How to Treat Canine Bone Cancer


"How to treat canine bone cancer depends on the type and location of the illness.

There are four types of tumors:


  1. Osteosarcoma (tumor from bone tissue)
  2. Chondrosarcoma (tumors in the connecting bone cartilage)

    Benign (not cancer):

  3. Osteoma
  4. Osteochondromas

Most tumors are malignant and require immediate treatment."


Tumors come from the connective tissue, blood vessels, and lymphatic tissue (mesenchymal elements) associated with bone. These tumors are referred to based on the location such as the fibrousconnective tissue (fibrosarcoma), the fat cells (liposarcoma), the blood vessels (hemangiosarcoma), and the hematopoietic cells of the bone marrow (plasma cell tumor, lymphosarcoma).

The most common tumor type is osteosarcoma (80%) followed by chondrosarcomas (10%) and fibrosarcomas/hemangiosarcomas (7%). Parostealosteosarcoma, lymphosarcoma, plasma cell myeloma and dinosarcoma are rare.

Symptoms of Canine Bone Cancer

The signs are often difficult to associate with any one type of tumor. Usually a tumor will cause pain which is evident by your dog avoiding the use of one of its limbs and pain caused during the examination by touching the affected area. With pain your dog may become irritable and aggressive. Other signs include crying, whimpering, crying, sleeplessness and inactivity.

Diagnosis of Canine Bone Cancer

Your Veterinarian will do an examination of your dog and look for swelling and tenderness. X-Rays will be taken to spot any unusual masses. This will be accompanied by a blood test. Cancer may have spread from the area in question to the lungs requiring that your dog's entire body be examined.

If it is determined that your dog is at risk, your doctor will take a sample (incisional biopsy), or if it makes sense the entire area of the tumor will be removed (excisional biopsy).

Treatment of Canine Bone Cancer

Surgery is used to amputate the affected area. Since the most common cause of death is not the tumor, but the spread of cancer to the lungs, chemotherapy is used to make sure that all of the cancer cells are killed (Adriamycin (doxorubicin) and cisplatin or carboplatin).

Depending on the location of the tumor, radiation is used to prevent the recurrence of tumors near the site where the original tumor was found.


James M. Giffin MD and Liisa D. Carlson DVM; Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook

Canine Osteosarcoma, Is There a Cure?
J. Kirpensteijn, DVM, PhD, Diplomate ECVS & ACVS Chief, Soft Tissue Surgery Section
Department of Clinical Sciences of Companion Animals
Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University
Utrecht, The Netherlands

Textbook of Small Animal Orthopaedics, C. D. Newton and D. M. Nunamaker (Eds.)
Publisher: International Veterinary Information Service (
Ithaca, New York, USA. 

Malignant Bone Tumors in the Dog ( 1-Jan-1985 )
M. H. Goldschmidt and D. E. Thrall

Canine Cancer

Benign Bone Tumors in the Dog
Michael H. Goldschmidt and Donald E. Thrall