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D2004-28

Dear Daisy Dog

Rocky, our eight-year-old Rottweiler, was just diagnosed with osteosarcoma. What can you tell us about this disease?

Daisy Responds

I’m sorry to hear about Rocky’s bone cancer and wish him the best.

Osteo (bone) sarcoma (cancer) is most commonly seen in large-breed dogs, frequently targeting one of the front legs. It usually occurs at around two years of age or in middle age.

The disease can be quite painful. Some dogs with osteosarcoma begin limping before the veterinarian can feel a bone mass – or even see it on x-rays.

While x-rays may suggest the tumor, a fine needle aspirate or biopsy is required for a definitive diagnosis.

Without chemotherapy, the cancer travels through the blood to the lungs, usually within six months of diagnosis.
Chemotherapy and surgery can generally prolong life for 12 to 18 months.

Removing the affected leg provides immediate pain relief. Even with one leg missing, we dogs do better than many of you humans do on both of yours.

Treatment sometimes also includes radiation therapy to help improve function.

As you battle this disease, keep in mind that your top priority should be keeping Rocky free of pain.

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