Bone Cancer in a Dog: Wallace’s Osteosarcoma

If your large breed dog suffers from lameness that doesn’t respond to treatment, insist on x-rays.

Please remember that many dogs don’t get diagnosed until the bone had eroded to the point when it broke. It is always better to be safe than sorry.

What is osteosarcoma?

Osteosarcoma is the most common bone cancer in dogs—about 85% of all cancers affecting the bone. Osteosarcomas are malignant, aggressive, and extremely painful. Unfortunately, symptoms can be quite ambiguous—after all, limping can have all sorts of causes. Depending on the location, you might find firm swelling or a bump, but that might not be easily detectable everywhere. Further, things get even more clouded when osteosarcoma affects other bones than in the legs.

Other potential, non-specific symptoms include:

  • irritability
  • aggression
  • loss of appetite
  • weight loss
  • reluctance to exercise
  • vocalization

Further information: Bone Tumors in Dogs

Common osteosarcoma sites

Osteosarcoma affects mostly large breed dogs and it is most likely to develop at the ends of long bones such as:

  • radius at the wrist
  • humerus at the shoulder
  • femur and tibia around the knee
Bone Cancer in a Dog: Wallace's Osteosarcoma

Wallace’s story

Wallace was a middle-aged Standard Poodle. He was a happy, active, well-loved boy. He had a wonderful mom and a fantastic life.

One day, after his playtime, Wallace returned to the house favoring his leg. He always played with great vigor, and it was reasonable to assume he might have sprained something. When the veterinarian examined Wallace, he agreed that Wallace sprained or strained something.

Wallace was limping only slightly, bearing weight on the leg and didn’t seem overly upset about it.

The limp doesn’t go away

As the time went on, the injury didn’t seem to want to heal. Wallace would get better and then start limping again. Shouldn’t a simple sprain have resolved by now? It always looked like it did and it always came back.

Then, when his mom was grooming Wallace, she found a swelling above his right wrist. It didn’t seem to hurt and it was hard to see in all his fur. What is it? She decided to shave the fur off to get a better look. With the fur gone, it was apparent that there was quite a large growth.

What is that bump?

Given her experiences, the first thing that came to Wallace’s mom’s mind for cancer. Her heart sank, and she was trying to come up with another idea of what it could be. Perhaps it’s just some sort of infection? Maybe swelling from the soft tissue injury? Wallace didn’t seem to be bothered by it.

She made an appointment with the veterinarian, which was to include x-rays.

Wallace’s diagnosis

Wallace limped into the clinic but looked his normal happy self. The staff all knew him and it was a cheerful greeting. Wallace didn’t look or act as if there was something seriously wrong.

However, when the veterinarian examined Wallace’s leg, her expression changed from cheerful to serious. She was suspecting the same thing Wallace’s mom did—bone cancer. However, Wallace had no pain response to any pushing, pulling or pressing of his leg. Bone cancer is crazy painful—perhaps it really is an infection or abscess.

Unfortunately, x-ray imaging shattered all hopes. Wallace indeed had osteosarcoma.

Source article:
Wallace’s Story: A Journey Through an Osteosarcoma Diagnosis

Related articles:
Dog Lameness Diagnosis: Why It Is Essential to Figure out What’s Wrong
Common Limping Misdiagnoses in Dogs

Further reading:
Bone Cancer in Dogs: What You Need to Know

Categories: Dog health advocacy

Jana Rade

I am a graphic designer, dog health advocate, writer, and author. Jasmine, the Rottweiler of my life, was the largest female from her litter. We thought we were getting a healthy dog. Getting a puppy from a backyard breeder was our first mistake. Countless veterinary visits without a diagnosis or useful treatment later, I realized that I had to take Jasmine's health care in my own hands. I learned the hard way that merely seeing a vet is not always enough. There is more to finding a good vet than finding the closest clinic down the street. And, sadly, there is more to advocating for your dog's health than visiting a veterinarian. It should be enough, but it often is not. With Jasmine, it took five years to get a diagnosis. Unfortunately, other problems had snowballed for that in the meantime. Jasmine's health challenges became a crash course in understanding dog health issues and how to go about getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. I had to learn, and I had to learn fast. Helping others through my challenges and experience has become my mission and Jasmine's legacy. I now try to help people how to recognize and understand signs of illness in their dogs, how to work with their veterinarian, and when to seek a second opinion. My goal is to save others the steep curve of having to learn things the hard way as I did. That is the mission behind my blog and behind my writing. That is why I wrote Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, which has turned out being an award-winning guide to dog owners. What I'm trying to share encompasses 20 years of experience.

5 Comments
  1. I have a good friend in the blogging world who had this happen to her dog. Surgery was done to remove the leg and he was doing well, until several months later when the cancer came back. Unfortunately, he is gone now. It’s so important to check our pets everyday and to be an advocate for them when taking them to the vet.

  2. It is my biggest fear, cancer. I check Layla for lumps and bumps all the time and although she is small it scares me to death. I am so sorry Wallace had cancer and sending hugs to his family

  3. My mind always goes straight to cancer when I find a lump or bump on any of our pets. It’s such a gut-wrenching feeling, isn’t it? The fact that the signs are so vague makes it difficult. I know that they stress the importance of early diagnosis for their best chances when it comes to cancer treatment, but it’s hard to know that’s what you are dealing with when the signs look like something as small as a sprain or irritability. Really, those signs could be just about anything!

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