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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

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When can I be sure it is time to say goodbye?
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Member Since:
28 December 2021
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15 June 2022 - 12:11 pm
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Good Morning! My Olde English Bulldogge had his front left leg amputated in December 2021. He handled it well and we put him on a diet to lower his weight to try and keep his remaining legs healthy. We were also giving him daily joint supplements.

About a month ago, I could not get him to stand up one morning. My husband had to carry him outside to use the bathroom. None of the emergency vets in the area had open availability to see him so we scheduled an appointment with our vet the next morning. He was walking better the next day and we went to the vet and he was able to put some pressure on his back legs. His back right leg seemed to be causing his pain.

At my request they took xrays of both back legs and his chest area. The xrays confirmed that the cancer had not returned but we found out both knees had sustained damage that would be irreparable without surgery. The vet confirmed that his condition would continue to deteriorate but he prescribed gabapentin and carprovet to be taken twice a day. The pain meds seemed to be working very well and his quality of life seemed to improve significantly overnight.

We worked hard to keep his mobility limited so that he wouldn't injure himself. This past Saturday we woke up and I could tell he was in a lot of pain again. I assisted him more than usual and made sure that he rested well. On Sunday he woke up and seemed perfectly fine again. Monday and Tuesday he did well and then this morning he woke up and wouldn't put any pressure on his back right leg.

On his good days I could not imagine saying goodbye but on the bad days, I feel like I'm not being fair to him. How can you know it is time to say goodbye?

We really thought when he had the surgery in December we would get a few more years with our best friend. We are absolutely heartbroken with this turn of events.

We found a local place that will come to our home so he can be comfortable and surrounded by his family in comfort when the time comes. I just have this overwhelming sense of guilt that I am giving up on him if I make the decision too early. Any input would be greatly appreciated.

The Rainbow Bridge

Member Since:
25 April 2007
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15 June 2022 - 1:55 pm
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I'm so sorry he's having issues right now. Hoping Dr. Pam has time to respond soon, but until then, here's my thoughts FWIW:

His pain management is a good place to start. Talk to your vet about adjusting the dosage and timing. Remember, pain management is not a one-and-done. There is often tweaking that needs to happen over time, to keep him feeling good.

Could something have caused him to experience more pain? Did he slip on the floor? Play too hard? 

Has his appetite and energy level changed, other than the pain signals he's showing? 

Also, have you taken advantage of the Tripawds Rehab Reimbursement program yet to have him evaluated? A rehab specialist may be able to pinpoint the cause of his discomfort. Things might not be as bad as you think right now. We are keeping our paws crossed that he can improve with some medication and other modalities like massage or acupuncture to help him feel better. Keep us posted!


Member Since:
22 February 2013
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15 June 2022 - 2:25 pm
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Just chiming in also until Dr Pam.

Agree with Jerry, maybe some pain med tweaking AND an evaluation  from a Rehab Specialist may help tremendously. 

You are kn a bit of a roller coaster right now....good days still seem to be dominating  the "bad" days.  Sounds like , ther than the leg issue, overall he is still soing well? Eating, drinking, engaged,  loving being spoiled, etc?

Did the Bet say the knees needed cruciate repair  surgery?  Arthritis? 

You are doing an excellent  job of monitoring  his activity  and keeping g him safe.  As Jerry noted, there could be some sort of twist or slip or whatever that could trigger the leg hurting and giving out.

So yeah, seems like trying so e of the sipuggestio s Jerry made can give you a good chance of seeing impr.  At the very least, you would be leaving no stone u turned.


Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!

Happy Hannah had a glorious additional bonus time of over one yr & two months after amp for osteo! She made me laugh everyday! Joined April's Angels after send off meal of steak, ice cream, M&Ms & deer poop!

Member Since:
22 August 2008
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16 June 2022 - 7:30 am
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If the pain seems intense then it is possible that the cancer has spread to the spinal cord and you may have up and down days. Sometimes this shows up on spinal xrays but unfortunately you often need an MRI to diagnose it. Did your vet say that both of your dogs knees have an ACL rupture?  Often that does need surgery but the pain should be pretty well controlled with the meds he is on. Often a dog with an ACL rupture does not improve without surgery because the knee is too unstable for the dog to walk.

My dog Tazzie ended up with spinal mets and for about 2 weeks she had been having a bit of discomfort then one day she just could not get up and was crying. She was so large that I elected to let her go then because we could not lift her to get her out to the bathroom. Since your dog is smaller you could consider a prednisone trial but often this only gives you a short amount of time if your dog has spinal mets.

If he is having more good days then bad you can wait a bit to see what happens but if he continues to have pain and mobility issues then you might have to make that hard choice.


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