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Dog bone cancer or osteosarcoma accounts for about 5% of canine tumors but is the most common canine bone tumors. It is a malignant tumor that can develop in any bone in the body but would most commonly form in the bones around the shoulders, wrist and knee. All breeds are at risk for this type of cancer but larger breeds are more susceptible. Dog bone cancer is an extremely aggressive cancer and can metastasize or spread throughout the body rapidly. There are ways to treat bone cancer, but unfortunately, most of the prognosis for dogs diagnosed with this type of cancer is poor. Osteosarcoma is an insidious and painful disease as it destroys bones from the inside and spreads out. Lameness can occur immediately or in the course of a few weeks. Early detection and diagnosis however could aid in prolonging and improving a canine’s life.
The exact cause of bone cancer is unknown but research has revealed that neither genetics nor gender play a role in its formation. Giant and large breeds however are most commonly afflicted. It also usually occurs in in middle-aged to older dogs. The most common symptom of canine bone cancer is lameness. There may also be a swelling or mass at the tumor site which may cause the dog pain. Other symptoms depend upon the location of the cancer. Those with mandibular and orbital tumors would have difficulty swallowing while dogs with cranial or vertebral tumors would have neurological problems. Tumors in the pelvic area will result in difficulty in defecating.
Diagnosis would usually begin with an X-ray scan in order to view the mass. Other tests would then be conducted including biopsies, blood tests, bone and CAT scans. If bone cancer has been positively diagnosed, your vet would then inform you of the proper management and care of dog bone cancer. The treatment protocol would be surgery and chemotherapy. The latter is undergone in order to ensure that the cancer will not spread to other parts of the body, especially the lymph nodes. Amputation might also have to be done for severe cases.
After the surgery, your dog’s life will have to change drastically. Movements will be restricted. Pain management programs and medications would be prescribed in order to reduce pain and inflammation. Red and white blood cells must be monitored and X-rays continued to check for remission.
Whenever a pet is diagnosed with dog bone cancer, it always a saddening and disheartening occurrence. However, it is up to you to ease the plight of your friend. Knowing the symptoms and dangers of osteosarcoma is one step. The earlier the disease is caught and treated, the less suffering your dog will have to go through. Always work with your veterinarian in order to ensure the best prognosis possible.