These are usually seen as tumours of the leg bones, but can also occur in other areas such as the jaw and spine of dogs. They are more commonly seen in large breeds of dogs and most often appear as tumours in the femur and tibia, near the stifle (knee), or in the radius or ulna near the carpal joint (wrist), or in the humerus near the shoulder.
Signs and symptoms
The most common symptom is lameness, though there are sometimes a few other signs in the months prior to diagnosis. Swelling of affected areas becomes more obvious as the disease progresses. These tumours are often very painful, and lameness progresses to the point where the dog often no longer uses the affected limb.
These cancers are usually readily diagnosed by x-rays. They are difficult to diagnose early though as it can take some months after the first signs (lameness) are seen, before sufficient change has occurred to the bone to show up on x-rays. CT scans of the affected area can be used to diagnose the condition earlier, but are associated with a considerable increase in cost.
Unfortunately, these cancers have almost always spread by the time of diagnosis. Amputation is recommended to control pain, as the majority of these cases are euthanised simply due to pain and not due to issues associated with spread of the disease. Amputation allows the dog to be pain free again within two to three days of surgery.
Whether foreleg or hind leg, most dogs cope very well post amputation, and owner and pet get to spend more time together. Chemotherapy after limb removal can further extend this time. Artificial limbs have recently become an option, but they do come at a considerable cost.
Cost of the surgery
Limb removal costs approximately $1,000 - $1,500 at SEAH currently. We have heard of estimates that owners have received, prior to finding us, of up to $6,000 elsewhere.
Recovery and aftercare
Your pet will usually go home the following day and will often walk out of hospital on their own, demonstrating just how well they cope with limb removal. They will go home with pain relief and antibiotics and will return two weeks later for suture removal. Most will be running/active again in as little as one week post-surgery. Chemotherapy, if this is chosen, will normally start around one to two weeks after surgery. This currently costs approximately $250 - $400 every three weeks at SEAH.
Sonny, 15 month old American Staffy, post limb removal from Osteosarcoma
Meet Dr. Scot Plummer
Dr. Plummer has been passionate about caring for animals since his childhood, and graduated with Honours in a Bachelor of Veterinary Science from the University of Queensland. South Eastern Animal Hospital allows him to provide your pets with the care they deserve - at a price point that is more affordable.