Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat
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3 weeks ago Zuko’s started having trouble walking and keeping himself up with his remaining rear leg. About a little over a week later he started to lose all use of the leg. When I pinch between him toes, he still reacted but his sense of proprioception was gone. An X-ray of his spine was done but no abnormalities in the spine were present but there was a growth seen at the distal end of his floating ribs but didn’t seem to look like osteosarcoma. He was able to unrinate and deficate normally until this morning. When he went to pee this morning, just by lifting him up, he would pee a little. He then peed normally outside but didnt want to poo. He was left at home while I went to work but there were people at home with him. They heard him constantly barking and found that he had pooped and peed everywhere in the room. When I came back from work, I took him out and he peed fine. When we came back inside and he was laying down, I noticed that he was leaking urine. I, then, pressed on his bladder, more urine came out, and I proceeded to empty his bladder.
Can he get better? or should I be preparing myself for things to get worse? He is still such a happy dog and even though he can’t use his back leg, when I put a towel under him to hold his rear up, he just wants to run and play and chase every cat he sees. As far as his attitude, he hasn’t changed at all! but with losing use of his remaining hind leg and slowly losing control of his bladder, I don’t know what to think or if theres a chance that he’ll even get better 🙁
*Zuko was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in April and his rear left leg was amputated on April 26, 2017. He weights about 45lb and will be 7 years old on March 2018. He is currently on 10mg prednisone and 5mg metacam – both once a day*
It depends. Is he painful? Usually cancer mets to the spine are quite painful. Larger breed dogs often get a fibrocartilaginous emboli (FCE) which is often not painful but still causes neurologic dysfunction as you have described. Most of these dogs will not improve and often need the bladder expressed 3-4 times daily and will never be able to walk.
Unfortunately only an MRI can tell.
He’ll growl and sometimes yelp when I try to lay him down or move him but he has always been the type of dog that doesn’t like to be moved. When he does that though, I always check and feel around to see if theres any area of pain but he doesn’t react.
He is definitely unable to urinate on his own now. I have been expressing his bladder multiple times a day (which he’s not very fond of but he’s been good and he’ll lay there for me). As far as defecting goes, he’s been having accidents at home. We’ll take him out for 30 minutes at a time – in the morning, afternoon, late afternoon, and about 3 times at night – but he just won’t poop. He would poop in the room when we’re at work. Is there anything I can do to stimulate him to poop so he doesn’t make accidents at home?
I have also noticed that the growth we found on his rib has definitely gotten bigger. I am going to bring him in in two days to have it x-rayed again.
My vet was also kind enough to let me borrow a wheelchair he had in storage for zuko. He really doesn’t like it but he’ll walk if he sees a cat or another dog. I think he doesn’t like it because its too big and awkward. I want to get him one that fits better but I also want to know if I even should? I love him more than anything but I am a recent college grad trying to get into vet school and spending that kind of money is a lot for me. Are dogs able to continue to live like this? or should I make do with what I have because he probably doesn’t have a lot of time left?
His meds were also changed from prednisone 10mg and metacam 5mg once a day to dexamethasone 1.5mg 2x a day for 5 days then once a day after that.
I don’t know of any way to get him to hold his poop or to help him go when he is outside although increasing the fiber in his diet can help produce a more formed stool. As long as he is not painful then a wheelchair may help although I’m afraid that the odds of cancer somewhere else are pretty good. Hopefully your vet can get an aspirate of the rib mass to see the cell type.
Your dog is very handsome! I have a red-nosed female at home.
25 April 2007
Pam you are an ANGEL, thank you so much for your insight. What comfort to Zuko’s people!
Zuko, we are sending lots of love and healing wishes your way. We hope you feel better my friend. 3-paws up to you and your people for being so loving and devoted to one another. What a great pack. xoxo