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Bone Cancer (Osteosarcoma) In Dogs: Signs And Treatments

Bone Cancer (Osteosarcoma) In Dogs: Signs And Treatments

Osteosarcoma is an aggressive cancer that affects the bones and skeletal structures of dogs. This cancer can spread quickly to other parts of the pet's body, making early detection and treatment essential. Today our Vienna veterinary oncology team discusses the symptoms of bone cancer in your dog, and when to visit your vet.

Bone Cancer in Dogs

Bone cancers can develop from cells that usually reside in the bone space or as a metastatic disease that has spread from elsewhere in your pet's body. Osteosarcoma is the most common type of primary bone cancer seen in dogs, accounting for approximately 95% of bone tumors. Other types of bone cancer include:

  • Myeloma (Bone marrow cancer affecting the white blood cells)
  • Chondrosarcoma (The second most common type of bone cancer in dogs, often found in the nasal cavity and ribs)


Osteosarcoma is an aggressive form of cancer that leads to the malignant, abnormal growth of immature bone cells. This form of bone cancer is known to spread quickly to other parts of the body, making early detection and treatment essential in order to achieve good treatment outcomes.

While osteosarcoma is a very serious condition in dogs, there is hope. If diagnosed in the very earliest stages, life-saving surgery may be possible to amputate the cancerous limb.

Are Some Dog Breeds At Greater Risk Of Developing Osteosarcoma?

It's important to note that any breed of dog can develop bone cancer although some breeds face a higher risk of developing the disease than others, including:

  • Scottish Deerhounds
  • Large-breed dogs (e.g. Rottweilers) 
  • Giant-breed dogs (e.g. Great Danes)

Veterinary Oncology

If your dog is showing any of the following signs of bone cancer, book an appointment with a veterinary oncology team right away. Veterinarians specializing in oncology will have the appropriate technology to diagnose bone cancer and offer an effective treatment plan.

What Are The Symptoms Of Osteosarcoma In Dogs?

Osteosarcoma will often appear in the dog's front limbs near the shoulder, wrist, and knee. That said, your dog's jaw, facial bones, vertebrae, ribs, and rear legs could also be affected by osteosarcoma. The early signs of bone cancer in dogs can be challenging for dog owners to detect, since symptoms tend to be subtle. Below are some of the most common symptoms of bone cancer that pet parents should watch for:

  • Loss of appetite, lethargy
  • Neurologic signs (e.g. wobbly gait)
  • Signs of severe pain
  • Discharge from nostrils
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Swelling in the ribs, spine, legs, or jaw
  • Limping or lameness
  • Growth of a mass on the dog's body

When Should My Dog See The Vet?

Bone cancer in dogs can quickly spread to other organs. For that reason, pet parents should always take symptoms seriously and make an appointment with their vet as soon as possible if they spot any of the symptoms listed above. When it comes to your pet's health it's always better to err on the side of caution.

How Is Osteosarcoma Diagnosed In Dogs?

If your vet suspects that your dog has developed bone cancer they will perform a physical and orthopedic examination of your pet and recommend an X-ray be done to look for signs of bone cancer.

If a possible tumor appears on the X-ray the area will undergo biopsy for a more definitive diagnosis. Blood tests, urinalysis, chest X-rays or a CT scan may also be performed to help assess your dog’s overall health and determine whether the cancer has spread to your pets respiratory system or other organs.

What Is The Treatment For Bone Cancer In Dogs?

Because of the aggressive nature of osteosarcomas tumors, the most common treatment is amputation of the affected limb followed by chemotherapy to treat metastasis.

Radiation treatment can be an effective method of providing pain relief if surgery is not an option. As few as two treatments could help to relieve your dog's cancer-related pain for as much as several months.

If your dog is diagnosed with osteosarcoma, your vet oncologist will create a specialized treatment plan to coordinate cancer treatments and help your pet achieve the best possible outcome. New therapies and procedures are always being studied and alternative options may be available to help your dog.

At Hope Advanced Veterinary Center our veterinarians will inform you of any recent bone cancer treatment developments so that you can better understand your dog's treatment options.

What Is The Prognosis For Dogs With Osteosarcoma?

Unfortunately, the prognosis for many dogs with bone cancer is poor. because the disease is rarely detected before it becomes fairly advanced and has begun to spread.

The prognosis for your dog will depend on the severity and spread of the disease, as well as the treatment you choose, and factors such as age, weight, and where the tumor is located.

Your veterinarian will take the time to discuss the best treatment options, and prognosis for your dog.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your dog is showing signs of bone cancer, contact Hope Advanced Veterinary Center right away to book an examination for your pet.

New Patients Welcome 

Hope Advanced Veterinary Center is always accepting new patients! Our board-certified vets and specialists are passionate about restoring good health to Vienna's pets.

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