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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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Anticipating the end before it truly begins...
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Forum Posts: 1
Member Since:
12 February 2018
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12 February 2018 - 7:50 pm
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My dog Rosie was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma about 3 weeks ago. We had an initial oncology consult and just had a second opinion today… and it seems like we are going ahead with amputation and chemo. I’m having such a hard time. I know this treatment is going to give her the best chance at the longest and best quality of life we can give her… but my heart is breaking. If I slow down for a minute to think, I am in constant tears. I am so sad and scared for her. I’m scared that we go through all of this and I’ll still lose her to soon. I feel like I am taking her leg that is not causing her to be in the same pain that others have noted before amputation. 

Rosie is acting the same way she has for the past several years we have had her. She shows no signs of pain. She was limping for a few weeks, but that has since resolved. 

I am calling to schedule her surgery tomorrow. I want to do this for her and I can’t. I can’t make this better for her. No matter what I do, I am not even guaranteed a year with her. This diagnosis and the prognosis SUCK!

How do you deal with this? This isn’t the first animal I’ve had with cancer. The others, there was nothing that could be done to improve their quality of life but let them live until they were in too much pain. I either take her leg in the hopes of a year or watch her slip away in a few months… This is just beyond what I feel like I can handle. I will find a way because she is my baby and my husband and I love her to the ends of the earth… but my heart just hurts.

-Just a scared momma here hoping for some peace in making this decision…

The Rainbow Bridge

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12 February 2018 - 8:43 pm
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Hi Rosie’s Mom, welcome. I’m so sorry you’re dealing with the diagnosis. Yes, it does suck! And it throws us for a loop, you never expect this kind of thing. All of us here who have had to wrestle with this decision have had the same doubts and fears that you do. So know that everything you are feeling is totally normal.

The thing about cancer is that it makes us face the hard reality that none of us, not us, not our animals, are guaranteed a year or even tomorrow. We never think about that hard fact until something like this happens. But it’s true. Cancer speeds up the learning curve of facing mortality. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but I, and many here, have found that it’s also a blessing in disguise.

Facing the fact that all of us will die at some point, with or without cancer, makes us appreciate the present moment more than ever. It rocks us out of our complacency and denial, and forces us to be mindful and present, if we allow it to. And by doing so, the reward is something greater than I personally ever thought possible. Not only did facing it help me cherish each day with our Jerry more than ever before, but it has since carried on into my own daily life now that he’s an angel. It’s weird the way something as awful as cancer can do that.

Keep in mind that Rosie isn’t limping now, but it’s only a matter of time until the pain of the osteo comes back worse than ever. It will. And by the time it does, she will be in excruciating, horrible pain because dogs only show pain indicators when things get really unbearable. By being proactive now and proceeding with amputation, you are sparing her that awful time of trying to hide her pain from her pack (in addition to minimizing the risk of a fracture, another horrific trauma for everyone involved). You’ve gotten other opinions, consulted with the experts and are doing everything right. No dog could ask for more.

I hope this helps. You may also want to check out a great book called “The Legacy of Beezer and Boomer,” which is all about the “anticipatory grief” process you are experiencing. I know you’ll find it helpful. And stay tuned for feedback from others.

Keep us posted on how she’s doing in Treatment and Recovery. We’re here to help.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Forum Posts: 1447
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13 February 2018 - 9:31 pm
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I wish that there was some kind of guarantee, but there is none.  But there are some stories of hope.  Ours is one.  Murphy was 7 when he was diagnosed.  He had been misdiagnosed and was limping for about 5 months by the time he had surgery to remove his right front leg, which is a really long time for cancer to get a chance to spread.  The lymph node they removed was positive, which is bad news, that means it’s spread.  It took a few weeks to get a final diagnoses, but he had histiocytic sarcoma – a highly aggressive form of bone cancer.  His prognosis was 12-18 months if we were lucky.  We did 6 doses of chemo (he had an oral chemo called CCNU), and at the end the oncologist thought she found a tumor on his left shoulder blade.  W+e decided not to do any further chemo, not to put Murphy through anything else, we would just watch it and see what would happen.  Well, follow-up x-rays showed no change.  3 months after that, still no change …. and on, and on, and on.  Murphy walked twice in the American Cancer Society’s Bark For Life and raised money for cancer research.  We also drove to Chicago from the Detroit area to walk in the PuppyUp walk and raised more money and awareness.   3 years after they found that lump we did a set of x-rays … they were clear!  I cried in the vet’s office ..I had been waiting for her to tell me that there was metastasis, because there should have been, but there wasn’t.  We celebrated 4 years with Murphy last April.  4 years cancer-free.  In June we lost him due to a hemangiosarcoma – a completely unrelated cancer took our warrior.  

But he had an amazing 4+ years. 


Donna, Glenn & Murphy 

Murphy had his right front leg amputated due to histiocytic sarcoma at 7 years old. He survived 4 years, 2 months & 1 week, only to be taken by hemangiosarcoma at 11 1/2 years 6/12/17  
Read about Murphy's Life on Three Legs



Forum Posts: 19281
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13 February 2018 - 9:42 pm
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I’m coming back.  For now though, besides just  saying, as you can see,  we are here for you and with you, I want to say read Donna’s post about Murphy over and over!   Victories against all odds like Murphy….that’s why we do what we do.  That’s how you deal with it, knowing Rosie could be victorious just like Murphy!

Love and hugs

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!

Forum Posts: 467
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14 February 2018 - 10:44 am
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It does suck. No doubt about it. 

When Rocky was diagnosed, he didn’t seem to be in pain, other than the limping (he turned out to be a pretty tough pup). He still wanted to play every day. But the limping was getting worse and I didn’t want that leg to break. 

I was hoping for at least a year. We only got 7 months. It sucks that we didn’t get as long as I had hoped. It sucks that we didn’t get as long as others. But I’d do it all again. I can sit here today and say I did everything I possibly could for him. 

Ultimately it’s a personal decision. But, for me, it was important to do everything I could. I didn’t want to leave any “what-ifs” on the table when the end ultimately came. 

David and Rocky (and Baxter now too!)

Rocky had his right front leg amputated on Valentine's Day 2017 after being diagnosed with osteosarcoma.

He joined the September Saints on September 3, 2017.

He is the toughest, bravest, sweetest and best friend I'll ever know. 

Forum Posts: 180
Member Since:
6 August 2016
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16 February 2018 - 7:56 pm
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Hi Rosie’s mom,

I echo what the others have said here.  MySweetTed presented with an ever-so-slight-limp a day after running around like a maniac at our farm.  I noticed it and gave him a day for it to go away and then took him to our vet.  We were absolutely shocked to see his X-ray and my biggest concern (despite the absolutely unthinkable decision to take his leg) was that he would have a devastating injury when the bone broke.  We tried to take just the ulna in a surgery that we agreed to in our attempt to save his leg – and it actually crumbled during the procedure – we ended up with amputating his front leg.  Lymph nodes came back with no cancer so I was very happy about that.  He was diagnosed in March 2016 and we lost him on 30 November 2016 after he developed tumors in his lungs – and he did not receive chemo.  He made it 8 months – just like our vet estimated – but he was RUNNING 6 days after losing his front leg.  He had his joy back, he danced and twirled and jumped on three legs just like he did on four.  I was devastated when we lost him, grateful that we got 8 more months with that sweet soul, and extremely jealous of others who got more time (and thankful that they did!).  It IS a personal decision, and one you should go into knowing that you will lose her eventually.  I knew that going into it, but at that point I just couldn’t end his life when he was so full of joy and really not “sick” with the cancer.  It was just that damn leg.  I have no regrets and feel fortunate that I could make the decision and be able to afford it and also be home to care for him for the several days that someone needed to be there.  I hope this helps you.


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