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Rear Apendicular Chondrosarcoma 2yr German Shepherd | Presentation and Diagnosis

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Rear Apendicular Chondrosarcoma 2yr German Shepherd
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4 September 2017 - 8:12 pm
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A week and a half ago I was letting our dogs outside- Dagger and Duke ran out the door at the same time. This isn’t uncommon, who is faster right? Well, this time Dagger had hurt himself somehow because he was yelping incredibly loud and had his leg held up for a few minutes. But then shook it off. But I wanted to be on the safe side and get him checked out. (4 dogs, I do this often) The next day we went into our vet for his check-up. I noticed immediately it was going differently than a normal checkup. He was concerned with the location/size/firmness of the swelling in the leg. And his lymph nodes were swollen, and he had a slight temperature. We brought him back in to get x-rays and do a biopsy because he was leaning towards 1 of 2 types of cancers but because of the location it was boggling him. So they sent the biopsy out and we just heard back September 1st that Dagger was diagnosed with Chondrosarcoma. He gave us options, and referred us to a medical cancer center for pets. It is about 2 1/2 hrs away from home. My husband and I are taking him Thursday for testing and are finding out his treatment plan. As of now we know that he will need to have his rear leg amputated up to the hip, but this also all depends on the results from testing.

I almost don't know where to start because I don't know what road we are going down. What do I ask? What do I need? How do I prepare?

I have 4 dogs - Daisy and Duke Redbone Coonhound Mix 65lbs- Dagger German Shepherd 115lbs- Tinkerbell Chihuahua Jack Russel 5lbs and a 7 year old. My Husband travels out of state for work for weeks at a time, he leaves in a few days.
So I am a nervous wreck over how soon will he have surgery? How long is recovery? What all goes into recovery. How much is it on 1 person?  How to manage while I'm at work, can you leave him unattended, even crated? if so, how long? What is a typical schedule?

Any information that you feel would be helpful, please pass along. Thank you!

Livermore, CA
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4 September 2017 - 10:28 pm
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Hello and welcome, your future posts will not have to wait for approval.

I'm sorry that cancer has brought you here, but this is the best place to be when dealing with amputation.  This is a community who knows how overwhelming it is when you get a cancer diagnosis.

Dagger is so young! Stupid cancer! But that young age will probably work in his favor when it comes to recovering from amputation surgery.  Another thing in his favor is that the bad leg is a rear leg. Dogs take about 60% of their weight on their front legs so losing a rear is a bit easier. 

Here is a our Reading List, lots of info there from this site on what to expect with amputation, recovery and treatment. 

As far as what to ask the vet- for the surgeon I would want to know the extent of the surgery- you said up to the hip.  Ask if there is any chance they would have to take part of the pelvis. Depending on the tumor location probably not, but it is something to know ahead of time. How long will he be at the vet after surgery, and is the vet staffed 24 hours. When he comes home what pain meds will he be on.  Will the incision have sutures or staples that need to be removed or the kind of sutures that dissolve.  Will the incision area be bandaged when he comes home- rear amps usually do not have a bandage.  For the oncologist I would ask about all possible treatment options, any side effects and the normal results of each treatment (including doing nothing after surgery). What tests will be done pre- surgery to check for metastasis.

The basics for Tripawds are good traction, you will want to put rugs or yoga mats over any slippery floors.  Raised food and water dishes make balancing to eat easier.  Not all Tripawds need a harness, but many of us here use the RuffWear Webmaster (the link will take you to a selection of harnesses)  The good news on that is that since Dagger will use a rear leg you can use the harness right after surgery to help him get around.  My little pug Maggie lost a rear leg to mast cell cancer.  She could hop on her own the day of surgery although she couldn't get far at first. 

Other members will share their ideas and experiences.

Lean on your new family here, we have been where you are now and can help.

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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5 September 2017 - 7:53 am
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krun15 said
Hello and welcome, your future posts will not have to wait for approval.

I'm sorry that cancer has brought you here, but this is the best place to be when dealing with amputation.  This is a community who knows how overwhelming it is when you get a cancer diagnosis.

Dagger is so young! Stupid cancer! But that young age will probably work in his favor when it comes to recovering from amputation surgery.  Another thing in his favor is that the bad leg is a rear leg. Dogs take about 60% of their weight on their front legs so losing a rear is a bit easier. 

Here is a our Reading List, lots of info there from this site on what to expect with amputation, recovery and treatment. 

As far as what to ask the vet- for the surgeon I would want to know the extent of the surgery- you said up to the hip.  Ask if there is any chance they would have to take part of the pelvis. Depending on the tumor location probably not, but it is something to know ahead of time. How long will he be at the vet after surgery, and is the vet staffed 24 hours. When he comes home what pain meds will he be on.  Will the incision have sutures or staples that need to be removed or the kind of sutures that dissolve.  Will the incision area be bandaged when he comes home- rear amps usually do not have a bandage.  For the oncologist I would ask about all possible treatment options, any side effects and the normal results of each treatment (including doing nothing after surgery). What tests will be done pre- surgery to check for metastasis.

The basics for Tripawds are good traction, you will want to put rugs or yoga mats over any slippery floors.  Raised food and water dishes make balancing to eat easier.  Not all Tripawds need a harness, but many of us here use the RuffWear Webmaster (the link will take you to a selection of harnesses)  The good news on that is that since Dagger will use a rear leg you can use the harness right after surgery to help him get around.  My little pug Maggie lost a rear leg to mast cell cancer.  She could hop on her own the day of surgery although she couldn't get far at first. 

Other members will share their ideas and experiences.

Lean on your new family here, we have been where you are now and can help.

Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls  

Karen,

Thank you so much for your reply. This is very hard, especially since he is so young. This is the 1st place I have reached out to and I'm thankful to have. Your words are very helpful and appreciated. I will look into what you suggested and start taking notes for our appointment. 

You are so right, STUPID CANCER!!!

Again, thank you for your open arms, caring spirit, and being so helpful. Thinking of your Maggie.heart

Dayna

The Rainbow Bridge

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5 September 2017 - 10:28 am
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Hi Dayna, welcome. I'm so glad Karen was there for you last night. Our entire community is here for you, Dagger and your awesome pack.

Dagger is a young'un, and I too am sorry he's gotten diagnosed at two years old. But if there's one thing I know about Shepherds, is that they bounce back from amputation like nobody's business! You'll see our Wyatt Ray is a rear leg amputee (due to abuse by a previous owner, not cancer), and our friends, The Oaktown Pack, are three GSDs, all rear leg amputees. We've had many other GSDs here who lost limbs and they followed the same pattern of bouncing back pretty quickly.

I'm glad you're going to a specialty center. Dagger will get great care! Chondrosarcoma is one of those cancers that isn't as bad as some, but of course is still worrisome. This blog post, Chondrosarcoma and Chemotherapy, has some information about it. 

Regarding recovery: I think your biggest challenge will be keeping Dagger calm while the other pups are around. Do they all free roam in your home while you're out at work? Others who have multiple dogs in their house can give you better feedback on this than I. But I'll start with this: invest in baby gates. You'll want to keep him as mellow as possible during the first two weeks. I know, almost impossible for a GSD but good medication can help.

After recovery you can restart activity, but slowly and gradually. I strongly encourage you to check out rehab therapy for Dagger...the best part is, the Tripawds Foundation will even pay for your first rehab visit! You can see all that we learned with Wyatt's rehab this summer. It's incredibly valuable, especially for GSDs and their all-too-common bad hips.

I hope this helps! Let us know if you have any questions and if you're able to download our e-books you'll find those answer many as well. 

P.S. No need to requote every answer to your forum posts, just hit the "Add Reply" button

or this "plus" one at the bottom of every post, if you're on your mobile:

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5 September 2017 - 8:08 pm
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As you can see from the great input already, you are not alone!!!

We all know this is soooo scary and unsettling at first!  Lots of tears, lots of sleepless nights...all the while Dagger is sleeping just fine and isn't worried about a thing!!  Ahhh..the BLISS OF BEING DOG!

Just keep things chunked down.  You are doing what you need to do and  the order that needs to be done.  You're having him assessed and you're vetting feedback from the professional Vets who are used to dealing with this poopicon_png!!

Yes, on person can handle recovery. My Happy Hannah (125 lb Bull Mastiff) just had me.  For me It was VERY exhausting and stressful.  HOWEVER, I didn't join this community until day six after the amputation.  Could have saved myself a lot of anxiety and uncertainty had I found this site first.!

Recovery is nompocnic for a couple of weeks, but especially the first week.  We are here to remind you recovery doesn't last forever!  Every recovery is differe t.  Every dog is different.  But I have a feeling Dagger will be a little quicker to recover than some.   Just STAY CONNEW to us!  We'll walk you through the rough spots!  In no time Dagger will be free from pain and romping around with his buddies just like before...but without the pain!!

You'll get through this.  Once you get all the information and make aplan to move forward, you will actually feel a sense of relief!

Check in with any questions anytime, okay?  And we would loooove to see pictures of Dagger and your adorable lack!!  They sound like very lucky dawgs to have you as their humans!! 🙂

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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6 September 2017 - 10:30 am
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Jerry- Thank you for the additional information as well. It helps to hear that GSD bounce back, I still see him as my little guy, he is my youngest pup. 

Recovery: I couldn't agree more about trying to figure out how to keep Dagger calm- its by far the hardest and I think most stressful part of this whole thing. Vet has restricted all activity, which means no playing ball, no 3-5 mile walk daily, no playing with his furblings. We have bought antlers, kongs, fillers, etc. but he is still bored. You can really see he wants his "normal" routine. I mean we are very routine oriented, and its been a struggle keeping others on their same schedule and keeping him on a restricted one. 

We crate all our pups. Well, we did. Until Dagger was diagnosed. Now we allow him to stay out and Daisy and Duke get crated, or they all stay out but Daisy and Duke stay in the dogs area that is baby gated from the rest of the house. I will crate them until he is fully recovered. I'm mostly concerned with the other dogs when we are home. They are a playful pack and I'm not sure what to expect or how to handle them while he heals. (Dagger had been on a calming medication once before and even had to have the dose upped and it didn't help, he is very very active)

I am definitely going to look into rehab therapy. My husband and I were concerned about his hips as soon as we heard amputation. I've really made sure to keep a very good diet on all of my pets and care for their needs as best as I can. When Dagger was a puppy I could tell he was growing quite fast so I made sure to start paying attention to his glucosamine chondroitin intake and not over exercising him (almost makes me feel a little defeated right now) so I really would like to get him into rehab. 

Again, thank you. I still have a lot of reading to do (which is also the reason for the slow response), but so thankful for all the information. 

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6 September 2017 - 11:02 am
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Sally- it's the most needed feeling right now, not to feel alone. And all while I'm an emotional mess and Dagger is just frustrated with being bored. 

Thank you for the encouraging words of doing it alone, though I'm hoping my husband can get out of traveling for work. Recovery has me stressed, I just want to be prepared.  Thankfully I found you all a head of time, and you all have given me so many helpful resources. I just need to read through it all, ha.

  I am a organizer/planner so the not knowing is a huge struggle for me. So I am very anxious for tomorrow, and to have more information and a plan. Also, so I can best handle this for my daughter who is very attached to Dagger, and wants to be a vet herself. 

Will definitely keep connected- your caring and kindness means so much!

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