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Osteosarcoma in Dogs… Symptoms, expectations and costs!

Osteosarcoma in dogs is the most common form of Bone cancer, and like any cancer, it is a terrible disease that will leave your poor pup in pain. It is considered one of the most aggressive types of Sarcoma that exist, and tumors caused by this horrible disease spread even to boneless parts of the body.


It spreads quickly, kills any bone it grows on, and moves on to a new site, leaving dogs lame or worse if it goes undiagnosed.  This is why we wanted to take a moment and discuss what to look for when deal with osteosarcoma in dogs because early detection and immediate treatment are typically the way that this cancer can be beaten. Otherwise it is highly likely that you will lose your beloved pet.

So, let’s take a closer look at this condition and find out what it is, what it does, and most importantly, how you can go about helping your pup to beat the odds.

What is Osteosarcoma, and what does it do?

Osteosarcoma occurs when the body starts to produce too many Osteocytes. These are the cells that are used to grow bone. When the immune system produces too many of these in one area, cancer cells are produced, causing Osteosarcoma.

This cancer is…

Attached to the bone initially but can spread to other parts of the body. When the osteocyte tumor grows, it will use up all of the nutritional resources of that section of bone, leaving it to die as the primary tumor moves on to a new location. This bone will then likely suffer from what is called a pathological fracture. If left untreated, the cancer cells will likely spread to other areas of your pet’s body, decreasing his or her likelihood of surviving significantly.  This, again is why early detection and treatment are so important.

Now it is believed…

Many giant breeds are inclined to Osteosarcoma and the disease is spread genetically. However, the precise genetic sequence in which it is written is unknown, making it difficult to prevent and thus extinguish.  As a result, the median survival rates for this disease are not good even with treatment; however like many other diseases, advancements are continually being made, so one never knows what the future holds.

Clinical Signs of Osteosarcoma

Clinical signs of this disease include:

  • Lameness in one or more limbs,
  • Distal radius fractures or proximal humerus fractures,
  • Pain and swelling in the joints,
  • Unexplained weight loss or loss of appetite.

Your pet may be in pain in all legs or simply in one. The inflammation and irritation may be present in only one leg or all four, in the elbow or the hip socket, and possibly in the soft tissue. This is why the survival rates for this condition are not reasonable.

Most Commonly Affected Breeds

As we mentioned before, certain giant breed dogs are genetically predisposed to this condition. There are other known breeds, and this type of cancer can also be detected in mixed-breed dogs, although the occurrence is rarer.

Breeds known to be affected are:

Boxers, Labrador Retrievers, Newfoundlands, and Bernese Mountain Dogs are also known to be at risk, but any breed of dog can develop bone cancer.  It is essential to look out for the signs and have your pet regularly checked by the vet, especially as they grow older and become more at risk of disease.

Treatment Options

This is an aggressive set of tumors that will need limb-sparing surgery immediately. Veterinary medicine has come a long way in the last few years, and it is possible to save your pet.

Chemotherapy and radiation therapies are…

They are also prescribed in some cases, as well as anti-inflammatory drugs. Your veterinarian may want to do a bone biopsy to look for tumor cells or a chest X-ray for evidence of cancer in the lungs. If they find it, this usually means that the cancer has already spread to the lymph nodes, and amputation will no longer solve the problem alone.


Limb amputation is the only answer, in which Non-Steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may be prescribed in the aftermath. In almost all cases, immediate surgery is the treatment, which may save your dog. Your vet should be able to talk you through everything you need about your surgical options and make you fully aware of any risks.

This brings us to…

Were we like to remind folks that we here at IndulgeYourPet are not doctors, veterinarians, or medical professionals.  All we are is a bunch of folks who happen to be passionate about animals and only want what’s best for them.  This is why if you feel like your pet may have Osteosarcoma (or any other health issue for that matter), you’re going to want to have him or her check out by a vet ASAP!


The truth is, an early diagnosis will often lead to the “best” medical outcome for your pet regardless of what is bothering him or her, but beyond that diagnosing a medical condition early could save you a bundle in medical costs!  This is also why, we here at IndulgeYourPet also recommend that any new pet owner take a moment and see what it might cost for you to purchase a pet insurance policy for your new animal.

Now will a pet insurance policy be right for everyone?

No, probably not.  But until you fully understand what these policies “will” and “won’t” cover and how much these pet insurance policies cost, how will you know if one might be right for you?

For more information on who we feel currently offers the “best” pet insurance policies out there, we would encourage you to check out our Best Pet Insurance Policies article.

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