Dog Bone Cancer Life Expectancy

Dog bone cancer, also called Osteosarcoma, occurs in about 5% of all tumors in dogs. It is an aggressive cancer that usually affects older and larger dog breeds.  

About Dog Bone Cancer

Osteosarcoma can occur in any bone in the dog’s body, but is more likely to occur in their limbs. These tumors start growing deep inside bones and grow outward, making it hard for pets to walk and get around. In a period of three months, the tumor can overtake the dog’s limb and weaken it. Eventually the limbs become so weak they will break and injure easily. Once the bones break, they will not heal again.

Symptoms and Diagnosis of Dog Bone Cancer

Dog bone cancer occurs mostly in larger breeds of dogs. Most dogs will show signs of swelling and soreness in limbs close to joints. The vet will x-ray the area and can usually decipher bone cancer from the x-rays. Sometimes a biopsy is performed by taking a small piece of bone and testing it. Once bone cancer is determined in the limbs, the vet will assume the dog has metastasis in the lungs as well.

Treatment Options for Dog Bone Cancer

Osteosarcoma is a fast moving, debilitating cancer that requires aggressive treatment. Once diagnosis is certain, the cancerous limb is amputated. The tumor may be in a location where it can be removed without amputation, but usually full amputation is required. Chemotherapy is then given using drugs such as Carboplatin and Doxorubicin. Radiation therapy is often used for pain relief.

Treatment can be expensive and difficult for the dog owner as well. You must weigh your decision carefully. If the dog is old and has lived a full life, amputation may be too much for the dog to survive. Surgery and chemotherapy are expensive. The average cost of treating dog cancer is between one and three thousand dollars.  

Life Expectancy for Dogs with Bone Cancer

Even with aggressive treatment options such as amputation and chemotherapy, your dog’s life expectancy is only about a year. With amputation alone, most dogs only live four or five months. Your dog’s personality and will to live will also play a role in its life expectancy. The dog will be adjusting to life with only three limbs, which will require stamina and perseverance. Quality of life is important and must be considered.

Osteosarcoma is a disease that is being researched and hopefully more information will be available in the future. Diagnostic tests and more effective treatment options would help eliminate this disease. Bone cancer in dogs is not preventable, but is believed to be hereditary. Certain breeds appear to be at a higher risk for this disease. Females have a higher risk than males. It generally strikes older dogs, but when younger dogs get this disease, they do not have as long of a life expectancy as older dogs. Feeding your dog good food will strengthen your dog’s bones.