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amputation with spinal arthritis?
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28 June 2017 - 12:39 pm
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Hello, 

I'd like to ask whether anyone has experience with a front leg amputation when their dog has arthritis in their spine? My dog Kira was diagnosed with bone cancer in her front leg (humerus) back in November 2016. She was put on metacam and she was completely fine, not even limping, so I decided not to amputate until she was showing pain, which hasn't happened until a week ago. I had her x-rayed again yesterday and the tumour has grown, causing her bone to begin to fracture. Her lungs are clear but she has quite bad arthritis all the way down her spine. The vet and I are concerned that if we amputate it will put too much pressure on her spine and cause her just as much pain. I don't know whether to try anyway, as the only other option is to increase her pain medication (the vet has put her on Tramadol) until she can't cope anymore. I'd really appreciate any advice if someone else has been through this?

Thank you,

Vicky

The Rainbow Bridge

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28 June 2017 - 1:32 pm
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Hi Vicky,

I'm so sorry about Kira, that's a tough situation. Many people here have amputated despite arthritis, but all stories are different so what was right for one dog may not be right for yours. We've seen dogs as large as Great Danes do well on three legs despite other conditions like arthritis, wobblers, etc. But not all cases will turn out the same. So it's good you're giving this much thought.

A few questions that might help us help you reach a decision:

What is her age?

Did you get a second or even a third opinion from an orthopedic specialist?

Is she on any other pain medication besides Tramadol? Sounds like it's not as effective now and she needs a stronger regimen. Has your vet prescribed any yet?

With the bone deteriorating the way it is, she is at great risk of a terrible fracture, which I'm sure you already know about. As difficult as this is it's in her best interest to decide soon, because a break like that is a terrible ordeal for pet and person.

Let us know the answers to the questions OK? We look forward to hearing from you.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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The Rainbow Bridge

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28 June 2017 - 1:33 pm
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By the way I'm in the Tripawds Chat room right now if you want to talk.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Virginia
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28 June 2017 - 4:18 pm
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Hi Vicky and Kira.....Just want to add to Jerry's warm welcome and to.let you know we are here to help in any way we can.

Jerry has some wreat questions and would like to hear your feedback when you get a second. And nust two more questions. How much does she weigh. Prior to this has she shown any obvious telltale symptoms show from her arthritis, or has it just been discovered tbrough xrays?

Give your sweet girl an extra s.oo h...And a few extra treats from us, okay?

Higs

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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29 June 2017 - 12:21 pm
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Hi Sally,

Thank you for the warm welcome  - I spoke to Jerry yesterday and we discussed getting a second opinion from another vet so I'm looking into that now.

To answer your questions Kira is about 8 years old (she's a rescue so I'm not sure of her exact age) and weighs around 25kg, which is her ideal weight. Other than the arthritis she is a good candidate for amputation.

Like a lot of others I thought that she was developing arthritis when she started limping intermittently, before her first x-ray in November. She also twisted her back getting off the sofa and yelped (it was like a scream - worst sound she's ever made), then just stood with her head hanging and me holding her up for a few minutes before she could move to lay down. It was after that happened that I got the first x-ray and found out about the cancer.

Since last week her back legs have been buckling occasionally on walks, which my vet thinks is due to her putting more weight on them because of the pain in her front leg (she's quite front heavy). He also said that when she was coming round from the anaesthetic last week after her second x-ray she couldn't lie in certain positions due to the pain from the arthritis in her back. Writing this is making me think more that amputation may not be an option for us.

Thanks for taking the time to write to me,

Vicky

Virginia
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29 June 2017 - 2:04 pm
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Awww, sorry aweet Kira is having these "issues". Hopefw a secon opinion can help clarify the best path forward.

I do hope the Vet has her on some anti-inflammatory like Rimadyl and some pain meds like Tramadol. They can do wonders in keeping her comfortable while you do your research. Seeing her feel better will do you BOTH some good! 🙂

One other thing that struck me was when she twisted her back. Were any follow up xrays taken to make sure there are no disc issues, or other spine issues involved from that big OOWWEE?

You clearly love your gal and she is very lucky to have such a wonderful furever home with you! Just continue to spoil and love and take lots of photos! She has no worries and doesn't care about any ole' medical reports! She does care about living in the moment with you by her side spoiling her like crazy! Make every day KIRA DAY!! 🙂

Update when you can and we'll be cheering for Kira!

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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29 June 2017 - 5:42 pm
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Obviously, every dog is different, but my Otis had mild arthritis in his hips.  Our family vet felt that he was not a good candidate for amputation, but when we visited a surgeon (who did many many amps every year), he felt Otis would do fine.  And he did just great as a tripawd.  Perhaps not the most active tripawd in the world, but he was happy and we had good quality time together.  Kira's arthritis sounds more severe, but also might be hard to tell what is arthritis and what is the pain of bone cancer.  Hopefully, the second opinion will be helpful to you, as it was to us.

Otis - 106 pound lab/Dane mix, lost his right front leg to osteosarcoma on Febuary 9, 2016.  Four rounds of carboplatin completed in April, 2016.  Lung mets August 25, 2016.  Said goodbye too soon on September 4, 2016.   Lost his adopted sister, Tess, suddenly on October 9, 2016. likely due to hemangiosarcoma.  

Wherever they are, they are together.

London, UK
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30 June 2017 - 10:21 am
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I'm really pleased you are getting a second opinion and hope it offers you some more options. Also wondered how they had diagnosed the spinal arthritis. Was it through X-rays, or where there clinical signs too? I'm thinking quite a lot of 8 year old dogs probably have some degree of arthritis, so the question is really how much it's affecting her. My Meg had elbow dysplasia and moderate arthritis in her remaining front leg (together with another condition) and because of this I was advised that amputation wasn't an option for her. I sought a second opinion (after encouragement from people here) and decided to give it a go. She is now 16 months post amp, happy and active, and doing extremely well.

Obviously I am no sort of expert, but it does seem to me that there might be a number of explanations for the discomfort Kira has been showing. For example, if she couldn't lie in certain positions after the scan, this might of course be due to arthritis, but it could also be due to strained muscles etc., caused by her change in posture to compensate for the bad leg. There's lots that can be done to build her strength in terms of core strengthening exercises , and perhaps also working on an underwater treadmill. I don't want to bombard you with second/third/fourth opinion suggestions, but I'll just say that I do wish someone had suggested to me seeing a rehab vet (as well as an orthopaedic surgeon) at a much earlier stage (to be clear, Meg's amputation was not because of Cancer. She has longstanding orthopaedic issues) because they have huge experience in managing chronic conditions such as arthritis, and tend to see things from a different perspective, which can be really helpful.

All best to you and Kira. Please do keep us updated.

Meg, Clare and Elsie Pie xxx 

Meg, Mutt, aged around 8, adopted 31/12/2009. Sudden explosive right elbow fracture 06/12 (caused by IOHC), diagnosed with End Stage Arthritis 03/15, Total Elbow Replacement 08/15, problems with healing leading to skin graft & skin flap surgery, Chronic Infection leading to implant breakdown. Became a Tripawd 9th March 2016. 
Lives with Elsie Pie, & Mum, Clare, watched over by Angel Billie
My life as a MEG-A-STAR 


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1 July 2017 - 4:01 am
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Thank you all for your replies and very helpful advice. I've asked my vet to refer me to an oncologist so hopefully I'll be able to get an appointment with them soon. I'm sure they will give me a clearer idea of the extent of her arthritis and treatment options. I'll let you know how it goes! I don't want to get my hopes up too much but of course I want to make sure I'm doing everything I can for her. 

For now, Kira is doing much better after being on Tramadol for just over a week (on top of the Metacam) and we met another Tripawd in my local park yesterday who is 2 years post op, which was a really lucky co-incidence as I live in a small village! We had a good chat about amputation and I got to see first hand what it is like. Today we're visiting her favourite park to watch the deer 🙂

I'll update more after I meet the oncologist 

Best wishes everyone!

Vicky

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14 July 2017 - 2:37 pm
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Hi,

I thought I should update this for anyone interested in how we got on. I got Kira referred to a specialist oncologist and we had our appointment last week. She looked at her x-rays and she thought that Kira was a good candidate for amputation. I wanted to be sure, so she ended up staying in overnight for a CT scan, blood test, fine needle biopsy, orthopedic check and cell culture. The results were good - no sign of spread to the lungs, blood tests were normal and only mild signs of arthritis.

Kira is an unusual case because she has had the growth for 8 months already now and is hardly showing any signs of pain (only a slight limp), so they did the culture as well as the biopsy to check for bone infection (she's from Greece originally so apparently there is more potential for bone infections than normal UK dogs). Unfortunately both the biopsy and culture came back inconclusive, but I didn't want to do the more invasive biopsy as we may as well do it after the amputation, as that is the only option. We'll check her leg after amputation to figure out what is going on.

Interestingly, they told me that they think Kira is 10 years old - I thought she was 8!

I'm ringing around vets in my area now to get the best price/option for amputation, as I can't afford for the referral clinic to do it (£2500) and my local vet isn't 24 hours and doesn't keep dogs in overnight after the operation, and I want to do that if possible.

I'm really pleased I took everyone's advice who wrote to me - feeling much more positive about this now so thank you all 🙂

Virginia
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14 July 2017 - 9:15 pm
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It's really good news that Kia sailed through all her pre-op tests with flying colors! 🙂

Sometimes there's a sense of relief in being able to proceed with a plan after you've done everything possible to gain as much info as you can. Good job!

Obviously it would be ideal to have the amp done at a 24/7 clinic by an Orthopedic Surgeon. There are possibilities out there for some financial support. The TRIPAWDS FOUNDATION also has some help available if you fit the criteria.

If you do have to go with a "regular" Vet, ask how many amputations they have done. Also make sure you have phone numbers of the Vet and make sure you have an ER service open all night.

Let us know how your research goes, okay?

Hugs to that sweet pup!

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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6 August 2017 - 4:17 am
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Hi everyone,

Kira officially became a Tripawd on Friday! I rang around different vets for quotes and asked for advice from people at work, and found a really nice vet who would keep her overnight and was affordable for me. Kira is doing really well so far - in fact it is hard to hold her back! I don't think I would have been able to make the difficult decision to have the amputation done without all of the support and information on this site, so a big thanks to everyone!

Virginia
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6 August 2017 - 9:12 am
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YAAAAAAAAAY FOR KIRA...AND MOM TOO!!!!   SURGERY IS DONE AND SHE IS IN THE ROAD TO RECOVERY!!!

And recovery is no picnic for a couple of weeks so be sure and STAY CONNECTED!!!  We've all been through it and  ore than willing to answer any questions and support you anyway we can!!!

I think you're already pretty well versed on rest, rest, rest, potty breaks and more rest.  Non slip scatter rugs for traction if you jave hardwoods.   Just let us know a y questions you have, okay?

HUGS

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

PS.  Whe. You go to pick Kira up, don't even bother to look at her incision.  She just wants to see yiur smiling face telling her she's a good girl and going home!! 🙂

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!

Schofield, WI
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6 August 2017 - 10:24 am
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Yay for sweet Kira!  So glad to read your good update and to hear she's back home and your both doing well! 😉

Here and Now

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6 August 2017 - 3:27 pm
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Thanks for the great update. Best wishes for a quick complete recovery!

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