Canine Bone Tumors Treatment

Reader Question: Is this the right dog bone tumor treatment approach?

I am the parent of a 6 year old male Rhodesian Ridgeback (Name: Makali). He has no pertinent past medical history and clear bloodline history (reputable breeder). Both parents are still alive and the litter is without other incidents. We live in Bakersfield which is in California's Central Valley. There are cases of canine Valley Fever of which he has tested negative for twice. Additionally, Makali has had 5 sample bone biopsy's taken. 4 tested for cancer and 1 tested for fungal. All returned negative.

Chest X-rays were negative for cancer and bone X-rays showed a large expansion (swelling) of the bone end and thinning. The tumor is at the wrist and I'm not exactly sure if it was the radial or ulna, but is is just one of them I believe.

The onset was approximately 6 months ago and has recently become worse in the last month. The diagnosis has been Osteosarcoma, however Makali HAS NOT shown any signs of having cancer I.E; lethargy, loss of appetite, or weight loss. Makali is expienceing a great deal of pain of which he is on a liquid pain killer (Gabapentin) tid.

Additionally, Makali WAS on a anti-inflammatory medication, but has been taken off due to the diagnosis. We have been advised to amputate the limp or begin standard cancer treatment of which we cannot afford. We are very upset by Makali's illness
and even further upset that no definitive diagnosis has been reached. All Vets invov\led have claimed cancer, however this case does not seem to fit the diagnosis.

We are not financially able to go much further with treatments, especially not knowing what exactly we are treating Makali for. Finally, we have decided that amputation is not an option for us out of respect for Makali and that we are not comfortable putting down our dog if this is a treatable benign tumor.

Please, any help or guidance would be a God send.

Veterinarian Suggestion Regarding Osteosarcoma Diagnosis


I am so sorry for what you and Makali have been through. It does sound like osteosarcoma is the most likely diagnosis in his case, especially since multiple veterinarians directly involved in his care have reached the same diagnosis. It is quite common for dogs with osteosarcoma to have no symptoms other than pain, which is often severe, in the early to mid-stages of the disease. It is only later that we see the weight loss, lethargy, and loss of appetite that are typically associated with a diagnosis of cancer.

Your decision not to amputate is perfectly reasonable and you should not feel guilty for it. Just make sure that you are doing everything possible to treat his pain and watch his quality of life closely. At some point, euthanasia will probably be the only way to prevent him from suffering.

Best regards,

Jennifer Coates, DVM

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