Osteosarcoma in Dogs

Osteosarcoma in dogs (also called canine osteosarcoma) is an aggressive form of cancer that affects the bones, usually in larger breeds. While it can affect any dog, its most common victims are the German shepherd and Doberman pinscher.

Osteosarcoma is a type of bone cancer that occurs in dogs. It usually affects the long bones (legs), but can occur in any bone.

It usually affects the long bones (legs), but can occur in any bone. Osteosarcoma is a very common cancer in dogs and occurs most often in large breeds such as German Shepherds, Irish Setters and Rottweilers.

The first symptoms include limping or pain when walking on the affected leg, difficulty rising from a resting position or normal activity level, tenderness around the bone area and swelling over time.

What causes Osteosarcoma?

While the exact cause of osteosarcoma is unknown, there are a few key things to understand about how it develops.

First, osteosarcoma is caused by a genetic mutation that causes the body to produce too many cells in the affected bone. This can happen as a result of an injury or trauma to the area and/or as part of an inherited disease process that runs in families; sometimes both factors come into play. The genetic mutation is passed on from one generation to the next. It’s not yet known what causes this mutation to occur at all times in some dogs’ bodies but not others’.

Signs of osteosarcoma may include lameness, pain, and swelling in the affected area or fracture of the affected bone.

Signs of osteosarcoma may include lameness, pain, and swelling in the affected area or fracture of the affected bone. Your pet may have difficulty breathing if the lungs are involved. If a limb is affected by osteosarcoma and is not amputated, you may notice that one or more toes on your dog’s paw seem to stick out at an odd angle or look swollen.

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Osteosarcoma is diagnosed by X-rays and sometimes CT scans.

X-rays are used to diagnose osteosarcoma. A veterinarian will take X-rays of the bones in your dog’s body, looking for tumors on the bones and any areas that look abnormal. Osteosarcoma often spreads to other areas of the body, so it’s important to have a set of chest X-rays done with each set of bone X-rays. Chest x-rays help detect whether or not there is spread to lungs or abdomen (belly).

CT scans are more accurate than plain X-rays at detecting smaller tumors and pinpointing the location of tumors within a limb or body cavity. They can also detect lung metastases in dogs who have their affected limbs amputated (surgery).

Treatment may include amputation and chemotherapy.

Treatment may include amputation and chemotherapy. If your dog has a tumor in a limb, surgery is the main treatment option. The surgeon will remove all diseased cells and any excess tissue that could be affected by cancer.

Surgery to amputate the affected limb is the most common treatment option for osteosarcoma in dogs. Chemotherapy may also be used to target cancer cells that have spread or metastasized (spread to other parts of the body).


We know that osteosarcoma is a scary diagnosis, but the good news is that there are things you can do to help your dog. Getting the best options for treatment and care requires working with your vet, knowing what tests to ask for, and learning as much as possible about this type of cancer in order to make informed decisions on behalf of your furry friend. Staying positive and keeping up with regular check-ups will make sure that if anything changes or gets worse it’s caught early enough so that it can be treated before causing any issues.