Skip to Main Content
Ask About Financing

Signs of Bone Cancer in Dogs & How It's Treated

Signs of Bone Cancer in Dogs & How It's Treated

Bone cancer is sometimes seen in dogs and early detection and treatment is essential. Today, our veterinary oncology team in Ankeny explains how to spot symptoms of bone cancer in your dog, and when to see a vet. 

Bone Cancer in Dogs

Bone cancers can develop in cells that typically reside in the bonne space (primary cancer) or as a metastatic disease that has spread from cancers elsewhere in your pet's body. Osteosarcoma accounts for most bone tumors and is the most common type of primary bone cancer seen in dogs. Other types of bone cancers include:

  • Myeloma (Bone marrow cancer which affects the white blood cells)
  • Chondrosarcoma (The second most common type of bone cancer in dogs, often found in the nasal cavity and ribs)


This aggressive cancer leads to malignant, abnormal growth of immature bone cells. Because osteosarcoma is known to spread quickly to other parts of the body, it's vital that the disease is detected and treated early.

Though osteosarcoma is a very serious illness in dogs, there is hope. If diagnosed in its very early stages, life-saving surgery to amputate the cancerous limb may be possible.  

Dog Breeds Facing An Increased Risk of Osteosarcoma

Keep in mind that while any dog breed can develop bone cancer, some breeds face a higher risk of developing this disease than others, including:

  • Great Danes and other giant-breed dogs
  • Scottish Deerhounds which are genetically predisposed to osteosarcoma
  • Rottweilers and other large-breed dogs

Veterinary Oncology

If your dog is exhibiting any of the signs of bone cancer listed below, schedule an appointment with a veterinary oncology team right away. Veterinarians specializing in oncology will have the appropriate technology to diagnose bone cancer and potentially develop an effective treatment plan. 

Signs of Bone Cancer in Dogs

Osteosarcoma will often appear in the dog's front limbs near the shoulder, wrist, and knee. That said, your dog's jaw, facial bones, vertebrae, ribs, and rear legs could also be affected by osteosarcoma. The early signs of bone cancer in dogs can difficult for pet parents to recognize since symptoms tend to be subtle. Below are some of the most common symptoms of bone cancer that pet parents should watch for:

  • Loss of appetite and Lethargy
  • Neurologic signs, such as a wobbly gait
  • Indications of severe pain
  • Discharge from the nostrils
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Swelling in the ribs, spine, legs, or jaw
  • Limping or lameness
  • Growth of a mass on the dog's body

When to See Your Veterinarian

Bone cancer in dogs can quickly spread to other organs. For that reason, pet parents should always take symptoms seriously and make an appointment with their vet as soon as possible if they spot any of the symptoms listed above. When it comes to your pet's health it's always better to err on the side of caution.

Diagnosing Osteosarcoma in Dogs

If your vet suspects that your dog has developed bone cancer they will perform a physical and orthopedic examination of your pet and recommend an X-ray be done to look for signs of bone cancer.

If a possible tumor appears on the X-ray the area will biopsied for a definitive diagnosis. Blood tests, urinalysis, chest X-rays or a CT scan may also be performed to help assess your dog’s overall health and determine whether the cancer has spread to your pets respiratory system or other organs. 

Treating Bone Cancer in Dogs

Due to the aggressive nature of osteosarcomas tumors, the most common treatment is amputation of the affected limb followed by chemotherapy to treat metastasis. 

Radiation treatment can be effective for providing pain relief if surgery is not an option.  As few as two treatments could help to relieve your dog's cancer related pain for as long as several months.

If your dog is diagnosed with osteosarcoma your vet will develop a specialized treatment plan to coordinate cancer treatments and help your pet achieve the best possible outcome. New therapies and procedures are always being studied and alternative options may be available to help your dog. 

At  Creature Comforts Veterinary Hospital, our veterinarians take the time to discuss recent bone cancer treatment developments with you so that you are able to understand your dog's treatment options.

The prognosis for Dogs With Bone Cancer

Sadly, the prognosis for many dogs with bone cancer is poor since the disease often is not detected until it has become fairly advanced and has begun to spread.

The prognosis for your dog will depend on the severity and spread of the disease, as well as the treatment you choose, and factors such as age, weight, and where the tumor is located. 

Your veterinarian will take the time to discuss the best treatment options, and prognosis for your dog.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your dog is displaying any signs and symptoms of bone cancer, contact Creature Comforts Veterinary Hospital right away to book an examination for your pet. 

New Patients Welcome

Creature Comforts Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our Ankeny vets take the time to get to know our clients and treat every pet as if it were our own. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

Contact Us

Contact (515) 965-0006