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My Shepherd may have bone cancer :(

15018 Views 27 Replies 16 Participants Last post by  LisaT
My shepherd Tala developed a lump on her front paw about two weeks ago that I had x-rayed this past weekend. The vet said that it looked like it could be bone cancer, but wasn't sure. We took a biopsy of the lump as well as chest x-rays and have sent everything off to be reviewed by the experts at the nearest vet school.

I'm not sure what I'll do if Tala had cancer, she's been my constant companion for 8.5 years! I feel like there's this terrible wave of panic building and I'm just holding on my my finger nails

The only think that's giving me some hope is that osteosarcoma usually (so I've read) only effects one point on one bone and spreads from there. Tala's x-rays show that two bones are effected and span across a joint between the metacarpal and the P1 toe bone (I think I have that right!). At this point we're not sure if it's a cancer and if it is if it will be malignant or benign.

Has anyone had something similar happen with their shepherd? Is it fair to amputate the leg of an 8.5 year old dog if it is cancer?

Thanks for any feedback.
Tala's Mom.
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Before getting yourself into a tizzy, relax and wait to see if the lump is malignant or benign... Their is no use to stress yourself out so much antisipating the results... Especially if Tala is home with you, she will sense your emotion and it may get her upset... I know that hearing people say try and calm down may get annoying, how can i calm down when my best friend may have cancer?! I know, but you have to try and think about it in a postive manner.. Even if they would have to amputate her leg, dogs do just fine on 3 legs! she is 8.5 years young! Shes got plenty of life left in her no matter how many legs she can run on! So be optomistic! and please keep us posted!! Mya, Bear and I are keeping our fingers and paws crossed for the good news!
My dog had synovial cell sarcoma in approximately the same location. I would have done the amputation, but his other leg was not strong enough to carry the weight.
Well, the good news is he said he wasnt sure, so thats a good thing and Id be going with that right now. I know though, Id be in a real panic. Praying for you and Tala, I sure hope shes OK and this is just some non malignant bump!!!!!!
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I just lost my Titan this past June to osteosarcoma, it was in his back leg, he was 10 and a half. Not saying this to panic you, but because I have been through it and know how panic stricken it feels to hear even the possibility of cancer. I chose not to amputate his rear leg, due to the fact that he has always been 96 pounds (very tall) and my vet told me that it would maybe buy him 6-8 months, and at his age and size with mild arthritis he wasnt sure how well the other leg would hold up and that the surgery can be very painful. It was a very, very difficult decision not to amputate, but in the end I did what I felt was right for him after multiple conversations with my vet and an orthopedic specialist. You are both in my thoughts, I hope this turns out okay for you.
Take a deep breath, whatever happens, it will be ALRIGHT.

My old girl didn't have osteo but she was age 10 1/2 when
she had her leg amputated, and lived almost another 4 years.
Including being able to go up and down stairs and on walks
and got in and out of the car by herself. Even though our times
were different than they were before, they were still happy,
good times. So hang in there and hope for the best.


I'm trying really really REALLY hard not to panic, but I'm sooo worried. I don't know what I would do without Tala.

It just doesn't seem fair that you work hard to find the best food, keep them healthy with regular vet work, make sure they get exercise, don't get overweight etc. etc.... only to have this terrible illness get them.

It doesn't seem right that Tala is bright, healthy, active and acts more like a 4 year old than an almost 9 years old and she may be gotten by cancer. Heck, she still wiggles like a puppy when I get home from work. It's just not fair....
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We lost our Gracie suddenly to osteosarsoma.
Amputating Gracie's front leg wasn't an option due to her hip dyspasia and arthritis in her left front leg.
We weren't prepared for it...........and nothing could be done to help her...................
I cried for weeks.......... let's hope that your results of biopsies are a positive gift for Christmas.
If not , I know MANY dogs that are as successful on three legs as they are on four.......
You are both in our thoughts and prayers..........
My best friend and gsd that I had several years ago developed bone cancer in her leg. I called any and every vet that I thought was worth anything about her and was told by all of them that she had 6 months and there was nothing they could do. These were good vets down by Philly, Pa. I refused to give up and called an herbalest in Maryland. Spoke with her. She recommended a cleansing diet and had me use water that I had boiled parsley in and sent me several herbal tincures that had to be carefully added to her food over a period of time.
My girl lived 2 1/2 more years, the lump and limp went away, and I truely believe she died of old age (she died at 12 yrs.)
If your interested in trying this or speaking with this women please feel free to email me (I don't come into the forum very often).
My email address is [email protected] please put something in the subject line so I know who you are and don't delete it.
Will keep her in my prayers,
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I hope it's all good and that you will have no need for any more information.

This lady runs the Magic Bullet Fund ( ) and has a book. I have not read it, but the links on her site look great:

Good luck!
Before you decide to amputate, I would want to make sure that the cancer hadn't spread outside the area. Amputation can do two things -- apparently osteo is supposed to be very painful, ant the amputation can deal with that. If you catch the cancer before it spreads, then in theory amputation will also stop progression of the cancer.

Sure hope it's something easier to deal with, such as a bone infection.
Originally Posted By: LisaTBefore you decide to amputate, I would want to make sure that the cancer hadn't spread outside the area. Amputation can do two things -- apparently osteo is supposed to be very painful, ant the amputation can deal with that. If you catch the cancer before it spreads, then in theory amputation will also stop progression of the cancer.

Sure hope it's something easier to deal with, such as a bone infection.
Hopefully she won't be diagnosed with osteosarcoma, but if she is, this is excellent advice for controlling the pain. Dogs don't handle amputation like humans do, they don't seem to have the phantom (sp) pain that human amputees experience.

Here's a picture of Niki playing with his favorite ball after his front leg was amputated - he could do everything with three legs that he could with four including digging holes in the yard!
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I was just speaking with my vet and she said that the tissue results from Tala's biopsy came back as inconclusive, but concerning. They did not see any definitive forms of cancer cells, but what they did see was cell that show signs of fast division characteristics. The x-rays won't be reviewed until at least the 28th of December when the lab opens again after the holidays.

In the mean time I've decided to do a more aggressive biopsy to get better samples and to do some exploratory surgery. My vet is also my best friend so we had a long chat on the options that we could take. The original biopsy was just a needl into the effected area to draw out some samples, the more aggressive biopsy would require opening the toe to get direct tissue samples. She also said it is possible to remove just the toe if there is cancer as a first step if it has not spread. If it has spread then we'll have to look at a full leg amputation, but I'm really REALLY hoping not to have to do that.

Right now Tala is scheduled for the biopsy this Friday.

Keeping my fingers crossed!
Tala's Mom.
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I'll keep you and Tala in my prayers that all will be normal!!!
There are also some things with diet and supplements that can be done.
Will your vet do a surgical biopsy and call you with the results while your dog is still under? That's what we did with our dog and were able to find out that it was indeed osteosarcoma and go ahead and amputate at that time - so she didn't have to go under twice.

I've got lots more info on osteosarcoma (having been through it now with two different dogs, but I'll hold that thought until you know more!

Fingers and paws crossed that it's not! But worst case scenario - in an otherwise healthy dog, amputation and chemo are a lot less traumatic than you might think and can give you some more time with your dog.

i'm so sorry to read this. i don't have any experience with this. but my thoughts and prayers are with you and Tala.
Forgot to add - if you go that route, best to have the biopsy/possible amputation done at a specialty hospital. They can give you the most reliable results the most quickly. The place we went to was about to send the biopsy tissue to an oncologist and get the results in a few minutes, then call me and make sure I wanted to proceed with the surgery.
Thanks everyone for your well wishes!...I am keeping my fingers crossed.

pupresq: There really are no specialty hospitals in my area that would be able to do the biopsy and exam of the tissue/x-rays right away. I need two separate sets of specialist as it is. One to review the x-rays and one to review the tissue samples. The original x-rays that were taken on Saturday are still waiting to be reviewed, while the tissue samples have been looked at and found to be inconclusive. The x-rays won't be looked at until the 28th when the pathologist gets back from vacation. We also looked at having the x-rays sent farther away to Guelph in Ontario to be reviewed, but they could not guarantee a fast turn around time either, so I've opted for the closer alternative.

What diet options are available? She's been fed Chicken Soup for the Dog Lovers Soul for a few years now and I've just started her on supplements of fish oils, Omega 3, 6 & 9. I was also going to start her on join supplements (glucosamine or MSN).

Tala's Mom
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Darn it! That's frustrating. It's really nice when you can get everything done in one place and know that the people doing it are experts. That was what we ran into - regular vet could offer us something like 80% certainty, but I didn't want to cut my dog's leg off for anything less than 100%.

No vet school nearby?
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