Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat
Tripawds is the place to learn how to care for a three legged dog or cat, with answers about dog leg amputation, and cat amputation recovery from many years of member experiences.
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My dog is scheduled for a left forelimb amputation on Tuesday. She is a 14 y.o. red-nose pittie who was just diagnosed with osteosarcoma of her distal radius yesterday. The oncologist recommended amputation and radiation (no metastizing visible in the radiographs). It occurred to me last night that, if her humerous were left in tact (everything removed below her humerous), she would have a base to fit a prosthetic leg. I feel that this would be a better option as it would be less taxing on her bones, joints, and muscles as she wouldn’t have to compensate for the missing leg. I want what is best for my friend and am trying desperately to reach my oncologist. Unfortunately, the office was unable to provide me with a direct contact number so I emailed him and am hoping for a speedy response. In the meantime, any insight would be desperately welcomed. Please help.
Beija’s dad, I am in the Tripawds Chat right now if you want to talk.
Thanks for joining us and posting. Your future posts won’t need to wait for approval.
Yes, a prosthesis is a terrific option for the ideal candidate and as long as the pet parent is willing to invest the time and money involved. I wish every dog and cat was a good candidate.
When cancer is low enough on the leg that most of it can remain, some people will go ahead and give a prosthesis a try. There is a learning curve involved but if the prosthesis is introduced immediately after recovery, most dogs adapt pretty well as long as the parent complies with the rehab exercises required of the patient.
The only caveat I want to toss in here is that please work closely with an orthopedic specialist and rehab team that is familiar with fitting prosthetics on dogs. DIY approaches out there can end badly for the dog and the person, so always work with someone who has done it before.
Thanks for the response. The oncologist emailed me explaining that he thinks the proximal third of the radius and ulna are needed for a prosthetic leg but does not seem sure. He thinks, because of the tumor, the whole radius and ulna should go (and also leaning toward a full amputation). He also suggested that I talk to the surgeon about it on Tuesday. But I feel like this is something that should be discussed beforehand.
I have been reading up and have decided to try and get in touch with an orthopedic surgean familiar with prosthetics but, after searching online, I can’t seem to find one near me. This is strange since I am in Atlanta… a huge city and metro area. My search results bring up mostly standard vet results or human results.
I was referred to Blue Pearl Vet for the oncologist and surgery. From what I can tell through research, they are very good. During my visit they were very compassionate and attentive. The facility is the nicest i’ve seen and appears state of the art. However, I feel like I have post visit concerns and questions and am not getting the answers i need. i feel like it’s a ticking time bomb and needs to be handled as soon as possible. Am I overthinking and freaking out too much?
Here is the email I recieved from the oncologist:
“I’m not sure if Beija is a candidate or not. I believe that they have to be able to leave at least the proximal third of the radius and ulna, which would not be advisable for this tumor. There are not a lot of places that do them. I would recommend speaking with Dr. Lockwood about it at your surgery appointment. My experience with them has been that they have complications associated with them, or the dogs don’t use them. I had one patient that had congenital defects on both forelimbs and he never used his. I know there was an orthopedist at NC State that did prosthetics , but he is now at UC Davis.”
25 April 2007
“I’m not sure if Beija is a candidate or not. I believe that they have to be able to leave at least the proximal third of the radius and ulna, which would not be advisable for this tumor…I know there was an orthopedist at NC State that did prosthetics , but he is now at UC Davis.”
Agreed. Your oncologist is referring to Dr. Marcellin Little, the leading expert in veterinary prosthetics . In our various interviews with him, he suggests that for best results two remaining joints are necessary for successful prosthetic adaptation. In worst case scenario, one remaining joint may possibly work if/when working with the best orthopedic surgeons and prostheticists.
For more information, watch and listen to:
22 August 2008
I don’t know too much about this since I have never had a client go for a prosthesis but the surgeon would be your best source of info. I had briefly looked into it for my Mastiff Tazzie as well as limb spare surgery but she was deemed too big at the time and complication rates were high. Prosthetics have improved quite a bit so I would also contact some of the companies that make these to see what they say.
Hi Beija and Dad 🐾
I am no vet, just a Mom to an Osteosarcoma Angel who had her primary tumour located on her wrist.
I was told at the time of diagnosis by our vet, oncologist and surgeon that Osteosarcoma being such an aggressive and highly metastasic form of cancer it would be most advisable to amputate the leg and shoulder.
We discussed prosthetics and bionic implants which could be considered as her tumour was in her wrist.
But they did not think it would be the best option due to the type of cancer and also they did not feel prosthetics would work well enough (my baby was a huge Great Dane who lost her front leg) and bionic implants take many months to heal and many, many months for dogs to adapt to this and also involve a very high risk of infections (Meg and Clare can brief you on bionic implants fully)
i remember one of our dogs here (a Pyrenees mountain dog) who had half of his leg amputated only to develop another primary osteo tumour in the upper part of his leg shortly after surgery.
Please forgive me for bringing this point and sounding discouraging via a vis prosthetics but I thought it might be useful to discuss this with your oncologist and your surgeon before surgery as afterwards it’s too late.
Sending you hugs and cuddles 😘🐮💫✨🌟🌹
Thank you so much! Thank you all. I’ve been reading and watching and listening and searching all topics day and night.
I have been researching prosthetics and have abandoned that avenue. She is scheduled for amputation Tuesday and in the meantime i’ve come across extremely promising limb sparing procedures in CSU cancer research Center. Unfortunately I’m not near Colorado to get a consultation. Via the csu cancer center website, I am attempting to see 1 of the 3 board certified oncologists in GA before her surgery for a 2nd opinion and thoughts on limb sparing procedures. If I were closer to Colorado or if I could find out if she is a good candidate, I would take her there to be evaluated and treated. But i feel like I am becoming more and more prepared for the surgery if it comes to it. Thanks again everyone! I’m sure more questions will arise and i’m beyond grateful for this community.
Sidenote: anyone know why my avatar pic won’t load upright? Done on my mobile device.
Hi Beija and Dad 🐾
If you are considering limb sparing procedures I think it would be very useful for you to have a chat/PM Clare (megstamom) as she followed that route with her dog Meg and is probably our most experienced member on that regard, even if it the procedures did not go as expected for her pup.
Hugs and cuddles 😘🐮💫✨🌟🌹
Via the csu cancer center website, I am attempting to see 1 of the 3 board certified oncologists in GA before her surgery for a 2nd opinion and thoughts on limb sparing procedures. If I were closer to Colorado or if I could find out if she is a good candidate, I would take her there to be evaluated and treated.
Sidenote: anyone know why my avatar pic won’t load upright? Done on my mobile device.
Hopefully the pawesome docs there will be able to give you some feedback. Let us know what they say.
About the avatar pic…there’s something weird that happens sometimes when phone pics are uploaded and we still haven’t figured out why. The way to resolve this is to open it up in an image editor like ipiccy.com or your own computer’s photo editing software, then rotating it and re-saving it with a new name, then uploading it again. Or you can feel free to send it to us at jerry-at-tripawds-dot-com and we will fix it for you.
So I went to speak with the oncologist and surgeon at my original surgery appointment today. The oncologist said that he did not give me the option for any limb sparing procedures such as cyberknife, or linear accelerator radiation because, even though the bone was not yet broken, the damage was too extensive and the likelihood of it being broken in the future was high. Then I would be back in the same boat.
I dropped her off and she is having the amputation surgery today. I’m a nervous wreck but, at least I know that I asked all the right questions and explored all the options. I have you all to thank for that piece of mind and I am beyond grateful for your support.
Ah that totally makes sense. Unfortunately we see that situation quite a bit around here. Good for you for asking. You should absolutely feel good for getting all the information necessary to make a confident decision.
We are keeping you both in our hearts for an uneventful surgery and speedy recovery. Be sure to update us in Treatment and Recovery when you get a chance.
18 October 2009
You are a great advocate for your girl!
Sending strong and positive thought for an easy and successful surgery today.
Karen and The Spirit Pug Girls
Thinking of you and Beija and sending lots of pawsitive energy your way 🐾
I’ll be checking for your updates later.
Sending you a big hug and cuddles to your sweet girl 😘🐮💫✨🌟🌹