What I noticed first…

The first indication that something was wrong was when I noticed a very mild limp. At first it was so subtle I could only tell that she was walking differently, I couldn’t even discern which leg it was. I kept a close eye on it, and within about 3 days I could see it was her right front leg. When nothing changed after another 3 days or so, I took her to the vet. Bea has hurt her legs and had a limp before, but never for more than a day or two, and it always changes over the period of a couple of days, from mild to worse and then better, but this was constant. For whatever reason, I knew that something was going on. 

When our vet did a physical exam, she felt a slight lump on Bea’s front right leg in the middle of the lower leg bone (the radius). It didn’t feel like a distinct lump, just like the bone was bowing out a bit. It was completely hard, as it was just displaced bone (the tumour was growing within the bone and pushing outward). You can see in the photo the shape of it, and this was a few weeks later so it was much more pronounced here, plus her leg had been shaved. 

We scheduled her for x-rays later that week. I didn’t want to waste any time, it was clear there was something serious happening, and in my gut I knew it would be bone cancer. 

If your dog has an unresolved limp, I highly recommend running your hands down both front legs (or back legs) at the same time for comparison. This is the easiest way to feel a difference between the two, and finding a bump (or, ideally, NOT finding one) can help guide you. So often a bone cancer diagnosis is delayed due to trying pain relief, rest, etc., and by then it has spread. I don’t want to scare anyone, often a limp is nothing at all—but I do want to introduce the idea into your mind. If you check both legs and feel any anomalies, get x-rays. Bea’s is in an unusual location, most bone cancer swellings are near joints.

Next: Diagnosis

Bea’s lump, in the middle of her right radius. This is an unusual location, usually osteosarcoma is closer to the joint.