Symptoms of Bone Cancer in Dogs
Because early diagnosis and treatment is essential to prolonging your dog’s life, you should be aware of the early symptoms of bone cancer in dogs and bring your pet to the vet as soon as they occur.
One of the first signs is lameness or limping from pain that strikes suddenly. This is often accompanied by swelling in the affected area.
Unfortunately, limping is also a sign of arthritis, another common problem for older dogs, and can lead to a misdiagnosis at first. Painkillers prescribed for what’s thought to be arthritis can alleviate the problem in the short term, but it worsens the prognosis for bone cancer by delaying more appropriate treatment.
To help avoid such a misdiagnosis, your vet may want to perform an X-ray on the dog.
Treatments for Bone Cancer in Dogs
Dog bone cancer treatment often entails amputation of the affected limb and chemotherapy. When combined with chemotherapy, amputation helps many dogs live for a year or more following surgery.
Amputation may sound like a drastic move, but most dogs can walk well on three legs if they’re otherwise healthy. And, in addition to ridding the body of the source tumor, which will help stop the spread of the cancer, amputation should get rid of much of the dog’s pain.
Although amputation is the general recommendation for treatment of bone cancer, some pet parents opt for a limb-sparing surgery that removes the affected bone and replaces it with donor bone from a dog cadaver. However, 44 percent of dogs who undergo this procedure develop infections, so you should talk to your vet and consider all your options carefully.
- Animal Cancer Center. “Bone Cancer in Dogs.” Colorado State University Veterinary Training Hospital. Colorado State University. (May 10, 2011)
- Brevitz, Betsy. “The Complete Healthy Dog Handbook.” Workman Publishing, 2009. (May 10, 2011)
- Edredge, Debra, Margaret H. Bonham. “Cancer and Your Pet.” Capital Books, 2005. (May 10, 2011)
- Messonnier, Shawn. “The Natural Vet’s Guide to Preventing and Treating Cancer in Dogs.” New World Library, 2006. (May 10, 2011)
- McCullough, Susan. “Senior Dogs For Dummies.” John Wiley and Sons, 2004. (May 10, 2011)