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Amputating Arthritic Dog
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Forum Posts: 6
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23 March 2019
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29 March 2019 - 8:40 pm
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Hello everyone,
I’ve been quietly looking through the forums since last Friday when this wonderful resource was recommended to me.

My 8 year old Rottweiler Lexie was diagnosed with osteosarcoma last Thursday. She has a history of arthritis with both elbows suffering from degeneration, and her right rear leg having been operated 5 years ago for a torn CCL.

When she started showing signs of lameness in what we always joking called “her one good leg” this past winter, we figured it was just your average arthritis catching up to her after so long using that leg to compensate. When our vets failed to schedule us on a day they had time to x-ray, despite our request to do so, we went home with Metacam anti-inflammatories and rescheduled xrays for the following week. The anti-inflammatories unfortunately worked too well and Lexie had such good improvement that we decided to cancel the x-rays until further notice. 

The pills ran out…and she took a turn. Finally last Thursday (March 21) her x-rays (which we all had come to the resigned conclusion must show another torn CCL) proved her bone is being eaten away by cancer. Our regular vet advised us to speak with an oncologist before making any further decisions, and after calling 5 clinics, I found the one with the quickest availability, which was an appointment for today (March 29)

Sorry for all the context, but it seemed relevant to provide. 

My question stems from the area of her being arthritic, and whether amputation is a viable option. Our regular vet said that based on her x-rays, her remaining rear leg looks good, despite some arthritis. Our oncologist admitted that her history does not make her an ideal candidate, but said it doesn’t rule out the option for amputation altogether either. She said that the fact she sometimes will walk on 3 legs (and avoid using her bad leg as a crutch) is encouraging, and with physio therapy, she might do well. 

Her cancer doesn’t appear to have spread, and her leg is a source of great pain, so amputation would be preferable. She is 8 years old, but FULL of life and always has been. She’s been raw-fed her whole life, her coat is shiny, her teeth are clean, she is fit (though we were advised she would need to be nearly underweight as a tripod). I feel like giving up on her and making her live in pain until she ultimately can’t take it anymore is not a fair fate to a dog with so much spunk and light and fight within her. But I don’t want to make a decision that kills that light and love of life if taking that leg is too overwhelming and difficult for her in the end.

I know you can’t make the decision for me, but I’m just looking for everyone’s experiences, advice, and opinions to help me in forming with more certainty my own.

Sorry for the novel. I’ve held back in posting, and apparently now I’m giving you all a Lexie-dissertationblush Thank you all in advance.

The Rainbow Bridge



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29 March 2019 - 10:03 pm
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Hi and welcome, no apologies are necessary you can post as much as you’d like about your girl. I’m sorry you are dealing with this. Just wondering but what kind of cancer is suspected?

It sounds like the vets agree she can be a good Tripawd, which is great. We’ve had many members so quite well on three, even when vets thought the dog wasn’t a good candidate because of arthritis. I’m on my phone now but will come back tomorrow with some examples on? Till then stay tuned for feedback from others. I just wanted to get your post approved so others can chime in.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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29 March 2019 - 11:36 pm
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Thank you, I look forward to hearing more tomorrow.

She’s been given a “presumptive diagnosis” of osteosarcoma. 

Virginia




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5 April 2019 - 9:50 am
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Jist catching up on the amazing   Lexie…and her very devoted hooman!!!

Sorry you find yourself here.  We know what a kick in the gut it is to hear the diagnosis.   So much fear and uncertainty. 

We have indeed had dogs with arthritis, hip issues, cruciate, etc, do very well on three.  Amd the answer really does involve  getting opinions from Orthopedic  Surgeons if at all possible. AND listen6 to your regular Vet!!  It sounds like Lexie is already trying out her tripawdness and is handling it just fine.  Sounds  like her ocerall attitude  is great and she is a spunky gal.

If you haven’t  already done so, check into Dasequan,  Gilliprant, Adequan injections, etc.  Great tools for helping to manage arthritis.

I recall a senior arthritic pup named Samson  (I think 15, or close to it) handling life on three ,ike a champ!  Another dog named Atlas was one who defied all odds.  He was a very large Great Dane, had Wobblers, and if I recall, hip issues, maybe? Anuway, two, maybe three Vets suggested  euthanasia.  I  part, due to size, as well as Wobblers and the other leg issues.  Fortunately  Atlas’s  hoomans  found an Orth Surgeon  wh said Atals would do very well on three!  And he did for over two years!!!!

Stay connected  and let us know how things are going.  We’re  cheering for Lexie! Love her avatar  picture!

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!

The Rainbow Bridge



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5 April 2019 - 12:21 pm
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Here are stories about the two dogs that Sally mentioned:

Tripawd Tuesday Celebrates Atlas the Great

https://sampson…..pawds.com/

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13 April 2019 - 10:49 pm
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Thank you both.

i decided to go through with it, despite Lexie being no one’s idea of an ideal candidate. Her elbows are not in great shape. Her remaining hind leg was previously repaired from a cruciate ligament tear… She’s an 8 year old Rottweiler, on the cusp of her breed’s life expectancy. No, she is not an ideal candidate when you read her stats off a file.

But Lexie isn’t just her profile details. She’s a dog with an appetite for life. She loves spring puddles, and winter snow, and fall leaf piles, and the hot summer sun. She lives for life. At 8 years old she was regularly confused for a 3 year old. Last week at her ultrasound appointment, a man in the waiting room was sure she was a young dog. How could I cut her short when she never cut herself short? How could I let cancer cut her short? It wouldn’t be fair. Not without trying.

And a life with those legs, all four of them failing in one way or another would have been giving up. Already she couldn’t do as much of the things that brought her so much joy, looking at me pitifully on our short walks as if to say “I know you want to go further, Emily, and I do too but I just don’t think I can today.” That leg had swollen to the size of a softball, at least. It was holding her back and weighing her down.

Maybe I’ll live to regret it. She was amputated yesterday on Friday April 12th, and we picked her up this afternoon, Saturday the 13th. She’s not walking capably yet. I wasn’t expecting her to. She squats as she walks, with heavy support from a belly band. She spent most of the time since coming home in a deep, snoring sleep, but I feel the rest is well earned. She did rouse long enough to sit up and join her brother in barking out the window. She ate her supper with her usual enthusiasm, and was looking for more long after the dinner bells were done, but we’ve been advised to cut her weight even though she was at a healthy size. 

But the best moment, the moment that gives me just a little bit of hope even while my family members give me sad looks and whisper about her condition when they think I can’t tell—was when we carried her out for a pee break, and instead of peeing Lexie began to flail against the harnesses holding her up—so she could flop onto her side and roll in the grass. She has always done this, gleefully. At any unexpected moment on a walk, tucking her shoulder and throwing herself with every bit of reckless abandon in her to toss all four feet into the air and thrust her back into the grass, belly towards the sky. That was my Lexie. One leg down, but three still there to flail in celebration of life. I can only hope she keeps that spirit up. Because we’ll both need it if we’re going to get through this.

Here and Now


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14 April 2019 - 11:16 am
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Welcome Home Lexie! Best wishes for a speedy recovery.

confinement and moderation of activity are key to a quick safe recovery. Take things one day at a time and be patient. Shot leashed potty time is all she needs right now. Once completely healed, and the stitches are out, then you can focus on rebuilding strength with starter exercises and stretching. Consider consulting with a CCRT or CCRP for the best results or look into the MAggie Moo Fund for Tripawd Rehab.

Virginia




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14 April 2019 - 4:13 pm
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WELCOME HOME LEXIE!!!! You are clearly  adored by your hooman and, no doubt, vice versa

Eating already?? Great news!!!  Sitting up and feeling fiesty enough to bark??  SPECTACULAR!!   More good news!And the vision  you painted of her trying to take a roll in the grass…PRICELESS and really good news also!!!  Had a little happy tear going on over here!!

Thank you for sharing so much of who Lexie is and why she IS a candidate  for a chance at a pain frre quality  life!!!!   She is definitely  more than a random”profile” based on random dogs.  And without  question, based on the way you described  Lexi, she would DEFINITELY  want that chance.  

And just to remind you, this IS majpr surgery, she is a “mature” dog and a …er…hmmm….a well muscled fluffy dog!  So slooooow and easy with lots of patience  and positive energy.   Mobility  will come.  Right now she’s  drugged, she’s  adjusting  to three legs and she just had major surgery!  

She may have a bit of a crash in a day or two after the strong hospital  meds wear off, so don’t  be alarmed.  It took me three weeks before I could say I did this FOR my Happy  Hannah (a fluffy, well muscled  Bull Mastiff) and not TO her.

As far as the “whispering doubters”, with all due respect, for goodness sakes!  A human would still be in the hospital on a  morphine drip and using a wheelchair !!   You and Lexie both are on the same page…YOU HAD TO TRY!!!  To not have sone so would have been rhe “regret” and the forever questioning  of  “what if”.  

When she’s  healed from the surgery itself, visits with a good Rehab  Specialist  will do wonders.  

Keep us posted!  We’re  all cheering for Lexie!

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!

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15 April 2019 - 6:51 am
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Thank you for the kind words and the moral boost pep talk. That last post was written around 1AM in the throes of a mini mental breakdown 🙈 but both Lexie and I are doing much better today.

The epidural and pain meds were definitely still taking a toll on her that first Saturday back home. By Sunday, the Lexie I know and love was back 100% and in fine form. I’ve heard so many stories from these forums and other groups I’m a part of that the dogs undergo personality changes, depression, aggression, etc. I’ve also heard some dogs are just grateful thebpainful limb is gone. Right now, Lexie is snug within that category.

This morning Lexie took her first unassisted steps across the living room. She’s been hopping from one bed to another on her own all of yesterday, but this is her first hop around the house without help.

I asked if she wanted to go peepees and for the first time since her diagnosis she went for the back door! We have a single step off the deck, and the yard was an icy mess when she first started losing mobility in her cancerous leg. I don’t know if she slipped out there when I wasn’t looking or if she just became concerned at the possibility, but she developed an aversion to the yard and spent nearly a month going on leashed potty breaks out the front door. Watching her take her first solo 3-legged steps, and straight for the back yard? It was pretty spectacular.

right now she’s blowing my expectations away and right out the water, but if/when she hits setbacks, and hardships, and road blocks from here on out, I’m more confident in our (and more importantly Lexie’s) ability to get through them.

New Hampshire
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15 April 2019 - 7:51 am
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Whew!!  Congrats to you and Lexie!!

I remember watching my guy go through this… I watched with doubts and regrets and tears immediately after surgery …  and then about 9 days after surgery, I watched him hop around our back yard. Sniff-out pee spots. I saw his posture ‘relax’ (every step was soo much more tense with that diseased leg)… and at the end of his walk around the yard. He hopped backed to me and nudged me for pets. That was the FIRST nudge for an ear scratch in a long time. Then we hopped back to the front door and made our way up the stairs and inside. I was so worried while he was completely cool.

Another day, I bent over to put on my shoes/tie my laces as we were getting ready to go outside and he leaned in and gave me a doggy kiss. I was surprised and then I realized that he hadn’t done that in over a month. (He was a super affectionate dog… and the diseased leg was totally eroding so many of his normal, happy habits.) Seeing his normal behaviors return *SHOWED* me that Amputation was the right thing for us, even when friends/Family disagreed.

It’s not easy. But when the normal behavior return you realize that it’s totally worth it… and i’m glad you’re beginning seeing the other side now.

If you’re able, try to do your best to stay ahead of the arthritis … my guy was about 13 and we ended up doing Adequan injections (super expensive, but effective for him). I would have loved to try some of the traditional things (dasaquin?, cosequin?) but my guy had an extremely sensitive tummy and couldn’t handle those pills.

I look forward to hearing about Lexie, wishing you the best!!

The Rainbow Bridge



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15 April 2019 - 8:47 am
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YEAH! Oh wow she is making remarkable pawgress. And if that was your idea of a mental breakdown at 1 am, well, fear not, you’ve got this handled pretty darn well if you ask me!

Everything she is already doing has all the makings of a great recovery, we are so proud and happy for her and you too. Take things slow and even if she wants to do more, use care. 

Oh and about the weight loss recommendation…keeping your dog slimmer than the breed type is ideal when they lose a leg. You definitely want her a bit underweight, that’s a good thing. It will help with her arthritis pain relief too.

Just bark if you have any questions, we’ll be waiting for pupdates. 

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Virginia




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15 April 2019 - 1:28 pm
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Yeah, I agree with Jerry.  If that post was a “mental breakdown”, I can’t  imagine  what  “sane and positive” moments look like!  You weren’t even close to the kinds of “breakdowns” most of us can wallow in around here!!  And besides, don’t  ever hesitate  to have any of those “less good moments” around here!  We need to vent among friends sometimes!

Emerson and Jerry have you good input and perspective.   Continue  to go slow and easy.  You’ve  already seen, every seemingly “little improvement” is a HUGE VICTORY  during recovery!!!  To see Lexie already show some of her routine and sparkle  come back soooo early realkynis spectacular! Just more proof that the bum leg had to go!!

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!

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16 April 2019 - 3:54 pm
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Glad I didn’t come off completely unhinged 😂 I guess the benefit of the internet is you can’t see the tear stains on the paper. But it is nice to get it off your chest and have such nice people to listen and lend their support. 

Lexie’s still doing pretty good so she’s making this process pretty easy for me overall. We took off her bandage last night, which was a long uncomfortable process for everyone since it might as well have been superglued to her skin. I’m going to be honest, I could have waited until her hair grew back in full before taking a look at it, but I have to admit it looks good! Clean, no weeping, no drainage, no puss or swelling or bruising. The bruising she did have was lower on her belly in the flesh surrounding the bandage, not the incision itself, and even that has faded by today. 

We did have a restless, sleepless night last night. I think the exposed incision was a bit uncomfortable for her and she was having trouble getting comfy without switching sides. When we woke up this morning her remaining leg was a bit swollen in the ankle/hock area. I’m not sure if that’s from squishing it all night, or just normal fluid swelling, but I’m pretty sure I remember her having the same thing after her TPLO a few years back. I’ll just keep her quiet and maybe ice it a few times a day and monitor before panicking.

as for the weight loss, I’m totally okay with it, I know it’ll be easier on her. She is already less thrilled with the idea 😂 Lexie is a foodie. But I already managed to get her down by 3lbs pre-op, so hopefully we can keep that up without any guilt-induced “poor cancer puppy” treats getting in the way!

For her arthritis, she’s been on and off about a hundred different supplements over the years😂 I recently bought an LED/near infrared  light therapy pad that has a lot of research supporting its treatment of arthritis, so fingers crossed. We’re also planning some rehab sessions when she’s ready, so I think that’ll be helpful.

Thanks again guys! I’ll pop back in with any other concerns as they come, and I’m sure they’ll come 🙈

The Rainbow Bridge



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16 April 2019 - 6:00 pm
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Oh my gosh not unhinged at all, really. Now remember not to cry on your keyboard or you’ll ruin your computer and then we can’t talk to you 😉

Yep, that incision is pretty scary. Our Jerry didn’t have a bandage so we saw it from day 1. Gnarly isn’t it? Yikes. And they don’t even care, they just want the darn thing to heal so it can stop itching.

As for the leg swelling, that’s happened with a few dogs here. Let your vet know if it continues of course. Oftentimes it’s just seroma fluid moving around the body, not a big deal typically.

 hopefully we can keep that up without any guilt-induced “poor cancer puppy” treats getting in the way!

THAT made me laugh! Yep, they do get spoiled. You can keep giving her treats when she gives you those eyes, just aim for the healthier low cal ones like fruits and veggies. Check out our Tripawds Nutrition blog for ideas.

Glad things are moving along!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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18 April 2019 - 7:00 pm
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Good news, the swelling is gone! Sad news, Lexie’s mood seems to be down, her spirits low. Ever since we took the bandage off/the swelling started, she’s been lethargic and low energy. I’m not sure if I should chalk it up to a symptom of the Gabapentin, sore muscles adapting to the new body, the weather, or a mixture of everything. Maybe it’s just a stage in the recovery. God knows any human going through this would be afforded the time to grieve and process emotionally.

Hopefully this tide turns too, and quick. I miss my girl. Some of her favourite people will visit over the weekend, and I think it’ll give her a much needed boost in morale.

Happy Easter to our fellow Tripawd Team🐰💐

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