Symptoms of Canine Bone Cancer

Bone cancer in a canine can affect the bones, cartilage and other tissues of a dog's skeletal system. The disease is caused by abnormal cell activity that often results in the formation of malignant tumors. There are four types of tumors associated with dog skin cancer; canine osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, fibrosarcoma and hemangiosarcoma. The most common of these, canine osteosarcoma (OSA), is responsible for around 80 to 90% of bone cancer tumors in dogs.

Although any dog can develop the disease, larger breeds such as Great Danes, Rottweilers, Saint Bernards, Labradors, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, Dobermans, Weimaraners and Boxers have a higher risk for OSA. Other forms of canine bone cancer are also prevalent among older dogs. Early detection of the disease may increase options for effective canine bone cancer treatment. Here is a summary of the most common symptoms of bone cancer in dogs.

Canine Bone Cancer Symptoms

Osteosarcoma tumors typically form in a dog's long bones, or growth bones, and are found frequently below the elbow or near the knee or shoulder. The cancer usually originates inside the bone and spreads to the outside of the limb. Tumor growth destroys healthy tissue, causing the bone to swell. The progression of OSA is rapid and extremely painful. A dog with the disease will likely display pain and discomfort while attempting to use his affected limb. Sudden or gradual lameness of the limb may also result. Eventually, a dog with OSA may experience a loss of appetite, followed by severe weight loss.

Chondrosarcoma (CSA) tumors grow most often in the cartilage of the nasal area, pelvis, ribs and vertebrae. Ribs impacted by CSA may be sore and inflamed where cartilage connects them to the breastbone. Nasal cartilage tumors may result in nasal discharge, sneezing and contribute to labored breathing. Pelvic areas containing CSA tumors may be swollen and painful to the touch.

Fibrosarcoma (FSA) tumors affect fibroblasts, the fiber-like connective tissue found around many bones. FSA tumors are found commonly around the skull, pelvis, spine and ribs. Affected bones are often swollen and painful. Dogs with FSA may bleed from the mouth or have foul breath. They may also have problems eating or swallowing.

Hemangiosarcoma (HSA) tumors originate in the blood vessels of bones. The condition is most frequent among middle-age dogs, typically age 9 to 11 years. HSA tumors destroy healthy blood cells, often resulting in dogs that are weak and anemic. Dogs with HSA may also have difficulty breathing and could possibly collapse. Other symptoms include white or pale gums, pain and swelling in the affected bones, inactivity and fluid build-up in the abdomen.

For any owner, seeing their pet experience the debilitating and painful effects of bone cancer is difficult and upsetting. Although the many forms of this bone disease are challenging, knowing how to recognize the symptoms is a key part of early detection. Identifying and diagnosing canine bone cancer in its early stages can provide owners a wider range of options for treating the disease and improving the quality of life for their pets.