Osteosarcoma in dogs primarily affects larger breeds, has no known actual cause, and in most every case of this killer of diseases, your dog will face amputation.
It is also very aggressive and can spread throughout your dog’s body if it is not treated.
However, even once it is treated, your dog in most cases will only live another 10 to 12 months. Left untreated, they will usually die within 2 to 3 months as it is that wicked.
Osteosarcoma in dogs has another name that may be much more familiar to most owners; bone cancer.
Although this form of cancer only accounts in roughly five percent of all canine tumors, it accounts for about 90 percent of all malignancies that involve the bones of your dog.
It is estimated that nearly fifty thousand dogs a year worldwide will contract this form of cancer.
Although osteosarcoma in dogs primarily affects large breeds, it can and has affected both mid-size and smaller breeds, but it is not very common.
It affects males and females equally, and usually attacks dogs after six years of age.
However, it can affect dogs as young as two years old in some cases.
This wicked form of cancer will usually start in the bones of the limbs of your dog which is referred to as the appendicular skeleton.
However, although most less common, it may also start in your dog’s spine, pelvis, or even their skull.
It is a very aggressive cancer and has only one proven form of treatment; amputation that is usually accompanied with chemotherapy.
Osteosarcoma in dogs to date has no known actual cause but there are several theories of what may be the cause.
It is believed that since it primarily affects breeds that are fifty pounds or larger, it may have something to do with rapid early growth.
As your dog starts to grow and mature, there is a lot of increased weight and force that is being applied to their bones.
It also seems to appear a lot more often at the site of a fracture that was medically repaired.
The most common method of repairing fractures in your dog’s bones is with metal plates or pins.
It is a theory, but only a theory, that chronic irritation may be associated with the development of this cancer.
There are also some suggestions that radiation exposure may also trigger this wicked form of cancer.
Although none of these has yet to be verified, there is one certainty about osteosarcoma; it will cause your dog to become lame.
Osteosarcoma in dogs does have several symptoms, but by far and away the earliest and most predominant of the symptoms is your dog suddenly becoming lame in the affected limb.
Once this occurs, your dog will naturally become very reluctant to exercise simply because they may no longer have the ability to exercise normally.
But there are also other symptoms that you can watch for with this killer.
Your dog may also start to experience pain in any of their bones and may, as a result of this, start to break bones with even the slightest of traumatic experiences.
Outside of the lameness, this is the single biggest indicator you will see that will suggest your dog has this killer. Once this does occur, your dog will usually start coughing.
Coughing is the absolute worst sound that you will ever hear from your dog and unless they have eaten or drank too quickly, it is your first glimpse that something is seriously wrong.
If your dog starts to limp, breaks bones for literally no reason, and then starts coughing; you now will have some very difficult decisions to make.
Osteosarcoma in dogs in most every case has only one form of effective treatment, surgery to remove the tumor en bloc.
This means that all of the bone that is affected as well as the surrounding tissues will have to be removed.
Since this cancer is most common in your dog’s bones that affect their limbs, it will result in the amputation of your dogs affected limb.
This will undoubtedly be, other than having to put your dog down, the most difficult decision you will ever make regarding your dog.
But there is something very important to consider in this decision; the pain your dog is in.
Osteosarcoma is extremely painful and the amputation will immediately remove most all of the pain your dog is suffering.
However, you will also have to keep in mind that it is only palliative, which means it is pain relieving, and will not enhance in any way the long term survival length of your dog.
As difficult as the thought of amputation is, most dogs do remarking well with only three legs.
Compared to the amount of pain they are suffering, any pain or inconvenience that they encounter is minimal when compared to the extraordinary pain they are experiencing.
There is also another form of treatment that will have to give to your dog; chemotherapy. Osteosarcoma is highly metastatic by nature and the amputation alone will not prolong your dog’s survival.
Chemotherapy is often used once your dog has healed completely and the drugs involved will be given by intravenous injections in their legs.
However, there are several forms of this treatment available and it is best to consult with your veterinarian of which choice you want to make.
There are also other forms of treatment that you may have to use. If your dog has existing conditions that will disqualify them from amputation, radiation therapy may be used.
However, it is highly specialized, very expensive, and is not available everywhere.
If you decide not to choose either of these options, your dog can be given both narcotic and non-narcotic drugs that will make them more comfortable in their final days.
The average life expectancy with amputation is usually about a year in most dogs.
Without the surgery and the chemotherapy, your dog will have about two months to spend with you before this killer takes them.
Osteosarcoma in dogs is essentially a death warrant, but if you decide to have it treated, you can still have about another year with your dog.
This last year may be gut wrenching for you because of the amputation, but at least your dog will be mostly pain free and can survive remarkably well with only three legs.
If you can afford it or have insurance to cover it, you can still enjoy your loyal friend for several more months.