German Shepherd Osteosarcoma | Canine Osteosarcoma Symptoms | Bone Cancer | Bone Tumors | Bone Diseases
German Shepherd dogs are susceptible to Osteosarcoma, more commonly known as bone tumors or bone cancer. Osteosarcoma can occur in any bone in the body, but most commonly occur at the limbs (i.e., elbow or knee area). These cancers are often aggressive, and can even cause lysis, the complete disintegration of the bone, as well as constant lameness and swelling. Because of the dogs’ large size, German Shepherd dogs are at particular risk for this form of cancer. It tends to afflict middle-aged and older dogs (a median age of 7 years, except for rib osteosarcoma, which seems to appear in younger dogs of a median age of 4.5 years) and occurs in thousands of dogs a year in the United States alone.
While the precise cause of the disease is unclear, it appears that height and weight are both factors in development, thus obesity may therefore be a contributing risk factor. Dogs suffering from limb osteosarcoma often exhibit lamenesss in the afflicted leg, as well as a pronounced swelling. The cancer also weakens the bone, meaning that even the most minor of injuries could lead to bone breakage or fracture for your German Shepherd. If your dog shows any sign of lameness of joint swelling, or if your dog experiences a broken bone after what appears to be a very minor incident, take him to the veterinarian, where a diagnosis will be made, often through the use of X-Rays. However, a final diagnosis for your German Shepherd can only be made through a tissue biopsy.
Osteosarcoma is a very painful disease, on that becomes more serious as it progresses and the bone is destroyed. Pain medication, pre-emptive as well as reactionary, is thus a vital part of this cancer treatment, regardless of what other measures are taken. Amputation is one way of treating osteosarcoma, particularly if the cancer has not yet metastasized to the lungs. Chemotherapy may supplement the procedure to ensure the removal of all cancerous cells throughout the body. Radiation therapy is also used as part of pain management, although it cannot cure the cancer. The prognosis for German Shepherd dogs suffering from this condition varies, but it is markedly higher in dogs in whom the cancer has not yet spread, making early diagnosis that much more important.