Causes & Diagnosis of Osteosarcoma in Dogs

by Naomi Millburn
    Osteosarcomas are rare in tiny dogs.

    Osteosarcomas are rare in tiny dogs.

    Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images

    Osteosarcoma is a term that refers to a bone tumor that is especially prevalent in the canine world. This bone cancer, in most cases, is centered around bones of the limbs -- it occurs around the knees, wrists or shoulders, for instance. An osteosarcoma moves fast.

    Osteosarcoma Key Information

    These tumors operate by starting inside of bones. They wreak both interior and exterior havoc onto them. It isn't uncommon for osteosarcomas to swiftly move throughout the body, often to nearby bones and to the lungs. When dogs are finally confirmed as having osteosarcomas, their cancers usually have traveled from their initial spots. This is known as metastasis. These tumors are often difficult to handle because of their metastastic qualities.

    Causes

    The specific cause of osteosarcomas is uncertain. However, these tumors are sometimes associated with the presence of components such as chemical carcinogens, nutrition, bodily development, radiation and reproductive hormones. Certain types of canines seem to be more susceptible to these tumors, namely dogs of big breeds. Some examples of these breeds are Rottweilers, Dobermans, golden retrievers, Great Danes, Irish wolfhounds, Bernese mountain dogs, boxers, Newfoundlands and Great Pyrenees, among others. Osteosarcomas also are especially prevalent in dogs who are elderly or at least middle-age. Male dogs are also more frequently affected by them, as are fixed canines.

    Diagnosis

    Only a veterinarian can confirm whether or not a dog indeed is dealing with osteosarcomas. Various diagnostic examinations can help the vet figure out what's going on, specifically X-rays. Additional testing, bone biopsies, sometimes is necessary. Management of osteosarcomas often focuses on handling pain and preventing metastasis. Surgical limb removal is a common means of handling pain. Oral medicine is frequently offered for short-term pain management. Chemotherapy, limb-sparing procedures and radiation therapy are other management options for dogs. A veterinarian can decide exactly which management path is most suitable for any specific dog with the condition. With proper veterinary management and care, it isn't uncommon for dogs to survive for around two years after diagnosis. This bone cancer doesn't have a cure but can be controlled in order to help dogs maintain more happy and comfortable lives.

    Signs

    Knowledge of typical signs of osteosarcomas can be extremely helpful. If you spot symptoms early, you can get the little guy on the road to diagnosis and management a lot faster. Some common symptoms of these tumors are inability to walk, exhaustion, easy fracturing, swelling and aching of the bones or joints. Pain and discomfort can also frequently cause dogs to display other conspicuous symptoms, specifically hesitation regarding partaking in physical activities, unusually fierce behavior, agitation, insufficient sleeping and crying.

    Photo Credits

    • Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Naomi Millburn has been a freelance writer since 2011. Her areas of writing expertise include arts and crafts, literature, linguistics, traveling, fashion and European and East Asian cultures. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in American literature from Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo.

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