How To Treat Canine Osteosarcoma

Pet dog with leg injury

Canine Osteosarcoma is a very painful bone cancer, usually affecting the bones of the dog’s front legs. The tissues in these bones can weaken to the point that spontaneous fracturing will occur. This cancer is usually found in large and giant breeds of dogs such as:

  1. Great Danes
  2. Saint Bernards
  3. Great Pyrenees
  4. Newfoundlands
  5. Burmese Mountain Dogs
  6. Irish Wolfhounds
  7. Rottweilers
  8. Labrador Retrievers
  9. Doberman Pinschers
  10. Golden Retrievers
  11. Weimaraners
  12. Boxers

The symptoms present in dogs with Canine Osteosarcoma are:

  1. Spontaneous fracturing of the leg bones
  2. Pain in the affected leg bones
  3. Lameness
  4. Pronounced swelling of the leg bone

Once the dog presenting these symptoms is taken to the veterinarian, the veterinarian will make a diagnosis by:

  1. Performing a physical exam
  2. Ordering x-rays of the area in question
  3. Performing a biopsy if needed

Treatment should begin immediately following the diagnosis by the veterinarian. This treatment is aggressive and can include:

  1. Amputation of the cancerous leg
  2. Limb-sparing surgery, which is surgery that removes the tumor or the cancerous area of the bone
  3. Chemotherapy using the drugs Carboplatin, Cisplatin, Doxorubicin or a combination of Cisplatin and Doxorubicin, is administered after surgery
  4. Radiation is used to treat some dogs with this cancer
  5. Pain relief

Using chemotherapy during treatment has side effects caused from the chemotherapy killing any fast-growing cells, cancerous or not. The cells lining the stomach and intestine and white blood cells are among these fast-growing cells, which is why the chemotherapy can cause side effects such as:

  1. Nausea
  2. Vomiting
  3. Diarrhea
  4. Infections

Treatment is the key to prolonging a dog’s life after being diagnosed with Canine Osteosarcoma.

  1. Without any treatment, the dog will live 1 to 2 months after diagnosis
  2. When treated only with surgery, the dog will live 4 to 6 months longer
  3. When surgery is followed by chemotherapy, the dog’s life can be extended for up to one year, especially if the cancer goes into remission.

Canine Osteosarcoma is a very painful type of cancer. With this in mind, added to the fact that other treatments do not give the dog a long, productive life, most owners of dogs with this cancer choose to have their beloved pet euthanized. Only 10% of dogs who have Canine Osteosarcoma are actually cured, making the decision facing an owner a difficult decision, but one that needs to be made, with what is best for the dog in mind.


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