Symptoms of Bone Cancer in Dogs

Bone cancer in dogs also known as osteosarcoma is an aggressive disease that may result in limb amputation or the removal of the affected bone. Bone tumors are more frequent in larger dog breeds, but may occur in medium sized or smaller dogs also. Male and senior dogs are more often affected by bone cancer.

Causes of Bone Cancer

The precise cause of dog bone cancer hasn't been established yet; however, given that larger breeds are more exposed to the disease, some theories suggest that the tumors occur due to the sudden development of the growing cells. Other theory suggests that the tumors may be caused by trauma, which promotes the development of cancerous cells.

Osteosarcoma Symptoms

The symptoms of bone cancer vary depending on the location of the tumor.

If the tumor develops on the limbs, the symptoms will include bone swelling, limping, lameness and the difficulty to move. Most tumors develop near the elbow or knee area.

There may be a few bone lesions in the affected areas.

The tumors will also cause a lot of joint pain, which may lead to a mistaken diagnosis of arthritis.

Fungal bone infections will also cause similar symptoms as osteosarcoma. Detecting Canine Bone Cancer

Canine bone cancer may be detected with x-rays. The majority bone cancers affecting limbs will spread to the lungs, so they may be detected through a chest x-ray.

For bone cancer located in other parts than the limbs, a biopsy can confirm the diagnosis.

A fungal culture may also be performed, as the symptoms may point to a fungal bone infection also. Bone Cancer Treatment

The typical treatment for bone cancer includes chemotherapy. Chemo will not kill the existing cancerous cells, but will stop the production of new ones. Chemotherapy is a pricey treatment option and can have side-effects such as hair loss, nausea, diarrhea, kidney or liver disease and possibly cause other secondary infections. Cisplatin, carboplatin and doxorubicin are the most frequent drugs used as chemo for canines. Antibiotics such as adriamycin can be used in conjunction with chemo for better results.

If the tumor is located in the limbs, amputation may be needed, as the bone cancer is very aggressive and may easily spread in the rest of the body. After amputation, chemotherapy should be administered to prevent the further development of cancerous cells.

Bone transplant may also be an option.

Radiation therapy may help, provided the bone tumor is detected in the early phases. Radiation therapy can reduce the pain associated with bone cancer, but is not as effective as chemo or surgery.

Unfortunately, most bone cancers will spread to the lungs and can be fatal.

An oncologist vet may recommend you the best treatment option, according to the stage of the cancer and the condition of your pet. Bone Cancer Prognosis

Osteosarcoma is an aggressive disease and may spread very quickly. After the disease has reached metastasis, the dog may survive only a few months. Pain medication and chemo may prolong the dog's life; however in some cases, the vet will recommend euthanasia.