Carroll County Animal Hospital


“Boris” is a 10 year old male intact shepherd mix. He presented to Carroll County Animal Hospital for a 2 week history of a progressively worsening limp on his right front leg and a firm growing mass on his right shoulder. He is up to date on vaccinations, deworming, and heartworm prevention. He is eating and drinking normally and is not vomiting and does not have diarrhea.

“Boris” has a normal body condition score, body temperature, respiratory rate, and heart rate. He is only bearing a small amount of weight on his right front leg, and has a hard (bony) palpable mass on his right scapula (shoulder blade). The lymph node associated with his left shoulder is enlarged. His other three legs are within normal limits. The remainder of his physical exam is within normal limits.

An x-ray of “Boris’s” right shoulder reveals a bony mass with a moth-eaten (lytic) appearance. This type of mass is highly suggestive of a bony tumor (cancer starting in a bone).

“Boris” was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, a type of bony cancer. The most common bony tumor in dogs is an Osteosarcoma. These tumors are most frequently seen on one of the four limbs, and do not commonly involve the joints. X-rays strongly suggest a diagnosis of Osteosarcoma, but a biopsy is required for a definitive diagnosis.
Osteosarcomas and other bony tumors, are highly aggressive, spreading rapidly and destroying affected bone. Because of this, these types of tumors are extremely painful. They are also highly metastatic (metastasize or spread to other parts of the body such as lymph nodes and lungs). Without aggressive treatment, including amputation, chemotherapy, and pain medications, patients with osteosarcoma have a survival time of less than 6 months.

“Boris” was referred to a surgical oncologist (cancer specialist) at Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine for a surgical biopsy and to begin treatment. “Boris” had his right front leg amputated to relieve pain and the bulk of the tumor. Following his surgery, he returned to Carroll County Animal Hospital, to complete his chemotherapy protocol.
“Boris” received 3 doses of Carboplatin, a common chemotherapy medication given intravenously (in a vein) slowly over several hours. “Boris” recovered very well from surgery and handled his chemotherapy very well. It is important to note that it is very uncommon for dogs to develop the severe side effects often associated with chemotherapy in humans. These symptoms, such as hair loss, vomiting, decreased appetite, or severe decrease in energy level are very rare in dogs, making chemotherapy a viable option in canine cancer patients such as “Boris”
6 months later, “Boris” is doing well at home, and even with three legs, is still the leader of his pack.

Thankfully, Boris’s owners noticed his lump quickly, and brought him in right away. If you notice any new lumps or bumps on your pet, please have them examined right away. Please call our office with any questions or concerns at (770) 832-2475.