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Osteomyelitis vs osteosarcoma dog
Q: We have a 7.5-year-old dog who seems to have some pain on the left side of his body.
His hips are very stiff and he will not get up. The vet did some x-rays but they were inconclusive and they only see a change in the density of the bone. He did a full workup and he also checked his heart and lungs. The vet thinks that it may be some form of bone tumor and he is giving him some pain medication and the vet said that she will call the specialist to see what he thinks.
How serious is this and how long will he have to live with this? His only problem is that he is going to get an operation to fix his hip and it is a major surgery.
Please help and let me know if you know how serious it is.
A: I suggest that you take him to a specialist in a veterinary school. It is possible that there is a tumor of bone with the x-rays being inconclusive. My advice is that you take him there immediately and they can check him out properly. If there is a tumor, then I expect that it is a benign bone tumor of the type of osteoma. If it is malignant then he will need amputation. Most of the time a benign bone tumor can be treated with radiation and it is not normally a life-threatening situation.
Q: My 9 year old dog showed similar symptoms. The pain was around her hip joints. She would have to climb up on to the table or her bed to get in and out.
She was in the dog hospital for two weeks. Her diagnosis was that she had rheumatoid arthritis and that she had a tumour.
She was put on prednisone and other antibiotics.
She did not take to this well. After her vet changed the medication (which was stopped because she wasn’t doing well on it) the pain was getting worse.
It has now been three months and she is still in the same state. She can walk but limps badly. Her head movements are now restricted to side to side. She has trouble getting up.
A specialist said she would probably need joint replacement surgery at the end of the year.
Is this normal or is there something that she can do?
A: I suspect that the problem you are seeing is a little different from what I suspect. It is possible that she has a condition called Osteoarthritis and that the tumour is just a secondary problem as the pain causes the ligaments around the joint to start wearing. This could be arthritis which could be caused by another problem or Osteoarthritis which has spread through the joint.
You need a specialist to look at the problem and give you some advice. It is very difficult for me to give advice based on your letter but I suggest you try to get her to the vet to have a look at her. If she is still hurting badly at the vet you could ask them to take some x-rays of the leg to confirm what you suspect. If the x-rays confirm what you suspect it is time for you to take your dog back to the vet and get another opinion. Remember that there are some problems that vets cannot diagnose on the basis of x-rays.
Another possibility is that there is a disease such as cancer, that is affecting the joint. This would be unlikely because most dogs are not prone to cancer. Another possibility is that she has developed a bacterial infection. This could be either systemic (affecting the whole body) or localized (a localized problem such as a urinary infection). This would explain the pain and the limp.
If you look at her and you feel that she is still limping badly then it is worth taking her back to the vet again. Ask them to take x-rays again and to look for internal organ problems or to take some blood tests. It would be worth going to your vet to discuss your options and if the symptoms persist, and a diagnosis is still not established, to ask about the option of euthanasia. You have the option of going back to the vet who treated her and asking about other options.
I would add to this that if you feel that the situation is getting unbearable and that the vet is not being helpful then you could go to the British Veterinary Association's animal hospital and get an appointment with a senior doctor for advice. They have specialists in small animal surgery that would be able to advise you on what to do next. It could be as simple as a few days rest at home or it could mean something more invasive, such as an operation to remove the knee, if the joint has to be exposed. You can go on the BVA website to find out more.