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Front leg amputation on a big dog. Advice please
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19 July 2018 - 2:29 pm
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Hi

Brutus is a 150 pound st bernard x beauceron. He has been operated twice for an abscess in his foot. But it never healed properly. His pad had nearly healed after 10 monthes. But on Tuesday his foot swelled up. Our vet sent him to hospital on Wednesday for a scanner. The hospital vet suggested amputation since he thinks he has a deep infection. We are still waiting for the results. The antibiogramme done last Friday was negative and he has no fever. Our own vet says it's just inflammation but still also suggested amputation. 

I am heart broken. He is nearly 5 and very calm. He has trouble getting up with four legs. Our house is fully tiled. I think he might have lost muscle since walking was no advised due to his paw. He also has slight anemia probably because of his foot so that could tire him too.

What is your experience about big dogs with only one front leg? He has gone through so much. I am heart broken but should we put him through another painful operation? Could he live correctly. Get up on his own?

Thanks

The Rainbow Bridge

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19 July 2018 - 7:16 pm
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Hi Brutus and family, welcome! We are sorry to hear about the infection. Can't blame you for being heartbroken, this is a tough situation. But the good news is that you are getting good feedback from not one but two vets. That's great! In the end only you know him better than anyone else, but this is a good start. 

My question is, what makes him have a tough time getting around your home right now? Slippery floors are hard for even athletic four legged dogs, so the easy solution is more traction .  Yes, he may have lost muscle mass and of course he's tired from battling an infection raging in his body. But my bet is that once that bad leg is gone he will start feeling so much better. I would mostly be concerned with getting the infection under control before surgery, which I'm sure your veterinarians will do. To give yourself peace of mind be sure to ask for their game plan for doing so.

Also, what exactly worries you the most? Maybe we can help alleviate your concerns.

Giant breed dogs can do great on three legs, most will, even those with other health conditions. Just look through this forum and you'll see. The biggest challenge comes during the first two weeks after surgery, when pain meds can make them woozy and a bit lethargic. But that's just temporary, it does get better. Another big hurdle is the pet parent's attitude. If the journey starts with the human immediately feeling regret and sadness, instead of hope for the future and relief that the horrible pain is gone, then the journey will be rough. Our animals reflect our emotions, so the more optimistic and pawsitive the parent is, the easier it will be. 

I hope this helps. Stay tuned for more feedback from others OK? 

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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19 July 2018 - 8:25 pm
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Hi Brutus and family,

My name is Elizabeth and I have a very large great Dane, Monte, that has been through front leg amputation.  Monte was 180 pounds at time of first surgery and its been seven weeks now.  If you'd like to see our story and pictures, its in the forum under 4yr old diagnosed with Osteosarcoma.

Jerry had suggested to me about an orthopedic vet.  Have you thought of seeing one of those?  I ask because I had taken Monte to two vets, one specialist, and one orthopedic surgeon before I made my decision.  I totally understand your heartache.  You will receive tons of support through Tripawds.  I am forever grateful!

I second Jerry's comment about the human's emotions and attitude.  You know your fur baby better than anyone!  I knew my Monte was and is a fighter!  I had my moments but took those where he couldn't sense them.  Positive attitudes help! (even when it's hard)

May I also ask if your vet does any kind of laser therapy?  I ask this because Monte had a bed sore that the surgeon was concerned about.  If the scab came off and left a hole, that would bleed and need to have another surgery to close it up.  I took Monte to my regular vet, had a laser treatment and the sore is healing nicely. 

Follow your heart and research whatever suggestions come your way if you can.  

Prayers for you allheart

Elizabeth and Monte

Livermore, CA
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19 July 2018 - 10:31 pm
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Hello and welcome.

Here is Monte and Elizabeth's thread:  4 yr old Great Dane with Osteosarcoma

I'm sorry to hear about Brutus' issues.  I can't help you with the size, my Tripawds have both been small.  But I can share how important traction is for dog with any kind of mobility issues.  My quad pug Tani had mobility issues most of her life, as she aged and her arthritis got worse she had trouble with traction on our tile floors.  I ended up going with yoga mats as she would still slip on throw rugs.  It isn't what I had planned when I put the tile in but it was what I had to do.

My two rear amp Tripawds could actually navigate the tile floors slowly, but neither of them would lay on the floors so I never saw them try and get up.  My current Tripawd Elly will slip on the tile if she is going too fast, but she has learned to go to the rugs we have and in most cases avoids the center of the kitchen which has the biggest open tile spaces.

Another thing that might help is to trim the fur between his pads and toes- that has helped all my mobility challenged pups.

While both my Tripawds have been rear amps I know lots of front Tripawds.  My friend Cemil recently pasted more than 9 years after his front amp due to OSA, he was an 150 pound Anatolian Shepard.

If you do go forward with amputation there are lots of games and exercises that will help Brutus regain strength.  There are ideas in our gear blog and we also have a program here that might reimburse you for a visit at a certified rehab facility.

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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20 July 2018 - 4:50 am
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Hi Brutus and Mom 🌸🐾

You've got great advice from others, I am a proud Momma of a huge Angel Dane who lost her front leg to osteosarcoma. 

She had a rough couple of weeks during initial recovery but after stitches were removed she got better and better and eventually mastered the art of living on three. 

Your boy can do this and so can you.

From my experience, we get strength where we did not think we would find it whenever need arises!

I was able to lift, hold and guide my 170lb dog (with the assistance of a ruffwear harness ) whenever she needed peeping/pooping and yet I am fairly short and not that strong.

Elisabeth (Monte's Mom) has been through a lot with her baby but raised to the challenge and did a marvellous job too!

We all know how difficult the thought of amputation is but it is for the best, we've all done it bearing the wellbeing and quality of life of our babies in mind.

We are all here for you and Brutus anytime, please know that.

Sending hugs and cuddles 😘🐮💫✨🌟🌹

Eurydice 77kg/170lb Great Dane limping end of April 2016, amputation (right front leg/osteosarcoma) 4 May 2016 6 courses of carboplatin followed by metronomic therapy, lung mets found 30 Nov 2016. 3 courses of doxorubicin, PET scan 26 Jan 2017 showed more mets so stopped chemo. Holistic route April 2017. Lung X-ray 5 May 2017 showed several tennis ball size mets, started cortisone and diuretics. Miss Cow earned her XXL silver wings 12 June 2017, 13 months and 1 week after amputation and 6 1/2 months after lung mets, she was the goofiest dawg ever and is now happily flying from cloud to cloud woof woofing away :-) 

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20 July 2018 - 7:45 am
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Hi,

Thank you all for your answers. Monte's story has scared me... Anyway the hospital vet rung me. He doesn't really think amputation is the best solution, since some large dogs make it and others don't. So we agreed that he would open up the paw again and take all the bad tissue out, maybe take a toe or two off as well. He thinks there is a 50% chance this will work and otherwise we will have to amputate and see... I suppose I can trust him, and my vet says I can.

If we need to amputate, I will certainly be back, because we will need all the advice we can get...

Have a nice day

Zoe

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20 July 2018 - 9:48 am
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Darling Zoe 🌸

Please don't think Monte's experience is the norm, in fact it is far from being the norm.

I have never heard of four drains being placed at the same time before!

Elisabeth and Monte were very unfortunate with his recovery and incredibly brave and now they are happy, the worst is definitely behind them!

I can certainly sympathise with your decision of trying to solve his situation without amputating and hope it will work out for him!

And do not think you need him to loose his leg for you to be able to post here, you are family now and so is Brutus, we definitely want to follow his journey and are here to help and support you, four legs or three!

Please do keep us updated, you are both in my thoughts.

Hugs and cuddles 😘🐮💫✨🌟🌹

Eurydice 77kg/170lb Great Dane limping end of April 2016, amputation (right front leg/osteosarcoma) 4 May 2016 6 courses of carboplatin followed by metronomic therapy, lung mets found 30 Nov 2016. 3 courses of doxorubicin, PET scan 26 Jan 2017 showed more mets so stopped chemo. Holistic route April 2017. Lung X-ray 5 May 2017 showed several tennis ball size mets, started cortisone and diuretics. Miss Cow earned her XXL silver wings 12 June 2017, 13 months and 1 week after amputation and 6 1/2 months after lung mets, she was the goofiest dawg ever and is now happily flying from cloud to cloud woof woofing away :-) 

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20 July 2018 - 11:33 am
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Hi

Thanks for your support. His abscess has completely burst. His middle pad is now in two parts. Doesn't seem to hurt. He is not even limping... fingers crossed for Tuesday. 

Thanks for your caring

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20 July 2018 - 4:09 pm
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💗💗😘🐮💫✨🌟🌹

Eurydice 77kg/170lb Great Dane limping end of April 2016, amputation (right front leg/osteosarcoma) 4 May 2016 6 courses of carboplatin followed by metronomic therapy, lung mets found 30 Nov 2016. 3 courses of doxorubicin, PET scan 26 Jan 2017 showed more mets so stopped chemo. Holistic route April 2017. Lung X-ray 5 May 2017 showed several tennis ball size mets, started cortisone and diuretics. Miss Cow earned her XXL silver wings 12 June 2017, 13 months and 1 week after amputation and 6 1/2 months after lung mets, she was the goofiest dawg ever and is now happily flying from cloud to cloud woof woofing away :-) 

The Rainbow Bridge

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20 July 2018 - 4:29 pm
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I'm so sorry to hear this. Is there any way you can get him in sooner on an emergency basis? Dogs are incredible at hiding their pain, I cannot imagine that it doesn't hurt. Plus the risk of infection.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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20 July 2018 - 8:58 pm
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Make sure they get a biopsy of the tissue and also take an xray to look for osteomyelitis.  It sounds like the bacterial culture was negative but make sure they also looked for anaerobes (bacteria that can grow without oxygen).  There could also be a foreign body since it is a pad lesion.

Last summer I had to take a front toe off of my current Mastiff Julian.  He had a deep infection that had spread to the bone.  He had to take several antibiotics for 4 weeks after surgery and I had to soak his foot in dilute bleach daily but I am happy to say he still has his leg!  He is 8 yrs old now and I was not sure if he could be a tripawd although these giant dogs can surprise you.

Pam

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21 July 2018 - 3:39 am
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Hi. Thanks for the advice. Of course I rang the vet to give him the update (actually my vet and the hospital vet). They said wait until Tuesday and keep up foot bathes and disinfection. I am not worried because he is alert, eating and drinking, no fever. We already has a biopsis done which was negative. The scanner showed the bones were OK apart from the 4th tow. Its sort of fuzzy around it. They said that was due to a deep infection. There is a mineralised foreign body near his elbow. I will ask if they take it out as well....On Tuesday he will see an orthopaedics and should be operated.

By the way he must have had a catheter in his back leg since he was shaved there and it has swollen around the elbow. Is this normal?

Thanks 

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21 July 2018 - 3:53 am
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Just rang the vet. Again... will be taking him in today...

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21 July 2018 - 7:30 am
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Back from the vet. He said the swelling was probably due to bruising due to the iv. Said his 4th toe definitely  has to go. I have to spray hydrogenated water on the wounds then cyclospray which is a blue product for cows. He did not like the look  of his upper pad that has split at the top (but as it is at the top he doesnt walk on it). No fever but he still had an antibiotic shot. We also did an antibiogramme including anaerobes. The mineralisation near his elbow is not to be worried about. He will ring me tomorrow. ..

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21 July 2018 - 8:13 am
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Well, darling girl, you are such a wonderful Mom to Brutus, you really are !

You are leaving no stone unturned, Brutus is in the best of hands 👌🏾

It so warms my heart so see the great care you are providing him with, I am keeping my thoughts with you both and wish Tuesday will be the end of his ordeal and the start (or better said) continuation of a marvellously happy life with you 💓

Keep us posted!

Love and cuddles 😘🐮💫✨🌟🌹

Eurydice 77kg/170lb Great Dane limping end of April 2016, amputation (right front leg/osteosarcoma) 4 May 2016 6 courses of carboplatin followed by metronomic therapy, lung mets found 30 Nov 2016. 3 courses of doxorubicin, PET scan 26 Jan 2017 showed more mets so stopped chemo. Holistic route April 2017. Lung X-ray 5 May 2017 showed several tennis ball size mets, started cortisone and diuretics. Miss Cow earned her XXL silver wings 12 June 2017, 13 months and 1 week after amputation and 6 1/2 months after lung mets, she was the goofiest dawg ever and is now happily flying from cloud to cloud woof woofing away :-) 

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