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Featuring Demian Dressler, DVM and Sue Ettinger, DVM, Dip. ACVIM (Oncology), authors of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide

Dog Bone Cancer Symptoms & Amputation & Treatments 2021 Update

Updated: May 7th, 2021


Why do veterinarians skip biopsies for bone cancer and go right to amputation? Why is there such urgency about amputation? Dr. Dressler gives a high-level overview of dog bone cancer and osteosarcoma symptoms, treatments, and amputation.

This week’s episode of Dog Cancer Answers features Dr. Demian Dressler, author of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide: Full Spectrum Treatments to Optimize Your Dog’s Life Quality and Longevity. It’s prompted by a common question we get here at Dog Cancer Vet:

My veterinarian says that my dog has osteosarcoma, even though he didn’t do a biopsy. And he wants to amputate! How could he suggest an amputation without a confirmed bone cancer diagnosis?? Shouldn’t we get a biopsy before even considering something as extreme as amputation??

That excellent questions prompts a higher-level discussion about dog bone cancer symptoms, amputation, and other osteosarcoma treatments for dogs.

Dr. Dressler points out that X-rays show very specific patterns when a bone tumor is present. When a veterinarian sees that shape in a bone, there really aren’t many things it could be. The vast majority of the time, it’s cancer, and no, no bone biopsy is needed.

The risk of pathological fracture is high with dogs with bone cancer. Bone tumors weaken bones to the point where they could break just because your dog stepped off a curb, or went up some steps.

Those breaks can be very dangerous, extremely painful, and life threatening.

So veterinarians like to immediately remove the limb in order to:

  1. Reduce the intense pain bone tumors cause. (Yes, always. If your dog is limping, your dog is in pain.)
  2. Reduce the number of cancer cells in the body.
  3. Prevent the life-threatening possibility of a pathological fracture.

Dr. Dressler also explains why there are SO MANY other treatments for osteosarcoma. It’s not what you might think!

You can read the transcript on the episode page on the Dog Cancer Answers website.

Here’s the video version of this podcast:

Other Articles and Podcasts About Bone Cancer

There are many articles on this site about osteosarcoma and bone cancer. Here’s a link to those articles:

Osteosarcoma and Bone Cancer Articles that Will Help You Decide How to Help Your Dog (

Tripawds is a fantastic resource for anyone facing osteosarcoma, bone cancer, and amputation. Here’s a link to their super-helpful site: Help for Three Legged Dogs and Cats (

And you really need to hear the Dog Cancer Answers episode with Rene Agredano and Jim Nelson of Tripawds:

Tripawds: Life With A Three-Legged Dog | Rene Agredano and Jim Nelson Deep Dive – Dog Cancer Answers Podcast

And please subscribe to, rate, and review Dog Cancer Answers in Apple Podcast or on your favorite pod-catcher. It really does help the show!

Warm Aloha,


PS: Feel free to share this article or the podcast itself with your veterinarian and their staff.

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