Dog’s Body Size And Shape Could Indicate A Greater Bone Tumor Risk

The latest research conducted by the University of Bristol has now confirmed the presence of Osteosarcoma in various large breed dogs. It is the most aggressive cancer in dogs which develops in the form of a bone tumor.

The University of Bristol Vet School collaborated with Royal Veterinary College (RVC) London and Cardiff University to carry out this research.

It involved comparing around 1,756 confirmed Osteosarcoma dogs with 905,211 vet dogs present under the VetCompass™ care. The study explained all the causes which lead to tumor risk in dogs. Moreover, it also highlighted some most vulnerable dog breeds.

Here is all you need to know about this research as a well-aware dog owner.

Osteosarcoma Cancer In Dogs and The Breed Most Affected By It

First things first, what’s Osteosarcoma? It is simply a tumor that occurs in the limb bones but can develop in the skull, ribs, and spine too. Not just that – it can also occur in non-boney body parts, like muscles and mammary glands.

If left untreated, it can spread all through your dog’s vital organs, like the heart, lungs, and brain, and may eventually take their life.

That’s why Osteosarcoma is known as the most common, painful, and aggressive type of cancer in dogs.

The study also states that the risk of Osteosarcoma is greater in larger breed dogs as compared to the smaller breed ones.

The research group found twenty-seven large breed dogs showing an increased osteosarcoma risk as compared to the crossbreeds. However, the small breeds are not safe from it either. Thirty smaller breed dogs also showed a reduced cancer risk in contrast to the crossbreeds.

These outcomes were published in the 10th March release of Canine Medicine and Genetics.

The researchers also compared the masses and lengths of different body parts of dogs. They found that dogs with larger skulls and longer legs are more prone to this disease. 

These findings can assist the breed health reforms, particularly for certain breeds like Great Dane, Rottweiler, German Pointer, and others.

The study also suggests that the development of bone tumors is majorly affected by a dog’s genetics. This theory opens multiple doors for researchers to study the causes for this tumor risk in dogs, as well as possible treatments.

Possible Symptoms of Osteosarcoma in Dogs

Osteosarcoma can attack any dog breed. Every dog owner – either having a larger breed dog or a smaller one – must know all the common symptoms of the disease.

Although the indications are mainly subtle, one should look out for these:

  • Painful swelling in bones
  • Difficulty in eating
  • Breathing problems
  • Nervous disorders like seizures
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue

If you observe a continuous pattern of any of these symptoms in your dog, you should immediately contact your vet. It is better to diagnose the bone tumor in its early stage as it becomes easier to restrict cancer from spreading.

Treatment of Osteosarcoma in Dogs

The most common way of treating this aggressive tumor is to amputate the affected part. This normally takes place after taking the pet through the chemotherapy episode to cure metastasis. But this option is only for healthy dogs. 

Some dogs can’t function well with a third leg. This makes it quite important to consult with a professional first to choose the most suitable treatment for your pet.

Some treatments which prove to be effective for all pets are:

Limb-Sparing Surgery

In this treatment, a normal bone replaces the cancer-affected bone and eliminates the tumor in dogs completely. However, this type of surgery has a very high complication rate.

Consider this option if you succeed to identify the tumor in its early stage when it is relatively smaller in size.

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Stereotactic Radiation (SRS/SRT)

If you are reluctant to the surgery, this highly advanced radiation treatment is your way to go. It eliminates all the chances of amputation in dogs at a very early stage. The main focus of SRS is to target and kill the tumor cells through heavy radiations. 

This therapy has a lot of benefits over other treatments due to:

  • Its ability to only damage the cells containing tumors
  • Quicker recovery chance
  • Fewer sessions

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In-Progress Researches for More Treatment Options

The Osteosarcoma treatments are so limited at the moment that many people feel hesitant to go for any. Moreover, these therapies don’t suit all types of pets. 

Well, no need to worry as many health researchers are trying to explore new alternatives.

The author at Bristol Vet School, Dr. Grace Edmunds, says that he is currently working hard to find new treatments for Osteosarcoma in dogs. He is hopeful that by collaborating with his fellow medical researchers, he will come up with a solution that would be beneficial for both – humans and dogs.

Dr. Dan O’Neill, the Senior Lecturer at RVC, adds that the latest study has highlighted all the health risks that come with large body sizes. He also advises potential dog buyers to pick smaller-breed puppies due to lower cancer risk.

The professor at Cardiff University, Rachel Errington, further explains the outcomes of the study. She seems excited about finally having the opportunity of determining new treatments for this disease. These diagnostics would be used to cure the canines and humans of this lethal cancer.

In addition, the researchers are also working as a team on a project that concerns the development of cancer in dogs from a normal bone. 

To determine all the possible causes, they will identify all the genetic paths that lead to its occurrence. It will also clear the road for new, older, or repurposed drugs, which will further improve the results during the treatment.

Final Thoughts

It is a good sign that health researchers are concerned about the safety of the dogs as well. 

Let’s be real – there was a huge gap present in medical studies when it comes to cancer in dogs. 

Every dog has a different body shape and size. There was a dire need for new treatments and therapies to cure all types of dog breeds of Osteosarcoma – and researchers are considering it now.

The members of the research team will also soon seek assistance from the affected dog owners and cancer patients. It will be part of their new health approach to come up with better treatments.

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