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9.5 Year Old Black Lab Facing Amputation for MCT
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23 March 2018 - 7:17 pm
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Hi there,  

I’m hoping someone out there can give me a little perspective on our current situation with Tyson, our 9.5 year old black lab.  

He had an aggressive mast cell tumour surgically removed in December.  We did not pursue chemotherapy and now, 3 months later, the tumour has returned with a vengeance.  His whole leg is being compromised and now our only options appear to be amputation or wait it out until he can’t go on.  Back in December we had the whole gamut of tests run to make sure the cancer had not spread...ultrasounds, X-rays, aspirates.  But that was then, this is now, and I’m worried that if we amputate, he’ll just get it somewhere else.  And I’m worried that we are just delaying the inevitable.  And I’m worried that I’m being selfish by considering the amputation.  

My Ty is a runner.  He runs until he’s on the verge of passing out.  He’s had a knee surgery and a small MCT removed when he was two.  I’m not sure what to do.  I guess I’m looking for people with experience to help me here....we don’t have much time to make the decisions.  Poor Ty’s leg is swollen and painful...and I don’t know what the right move is.  

Thanks for listening.

T

Livermore, CA
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23 March 2018 - 8:03 pm
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Hello and welcome, your future posts will not have to wait for approval.

I'm sorry you are dealing with MCTs in Tyson, is it in a front or rear leg?

What does your vet thing about Tyson as a Tripawd? Any other health issues to worry about like arthritis? The knee holding up well?

My pug Maggie lost a rear leg to a mast cell tumor.  It was her second tumor in about 6 months although her first tumor was on her side. You can read about Maggie's story and her amp and chemo, the links are in my signature below.

I've always understood that dogs with more than one MCT are prone to more- in fact Maggie had several cutaneous MCTs after her amputation.  Mast cell cancer is unfortunately very unpredictable though... and that has definitely been my experience.

If it was me I would want to do the tests again to ensure there has been no internal metastasis before an amputation.  Are you considering chemo if you do the amputation?  Did you get the grade and mitotic index when the tumor was removed in December?

Here are some blog posts on mast cell

As far as running- Tripawds tend to be fast! Lots of running and burst type activities are probably not the best for Tripawds, but that does not mean that they don't leave full lives.  My current Tripawd is a little pug mix who was hit by a car at 7 months old and lost a rear leg.  We do all kinds of fun games and activities to keep her strong, engaged and worn out!  We are doing Nose Work now which is awesome.

There is no way to know if the cancer will come back if you choose amputation.  If you read Mag's story you will see that after amputation mets were found in the lymph node and her prognosis was 6 to 9 months.  I was questioning my decision- I might have made a different decision if we had seen the spread before surgery.  Maggie beat mast cell cancer and lived almost 4 years and did not pass due to the mast cell.  If I had not chosen amputation there is no way we would have had that time together.

Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls

Tri-pug Maggie survived a 4.5 year mast cell cancer battle only to be lost to oral melanoma.

1999 to 2010

 

              Maggie's Story                  Amputation and Chemo

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24 March 2018 - 1:41 am
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Hi there, Karen!

Thank you so much for your comment and for referring me to Maggie’s story.  It sounds like she was an amazing pup who really fought for a great Tripawd life.

Tyson’s MCT in December was graded as very high and aggressive, but not yet invasive.  We had lymph nodes, kidney and spleen aspirated, ultrasounds, X-rays and everything checked out as clear.  When the mass was removed, the margins were labelled “clean” but given the location of the tumour (in the skin between the tendon and the bone, just above his back, right hock), the vet was certain he hadn’t got it all.  And Tyson’s wound didn’t heal easily.  The location was rough and kept opening up almost every time he moved....we basically treated it like an open wound.  We didn’t do chemo and I looked in to herbal supplements for him.  Ordered some, but they have been stuck at Canadian customs.  And now, before we knew it, the mass is back.  And here we are, 3 months post-surgery and looking to do it again....only this time to remove the whole leg.  It’s come back fast and furious and the swelling just can’t be controlled.

You asked whether his knees were ok, the only knee that is compromised is the one he’d be losing!  He had a very significant reconstructive surgery on a torn tendon on that same leg about 4 years ago.  That leg has been nothing but trouble for poor Ty. He is 81 lbs, 9.5 years old....he has a zest for life and still has a massive appetite and sparkle in his eye, so I find it hard to resign myself to letting him waste away over the next two weeks, but at the same time I’m worried that taking his leg will not be what he wants for the last few months or years of his life.  Perhaps I’m being too human about all of this.  I’m to call the vet on Monday to get him in for surgery if we want it.

Was it a hard decision to make to remove Maggie’s leg?  I find myself really torn on this one, despite the wonderful stories I’ve read on here.  There’s no doubt in my mind Tyson would figure it out in a snap....he’s so resilient and happy all the time....such a lab. 😊

Virginia
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24 March 2018 - 10:24 am
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Tyson sounds like a firecracker who has no intention of leaving this earth anytime soon! 

You are doing a wonderful job of advocating for him and doing whatever you can to keep him pain free and happy!

Sure, it's scary to hear the word "amputation".  As you noted, moreso for humans than our dogs and cats!  I remember when my regular Bet first mentioned it for my Happy Hannah somewhat off-handedly, I responded ABSOLUTELY NOT!!  After talking with the Surgeon, etc, I realized this is what I MUST do to give her extended quality time free from pain.

I was still scared out of my mind though, and even cancelled her first scheduled surgery!!  All this was before I found this site  

No e of us can tell you what path to take.  We can only share our experiences.  And NO ONE can tell you when our dogs and catx will transition.  What we can tell  you is that Tyson does not have a timeframe stamped anywhere on his butt and he could care less about days on a calendar. Tyson cares about being pain free and soaking up all the loving and spoiling and tummy rubs he can get from you!

IF you do decide to amputate, we can help you navigate through the recovery. The good nees for Tyson is it's just ONE surgery...major...but just one!  Recovery is rough for about the first two weeks.  There can be some restlessness, some pain, some crying, some  mobility challenges for a couple of days, lack of sleep (for both of you).  But once Tyson's sparkle comes back you will see it is exactly the right decision to help make Tyson be Tyson again!!   Every recovery is different.....Every dog is different....some recoveries are less intense that what I just laid out.

The important thing to rememberis you are doing this FOR Tyson, not TO him!  Tyson IS resilient!  You may even find that recovery from the amp is "easier" on him than the previous leg surgery.   There's no extended confinement which is a big plus in Tyson's eyes!

If you have hardwood floors, you'll want non-slip scatter rugs for traction .  No jumping around or heavy stair climbing during recovery.  Rest and short potty breaks and more rest.  Drinking and peeing are important.  He may be off food for a few days and not poop for several days.  All normal.

The Vet will.probably send you home with Tramadol, Gabapentin and Rimadyl and an antibiotic.  Most dogs spend at least one nght at the Clinic.  Thatr when you catch up on sleep while Tyson is seeing pink elephants!

STAY CONNECTED!!  We're right her by your side, okay?

Deep breaths...Lots of chocolate...you'll do fine...And so will Tyson!

Hugs!

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!

Happy Hannah had a glorious additional bonus time of over one yr & two months after amp for osteo! She made me laugh everyday! Joined April's Angels after send off meal of steak, ice cream, M&Ms & deer poop!

Livermore, CA
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24 March 2018 - 1:33 pm
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To be honest I was stunned and devastated when my vet suggested that Maggie might need an amputation. I was pretty sure the tumor was a recurrence of the cancer from six months earlier- I was prepared for that.  Once the word 'amputation' was said I don't remember much else from that visit.  It was really hard to come to grips with the fact that amputation was the solution for a bump on her knee.  The tumor was still on the smallish side at that point, but I was only seeing it from the outside.  At that point in my life I'm not sure I had ever seen a three legged dog.

After meeting with surgeons and oncologists and doing my own research I came to realize that the tumor would most likely grow and rupture and become a painful wound that would never heal. At that point Maggie was only 7.5 years old.  I knew what the outcome would be if I didn't amputate- so I decided to give her a chance. 

Maggie had always been a stubborn pug, set in her ways, she hated any changes to her routine. I was worried how she would adapt- and I was right!  She was hopping the day of surgery and never needed assistance getting around (except going up more than 3 or 4 stairs). There were no medical complications and I think we managed her pain very well.  Maggie was a slug for about 6 weeks and would not play with me!  Another reason I was sure I had made a mistake by choosing surgery.  Maggie's surgery was before Tripawds so we went though surgery, recovery and chemo alone. But she got used to her new normal on her own terms and hopped happily through life although she got even more stubborn big-grin

Dogs don't worry about calendars or prognosis.  Once Maggie got going she was the happy pug I had always known.  I will admit that I waited for her to die at the 6 to 9 month mark...but she never cared.  If we had only had the 6 to 9 months I would have been grateful for that time together.  When the second cancer diagnosis came I never asked for a prognosis- I knew time was short but I vowed to make each day her best day until she let me know she was done.

Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls

Tri-pug Maggie survived a 4.5 year mast cell cancer battle only to be lost to oral melanoma.

1999 to 2010

 

              Maggie's Story                  Amputation and Chemo

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25 March 2018 - 6:36 am
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I'll relate my experience.  When Charlie, 9 yr old rottwieller mix 88# ,  was diagnosed with osteosarcoma we knew the inevitable outcome would be an amputation.  We waited about 3 months before amputating, treating with supplements, essential oils and pain meds.  We did work with a holistic vet.  NOW, if that happened again with a different dog I would prob. amputate quickly.

We did not do chemo, outcomes did not seem to be that great for this form of cancer, but I have had doubts since he passed. We did a raw food diet with supplements at a cost of around 500/mo.  We had him 9 months after diagnosis.   Would rethink that if ever had to do again.  By that I mean adding in the chemo with additional suppliments.

But after surgery, after about 3 weeks, he was fast.  So he adapted to the amputation very well.  

No guarantees here with cancer, its a gut wrenching decision.  You are postponing the inevitable, but how long you will have is the question.  If I thought I could have given Charlie just another good 4 months I would have done almost whatever it would have taken.

So I wish you the best with your decision.  

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27 March 2018 - 11:34 am
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Thank you, so much, for all of your helpful replies.

Tyson will be going in to have his leg removed tomorrow morning.  He is too happy and vital looking to give up on him now...removing his leg is the only way to stop the spread of the cancer, and I’m not willing to just sit and wait and watch him get sick.  So, the decision has been made.  After we drop him off, I’m off to get some supplies....traction mats, harnesses, etc.

This site is so helpful.  I can’t begin to thank everyone.  And I’m sure you’ll be hearing from me soon....

Virginia
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27 March 2018 - 12:05 pm
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ALRIGHTY, MAKING A DECISION AND MOVING FORWARD IS VERY PRO-ACTIVE!  Good job!!

ALWAYS remember, you are making a decision out of @ove and are trying everything possible ro give him good extended quality time!   This piece of crap disease makes pick between two scenarios that no ine should have to fzce for their dogs or cats.  The path you are taking will give him a chance.  To not take this path gave him no chance.

STAY CONNECTED!    We are all here for you and cheering for Tyson all the way!!  Stock up in CHOCOLATE for yourself.....very therapeutic! 🙂

Lots of hugs

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!

Happy Hannah had a glorious additional bonus time of over one yr & two months after amp for osteo! She made me laugh everyday! Joined April's Angels after send off meal of steak, ice cream, M&Ms & deer poop!

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27 March 2018 - 12:59 pm
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I did everything I could to avoid amputation-- radiation, chemo, bisphosphonates ....but I know now that amputation is what inevitably needs to happen. We are 2.5 weeks since Dharma amp-- an 11 year old doberman. I can say that it takes time to see the spirit of your dog come back after this surgery, but it is so clear to me now that she is happier. I did not need traction or anything to prep for her-- she was essentially walking on 3 legs in many ways before the surgery. just take extra care in keeping the wound from licking-- i did not and it caused a few bumps in the road to recovery. happy to answer any questions as you go down this path 

Livermore, CA
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27 March 2018 - 1:25 pm
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I'm glad that you have come to a decision that you are comfortable with (as comfortable as possible!).  Now that that is out of the way you can focus on preparation and getting Tyson through recovery.

The Reading List has lots of info on what to expect with amputation and recovery.

Will Tyson be staying overnight at the vet?

You have an advantage of sorts since you went through knee surgery with Tyson.  You have seen him recover after a surgery and on pain meds.  For me Maggie's amputation was the first really major surgery I had dealt with- lots of unknowns. 

I have been through two very invasive knee surgeries with my quad pug Obie- the recovery from amputation is much faster!

Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls

Tri-pug Maggie survived a 4.5 year mast cell cancer battle only to be lost to oral melanoma.

1999 to 2010

 

              Maggie's Story                  Amputation and Chemo

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28 March 2018 - 12:31 pm
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Hoping Tyson made it through surgery smoothly and is now resting comfortably. Please let us know how everything is going.

Jackie and Huckleberry 

Hugs,

Jackie, David, Mitchell, Andy Oscar, and the coolest feral tripawd kitty Huckleberry

http://paws120......ipawds.com

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30 March 2018 - 10:31 am
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Hi there.  

Tyson is home and resting comfortably.  He is incredible....gets up on his own and is walking ok.  He hates the harness and won’t pee with it on, so I’m taking him out and taking the harness off for him to find a spot. ❤️

He actually pooped last night too!!  But he dropped some fluid/blood from the incision while he was squatting.  I’m assuming the pressure and strain made it seep.  Is that normal?  A bit of leakage here and there?  The incision looks good.  Bruised all to hell, but clean and not too puffy.

He slept pretty well last night.  A bit of fussing in the crate, but he’s ok.  I wanted to leave him out, but he just seems so eager to move around, I figured it’s best to keep him contained.  We have lots of tile/wood floors, so I need to keep an eye on him when he’s out.  Our vet was so happy with him, but cautioned that he was SO excitable that we would have to hold him back.

I decided to start a blog about our journey.  Maybe our experience can inspire someone else, the same why yours have inspired us. The link is below:

http://terrific.....pawds.com/

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30 March 2018 - 1:10 pm
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That is wonderful news! Yay Tysonclap Yes, a small amount of leakage shouldn't be an issue, just keep an eye on it. Crating when you cannot watch him is much safer for him, especially if you have a lot of smooth flooring. You may want to take up a hobby of throw rug collecting, lol.  I have several now with Huck, skid free and soft.  Traction is going to be really important now, gotta keep the three that he has left healthy and strong winker

Cannot wait to see your blog, way to go! Give Tyson a smooch for me pleaseheartheart

Jackie and Huck

Hugs,

Jackie, David, Mitchell, Andy Oscar, and the coolest feral tripawd kitty Huckleberry

http://paws120......ipawds.com

Virginia
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30 March 2018 - 8:14 pm
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YAAAAAAAAAY FOR TYSON!!!!   AND WE GET TO CELEBRATE.  poopicon_pngpoopicon_pngTOO!!!   YAY!! 🙂 🙂

Slow ad easy Tyson!  You still have some good hospital meds in you and may not feel quite as good once they are out of your system.  My Happy Hannah was quite restless and uncomfortable the first several nights and she barely slept a wink.  So really good that Tyson is getting some good shut-eye in!

As yes, ditto the traction .  It really messes with their confidence during recovery if they have too many face pla ts, not to mention the possibility of injuring a leg.  A member said one time that, with all the various scatter rugs around her house, it looked like a clown threw upmall over!clown

Here's a link to a seroma to help you judge if the incision is starting to get too whacky.  And yeah, the bruising can be quite colorful for a few days!

Keep up the good work Tyson!  

Hugs

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!

.

Happy Hannah had a glorious additional bonus time of over one yr & two months after amp for osteo! She made me laugh everyday! Joined April's Angels after send off meal of steak, ice cream, M&Ms & deer poop!

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