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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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I couldn't do it
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Member Since:
18 January 2012
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27 February 2012 - 9:56 pm
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My boy Winston had a bad day yesterday (he's not a tripawd).   I don't think he will make it to his amp appt (I know he won't make it).  I had an appt today after work at his vet to say goodbye but when I took him he was trying to play with another dog in the waiting room and was sniffing and peeing like his boy self on the short walk up to vet office from the parking lot.  Sobbing,  I just did not feel it was the right time to let him go yet so I talked to my vet and changed my mind.   Was I wrong?  My vet said she supported my decision either way and gave me the option to up his pain meds and just take shorter walks.   So he's back home and I don't regret my decision but am consumed by worrying if I will know when it's time.  I am hoping he will let me know but he is so stoic.    I lost my other "heart" female Golden dog at 6 years old from cancer 8 years ago and didn't think I would ever have another but Winston is my "heart boy".   I feel cheated that cancer is taking (or took them) from me way too early.   

Member Since:
20 August 2011
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27 February 2012 - 10:06 pm
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I lost my second dog to cancer today.  I know exactly how you are feeling.  For us, if Spencer had walked into the vet today, I don't think I would have had him put to sleep.  yesterday Spencer had a little bit of a bad day; but he was still enjoying things.  yesterday it hit me that I might not have the long months that I had been thinking we still had with Spencer; but I wasn't thinking that we only had a month or less either.  But today, in a matter of 1.5 hours he went from a little slow, to coughing and more slow, to unable to walk at all.  he wasn't wagging his tail anymore.  He wasn't giving me kisses even if I put my face right by his (and he was a MAJOR kisser).  he wasn't perking his ears up.  Even with how he was at 7:00 this morning the worst I thought was that we were talking weeks.  You will KNOW.  And at least for me, if my dog is still able to have some enjoyment in each day, and he isn't looking at me with eyes that say, "I don't understand WHY I feel so bad; but I do.  I don't even feel good enough to do anything more than lay here and look sad." then I likely am going to give it more time.


I think you made the right decision.

Jac and Angel Spencer.  Spencer was 5.25 years old. He fought a grade 3 fibrosarcoma, started on his shoulder.  Left front leg amputated in August 2011.  15 weeks of chemo finished 12/22/11 (mytox and adria).  Lung mets found on x-rays 12/28/11.  Started carboplatin 1/6/12. Went to Heaven on 2/27/12. I miss him like crazy every day.  See his blog here:

San Diego, CA
Member Since:
29 October 2010
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27 February 2012 - 10:11 pm
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A lot of us here who have been through this worried that we wouldn't know when it was time and that we'd let it go too late... But we did know. With Abby she definitely gave me The Look, that I'd heard many others talk about.

Hopefully Winston will similarly let you know when it's time. And in the meantime, love him up and enjoy every moment!

I'm sorry you are having to go through this. It's so hard.
Jackie, Angel Abby's mom

Abby: Aug 1, 2009 – Jan 10, 2012. Our beautiful rescue pup lived LARGE with osteosarcoma for 15 months – half her way-too-short life. I think our "halflistic" approach (mixing traditional meds + supplements) helped her thrive. (PM me for details. I'm happy to help.) She had lung mets for over a year. They took her from us in the end, but they cannot take her spirit! She will live forever in our hearts. She loved the beach and giving kisses and going to In-N-Out for a Flying Dutchman. Tripawds blog, and a more detailed blog here. Please also check out my novel, What the Dog Ate. Now also in paperback! Purchase it at Amazon via Tripawds and help support Tripawds!

Member Since:
18 January 2012
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27 February 2012 - 10:46 pm
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It's such a difficult time for you!  Our hearts are with you.  I've had to make the decision for a few of my dogs along the way - the roughest was my Humphrey because it was from illness rather than old age pain.  It does feel so unfair when it just shouldn't be time yet.  He did give me 'the look' - it was clearly time.  There was another look I'll never forget - that's the moment when he felt no pain, relaxed and looked up at me with such love and gratitude right before his final breath. 

May you have many loving moments left and a peaceful beautiful farewell when the time comes.


Hug and Wags,

Judy and Baby

Peoria, IL
Member Since:
8 November 2010
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28 February 2012 - 1:46 am
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Hi Winston's mom,

You are facing one of the most terrible, yet caring, decisions any of us will ever have to make. A few weeks ago, we had what I thought was a very good and honest forum discussion about knowing when it was time and dealing with the feelings it evokes. If you are interested, you may find it under the Coping With Loss categories, labeled "To Eliabeth and Anyone I Can Help."

It may help you decide one way or the other, and it will certainly make you feel not so alone.


Beth & Spirit Smilin' Sammy

Smilin' Sammy, March 16, 2004 – Dec. 5, 2011
Golden retriever, diagnosed with osteosarcoma in September 2010 — right front leg amputated November 2010. He fought valiantly to stay with us; but a second diagnosis of osteosarcoma, this time in his left front leg, was more than our golden warrior could overcome. He loved his pack — and everyone else he met.

We loved him even more.
Thanks for the pennies, Sammy. They helped.

Peoria, IL
Member Since:
8 November 2010
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28 February 2012 - 2:28 am
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Maybe I missed something, but have you decided amputation won't help? Has the doctor said it is too late and the cancer has progressed too far? If that is not the case, Winston's pain and bad days will be gone with his diseased leg — hopefully for many months. I am just curious as to why you say he won't make the amputation date.

Smilin' Sammy, March 16, 2004 – Dec. 5, 2011
Golden retriever, diagnosed with osteosarcoma in September 2010 — right front leg amputated November 2010. He fought valiantly to stay with us; but a second diagnosis of osteosarcoma, this time in his left front leg, was more than our golden warrior could overcome. He loved his pack — and everyone else he met.

We loved him even more.
Thanks for the pennies, Sammy. They helped.

Columbia, MO
Member Since:
10 December 2011
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28 February 2012 - 9:18 am
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Oh how heart wrenching.  Did you find a vet that would do the surgery?  I know in a previous post your vet wasn't too supportive of amputation and you couldn't find another to do it.

Whatever you decide will be right for you and Winston.  Sending positive thoughts your way.

Marla and Daisy

My Two Tripawds...Biscuit and Spirit Daisy

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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28 February 2012 - 9:23 am
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Manda, I'm so sorry. So are you saying that before this trip, you decided to opt for palliative care until the pain got to be too much? What is your current vet's analysis of Winston's health condition?

I recall from your last post that you couldn't get in to UC Davis until 3/14. Did you ever talk to them about enrolling him in a clinical trial? That could help reduce costs by a LOT if you decide to proceed.

This situation can leave your head spinning. Oftentimes it's so hard to decide what to do. We will do our best to help any way we can.  {{{{hugs}}}}

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

Member Since:
8 July 2011
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28 February 2012 - 1:05 pm
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I know what you are going through...going back & forth trying to decide if its time or not.  We did the same thing just a few weeks ago and I had the same questions.  We had an appointment scheduled to say goodbye to our Callie in January after we found out the cancer had spread to her lungs and the vet we saw at that appointment recommended putting her down sooner than later.  But that whole week before we just didn't feel like it was time and she still had life in her.  We went to the appointment (with a different vet) and changed our minds about going through with it.  We put her on more meds and enjoyed three more weeks with our girl, still struggling to decide if it was time or not.  She would be fine one day, followed by a bad day, then a good day, etc.  Breathing ok in the morning and then having a harder time later.  In the end, it was obvious to us she was going downhill...even in just those three weeks it was a pretty quick decline, mostly breathing wise for her and weight loss even though she was eating as normal.  We couldn't bear to watch it get any worse and we knew Callie was being so stoic and not showing us how uncomfortable she really was. 

Despite the obvious decline in her health, it was still the hardest decision we ever made, but we knew it was the right one for her.  I didn't want to go through with it even that day, but for me, I finally realized I would never want  to go through with it and maybe I was dragging it out too long because I couldn't let go.  In the end, it was more important for me to not watch her suffer anymore than to keep her here just for myself. 

Only you know your dog best and can decide when the right time to say goodbye will be.  If you still see the spark in his eye and a good quality of life, then maybe its not the right time.    

So sorry you are having to go through this....

Member Since:
1 February 2011
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28 February 2012 - 1:22 pm
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So very sorry you are faced with this heart-wrenching decision. It's not fair, and it's too soon, but there will never be a time when it doesn't feel like this -- even if Winston lived to a ripe old age, it would still be too soon.

That being said, you WILL know. It will break your heart, but you will know. And you will do the right thing at that time because you love him too much to let him suffer. Letting them go truly is the most unselfish thing we will ever do in our lifetime. Listen to Winston, and let him tell you what he needs from you, and know that you won't be alone in your grief...


the Woo

~ ~ Rio ~ ~
Forever in my heart...

April 2000 – January 20, 2012
Diagnosed with Mast Cell Cancer in June 2007. Left rear leg amputated Feb. 8, 2011.
Mets discovered Aug. 31, 2011. Read more of Rio's story here.

Plainfield, Illinois
Member Since:
14 May 2011
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28 February 2012 - 2:10 pm
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It is one of the hardest decisions that you will have to make.  Chili Dawg was my heart dog.  We knew it was time.  He declined so quickly when his cancer returned.  He went from being able to run, to limping, to not being able to get up at all.  He looked at us and I knew.  The night before Chili Dawg's appointment, I told him that it was time for him to leave this world, he let out this long sigh, licked my hand and rested his head in my lap.  I knew at that moment, that I had made the right decision.  We are here for you.


Jenna & Spirit Chili Dawg

Diagnosed with OSA: 5/2/2011 Ampuversary: 5/11/2011 OSA returned in hip: 8/26/2011
Chili Dawg crossed the Rainbow Bridge on 8/30/2011 & is now pain free. He was my heart dog, and I miss him every day.

New Zealand
Member Since:
6 November 2011
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28 February 2012 - 2:48 pm
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You will know in your heart when the time is right although it wont be any easier it is so hard to do but it really is the best gift we can give them by letting them go before they suffer.

We are all here for you to lean on if you need support and we are all hoping Winston has many more good days with you, love your boy like there is no tommorrow and hold those memories close.

Good luck and be strong


Member Since:
18 January 2012
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28 February 2012 - 9:23 pm
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Thank you everyone for your support.  I decided to do hospice care as the vet stated he would not be a great candidate due to some early arthritis issues.  She would support me decision to go that route if I chose to go through with the amp but I made the decision when I found out the appt date was so far out for Davis.  I am at peace with that decision but just having a hard coming to terms that saying goodbye will be coming soon.  I am so grateful for your words of support as I know from your personal stories that you have all gone through this horrible situation.  I am planning to enjoy every minute I have left with him.

Las Vegas, Nevada
Member Since:
14 August 2009
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28 February 2012 - 11:47 pm
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I'm sorry for the emotional roller coaster ride.  Yes, you will know when it's time.  You just will.  It may not be very obvious and may just be a sub-conscience feeling, but you'll know.

Many good wishes coming your way.

Her Retired AvatarComet - 1999 to 2011

She departed us unexpectedly  January 23, 2011 at the age of 12 1/2.

She was born with a deformed front leg and a tripawd all of her life.

Rock Hill, SC
Member Since:
28 November 2011
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29 February 2012 - 7:12 am
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If you couldn't do it, then that just means it was not yet time.  You know your Winston better than anyone else.  Our thoughts are with you during this very emotional time.  I know it is easier said than done, but try your best to concentrate on loving him and all of the special things he does right now and not on what is coming because you want to be left with good memories with him instead of memories of sadness and dread.  Prayers for strength and peace to you...



Zeus was a Husky mix diagnosed with Osteosarcoma at age 11.  A visible lung met and suspicious spot on his liver meant a poor prognosis-six weeks was our vet's best guess. We decided to fight for our boy and his right front leg was amputated on 12/1/11. We did six rounds of chemo, changed his diet and spoiled him completely rotten. We were blessed with 10 great months after diagnosis. Against the odds, the lung met remained a single met and grew very little over those months. A wonderful furbaby with the most gentle spirit, he fought with a strength that we never imagined he possessed. We have no regrets...

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