Canine Osteosarcoma

Canine osteosarcoma is a type of cancer that affects a dog’s bones. It’s the most common primary bone tumor in dogs and accounts for 85% of all canine bone tumors. Osteosarcoma typically affects large dog breeds, but can occur in any breed. Large breed dogs like German Shepherds, Great Danes, Labrador Retrievers, and Golden Retrievers have a history of osteosarcoma.

The cause of osteosarcoma is unknown, but it’s believed to be related to genetics and environmental factors.

Osteosarcoma is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition, but with early diagnosis and treatment, many dogs can live for years after diagnosis. It’s important to take your dog to the vet if you notice any of the symptoms associated with osteosarcoma, with early detection and treatment you can greatly improve their outcome.

Symptoms of Canine Osteosarcoma

The most common symptom of osteosarcoma is lameness or limping. Other symptoms can include:

  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Difficulty moving the affected limb

In some cases, there could be visible signs of bone damage, such as:

  • Fractures
  • Deformities

Deformities are a common symptom of osteosarcoma. As the tumor grows, it can cause the affected bone to become deformed or bent. This can lead to difficulty moving the affected limb and can even cause fractures in some cases.

The tumor can cause swelling and pain in the area, which can be very uncomfortable for your dog. If you notice any deformities or swelling in your dog, it’s important to take them to the vet to be evaluated.

Diagnosing Canine Osteosarcoma

Diagnosing osteosarcoma typically involves a combination of tests. The tests can include blood work, X-rays, CT scans, and biopsies. These tests can help the vet determine the type of tumor, its size and location, and whether it has spread to other areas. The results of these tests will then be used to determine the best course of treatment for your pet.

Stages of Canine Osteosarcoma

Osteosarcoma is typically split into four stages:

Stage 1

The tumor is localized and has not spread to other parts of their body.

Stage 2

The tumor has spread to nearby lymph nodes or soft tissues.

Stage 3

The tumor has spread to distant organs or bones.

Stage 4

The tumor has metastasized, meaning it has spread to other parts of their body.

Treating Canine Osteosarcoma

Treating osteosarcoma will depend on the stage of their cancer and the overall health of your dog. Treatment options can include:


Surgery is typically the first line of treatment for osteosarcoma. The goal of surgery is to remove as much of the tumor as possible.


Chemotherapy can be used to help shrink the tumor and reduce the growth of any remaining cancer cells.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy can be used to help destroy any remaining cancer cells.

If you notice any of the symptoms associated with osteosarcoma, it’s important to take your dog to the vet to do an evaluation as soon as you can.

Alternative Treatments

In addition to traditional treatments, there are also a number of alternative treatments that could be beneficial for dogs with osteosarcoma. These include:


Acupuncture can help reduce pain and inflammation associated with osteosarcoma.

Herbal Remedies

Herbal remedies such as turmeric, boswellia, and ashwagandha can help reduce inflammation and pain associated with osteosarcoma.

Dietary Changes

Making dietary changes such as adding omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and other anti-inflammatory foods can help reduce inflammation and improve your dog’s overall health.


Exercise is great for keeping your dog active and improving their quality of life.

It’s important to talk to your vet about any alternative treatments you are considering for your dog.

Preventing Canine Osteosarcoma

Unfortunately, there is no sure way to prevent osteosarcoma. There are a few things you can do to reduce your dog’s risk:

  • Feed your dog a balanced diet and make sure they get enough exercise.
  • Avoid exposing your dog to toxins or radiation.
  • Have regular check-ups with your vet to catch any signs of cancer early.
  • Make sure your dog is up to date on all vaccinations.
  • Avoid giving your dog any medications or supplements without consulting your vet first.
  • Keep an eye out for any signs of pain or swelling in your dog’s limbs.

By following these tips, you can help reduce the risk of osteosarcoma and help ensure that your pet has a long and healthy life.