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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18 May 2015
As humans we often ascribe human characteristics to our dogs – I am no different. If i had to describe my dog Molly, I would say she is kind, she is courageous and she is truly a fighter.
Molly was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in early May of 2015 and amputated at the end of that month at the age of 8.75. Molly is almost 3 years post-amp and every second we have had with her since her has been a blessing. I am sure that everybody going through this has read the statistics- that the average survival time is 1 year and that only 20% – 30% survive 2 years and only 10% of dogs survive 3+ years. Well we always knew Molly was special – she just wanted to give us some empirical proof.
I remember the pain we were in when we had to decide if amputation was the right way to go – it was impossible for us to comprehend how our St. Bernard, with the largest dog head we had ever seen- was going to hop around on three legs. If i had to make that decision again today, I wouldn’t think twice.
Molly has shown us what it is to persevere. Unfortunately, I think her time with us is coming to an end – 4 months shy of her 3 year ampuversary.
Molly’s journey post amputation – while happy, was complicated. After we amputated her front right paw, we put her through the recommended chemo treatments. Once those concluded, we put her on cyclophosphamide – essentially a pill to help prevent the cancer from coming back (i am still not sure that i believe in that drug). We would have kept her on that for the rest of her life, except a few months later, molly developed hemorrhagic cystitis – the lining on her bladder walls had thickened and as a result, she felt like she had to pee all the time. My family and I woke up multiple times in the middle of the night to let Molly out to go pee. Unfortunately, there is no treatment for this…you just wait it out. To help with the incontinence she was experiencing, our vet gave us another pill (i can’t remember what it was called) and said that the longest case of hemorrhagic cystitis she had ever seen was six months. Molly looked at that record and i swear, she said “pshhhh, i will crush that record”. I can’t remember how long it was, but i remember at the 8 month mark, I was starting to think that would be the rest of her life. Adding insult to injury, as a result of the constant squatting and peeing, Molly tore her cruciate ligament- to this day, she has not complained about it. We wanted to look into getting it fixed – she had torn the cruciate in her other leg years ago and though i was scared to go through it with a tripawd, we wanted to give her the best life we could. When we took her in, the vet noticed that she was knuckling in her back paw and decided that they needed to figure out what was wrong before proceeding – after a crippling MRI that left Molly unable to walk for days (that was not in potential risks outlined to us), we discovered that Molly has sciatic neuropathy. That meant that cruciate repair was out of the question and instead we would manage paint with some NSIADs.
I call Molly brave, not because she went through all of this but because she did so like a champ – Molly continued to make herself the center of attention – not letting my father leave for work without taking her with, running after my nephews, playing with the neighbourhood dogs, begging for food and just being herself.
The past few weeks we have seen a noticeable decline in her health and most importantly her happiness – she can no longer get up unassisted, her tail doesn’t wag that much anymore, and getting her out to go to the washroom has become difficult (she is holding it longer and longer). This is not my Molly. We haven’t set a date yet, but we know it is around the corner.
I needed you all to know how brave, how strong, and how amazing my Molly is.
25 April 2007
Ohhhh wow, brave only begins to scratch the surface of all that Molly, and YOU, are. What a strong, incredible girl you have there and kudos to you for all that you’ve done to ensure she has a good quality of life, even when things got tough.
I’m SO glad you came back here to post. YES! Everyone needs to know about Molly. SO many people and even vets are reluctant to amputate on a giant breed dog. Molly proves that there’s no need to fear it, life on three legs can be great even for those bigger pups out there. And as for you cancer, well she kicked your BUTT! HA! Three years is incredible.
Do you have any photos that you’d like to share? Videos? We would LOVE to see them.
As you begin to grapple with the coming days, know that we are here for you. Post more, chat with us, call the Tripawds Helpline , whatever it takes to help you help her have a peaceful transition. We’re so sorry you’re both facing this time, it’s never easy even when you get bonus years like Molly has enjoyed.
22 November 2015
I loved reading about Molly’s journey (what a rough one it has been :-/
She sounds like a FANTASTIC and exceptional dog. What great care you have taken of her. I would also love to see more photos if you can post them.
I lost two pets (a dog and a cat) in close proximity in 2017 and it was so difficult. I think about them every single day. I still cry. But sometimes I smile too, when I think of something funny or sweet they used to do.
I don’t know what else to say or offer to you. My hope is that the amazingly strong Molly is around with you much much longer, but if that is not in the stars, that you will feel confident in your decision to ultimately let her go when it is her time.
Hattie and Jerry Cat (right front leg and scapula amputation due to chondrosarcoma at age 14, lived 2 1/2 years post amputation, succumbed suddenly to suspected lymphoma at age 16)
10/2001 - 10/9/2017 R.I.P ~ Love you always
7 July 2017
Molly sounds like not only an amzing girl but a true Warrior through and through!!!! I am so very sorry that you are close to the end of your journey with your girl… my heart goes out to you! Molly has fought her battles well and she is showing us all that ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!!! What a very brave girl, the Heavyweight Champion of the World! THANK YOU MOLLY!!!
We pray to beat the odds don’t we? Right from the get go we swear we will be grateful for whatever time we are given with these incredible souls and we are gratefu, but it doesn’t matter how much time we have with our fur babies, it is NEVER long enough!!!
Hugs and Peace! ❤️
Petra, Stewie and gang.
16 October 2012
Molly sounds like she was an amazing girl. A true Warrior as are you. I am sorry that the end is coming. The grief is going to be the hardest part of your journey. It is very personal and though we are here for you to lean on it is you that has to travel it. Please make sure to post about her and post pictures. Grief will come in waves..
Michelle & Angel Sassy
Sassy is a proud member of the Winter Warriors. Live long, & strong Winter Warriors.
07/26/2006 - Sassy earned her wings 08/20/2013
05/04/2006 - Bosch, Sassy's pal, earned his wings 03/29/19 fought cancer for 4 months.
"You aren't doing it TO her, you are doing it FOR her. Give her a chance at life."
22 February 2013
Thank you soooo much for letting us get to know Molly with such gloruous details of who she is!! 🙂 And she IS a Champ and she IS brave and she IS ONE OF A KIND DOG who is clearly oved and revered!
As sad as it is to hear she may be getting ready to run to the Bridge, my heart was full of joy as I read about Molly and how she “crushed” any hurdle thrown in front of her!
Make no mistake about it. MOLLY IS AN INSPIRATION FOR ANY DOG STARTING THIS JOURNEY, ESPECIALLY BIG PUPS!! She is already a Legend arpund here and will conti to be one for years to come. She lives large, she is large and she leaves a large footprint of hope for everyone.
We’ve been with you this e tire jiurney, and we’re still here with you now…especially now.
Surrounding you with our love, our strength and with peace
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!