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The Top Five Questions About Amputation And Coping with Bone Cancer

PART 1: The Top Five Questions…
PART 2: Five More Questions…

Three legged Genie Dog Runs in SnowEvery day, sadly, another four legged friend gets told that a leg must go.

“Ok,” we dogs say, “so when can we play again?”

Humans, on the other hand, have a harder time with this news.

There are tons of questions our pawrents have before and after surgery, and many people are doubtful about the benefits of amputation. To help you through this hard decision, we’ve come up with a list of the Top 10 questions that pawrents have asked us here at Tripawds. Here are questions 1 through 5. Questions 6 through 10 will follow soon.

Question #1: “How do we know that amputation is the right decision?”

First of all, there are no “right” decisions. Only you know your dog better than anyone else. Ask yourself, “is my dog strong/healthy/spirited enough to endure an operation like this?

Three legged Codie Rae runs in OaklandIf your dog is fighting cancer, most times amputation will not make it go away. Most bone cancers do metastasize (spread to other parts of the body) eventually. But whether a dog is fighting cancer or  undergoing amputation because of an accident, the greatest thing about it, is the immediate gift it gives both canines and their humans; a pain-free life, and more time together.

The biggest risk is being on the operating table, and like any surgery, you must prepare yourself for the chance that something can go wrong. But once a dog recovers, they typically go about living just as they did before.

The biggest benefit that amputation offers is that it will immediately alleviate the unbelievably horrible pain your dog is experiencing from bone cancer, or a shattered limb. And remember, you’re not getting rid of a leg; you’re getting rid of the pain! Whether amputation allows your dog a extra month, year, or longer to lead an extraordinary life, that extra time is all about quality, not quantity. After amputation, every day together is icing on the cake.

Witnessing your dog’s resiliency, and their extraordinary ability to get on with life and continue having fun, is one of the greatest lessons that humans learn after going through amputation with their beloved friend.

Question #2: “My vet says my dog isn’t a candidate for amputation. Now what?”

Three legged rescue dog SammyEveryone’s circumstances are different, and not every dog is a great candidate for amputation. Cancer severity, weight and age can sometimes be an issue (although most times, even senior dogs get through it without a hitch).

Sometimes, vets who aren’t as familiar with the extraordinary lives of Tripawds may quickly dismiss your dog as a candidate because of his age, or size. If your vet does this, please get a second opinion.

Better yet, find a specialist, or go to a teaching hospital near you. Yes, osteosarcoma is an aggressive nasty disease. And if it has already metastasized in the lungs then palliative care may be the right course of treatment, instead of amputation. But if not, you can buy precious time with your pup by proceeding with the amputation.

Find a vet who is knowledgeable and compassionate enough to understand; it’s all about quality of life, not quantity.

Visit the Resources Page for many more helpful links!

Question #3: “What can we expect the first few days after surgery?”

Immediately after the surgery, the horrible pain your dog was in will be gone. Any post-surgery pain will pale in comparison to that of bone cancer. But, there will be post-surgery challenges. Remember, amputation is a major surgery, and as easy as dogs can sometimes make it look, the road to recovery can be long and challenging. Some things you can expect when you pick up your dog from the hospital include:

  • Your dog may or may not have a bandage, it all depends on the vet. Please get yourself and family members pschologically prepared that the wound will not be pretty. Check out our post-surgery photos to prepare yourself. When you see your dog, focus on his eyes, not his surgery site, and do your best to hold back any tears.
  • You’ll notice that your dog’s walk has changed. It’s weird to see him hopping toward you, but ignore that, and try to rejoice in the fact that your dog is out of pain, incredibly resilient, and coping far better with this new lifestyle than any human ever will.
  • The first couple of days after coming home, your dog will need her rest. She might be very groggy, weak, and sleepy. That’s normal. Let her rest and sleep well. Just be sure to make water available to keep her hydrated. Chicken broth or Gatorade in their water will help stimulate drinking.
  • Some dogs might want to be left alone, in a quiet spot. Some might have poor appetite, nausea, constipation, affected by pain medications and antibiotics. This may be accompanied by whining or crying. Usually it lasts just a couple of days, but only a vet can tell you if there might be unusual pain involved. Some true signs of discomfort, include a change in diet or refusal to eat, incontinence, or an inability to stand.
  • She will need to learn how to get into position to go potty. Don’t worry, it’ll happen naturally after a day or two. When they gotta go, they just go!
  • Your dog will have a brand new, cool walk, more like a hop! And you’ll be so surprised at how fast she moves. All that stuff you taught us about heeling at your side? Forget it! Remember, it’s always easier for us to hop along quickly, than walk slowly.

After a few weeks, once we recover, we can get down to the serious business of playing and keeping our families happy.

find fast answers in tripawds ebooksQuestion #4: “What can I do to make my dog’s recovery easier?”

Three legged Jerry Dog plays in the snowThe biggest thing you can do is get yourself mentally prepared, and be a strong pack leader. Accept that there will likely be challenges over the next few days that may make you sad, or even regret that you went through with the surgery. That’s normal. Don’t beat yourself up, remember to be strong, and know that the recovery time is just temporary.

Don’t get discouraged if you think progress is slow, and don’t compare your dog’s recovery with others’. Remember that recovery times are all different for each dog, and progress is gradual, anywhere from a couple of weeks to a couple of months. Always remember to embrace the little steps along the way.

Some practical advice we can offer includes:

  • Have his favorite foods handy, things you know your dog can’t resist. Be prepared to do some home cooking. Tempting foods will help him get his appetite back.
  • Put down runners and rugs on all bare, slippery surfaces in your house. A spill right after surgery can be a real confidence killer to a new Tripawd. However, once your dog learns how to to adapt, any minor stumbles or spills while playing won’t be such a big deal to him (you, however, will need to stay calm).
  • Cozy pillows in her sleeping area are great, but make sure she has a firm and supportive mattress.
  • As she gets used to getting up to walk around or go potty, try wrapping a bath towel under her belly to hoist her rear end and give her a little support. Or, you can cut up canvas grocery bag, and it wrap around your dog’s chest as a sling. Many dogs will only need this kind of assistance for the first few days.
  • Later, after the stitches heal, a Ruffwear Harness is extremely helpful by allowing you to assist your dog in getting around (in and out of cars, learning to use stairs on three legs, and helping her up when she lays in an awkward spot on the floor). The harness is always the most helpful when you least expect to need it, so always keep it on your dog except at night.
  • For the first week or so, keep your Tripawd confined to a small area in your home, and never let her tackle stairs or going outside by herself during the first few days.
  • If you have other dogs, you might want to supervise them closely when they play together, to keep your Tripawd from overdoing it or injuring the incision area.
  • Don’t let your Tripawd jump up or down off the bed or couch until they are completely healed. Your Tripawd will forget that they are adapting to a new body, and can hurt themselves. It’s up to you to help them through this phase.

Remember, think positive, and be strong as a pack leader. Always, offer her lots of encouragements. She will pick up on your emotion. ”

Question #5: “It’s been 7 days after surgery, and my dog isn’t behaving like he used to. I think he’s depressed. Is this normal?”

Three legged Dachshund FrankieMost times, what humans think is depression in their dog is actually just the dog’s reaction to pain meds. Heavy duty painkillers like Fentanyl patches and Tramadol can induce whining, crying and anti-social behavior. Remember, your dog isn’t used to these drugs, and they’re probably making her see pink elephants. Most often, withdrawal from pain meds is the cause of the change in behavior. Or, they could be coping with Phantom Pain.

We think the biggest reason that pawrents think their dogs are depressed is because deep down, they aren’t sure about their dogs’ ability to cope, and they are projecting those feelings onto their dogs. After all, humans know that they would have a difficult time coping with amputation if they had to go through it.  Please keep in mind that dogs are SO much smarter and resilient than humans! Dogs live in the moment, and they have no regrets about losing a leg. When your dog is done healing, he will go on with life, happy and playful, because that’s all that matters.

We hope we’ve addressed some of your concerns here, but if you’re still worried about your dog, please discuss your concerns with your vet.

If you can think of any others, please add to the discussion we’ve started in the Forums. The next five questions will follow shortly . . .

PART 1: The Top Five Questions…
PART 2: Five More Questions…
Read All FAQs

152 thoughts on “The Top Five Questions About Amputation And Coping with Bone Cancer”

  1. I am fostering a 5 year old dobe that was hit by a car last year. The rescue tried several surgeries to save the leg but we lost that battle last week. She has had a year to get used to having only three good legs but the amputation has definitely been a change. Any tips on how to help a big dog relearn how to get up, get around and how to potty will be greatly appreciated.

    • You will find many helpful rehab tips and videos by searching the blogs and forums, or save time by downloading Loving Life on Three Legs. The absolute best recommendation is to consult with a certified rehab therapist for an orthopedic evaluation, treatment recommendations and strengthening exercises you can do at home. Visit a CCRT or CCCRP and the Tripawds Foundation can even pay for your first visit from the Maggie Moo Fund for Tripawd Rehab!

  2. My three year old Maltese was hit by a school bus and lost his leg because of it. He is taking pain medication as he had surgery just five days ago. I know the medicine makes them sleepy but he hardly wants to get out of his kennel. He has only slept in it a night, otherwise he has gone with me everywhere. Now that’s the only place he wants to be. Is this normal? When should I be concerned? Do you think he’s ok?

    • Hi coopersmom, sorry to hear about your pup but so glad that he survived the accident! Five days isn’t a long time after surgery but if he is behaving oddly I would ask your vet to adjust his pain medication. He may need more or less, but what you are describing sounds like he isn’t getting enough. Also please consider joining our Discussion Forums for more insight from the community. See you there!

  3. My 5 year old Yorkie had a leg amputated last week due to cancer. My husband sent me this article to read and I found it very helpful!!

  4. I have a 7 month old basset/lab mix and his bones are growing the wrong way, they are curving in hjs front left leg. The doctor said surgery is the way to go and that he might need to be put on pain meds most of his life to stop arthritis. I would like to amputate his leg so it doesnt make us too much in debt but also so it doesnt make him in any more pain. Do you think i am doing the right thing?

    • Cheyenne, if you are in doubt, get an opinion from a board-certified orthopedic surgeon and also a canine rehab therapist. Seven months is a young dog, it’s good to get all your information together before making such a big decision. Amputation may or may not solve the problem, in fact it may make things worse. Don’t do anything until you consult with the experts. Good luck and keep us posted.

  5. My almost 2 year old border collie has a nasty break in her back left leg. At first it was a simple fracture, but 7 weeks later, she somehow completely broke the same leg. There is a surgery that can fix it, but it’s so expensive and I don’t know how I can keep her calm for another 12-16 weeks post surgery. If anything were to go wrong after surgery, I don’t think I would have the funds to help her and have to euthanize her.
    After ANOTHER emergency vet visit because of getting past her E collar and now causing a nasty infection on her toes, the ER vet and I have decided that amputation is probably the best course of action, but my main vet doesn’t agree since it isn’t “necessary”. So now I am fighting this horrible guilt that I’m planning on taking her leg and it isn’t as a last resort. She’s so young, incredibly active, and I can’t put her through a surgery just to be completely restricted again, and then be financially strapped myself (we’re talking about a $5K+ surgery here..). My relationship with my husband is also suffering from this stress – we’re getting ready to buy a home, and a new car.
    Am I doing the right thing going the amputation route? Am I being selfish? Like I said, this has already been such a difficult, long road, and it feels like Cersei (my border collie) is also at the end of her rope.

    • Sorry to hear about your situation! You will find MUCH more helpful feedback and support in the forums than you will via comments on this old blog post. Start here for help finding the many Tripawds Resources and assistance programs or feel free to call the toll-free Tripawds Helpline anytime.

      PS: Far too many times we hear from new members who put there dogs through multiple painful expensive surgeries trying to “save the leg” who only end up amputating later anyway. Look at it this way…you are not removing the leg, you are removing the pain. And you are not doing it to her, you are doing it for her.

      • Thank you! I went ahead and created a profile. This whole thing is overwhelming to me, but just reading these forums and how supportive this foundation is has put my heart at ease.

  6. I have a 4 yr. old chocolate lab that had a TPLO on his left rear leg that went awesome. Five months later he had to have a TPLO on his right rear leg, it has been a nightmare. Nothing went right. He developed a seroma, tore a meniscus and finally has tested positive for MRSA. Two years later, after multiple rounds of antibiotics and flushing of the joint, the ortho doc says the bone looks septic and it’s bone on bone. His leg has atrophied a great deal as well. She is recommending amputation of the right rear leg. He has been limping for 2 years and we know he is in pain. He is also a retriever that loves to duck hunt. It is killing me and my husband to do this to him. I know it will save his life. He is a large dog… 95lbs and not fat. My main concern is that he will have one back leg that is already compromised, having had a TPLO as well. The Doc says it has healed well and is well muscled, his hips look pretty good too. What if the hopping causes problems to the remaining leg….. anyone dealt with this?

    • Cheryl we are so sorry about your poor pup, and you! What an ordeal. If you haven’t already, do seek a second opinion with a board-certified orthopedic specialist. Yes, many members have dealt with this same situation. I encourage you to post in our Hopping Around or Beyond Cancer Discussion Forums and tell us more. We are here to help.

  7. My dog was just involved in an accident yesterday. After seeing the xrays the best option we have is to have his left rear leg amputated. This is not an easy decision for us to make. I just want to make sure I am doing the best thing for our pet. They can do surgery to repair the fracture in his hip but that will lead to awful arthritis and would put him in more pain. We made the decision and I just feel horrible for everything he is going through. I am told that after amputations dogs adapt very quickly and will get back to their happy selves in no time.

    • Ali, we are so sorry about your pup, but glad he survived the accident. Please don’t feel bad, you are doing the best you can for him. Follow your heart, you can’t go wrong. And do come over to the Tripawds Discussion Forums so we can help ease your worries OK? You have a whole community waiting for you. All the best to you and your boy, we send all our best for a speedy recovery.

  8. My 10 year old healer mix had to have a rear leg amputated due to chondroblastic tumor on April 2, 2018. Her lungs were clear at the time of amputation. The vet she had seen was an oncologist but he couldn’t conclusively diagnose cancer. She is now on a raw diet but is not inclined to want to get up and walk around. Her legs quiver when standing and she looks like she’s depressed because she can’t get around like she used to. She seems weak although she has a great appetite and eats well. Anything I can do to help her along ? I’m not ready to give up the fight!!

  9. Just starting our journey with our sweet rescue, Riley.._..( Havanese/Poodle X ) He had his R front leg amputated this morning due to an old injury ( abuse & neglect in his former life ) and did very well during the surgery itself and so far so good post surgery ( we haven’t seen him yet ourselves post -surgery …that will come tomorrow morning ) Not sure what to expect once we pick him up tomorrow morning and head home. ?? He will have had 3 laser treatments to help speed up the healing process and will have 4 more treatments over the next few days. We will be restricting his activity and closely monitoring any time spent with our other Rescue dogs and cats. I imagine he will still require pain meds for awhile longer as well. Looking for tips and advice to make especially our first week back home together the best it can be for Riley . Backyard bathroom tips etc would be greatly appreciated. Thankyou. XO

  10. I am torn about what to do for Baby Girl. She is a 5 yr old pol and weight just over 5 lbs. Took her to the local vet she was not walking like normal. Vet said that she dislocated her shoulder. Would appreciate any advice you can give me. Thanks.

    • For a dislocated shoulder, we would recommend consulting with a certified canine rehab vet/tech. Visit a CCRT or CCRP for a professional orthopedic evaluation, treatment recommendations, and exercises you can do at home. If she still has use of the limbs and there is no permanent nerve damage there are plenty of rehab exercises and conditioning you can do to help rebuild strength and mobility. For additional feedback from others, please post in the forums!

  11. My dog had a leg amputation for leg cancer. Is it normal for her to go 48 hours without going to the bathroom? I’m getting concerned.

    • As Jerry’s vet told us, when they need to go, they’ll go! Every dog is different, some dogs do take a couple days as the pain meds will cause constipation.

      Please consult your vet with any serious concerns. You can add a bit of olive oil in the food to help get things moving, but be careful what you ask for! Fin MANY more helpful tips in the Reading List, FAQs, and forums. Or consider downloading fast answers to all common concerns. Start here for help finding all the helpful Tripawds Resources.

    • hello, I wanted to tell you we also had a dog that had cancer in her leg. It was inoperable so we had her back leg removed to stop the spread of the cancer. she was in pain and depressed for a couple weeks. I’m happy to tell you she’s super happy and running around and playing just like normal now. I too was sad and wondering if it was the best thing to do but, after seeing her now I wouldn’t change a thing

  12. My 8 month old rescue pup just got home from the vet today and I’m a bit overwhelmed on knowing exactly what I can do to make him comfortable. As far as sleeping what would be good to have in his kennel so he’s comfortable?

  13. Hi everyone,

    So glad to find this site! My boyfriend and I just adopted a 3-year old lab mix (Ben Franklin) from the shelter who needed a front right leg amputation. The amputated leg had been lame for years, with Ben using it as a crutch every now and again and paining him after daily walks.

    The surgery was today and the vet told us his scar is VERY BIG (like a T that cuts along half his body). He built up a lot of muscle to compensate for the leg over the years.

    Has anyone experienced this? I know a lot of dogs get the surgery for cancer but Ben didn’t have that.

    I am wondering what to expect with such a large wound and am nervous about an increased probability for infection and worried to leave him even for 1-2 hours!

    When can we have him be unsupervised safely (and NOT worry)?

    It’s only day 1…


    • Best wishes for Ben’s speedy recovery! You will find most of your concerns addressed in the Reading List and other FAQ posts. Search and post in the forums for more feedback from members. Or download the Tripawds e-books for fast answers, and feel free to call the toll-free Helpline anytime! Start here for help finding the best resources this community has to offer!

  14. Help , my fur baby went in for front leg amputation yesterday. I have pet sucure coverage to cover 80% of the cost of this. I have no coverage for the ceamo therapy @ $800 ×6 treatments. It would put the family in a very financial difficulties.Would it be wrong to not follow through with ceamo therapy ?.would the cancer attack aggressively without.

    • Best wishes for your pup! Chemotherapy is always optional. Our Jerry loved live on three legs after his osteosarcoma amputation for 2 years, with no IV Chemo. Please start here to get the best help from this community with lost of helpful links to many recovery, care and treatment options. And don’t miss the recent Tripawds Foundation ASAP announcement of financial assistance to members to see if you qualify.

  15. My 12 yr old Rottweiler,/boxer cross has Bone Cancer in the front leg. I saw an x-ray of it and am thinking of amputation. I am sick to the stomach seeing her hopple around. She is on Meloxicam and rests. She was a puppy when I was in high school and is extremely loyal . I just don’t want to make a wrong descion but I don’t know what to do because I might not be able to afford the surgery . Is there anything in bc canada to help? I had her spayed and covered the cost myself declining the spca offer to cover the cost

    • Not sure if you are checking this anymore jack but since the breeds are the same I’m hoping … 6 yr old rotti boxer full male .. cancer front leg. Vet seems to be encouraging just letting him die. He seems in such good health otherwise … So sad and confused.

      • You might consider seeking another opinion unless your vet has provided specific valid reasons your pup is not a good candidate for amputation. Of course, all dogs are different, but there you fill find numerous success stories of Tripawd Rotties in the forums and blogs. For help finding the many resources, start here.

  16. My amazing miracle toy yorkie had his front leg amputated 2 days ago..hes only 7 months! He is up and running around and wanting to play with his favourite toys, he just dont stop, hes in no pain and seems to be himself and if not even better than before! Is he ok to keep going the way he is? Should i just let him do his doggy thing? The wound site looks amazing and hes not even tempted to lick it! But i also want to let anyone pawent out there who maybe at the beginning of this journey that its going to be ok! It’s the best decision and soon you will see how amazing your little pooch really is and its only you thats worrying…not your little one! X

    • Sarie and Marley, we’re so glad things are going well, that’s pawesome. We’re not vets, but vets have told us that it’s important to limit activity as much as you possibly can right now. Until the stitches are out he shouldn’t be doing anything but going on leashed potty walks. I know that’s hard with a puppy but there are many things you can do with him that won’t exhaust him physically (click on the link for info). Also consider visiting a rehab therapist who can show you the best activity level for your pup. The Tripawds Foundation will even pay for your first visit! We’re glad you’re here, be sure to start posting in the Forums so we can follow along with you!

  17. I am fostering a 1-2 year old Yorkie and the vet just recommended amputation of his hind leg due to a congenital defect. He can only bend it at the hip, but not the knee or hock. An x-ray showed the bones and knee cap badly mis-aligned and twisted. I’m hesitant to schedule it because other than sometimes dragging it when walking, he get around great, doesn’t seem to be in any pain, and uses the leg for balance and running.
    How likely is it that he will suffer from arthritis or other problems later in life if he keeps the leg? Because I don’t see how amputating will improve his quality of life in the present.

  18. Hi, Our 12 year old black lab/blue tick mix was just diagnosed with bone cancer in her right front leg. We are facing the decision of having her leg removed so it will provide her comfort. Your answers to the questions about amputation has given me very valuable information so we can make a clearer decision. Thank you.

    • Oh gosh I’m sorry Mariel. But we’re so glad you found this great community. Please let us know how we can help OK? Best wishes to you and your pup for many more happy times together.

    • Hi, Our Saint Bernard is 6 years old and , yesterday vet confirmed she has bone cancer. This Tuesday she will be operated on. Her front left leg. It’s a very worrying and emotional time for all the family. Your questions and answers have given us hope that she can and will have a good quality of life, even if it’s short. Thank you. Fiona

      • Hi Fiona…. I just received the same news and my Libby just had her left front leg amputated too. These have been the longest days of our lives for sure…. It’s nuts how many thoughts and emotions go through our heads because of this happening We just took her home tonight, it’s scary and I feel bad for her
        No more cancer pain though! So good luck and may dog bless you xoxoxox

      • We heard our 7 year old Saint has osteosarcoma and I am wondering how amputation went and any advice you might offer… best, Rachel

  19. Hi there. I just adopted a puppy, ten weeks old yesterday. Her name is Mollie, and is a very happy, energetic french bull dog-boston terrier mix. Her right leg appears to be formed differently than the others and she avoids walking on it with all the needed weight. When she does walk on all four, she has a very noticable limp as it almost seems she is walking on the knee rather than paw. Regardless of the issue, she does not hold back on any activities and does not seem to be in observable pain. I brought her to the vet a couple days ago to get some options as to what the problem and solutions are. The vet I saw said, shaking her head, “I am not sure why they allowed this puppy to live”. She continued with thoughts of hip dysplasia and mentioned future health difficulties that could be major. She recommended x-rays to get an exact diagnosis. Sure enough, hip dysplasia in both legs and arthritis beginning to form on her right leg. She said she wouldn’t confidently know if taking off the right leg would be a positive fix for Mollie, as she isn’t sure the other hip and leg can perform the duties of a three legged dog. I have a second opinion with another vet tomorrow. What should I do? Do I wait and see as she gets older if it will get better? Do I perform at home therapy and give omega pills? Do I make a wheelchair cart for her? Help!

    • Hi Danielle, thanks for commenting and sharing your pup’s story. You’ll find much more support and insight from our community in our Discussion Forums so be sure to stop by. Meanwhile, yes, we agree a second opinion is a good idea, just make sure it’s with a board-certified orthopedic vet who can give you even more insight. See you in the Forums!

  20. My chihuahua had to have his front leg amputated along with the shoulder blade. This was on Monday. His first day home was yesterday and went well. He now is crying every time he moves when he is laying down. I know it is a major surgery so this is probably common. But he also won’t take his tramadol. He spits it out no matter what I do. I’ve wrapped it in multiple things. He eats some of the “treat” and spits out the pill. I tried crushing it up into peanut butter. He must have smelt it and didn’t even try it. Any recommendations ? I hate to hear him cry!

    • Kel, it sounds like your dog is in pain and needs better pain management. Please call your vet and let them know what’s going on. Also, Tramadol is a very bitter pill, you will likely need to try these methods to get him to take it. Please join our Forums community where you will find fast help. Hope things get better for you and your chi.

  21. Plz HELP!!! our 4yr old Great Dane had his 1 rear leg amputated as he met with an accident. He has a very bad habit of biting into his wound..trying to lick and bite of tissue in the wound that has been in the course of heeling. Because of this he once tore the whole wound post surgery leaving no skin to be stitched back. His thigh bone is slightly visible through the wound now and the doctor said only regular dressing is to be done. He has tired to bite in his wound many times.we are trying our best to help him recover soon and he was progressing until today almost after a month when he tried to bite again.. plz help me with a good alternative so that his wound can heal quickly. Is their no antibiotics available to be given to speed his healing? Doctors are not prescribing the same sayin No need! But its hard to keep a 24*7watch on him.. one mistake and he gets a chance and spoils all his wound and recovery made till then

    • Mansi we are sorry to hear about your dog. First, you need to get your dog to a better vet NOW. If you are seeing bone he could get a bad infection, if he doesn’t have one already. Please take him to another vet who understands how to help him TODAY. He also must wear a cone and have good pain control. It’s up to us to make sure our dogs don’t chew their stitches and the only guaranteed way to do that is to make them wear a cone like this, and give good pain control (chewing on stitches can indicate he is in pain). Please see Jerry’s Required Reading List for more tips on how to care for him. We wish you all the best and hope he heals soon.

  22. Hi my 3 1/2 year old american bully is 60lbs. A week ago the got her back right leg ran over and the top of her femur broke in half. They said it was to bad for surgery so Monday we dropped her off for amputation. We picked her up yesterday and she looked so happy.
    My question is, last night we noticed under her staples/stiches and between her belly fat is turning reddish purple. The vet said if there was any discoloration or swelling to bring her back. Is this bruising from surgery? Or is it a bad thing?

    Thank you for any responses,
    Jenny R

  23. My 12 week old husky had to have his leg amputated today after he broke his femur. It has to be the hardest decision I had to make. I am worried with his young age he will have phantom pains. Is there anything I should watch for in the first couple weeks?

  24. Hi anyone happening to read this,
    I hope someone is having the same concerns or checking out this website. I have a teddy bear dog (Bichon, Shih Tzu, Poodle mix) and he is 11 years old. He suffered from a tumor when he was about two years old and got through it fine; it was on his elbow and was removed and went about his happy little life. Unfortunately, this past thanksgiving, my brother came home and noticed his lumps. We all have noticed is several lumps but our mom told us the vet said it was cists or fat lumps and it was nothing to worry about. My brother was worried and insisted my mom take him in to get them checked out. And the night after his appointment, we got he call that 3/7 lumps were tumors. They are mast cell tumors which appearently fairly easy to treat. The oncologist confirmed that, except one tumor on his hind leg was larger than we thought. As of now they have suggested amputation, which is so scary to think of. He has an appointment to further examine the tumor to see if it can be removed without doing too much damage. Both options seem so scary and we don’t want to put our little boy through something so hard to deal with. Because dogs can’t talk it’s even harder to know if they’re in pain or not. Another option is to let the cancer take over or put him down. I of course want him to live but I don’t want him to suffer and be depressed the rest of his life. I need some positive vibes about amputation!

  25. We have a one and half year old Lab, this spring she tore her ACL, now I know this is the human word but not sure of dogs term, and has had 2 surgeries so far and with no success! She keeps tearing it. Anyone knows keeping a lab calm is like trying to calm a two year old on speed! Our vet said we culd try another procedure that would cost 3000$ or more but its still no guarantee or amputate her left hind leg? I’m torn, my husband and I don’t know what to do. We don’t want to see her suffer anymore. Both surgeries were painful, she has had swelling in the knee every since this started. I just want to know if amputation is wrong? There is no guarantee that the new surgery will fix this. What are your thoughts?

    • Angel, I’m sorry to hear about your pup, she’s so young to go through all this. I would seek another opinion from a board-certified oncologist, do you have access to one? That would really put your mind at ease no matter what you decide. If you go with amputation rest assured that the recovery is much easier and faster than an ACL repair. Please hop over to our “Beyond Cancer” Discussion Forum topic and post, we have an entire community ready to help.

  26. We adopted a Tri Pawd 2weeks ago…He is beautiful….However his story is not…
    Angel is 3yrs old, March 2015 he was rescued from a puppy mill…..He was found in the corner w/ his front towards the
    corner….He was shaking like a leaf and no one was able to approach him…..Finally one rescuer went for it and pick him up gently and they discovered his left hind leg was broken…Broken beyond repair and had been this was for 5 months….
    The owner of the puppy mill did nothing and this little guy suffered……
    The recuer’s took him to hospital and the leg was amputated…..He was also neutered at that time…..Angel then went on
    to live w/ a foster family for 7months, and then he found his furever home w/ us……..
    My question is this….Could Angel be experiencing depression, he is not interested in playing, nor socializing…He gets along fine w/ our other dogs and is not bothered by them and vise versa…..All Angel wants to do is cuddle on my lap and be where I am, I dont mind this at all in fact I love it…..I have never met a chihuahua that didnt have some spunk…and this little guy has none, he seems broken and it breaks my heart….

    • Thanks for commenting and best wishes for Angel! You will find MUCH better help and support/feedback from others by posting in the discussion forums. What most people think is “depression” is often an indicator of pain, or side-effects from medication. Do a quick search and you will find most of your questions have been addressed, or download the Tripawds e-books for fast answers to all common concerns!

  27. I have a 10 1/2 month old yellow lab. About 3 months ago, she was in an accident and had to have her back leg amputated. Recovery time was very quick and she was up running around and back to her normal self in about a months time. Obviously we limited her a bit and didn’t take her on long walks or give her excessive amounts of exercise. That being said, she still gets plenty of exercise and absolutely adores swimming.

    The past two weeks (3 months post amputation), she has acted quite different. She is constantly sitting and seems like she does not want to even get up and walk around. When she would normally follow us around, she walks a few steps and then sits and watches us in the distance. I am concerned she is experiencing some discomfort? She does not act like she is hurting and is eating and drinking as normal. She is just now seeming slightly depressed, and so I was not sure what to do about it.

    Any suggestions??

    • Hi Beth, glad to hear she bounced back so quickly after the accident. I’m not a vet but this sure does sound like some type of pain. Remember, dogs are GREAT at hiding pain, they will do whatever it takes not to show weakness until it’s impossible to hide it. Your best bet is to have her evaluated by a certified rehab vet. They can usually pinpoint the problem much faster than a general practitioner and can prescribe the appropriate remedies. Best wishes to you both, keep us posted in our Discussion Forums OK?

  28. Two nights ago my dog came homework a broken femur. We took him in this morning for the surgery to mend the bone, but it was broken so bad that they couldn’t fix it. He is a very energetic dog that likes to swim and jump high and we don’t know if it is the right decision to amputate. I don’t want to euthanize him, he’s my baby! But I don’t want him to be sad all his life because he can’t do everything he could do with 4 legs.

    • Misti, sorry about your pup! Rest assured most dogs cope very well, better than humans. Should you amputate, you’ll need to monitor his activity so he doesn’t further injure himself but it’s really a small price to pay for having our best friend alive, healthy and well. Please call our hotline (844-TRIPAWD) and join our discussion forums, we’re here for you.

  29. Please can someone suggest who can be reached to offer some support to me. I had to make a very quick decision about amputation of my dogs leg and although she is doing so well already, I am in pieces over my beloved pooch having lost her leg. I love her so much and I know I need to be strong to aid her recovery but I am finding this all difficult & can’t find support pages for owners. Please help. Thank you.

    • Dawn,

      I have been through the same thing…. it is really hard.. we have second guessed several times if we did the right thing. Over time you will see the personality of your pet come back and there will be a new normal. I am not sure what kind of dog you have but it seems to me like smaller dogs recover more fully than larger dogs. We have a Rottweiler that had bone cancer in his leg so we had his rear leg amputated about 5 months ago. He still struggles going up steps, but does very well when going down them. He lays around a lot more, but still really enjoys being with us. let me know if you have specific questions i can help you with. I would be happy to tell you what I know.



      • Kathy thank you for sharing your story with us, it’s most appreciated. We are glad to hear your pup is enjoying a good quality of life with your pack.

      • Thanks Kathy.
        It’s such an awful feeling. How long did it take you to come to positive terms with your Rotti’s amputation?
        Currently I feel as though I’ve been really unfair for choosing this option, even though sandy is thriving (Rotti X Lab) I just feel so bad that I’ve allowed them to remove her leg. She is laying around a lot more but that’s early days since surgery.
        What pain relief was yours on & for how long? I’m not sure if she should me be on more as occasionally has yelped when hopping about.

        Look forwards to your responce.

        Also Jerry-how can I change my avatar? The links won’t allow me to.


        Dawn & Sandy

      • Hi – I went into my profile and edit avatar but it doesn’t show an option to upload Unless I’m
        Missing something. When I select avatar option it says that I attempted to access tripawds blogs dashboard but I do not have privileges on it…is this right or have I gone wrong somewhere?

  30. My 2 year old Shih Tzu named Sammy got hit by a car yesterday. We took him straight to the vet for x-rays and they have confirmed that his back leg is broken at the joint and that it would be unlikely be able to repair it back to normal. They say his back leg will never be the same but they are unsure if they should amputate his leg just yet. They told us if he is able to pick up his leg then he might can still somewhat use it. I am very worried that we might have to amputate his leg. He is a very petted little dog and can’t handle stress. I’m worried he will be very traumatized and never be the same. He seems so depressed. He is not in any pain but seems so sad. How can I get him to be happy again?

    • Hi Whitney. We are so sorry to hear about Sammy, what a terrible ordeal! We know how upsetting this is but try your best to be strong and pawsitive, and Sammy will follow your lead. Remember, he was hit by a car and that is very traumatic. He is probably just still in shock mentally, doesn’t know why he’s having trouble getting around, and also feeling the effects of the pain medication. It adds up but he WILL get better.

      As for whether or not to amputate, that is something that only you and your vet can decide. A rehab vet would likely recommend trying rehab therapy first to see if it helps, then consider amputation if it doesn’t. It’s something to consider. We have lots of info about rehab so stick around and visit our Discussion Forums for insight from others who have been in your situation. Lots of hugs coming your way, hang in there.

  31. 2 weeks ago my APBT Harley was hit by a car. He was taken to the local vet & they diagnosed him as having a broken pelvis. His best option would be an FHO. Friday I took him to another vet clinic where they perform FHO’s. We had everything set & ready for operation until his dr noticed he was curling his foot & dragging his hind left leg.
    The dr pinched his feet & leg for movement but nothing.
    She suggested we wait on the FHO in hopes that through medication & steroids he will gain feeling.
    A week later, Harley never regained feeling into his leg. March 31, 2014
    Harley had his leg amputated. It was very hard to cope with because being Native American, it is against tradition to have disabled animals.
    I always strayed away from cultural beliefs so having a tripawd dog wasn’t a big deal. I could never have put Harley to sleep, he is my world. Yesterday I picked him up from the vet & took him home. Just as I expected, my family made it so obvious that they were uncomfortable around him. I know he picked up on their negative energy because he got very sad. I got into a conflict with my sister because she threw out the phrase “he’s gotten so skinny, he’s just suffering!” And I of course replied with “why are you being so negative?!” And she said “you didn’t even ask us if we wanted the surgery! It’s uncomfortable now & I’m not the only one who feels this way!” At That moment, I packed Harley & I a bag and we left my moms house. Yesterday was a tough day, I had hoped that my family would accept him because he is still the same dog, just minus one leg.

    We are now at my exboyfriends house because after all he’s always been there for Harley. Harley’s wound isn’t covered & there’s no drainage. He is on Tramadol, cephalexin and caprophen. I noticed he hasn’t had a bowel movement since we’ve been home. He also doesn’t really have an appetite either but I’m thinking it’s because of the pills. I do encourage food & water though. He can walk out side to go potty which is good. He is restless & lastnight we both didn’t get any sleep. He does appear to be dazed & sleepy die to the medication. I’m so thankful for this site because I don’t think I could’ve handled all this without knowing others have been in our situation. I’m praying for better days & I do have faith in my 7 month old pit that’s why I chose to amputate despite the negativity of others.

    • Welcome, and bless you for taking care of Harley. Please consider posting in the forums where you’ll likely receive much more feedback and support from members.

  32. My buddy Haze got his leg amputated a week ago and I was wondering is discharge normal to come from one area of the site? It’s a clear reddish color, just really worried… It started today I keep soaking it up with tissue. Any advice would be helpful

  33. My ten year old golden retriever was hit by a car yesterday. His back leg is messed up and the vet does not think it will work again. He has arthritis but once he gets up, he is very happy and a fast runner. He loves playing with all the dogs and children in the neighborhood. The vet was hinting at putting him down but my family hates to do that when he is so happy. Even through his pain, he still wags his tail when we come in the room. We brought him home for a few days with a bandage over his wound. He can’t get up and he won’t eat and take his medicine. Luckily, he will still drink water. Do many older dogs make the transition to three legs without too many problems?

    • Ashley,
      Just wondering how your dog made out after his amputation. I just had my dogs front right leg amputated 3 days ago on July 15, 2104. He is also a senior dog and he too won’t stand. When we try to help with a towel under is belly he seems to have no strength. Either that or he is resisting our help. It’s as if he is almost paralysed. Perhaps he is just unsure of himself. Whatever it is, I am at such a loss. What was the outcome with your dog? Anything you can share would be greatly appreciated.

      • Jerry survived two years, and enjoyed a great quality of life after recovery from his amputation. Read his story for more information. Review his reading list for lots of helpful links, and please consider searching and posting in the forums where you will find much more advice and support from members.

        Or, download the Tripawds e-books for immediate answers to the most common recovery and care concerns.

  34. My dog, Jack, is a 7 year old bull mastiff Yesterday his left rear leg was amputated due to an osteosarcoma tumoir in his tibia. We brought hiim home today and he was abke to walk in the house pretty much by himself. My husband and I have tried twice to get him to go outside to pee. It is all can do to get him to stand upand go outside.when we get him outside, he just plopps down on the patio and will not get up to get to the grass to pee. Both times we ended up bringing back inside. We have tried using a towel to assist him and we are really trying to encourage to get up on his own in standing and walking, any other ideas to help get him to stand and walk outside.

    • Crystal,

      How did you dog do going forward? We have an 8 year old Rottweiler that had his rear right leg amputated Tuesday and today is Thursday. We can get him to stand and go outside to pee but he has not pooped and he only gets up the three times we really push him to get up and go out. He seems like he is weak. We too have tried the towel but he seems to freeze up when we use it. Does better without. He does have a good appetite, but otherwise is fairly lethargic. Any information on how things went for you would be greatly appreciated.



      • Kathy, in case Crystal has not subscribed to receive comment replies, you may want to post in the forums where you will receive much more feedback from members. Or, search the blogs and consider downloading the Tripawds e-books for plenty of recovery and care tips.

        It is still very early in your pup’s recovery! All he really needs right now is confinement and lots of rest.

  35. I have a boxer that is 5 years old, Saturday 9/22/2012 she was diagnosed with a grade 2 mast cell tumor on her hind right leg and the vet wants to amputate. She is a very timid dog and they are giving her around 70 months if the cancer doesnt spead. They could not get all of the tumor because of the location on her leg, it was not the knee but the joint below that. She is recovering well from her surgery to remove the tumor and is getting around fine on her leg, I feel like if we procede with the surgery, her personality will change she is so timid and a little skidish, she has always been this way depite socialization efforts. Should we amputate of let her have time with all her legs? How do you make this decision?

    • Hi Summer, I’m so sorry to hear about your pup. Yes, it’s definitely hard to make this decision! You have to weigh her personality and health factors into the decision, but keep in mind that her timid nature probably isn’t something that involves human emotions like shame or embarassment — those are human behaviors surrounding amputation, and something that only people deal with when they look different. Dogs don’t care if they look different they only want to feel good. While amputation isn’t right for every dog, if your vet thinks she is a good candidate then it’s definitely an option. Sometimes the biggest factor is, can you be strong for her and project confidence when she needs it most, during the recovery? If you can do this, she should be fine on three legs. For more ideas and support, please visit our Discussion Forums where you can meet other pawrents who had to make this ruff choice. Good luck, please keep us posted!

  36. Our 10 year old lab, Capone, had his left front leg amputated today. Surgeon called about an hour ago and said he handled his surgery and is currently waking up. Excited to go and visit with him tomorrow. I know after time he will be the same “happy lab” he was before surgery but without pain which is FANTASTIC! He will start chemotherapy in a couple of weeks after he has healed to help treat the osteosarcoma. We just want to give him the most pleasant life possible for the time he has left. He has been such a great friend and companion and deserves nothing but the best.

  37. My wee girl Kessa (small sibe) is having her left front leg amputated as I write. I separated and now live in a duplex upper with stairs. It ( the stairs),was very nearly the defining factor in terms of a surgery decision. Your site helped me make the right call!
    Thank you so much!!!

  38. Our boy Chip has just had a spindle cell tumor removed from his left front leg. We are in the process of trying to find the right treatment for him. We have asked about amputation, but our vet feels that our dogs size prohibits that as an option. (114# Newfoundland) We are also looking at radiation and Metronomic therapy. Has anyone had their fur person have this type of tumor and what has been your course of treatment and success/failure? Seeing some of the large breed dogs on this page has given me hope that amputation is more of an option that we may have thought if the other treatments are not.

    • Hi Chips peeps, sorry about the delay in replying.

      What we like to say if someone’s vet says their dog isn’t a candidate, is to get a second opinion. We’ve had numerous dogs here who are larger than Chip do just fine on three legs. While it is more of a challenge for them, most do get along fine. A few did have challenges they couldn’t overcome but that was due to the cancer, not to being a Tripawd. Even those dogs have pawrents that say they didn’t regret going through amputation.

      Oslo, another Newfie, is one pup who I’m thinking of. YOu can follow along with his progress in the Forums here. Feel free to PM his pawrents, I’m sure they would be happy to tell you how he coped with being a Tripawd.

  39. O.K. I am lost. My lab/boxer mix somehow got a carpal hyperextention of her right from leg and I don’t know what to do. She was the fastest running dog I have ever seen and really enjoyed just going out there and running. Now…she hops around. The swelling is going down. Yes, I took her to the vet. My options…sugery, amputation or, and I don’t know if this will work, a splint on-and-off for the rest of her life. She’s approx. 6 years old and is really smart and fun loving. I have four dogs so they love to play. Does anybody have any wisdom for this poor mom who can’t figure out what to do?

    • First, we’re very sorry to hear about your pup. Does she have a name?

      Far too many times we have heard from people putting their dogs through multiple, painful, expensive surgeries trying to “save the leg” only to wind up amputating anyway. You’re in luck, without cancer being a factor you have the option of rehab, and if necessary a few weeks of recovery after amputation before your girl may be running like the wind again. Check the videos page for some amazing three legged dogs, then post in the forums for plenty of advice and support.

      Contact a certified veterinary rehab specialist and don’t miss our video interviews with California Animal Rehab. Most importantly, understand that you are not alone in the decisions you face and this is by no means the end. She was born with three legs and a spare.

      You’ll find lots of more recovery and care tips in Jerry’s Required Reading List, and for immediate answers to the most common dog amputation questions download the new Tripawds e-book Three Legs and A Spare.

      Best wishes.

  40. Hello! My eight year old chocolate lab had her left back leg amputated about six days ago. She doesn’t want to eat and seems depressed. Although my husband and I love her very, very much, we are worried we made the wrong decision. It sounds like a lot of people feel that way during the first week after surgery. We have cut down on her pain meds in hopes of increasing her appetite. Does anyone have any additional advice on how to get our girl to eat again? None of her “favorites” seem interesting to her right now. Thank you so much for your help!!

    • Hi Colleen, thanks for asking. You’ll find lots of recovery tips in Jerry’s Required Reading List, and even more tips and fast answers to the most common amputation questions in the new Tripawds e-book, Three Legs and a Spare.

      What you’re feeling is perfectly normal, but try not to let your human emotions get in the way. Try to be more Dog and recovery will be much easier for both you and your pup. Once she’s off the meds, things should start looking up. And what you think is “depression” is really just her confusion about side effects from the medications. When it comes to helping dogs get their appetite back, variety often helps. So do “gamey” foods, try ground buffalo, elk meat, or duck flavored canned dog food. The Tripawds Nutrition blog Diet page has more links to helpful advice, but again, a little time will make a huge difference. You should see a major improvement at about ten days or as soon as she stops taking the pain meds. Please search the forums or start a new topic to receive more advice than we alone can provide here.

    • My six year old benni had his left rear leg amputated last year and he went through the same thing. I know its hard but don’t worry we kept his pain killers the same till he didn’t need them then his appetite slowly came back after a month to two months he was back to his old selfm it was the best decision we have ever made going with the amputation as he wouldn’t be here now.
      He has the odd stumble now and then but it bothers us more than him:)
      I hope this helps just be patient.

      • Our Leonberger just had her hind leg amputated a week ago. She went through the same thing I am reading about and that is, 7 days into it she became depressed. And despite everyone saying we are humanizing it and it is just the meds, she is depressed.

        I took her to the vet today because I wanted to be sure that she wasn’t in some sort of organ failure and she will begin chemo in 2 days. In the mean time, she is on tramidol (which she has been on 2 months prior to surgery because of the initial bone cancer….we were not as quick on making the amputation decision), so it can’t be the meds. She is on a lower dose now, then she was prior to surgery. I read on one of the blogs that maybe the depression is actually a reaction to from phantom pain. This I buy more than the meds explanation.

        I am sure she will come through it. But I had to drag her into the vets office today (so some how the dog who lives in the moment remembered that when she left last time she came out with 3 legs…or what ever IS in her memory, is saying…don’t go in here for any reason).

        I read the blog that in 2 – 3 months his dog was back to normal. I will keep this as hope that we made the right decision. The point was quality of life and at the moment, we are not seeing it. I think it is wrong that we discount what the dog goes through at our direction. I am happy that we went through the amputation for our sake (the humans in the mix) but not yet convinced that we did this in the best interest of our dog….who lives in the moment. Unless, they don’t really live in the moment. And if they don’t, then maybe the amputation was actually the best decision for her. But we will need to get through this depression which is significant.

  41. Found your site on Wed .Pippa my five year old greyhound had her leg amputated yesterday after a major break 3 weeks ago.
    Really tough decision.
    Have been up all night with her crying , not sure if this is pain but have just tried to keep her comfy.
    Your site has answered a lot of the questions i had but could not find over here in England.Thanks

    • Thanks Liz. we’re glad that she made it through surgery. The next couple of weeks will be ruff but she’ll get through them. Be sure to visit our Discussion Forums for fast answers to any more questions you have OK? We’re here for you, and cheering your girl on.

  42. I am so glad I have found this web site…..Today I recieved the devastating news that my 11 year old chocolate lab has bone cancer of his left hind leg. We noticed about 1 week ago he was limping..he would get better for a day then go right back to not walking on it. I was not prepared for the diagnosis. The vet gave us some pain meds to try for a week to see how he is able to get along with 3 legs and if after this week if he gets around ok..he suggested amputation. I am not sure of my Moses would do ok after amputation. He has so much life and he is not showing any signs or symptoms that this is his time. Does anyone have any advice on a older dog recovering after amputation? In my heart I am not ready to say goodbye or have him living on pain meds and not being able to run with his sister…not sure wether the choice to amputate is for my comfort to keep him with us longer..please any advice or stories would help…thanks!

    • Thanks for the comment Jen! If Moses is otherwise healthy, there is no need whatsoever to start thinking about “his time”. Please visit the Tripawds discussion forums for loads of advice from others who have been through what you’re experiencing. Specifically, search the Size and Age Matters forum, for feedback from those with larger dogs. And don’t miss Jerry’s Required Reading List for the best advice from the past couple years of his canine cancer amputation blog.

      PS: Moses presented just like Jerry did for osteosarcoma in his scapula. Consider yourself fortunate for catching the diagnosis so quickly. Our vet kept insisting it was “just arthritis” and prescribing different meds for about two months before we sought a second opinion from UC Davis vet med school

    • Jen,

      I am going threw the exact same thing except my dog is 5 years old but the exact same situation with the cancer, being able to run with his brother and not knowing if i am being selfish and if its going to be ok with him having only 3 legs. How is your dog doing any updates? I Just want my boy pain free so this is what i gotta do i guess. Please inform me of what i am about to experience with this bone cancer. Thank you and god bless your and you dogs

      • Hi Kayla, I am sorry to hear about your boy…it is a hard diagnosis to hear no matter what the age. We as a family struggled very hard with the amputation choice. In the end Moses made the choice for us. He crossed over the Rainbow Bridge at the end of summer. I have not updated or been back to this site since losing him because it would have to real if I typed it. While we did not proceed with the surgery due to the tumor spreading to his lungs within 2 weeks…if moses had survived we would have had the surgery. Moses had a wonderful summer with the family..going camping and even had 2 trips to his favorite swimming hole.
        The only advice to give you is to trust your self. You know what needs to be done and even though it is hard and seems like it may be a selfish act on your part…it really is about relieving the pain and improving the quality of life. The best thing for you to do is trust your boy…..and keep the positive energy all around him…they sense when you give up and they give up….with moses we made him live each day left as if it was the last day…he was still smiling and loving life until the day he crossed…
        While I did not have experiance with amputation..the diagnosis of bone cancer was scary and sad..this web site is very helpful and a godsend.
        Best of luck and sending positive thoughts your way!

  43. my boi just had a rear leg amputationits been a month and he is not taking meds yet he cant stomach more than a couple bites of anything and his water intake has quadrupled to say the least. he is a pit his ribs measure 29in and his tummy has gotten down to 20 in can anyone tell me what might be going on?

  44. I need some advice.

    My dog, Kona, will be 9 in March. She has a melon size tumor on her left hip area. It is a spindle cell tumor. The vet wants to amputate. Part of my problem with it is she doesn’t seem to be in pain, not yet at least. It is a little difficult for her to stand up and sit down but other then that, she seems fine.

    Do I wait for her to be in pain or amputate now?

    • We are so sorry to hear about Kona’s tumor. It sounds like it’s very large, and could be painful even though she’s not showing any signs. Keep in mind that dogs are very stoic and will do everything they can to hide pain until it becomes unbearable. Many times once a dog has an amputation, they will show signs of relief and act much happier again. Despite the recuperation, the pain of recovering is much less than the pain of the tumor that was there. Has your vet indicated that amputation is imminent? If so, then our best advice to you is, consider what you would do if it was you who had the tumor?

      You may want to talk about this with others in our Discussion Forums. Good luck to you and Kona.
      Please understand that we are not vets and this is not to be taken as medical advice.

    • I was worried for my dog having a amp too as he didn’t seem to be in pain he was running and jumping the day before the operation. I was also worried as he is a big dog I wan’t sure how he would cope. Anyway after talking to the vet I decided to go ahead benni had his left hind leg removed december 30 and the first week I thought I’d made a mistake as he seemed so depressed but now he is back to his old self full of life running jumping! And even managing the stairs sometimes his good leg will give way but it doesn’t phase him. I know now having the amp was the best thing to do and everyday with benni is a bonus as without the amp he wouldn’t be here now. I hope this helps.

    • My dog Jimmy was diagnosed last week with the same type of tumor on his right hip. He is going to be 10 in May. He is a large 98lb Lab and I don’t know what to do. What decision did you make?


      • We decided to proceed with Jerry’s amputation after learning it is the only way to eliminate the pain, and discovering just how quickly dogs adapt. You’ll find much more advice in the forums. There are also lots of recovery tips in Jerry’s Required Reading List, and for immediate answers to all the most common dog amputation questions consider downloading the new tripawds e-book Three Legs and A Spare. Thanks for asking and best wishes for the decisions you face.

  45. Hello,

    Thanks to everyone for posting on this site. It has been very helpful to us. My 6 month old puppy, Stella, was hit by a car, and as a result, has had her left hind leg amputated. Stella had her surgery on January 27/10 and everything was successful. The whole situation was very devastating, however, i am absolutely sure, we have made the right decision to amputate. And after reading all this information and watching the videos, it has furthered us in our reassurance. Although she is not able to do much right now, and appears sad, I can see hope in a full, healthy, strong recovery. She is eating well, and is drinking plenty of water. She is able to walk a bit, however, gets tired very easily. Her walks are limited to the bathroom and back as directed by the vet, until he sutures are removed.
    I am just wondering about Stella’s long term recovery and lifestyle. Stella is a Border Collie/ German Shepherd cross, and is very active. Prior to the accident, Stella spent 4 days a week at the dog park for a couple hours each time, playing with the other dogs. Stella enjoyed running up and down the stairs (chasing the cats) and jumping on the bed and couches to take a nap, or chew my blanket.
    In time, will Stella be able to do these things on her own? How much support will she need long term.

    • Nat and Murph, we’re so glad that Stella is OK. How scary! By the way, I was a Sheppie/Border Collie mix too! We are the smartest dogs EVER! Ok, so at six months old, she should bounce right back in no time. In a few weeks she will be able to go on longer walks and play more, but please do remember to take it easy. Even for a four legged dog, “explosive play” like hours at the dog park and jumping in and out of vehicles and such can lead to injuries later on. As pawrents it’s up to you to monitor her activity carefully and make sure she doesn’t overdo it. We just met with a great Canine Rehabilitation Team in Los Angeles and they highly recommend carefully supervised play, especially for a Tripawd. Stay tuned to our News Blog because we’ll have a series of videos from them soon.

      Meanwhile check out the Discussion Forums for more tips and insight from others who have been there. We have a special Beyond Cancer area for Tripawds like Stella.

      Good luck! We can’t wait to hear more about your amazing girl. Keep in touch!

  46. my dog benni has been in today for his left hind leg to be amputated.
    apparently what he has is a slow spreading bone cancer.benni is five and healthy and strong i was under the impression that once the leg was gone benni would be fine. but from this site i see alot of dogs don’t have alot of time after their operation is this true for all dogs?

    • Andrew, thanks for finding us, we send our many wishes for a successful operation and recovery. The length of time a dog lives with bone cancer and after amputation depends on so many factors, there is no predicting it. First, it depends on what kind of cancer Benni has; some are more aggressive than others, some will metastasize to the lungs and some won’t. Amputation doesn’t guarantee a longer life, it just guarantees that Benni will be out of pain from the tumor. Longevity depends on the dog’s health before the diagnosis, and oftentimes what kind of cancer treatment is provided afterward. Some dogs who don’t have chemo, only an amp, have lived for a few years. Others, just a few months. While doctors can provide statistics, all dogs are different. You can find much, much more help and anecdotes from others in our Discussion Forums. Please register and we’ll see you there OK?

      • thanks for your quick and helpfull reply it’s just a confusing and scary our vet hasn’t mentioned chemo he did x ray benni’s chest and scanned his abdomen and they all came back clear. i will register and join your discussion forums and let you all know how benni is getting on
        thank you.

  47. My 8 yrs old Rotweiller and Ridgeback dog, Happy is in the hospital now for a right rear leg amputation surgery deal to bone cancer. He has be diagnosed with bone cacner in September, and the leg got so swollen that he could bearly stand. We were scheduled to have surgery at Feburary, but the Vet told us to keep calling them everyday to see if someone cancel the appointment, so we could squeezed in. We were lucky to get in today, December, which is 2 days before our schedule. I am picking up my dog tomorrow morning. I hope everything will be fine. I will talk to the doctor to see if my dog needs Chemotherapy or any further treatment. Thank You Blue Cross Hawaii, Dr. Jane and Dr. Allison for squeezing my dog in.

  48. Hi!!
    I am so glad to have found this site….Our 11 year old lab rottie mix has a tumor on his right front shoulder and we are struggling trying to decide what to do. He is definately not telling me it is his time and I feel he will do well with amputation. He survived bloat 2 years ago and survived emergency surgery after as well. He is a fighter…..and super healthy otherwise…..I think we are going to start with a chest x ray and if it is clear then we should go for it…..Amazingly he isn’t in pain now but it is getting bigger everyday and will eventually break his leg… my heart i really do not feel like it is his time yet and i think we should go for it….just looking for reassurance…..thanks…..

  49. We were informed a few weeks ago that our 3 year old Great Dane, Athena had osteosarcoma in her right front humorus (between the elbow and shoulder).
    We live in Ft Collins CO so are fortunate to have one of the leading veterinary teaching hospitals in the world at our fingertips. Fortunately, because she was considedred stage 1 with cancer in only one site, she qualified for a clinical trial using gene therapy. On day one of the trial a bone biopsy is done and the gene therapy drug is introduced into the tumor site. The theory is that this encourages the immune system to identify and fight any other sites where cancer cells may be hiding. A few blood tests are done about 3 days apart and then the amputation on day 10.
    Athena had her amputation last Thursday May 28, 2009 and was home from the hospital the next day.
    We are also working with the most amazing vet in the world. She is a pain management specialist and has worked with cancer dogs for over 20 years.
    Has had a Great Dane of her own with osteosarcoma, that was successfully treated.
    I am having trouble staying positive and upbeat. Athena is so big (135 lbs, but seems to do well getting around slowly and taking frequent breaks. She has developed a sore on her hind foot from something they did during the surgery, a shaved place that has become irritated. The last few days she has been very lethargic, which bothers me. I guess I was hoping for noticable improvement every day. Our vet says she is doing amazingly well, but I’m not feelin it. Watching her lay around with seemingly no energy is very difficult for me. She is eating, but doesn’t seem to want to drink, and is only peeing 1-2 times a day with great encouragement. She is pooping. We have started tappering medication, so we may just have some withdrawal.
    After she has healed from surgery, she will have a couple rounds of chemo and be on a drug that inhibits tumor growth.
    We look forward to her continued healing and a long happy life.

    • You are very fortunate indeed to be so near CSU. And, in fact, we are currently near Fort Collins too! Expect an email from us. Please consider joining the discussion in the tripawd forums. You will find much more advice and support there than we alone can provide here. Start a new topic, or post your concerns in the ask a vet forum. Also, be sure to check out posts from Tazziedog. Pam is a vet and Tazzie is a 165+ lb three legged English Mastiff who also had issues with a sore paw after surgery. Don’t miss the posts from Dane Mom either. Sue’s big girl Nova is a Great Dane who went blind shortly after amputation and is doing amazingly well. Above all, stay strong. It is still early and Athena is in great hands.

    • Hi. I know it is two years later, but can you give me an update on your Dane. My 7 year old Dane girl is having a bone biopsy tomorrow and it looks like osteosarcoma of her front leg. I am on this site reading up about others and trying to mentally prepare myself for what is going to happen next with major decisions regarding our baby.
      Thank you so much.

  50. My 9 1/2 yr old black lab/chow mix was diagnosed with bone cancer 12/22/08. He had been limping for 3+ months before and we finally figured out what was wrong. The vet says he is not a good candidate for amputation given how aggressive the cancer is. He is still eating, wagging his tail & greating us at the door. The problem is his left hind leg is very big ( vet says it’s the cancer) and obviously painful so we are carrying him up & down stairs to go out to the bathroom. I think if the leg were amputated he would get around so much better. I have him on a new diet, K9 immunity & pain pills. Am I doing all I can do? Has anyone had a similar situation.

    • I think if the leg were amputated he would get around so much better.

      You think right. Get a second opinion or check out all the success stories in the discussion forums about dogs who were “poor candidates” … it’s all about quality of life, not quantity.

      PS: Doctors gave me three months after my amputation from osteosarcoma. I lasted nearly two years, loving life on three legs.

    • Hi Lisa, We have an 11 yr. old german shorthair, Sid, who had his front left leg amputated on Feb. 2nd. Back in June, he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma and was given just a couple of months 2 live. Prior to that, he too, seemed to have injured that leg and was limping. When it did not go away, after several weeks, we had him tested and found out that he had cancer. We were devastated. The cancer in his leg (the lower portion) kept getting bigger until he no longer could use that leg. We struggled with the decision to amputate or not. After 8 mos., we decided to have it done. The tests he had prior to surgery showed that all of his organs were clear, strong and working well. Other than the swelling, Sid seemed happy, vigorous – eating and pooping just fine.
      It’s been over a month now since the surgery and everything went just beautifully. After he came home, it was only a few hours later that he wanted to go outside! His wound healed perfectly, inside and out now we are all just adjusting to life on 3 legs. Sid’s appetite has slowed somewhat but he is eating and driking just fine. He is getting 1 Zubrin in the am (antiinflamatory) and 1 Gabba Pentin in the pm (for nerve pain/phantom pain) He sometimes seems uncomfortable (highly understandable) with stiffness in his back legs but from what I’ve read, this is very normal. We give him gentle massages as often as possible and, of course, lots of love and attention.
      Sid is one of 6 dogs and we love them all so dearly. The first night after surgery, we all spent the night with Sid! Although no one can make the decision for you, whatever you decide will be the right choice for you and your dog. I came across this site while searching for dog behavior after an amputation and when I read your email, it just sounded so much like our situation. I wish you all the best and hope that you and your pup have many more years together.
      I know it’s hard as we, too, have a long road ahead of us but we must stay strong, optimistic and try not to let our dogs “feel” how worried and afraid we are!
      Sincerely, Cheryl

      • I know it’s been a while (3years since your post)
        You stated: with stiffness in his back legs but from what I’ve read, this is very normal. Where did you read this? I am trying to find out about rear leg stiffness. Our dod had her front right lig smputated a couple months ago and lately it seems she is haveing a hard time getting up on all 3’s. her rear legs seem stiff when walking.

  51. Hi,
    My 2 yr old german short-haried was hit by a car last Tuesday and the break was to bad for pins so his left hind leg had to be amputated. He has always been a very timid dog and just as sweet as he can be. His surgery was Wednesday and today is Sunday. He still is very sleepy and weak. He refuses to eat anything and we have been having to force baby food down him. He drinks very well and we have been giving in gatorade and pedialtye along with his water. The vet says he may have had a kidney condition that we didnt know abt before the accident and the trauma may have caused kidney failure. To me this seems like a long shot in the dark. Is it normal for them to sometimes go this long with out eating after amputation. Its like he has no desire for food. he is keeping the baby food down, but im worried. He has been going outside to potty and can walk around but he seems distant like hes depressed. Maybe someone can help

    • Hi whitney I am new to the tripawds site, have a few tricks to try. Rage 2 1/2 yr heeler had front leg removed MV also, first you must try to have a ‘I can do it’ attitude towards your dog’s ability to do the things they did b4 MV. they get confidence from that. The honey has natural antibiotics in I believe and found one teaspoon honey-dash milk-mix small amount warm water then add the rest to the bowl that your dog would usually drink, you can put your finger in the mix and run it under his lips, the sweet taste may encourage more drinking. He may be a little dehydrated and they wont eat if they are because no stomach acid being made I have thought when Rage would’nt eat…if he likes the honey try some in his meat mix. Rage was in shock for some time so the honey-milk-water kept his sugars up like you are doing with the gatorade (watch salt content in those energy drinks.) and I hand fed him telling him good lad all the time and when he refused no praise was given. Sounds hard but it encourages them to eat for the reward, sounds mean but praise for good eating .. If honey is too sweat or he hates it, a little raw sugar can help. Rage was hit 18 dec 08 and op was 20 dec. He had no hunger for food for over a week, I also gave him raw liver,heart and kidneys, that got his nose twitching!!! He ate that all up… LOL If he is on medication that has a lot to do with the symptons he is presenting…. sleepy dog wont be too hungry and some meds can make em queezy, keep up with praise and try to present a happy face. This I found hard when looking at Rage’s injury and found that he was reacting to my depression….so I livened myself up and found Rage livined up as well. They feel your emotions that is for sure. Sounds like you are doing a great job getting him to drink and maybe forcefeeding him could be a little unsettling for your dog….I cant say for sure as you know your dog. Please accept this as idea’s to help, Keep up the good work and I am sure he will be ok. As far as the vet regarding kidney function, well I agree with you but keep it in mind. Tests can be done if no improvement later but I believe TIME TO HEAL – mind and body…he is young dog like Rage and they bounce back real quick… Jerry has given me great advice on chat line also other members, reasurance and know you are doing your best to help him through this difficult first weeks….I have asked people the same question as you and found time worked for Rage especially when I changed my “worried look” for him….Please let me know how u are getting along………Rage is now making up for the meals he missed and nothing is safe from those hungry eyes..LOL all the best, plz stay in touch. Rage is on the forum under Rage- Australia- a new way of life if you would like to see him….( I had a little fight with my vet too! gotta be strong, gut instinct wins I reckon.)

  52. Thank you for the Support !!! The first few nights taking care of Toby was a nightmare to say the least. Unfortunately he has gotten an infection in the incision site and is now fighting for his life. Please say a prayer for Toby he needs everything he can get right now.

  53. Hi Laura, thanks for writing. We hope that Toby is feeling well after surgery. We know what an agonizing decision it is, but trust me, it’s harder on the human that it is on the dog, even an older dog like Toby.

    There are plenty of older Tripawds here that are doing great on three legs, even fourteen year old Sami, another black Lab! That’s right, FOURTEEN! And she is coping with cancer too. We know it’s hard to be optimistic, but Toby is really lucky that he isn’t a tripawd because of cancer, so that’s a very big plus on his side!

    We have a special place for Senior Tripawd issues in the Forums where you can ask others what their experiences have been too. Drop us a line there, we’d love to hear from you, and I know you’ll find lots of moral support from others who’ve been there.

    Good luck. The road ahead will be a challenge for the next couple of weeks, but after that, we’re betting Toby’s going to be back to his usual self. Hang in there!

  54. My 12 year old black lab Toby fractured his paw jumping out of the car. We thought we would only have to keep it in a splint for a while and it would heal. We took x-rays last week and it was worse than we thought the ligaments had been damaged. The vet told me my options were a 5,000 dollar surgery that may not heal well, amputation, or putting toby to sleep. Other than Toby’s broken paw he is in great health for his age so I came to the hard decision of apmutation. He had the surgery today and I am devestated. I broke down in tears at the vets office and I am so fearful of how I am going to react when I pick him up and see him for the first time. I love him to so much and I dont care what he looks like I think it is just going to be over whelming. Does anyone else have any older dog that had a amputation? How did it go after surgery? Did they get there personality back?

  55. Dana, thanks for joining us here. We know how hard of a decision amputation can be, and we appreciate that you gave our website a look before saying Yes. We wish you and Summer the best of luck tomorrow, it sounds like she’ll do just great. We look forward to hearing more about you both. Keep us posted in the Forums OK? Take care.

  56. My 10 yr old beast, Summer, is going in to have her hind leg amputated tomorrow morning because of bone cancer. I am so glad I found this blog. I feel better prepared to take my role in this transition. I had originally decided not to do amputation because the specialist wanted to do chemotherapy with it, and I was opposed to putting her through that. However, after a week, we went back and she was doing well except for the pain and another vet (with lots of experience) said she is an exceptional candidate for amputation. I just couldn’t stand the idea that she would suffer slowly from such a painful malady… she is otherwise healthy and full of life. I am grateful that I now feel like I can go into this with eyes wide open.

  57. Ian, we are so glad that this helped you and Lola. We are glad to hear that she is doing so well! Keep us posted in the Forums, we’re always here for you.

  58. Today marks a week since my dog, Lola, came home from the ASPCA hospital here in NYC after having her left hind leg amputated. Nine days since the surgery itself, and I have to say that even though I’d read that I’d be “amazed” by her quick recovery, I really wasn’t prepared for how amazed I’d be. I wish I’d read this page a bit more carefully beforehand, though — esp. the bit about the Fentanyl patch. The first 12 hours or so after coming home, Lola literally cried the entire time, and I had never heard her cry once in her 10 years of life up to that point. I was worried that she was in terrible physical pain, but now I think it was one part pain, one part emotional trauma and five parts Fentanyl. She got better over her first 2-3 days, but it wasn’t until after the patch came off that she really perked up. Anyway, thanks for the info here — it’s been great to have something to read about this.

  59. This is so great that you are posting this. It should be very helpful to all pawrents of new tripawds. Warooof! Blazer, Kitty Kimber & Vicki

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