Semi-annual check ups with your vet are important, and if your dog has any of the above clinical signs, you may need to schedule an appointment sooner. New lumps and bumps can wait a few days but bleeding and shortness of breath should be evaluated on the same day that they are noticed. Blood work, urine testing, and x-rays are common recommendations for ruling out cancer.
A “negative” or normal test doesn’t necessarily mean that there isn’t cancer elsewhere in the body. However, x-rays are very useful for evaluating your dog’s lungs and limbs. Lung tumors are often single, solitary lesions, and lung metastases can cause grossly abnormal lung patterns. X-rays can also show if the swelling around your dog’s limbs is related to a primary bone tumor or hypertrophic osteopathy.
Treatment will depend on the source of your dog’s illness, and this often means that your dog’s underlying cancer will need to be addressed. Surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiation will be necessary, but this may be difficult with more advanced stages of cancer. Too often, dogs with HO and underlying cancers are diagnosed too late. This is why early intervention can make all the difference.
Once the cancer or infection has been addressed, hypertrophic osteopathy may reverse on its own. This could take weeks to months, and your dog will need to continue pain medications to keep him comfortable. If HO does not resolve, then the nerve supply to the affected area will need to be cut off. This is known as a unilateral vagotomy, which is performed by a specialty veterinary surgeon.
Hypertrophic osteopathy is a rare bone disorder that is secondary to an underlying condition such as cancer or metastasis from cancer elsewhere in the body. It causes painful bony overgrowth in the long bones of a dog’s limbs, and the exact cause is unknown. Pain medication is necessary for relief, but ultimately, the underlying disease will need to be treated in order to achieve resolution of clinical signs.