limp and hesitate to perform certain movements.

The symptoms of bone cancer may be similar to symptoms of bone infections and arthritis, so the dog needs to be seen by a vet.

Diagnosing Osteosarcoma

The tumors affecting the dog's bones may be identified through x-rays. A biopsy may also be performed to confirm the diagnosis.

The vet may also run a few blood tests, to rule out other possible diseases that cause symptoms that are similar to bone cancer.

The vet will establish if the cancer has spread to other areas of the dog's body.

Treatment Options

The canine bone cancer treatment depends on the stage of the cancer. If the tumor is small and hasn't spread, the vet will recommend surgery and the removal of the affected bone, if possible.

Amputation is possible, if the tumor is located in the dog's limbs. After surgery, the dog should receive chemotherapy, which may prevent the recurrence of the cancerous tumors. A bone transplant may also be recommended after the surgery.

If the cancer has spread, the treatment options are limited; the vet will recommend chemotherapy and radiotherapy. The chemotherapy will not destroy the cancer, but will stop the cancerous cells from growing. The radiation therapy is meant to reduce bone pain.

In some cases, antibiotics and pain medication will also be prescribed.

Canine Osteosarcoma Prognosis

Detecting the bone cancer in a timely manner is essential in saving the dog's life.

If an amputation or removal of the affected bone is still possible and the cancer hasn't spread to other areas of the body, the dog may enjoy a healthy life after the surgery. The cancer may come back, but not in all cases.

If the removal of the affected bone is not possible or the cancer is in an advanced stage, the chemotherapy may prolong the dog's life. However, the prognosis is poor.