An osteosarcoma is a tumour that grows within the bone. For dogs, this usually occurs within the legs, but can also be found within the jaw or spine. These tumours are most commonly seen in large breeds, generally within the femur and tibia (near the knee), or in the radius or ulna near the carpal joint (near the wrist) or in the humerus (near the shoulder).
One of the most common signs is lameness of the affected leg, though there are sometimes other symptoms that can appear in the months leading up to the diagnosis. The affected area will likely begin swelling and the tumour grows – this cancer is very painful, and the dog will eventually no longer use the effected limb.
These cancers are easily diagnosed with an x-ray, though it can take time for the tumours to grow big enough to be detected on the x-ray – usually some months after the first signs of lameness are seen. CT Scans can be used to diagnose the condition earlier, though these can come with a considerable increase in cost.
Unfortunately, by the time of diagnosis, these cancers have almost always spread. We recommend amputation to control the pain – the majority of these cases are euthanised as the pain is so severe, not because of issues associated with the spread of the cancer. With amputation, your pet will be pain-free again within two to three days following the surgery. No matter which limb, most dogs are able to cope very well post-amputation, and you and your pet will get to spend more time together. Chemotherapy can also be used to extend the time together, and artificial limbs have also recently become an option, though they do come at a considerable cost.
Cost of surgery
At Brisbane Pet Surgery, limb removal costs approximately $1,000-$1,500. Prior to finding us, we have heard of owners receiving quotes of up to $6,000 elsewhere. If your pet is undertaking chemotherapy, we charge between $250-$400 every three weeks.
Recovery and aftercare
Your pet can usually go home the day after surgery and will often walk out of the hospital on their own – which shows just how well they will adapt to limb removal! We send your pet home with antibiotics and pain relief, and they will return to the hospital in two weeks for the suture removal. Most dogs will be returning to normal activity (including running) in as little as one week after surgery! If you choose to begin chemotherapy, this will start one to two weeks after the limb removal.
Sonny, 15 month old American Staffy, post limb removal from Osteosarcoma
Meet Dr. Scot Plummer
Since childhood, Dr. Plummer has been passionate about caring for animals, and graduated with Honours in a Bachelor of Veterinary Science from the University of Queensland. He opened the Brisbane Pet Surgery with the aim of making quality pet care affordable for everyone.