Diagnosing & Treating Bone Tumors in Cats & Dogs

Bone tumors are common in cats and dogs. The most common type of bone tumor that affects around 85 percent of cats and dogs is called osteosarcoma. 'Osteo' means bone, and 'sarcoma' means cancer.


Bone tumors in pets are aggressive. They appear as painful bone damage where the tumor develops. They affect the limbs of cats and dogs but can also affect the skull, backbone, ribs, and lower back. Tests such as blood tests, X-rays, and a biopsy may be done to come up with the most suitable treatment for the pet.


Does Your Cat or Dog Have a Bone Tumor?

Symptoms linked to bone tumors can be subtle. But here are signs to look for if you think your cat or dog has a bone tumor:


  • A hard or soft swelling that gets bigger with time

  • Trouble eating if the tumor is in the jawbone

  • Lameness of the injured bone

  • Seizures

  • Unsteady manner of walking with skull or backbone tumors

  • Trouble breathing with rib tumors



How to Diagnose Bone Tumors in Cats and Dogs


To diagnose bone tumors, pet doctors usually do the following.

First, vets take an X-ray of the injured bone and then conduct a physical as well as a joint and bone test to rule out other sources of injury. To get a conclusive analysis and determine the most suitable plan of treatment for your cat or dog, the vet will carry out a biopsy on the injured areas shown on the X-ray. This is done to determine the extent of the bone tumor.

Also, the vet will perform upper body X-rays or CT scans, a urine test, and blood tests to examine your cat or dog’s general health. As well, the vet will check to see whether the bone tumor has spread. Sadly, in 90 to 95 percent of dogs, bone tumors usually spread to the lungs.


Treating Bone Tumors in Cats and Dogs

Because bone tumors are so destructive, amputating the injured bone and conducting chemotherapy to treat any arising malignant tumor is the main treatment.


In the case of tumors in the limbs, radiation or surgical limb-sparing treatment options are available. Limb-sparing options remove the tumor and put another bone to replace the affected bone. Limb-sparing treatment is done when a pet owner has a hard time having his or her pet amputated. A discussion with the pet doctor can help the pet owner know what is best for the pet. In most cases, cats and dogs with three legs can do almost anything that four-legged pets can do.


When surgery is not an option because of the location of the tumor, stereotactic radiation or SRT/SRS can help. This form of treatment focuses great amounts of radiation to get rid of cancer cells. SRT/SRS can also be a substitute for amputation for cats and dogs whose tumors have not damaged too much bone. Your cat or dog will still have to undergo follow-up chemotherapy after SRT/SRS treatment.


To learn more about diagnosing and treating bone tumors in cats and dogs or to schedule a veterinary appointment today, call Van Lue Veterinary Surgical in Oviedo, Florida at (321) 348-6300.

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