Bone Cancer in Dogs
Bone cancer, or osteosarcoma, is one of the most common types of cancer dogs can face. This aggressive condition leads to malignant, abnormal growth of immature bone cells.
Since it spreads quickly and can cause other health issues, it can easily be fatal if not caught early. There is reason for hope: life-saving surgery to remove the limb with the tumor is sometimes possible.
If you spot symptoms of bone cancer in your dog, book an appointment with a veterinarian with experience in internal medicine immediately so they can correctly diagnose the disease and recommend an effective treatment plan.
Symptoms of Bone Cancer in Dogs
While osteosarcoma is an exceptionally serious condition, the symptoms are so subtle you may not recognize them right away, especially in the disease’s early stages. Bone cancer usually appears in the front legs, though the vertebrae, bones, ribs, facial bones, rear legs and jaw may all be impacted.
Symptoms can include:
- Signs of severe pain
- Swelling in the jaws, legs, spine, or ribs
- Loss of appetite or problems eating
- Respiratory distress
- Lethargy or weakness
- Limping or lameness
- Discharge from the nostrils
When to See Your Vet if You Suspect Your Dog Has Bone Cancer
No matter where it appears in your dog’s body, bone cancer is always deeply serious because of its propensity to spread to other organs and cause fatal conditions such as respiratory distress and loss of appetite.
It’s important to keep a close eye on your dog’s health and immediately schedule an appointment with your veterinarian if you see any of the symptoms listed, even if they are subtle.
Prognosis & Treatment of Bone Cancer in Dogs
Numerous factors influence survival rates, quality of life and prognosis for dogs who have been diagnosed with bone cancer.
The earlier it is caught, the better as we will take time to examine your dog and provide you with a prognosis based on his or her unique situation, then create a treatment plan tailored to him or her. Your primary care veterinarian may also refer you to a veterinary oncologist who has specialized training and experience in the diagnosis and treatment of pets with cancer.
Dogs who are treated for bone cancer may live for anywhere from another 1 to 6 years. However, a bone cancer diagnosis is not an easy journey and often proves fatal even with therapy and surgery.
Successful treatment can also depend on where the tumor is located - if near a vital artery or organ, prognosis is not good.
New therapies and procedures are always being researched, and your vet can discuss any recent developments that are likely to be successful for your dog.