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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

Tripawds is your home 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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Member Since:
18 January 2012
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2 May 2012 - 12:14 am
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Glad you found us - sorry you needed to.  It is such a tough decision - and it has to be made so fast!  It seems like you should have more time with such a big decision, but no such luck.  We chose to amputate fast and get rid of the pain.  We also chose not to do the chemo, although many do and some have good results.  Like others have said, you'll have time to decide about that after the amp.  Rennie is so young, the chances are great that he'll get comfortable on his 3 legs very quickly.  Good luck with whatever you decide.


Hugs and Slobbers

Judy and Baby

Update on Rennie
28 May 2012 - 2:06 pm
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Hi everyone!


Thank you once again on everyone's input on Ren's condition.  I am happy to report back that he is now 3 weeks post amp on his right hind leg and is doing great.  No major issues.  He is eating well and gaining strength in his other leg.  But now we are struggling with what to do next.  I know chemo is the next step in the process but I am not convinced it is the correct step.  My understanding is that it can cause more problems than what it is suppose to help with.  I realize that removing the leg will not cure the disease that still exists in his body but everything I have read convinces me that chemo is not a guarantee to extend his life and could cause other issues such as liver and kidney damage, not to mention another large expense to absorb.  Can anyone else give me an idea as to what they have experienced, particularly if you chose not to do chemo and what I can possibly expect?  My goal is reduce his current weight (thus taking unnecessary weight off his remaining back leg), slowly but surely strengthen it, boost his immune system to ward off any potential decline in overall health, and replace his current brand of food with natural ingredients instead.  Any other advice?  Does anyone recommend the holistic method or using a metronomic chemo instead of the full blown chemotherapy as suggested by Ren's surgeon? 

Las Vegas, Nevada
Member Since:
14 August 2009
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28 May 2012 - 6:37 pm
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Glad to hear Ren is doing better! 

I'll let someone else respond to your chemo questions to share their experience.

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.

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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28 May 2012 - 6:43 pm
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It's so great to hear that Ren is doing well! That is wonderful news, thanks for letting us know.

Chemo isn't right for every dog, it's a very personal decision that we have to make based on our dog's best interest, not standard protocol. A good oncologist will tell you this as well. It sounds like you've talked to one already? That's good! What kind of options did they give you?

We've had lots of talk here about chemo, and why folks choose as well as why they don't. Search the Treatment and Recovery forum for some threads. Meanwhile these posts may help you decide:

Treatment and Recovery: Why Didn't You Do Chemo

Treatment and Recovery: Regrets About Chemotherapy?

Metronomic Chemotherapy for Canine Cancer

I suggest looking into Dr. Demian Dressler's Dog Cancer Survival Guide. We really believe in his "full spectrum approach" that combines the best of traditional chemotherapy and holistic medicine, while taking cost into consideration. The book is awesome and he provides tons of support when you're in this tough situation.

The best thing you can do right now is to consult with your oncologist and a veterinarian you have a good relationship with. Once you have all of the information in front of you, you can make an educated decision about what's right for Ren.

In the meantime, we will be here to support you no matter what. Keep us posted!

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

St. Louis, MO
Member Since:
16 September 2011
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28 May 2012 - 8:12 pm
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I'm glad that Ren is doing so well after amp!  Sending lots of positive thoughts and prayers to Ren!'

Hugs and chocolate labby kisses,

Ellen & Charley


DOB: 3-29-08, male chocolate lab  
Dx: OSA L proximal humerus 10-19-10

Amputation: L front leg & scapula 10-28-10

Chemo: 5 rounds of Carboplatin

Video (12 weeks post amp):Tripaw Charley Playing

♥♥♥ Lots of supplements and love!!! ♥♥♥

Member Since:
25 March 2012
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28 May 2012 - 8:22 pm
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Love Ren's face and the sock in his mouth.  Looks familiar.  So happy to hear his recovery from surgery is going well.  He well amaze you daily.  Sending more pawsitive thoughts his way. Happy hopping!


Heather & Spirit Shadow

western Washington
Member Since:
7 June 2010
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28 May 2012 - 10:10 pm
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That's so fantastic that Ren is doing well!
I will voice in on the chemo.......
Our Kona had osteo and we had her right rear leg amuputated, then did the chemo route, like you, thinking that we, like everyone here, wanted to give our girl every possible chance......
For Kona, I will say that she did experience damage to her digestive tract which we really believe sent her on a downward spiral, weakening her and opening the door for additional problems and her loss of life.
Every pup is different.
Every case is different.
For us, we wish that we hadn't gone forward with the chemo.

Hugs and pawsitive thoughts for your tough Ren !


Kona turned 9yrs on April 16, 2010.
Kona was diagnosed Memorial Weekend 2010 with osteosarcoma.
Right rear leg amputated on June 4th. First chemo June 18th 2010
Second chemo July 9th, 2010      Third and final (yea !!!) chemo July 30th, 2010
ONE TOUGH GIRL this Australian Cattledog !

***Kona's journey/fight ended late in the evening of December 22, 2010***

                               We Love you so much Kona….always   

  Bella 9yrs, albino lab/aussie shep/pit?(abandoned in mts as a puppy) deaf & blind (from birth) in one eye limited vision in other.(laid back, ok lazy 73 lbs)

Cotton, 5yrs, albino hound/terrier of somesort/???(abandoned in mts as a puppy) deaf & blind in one eye(from birth), excellent vision in seeing eye. (ball addict…destroyer of Kong balls…yes,etc), high energy 55lbs knots of muscle)

Kona Kai's pup brother and sister as well as her buddy and playmate cat, Shaymous 12yrs (like Seamus), miss her terribly.

Pahrump, NV
Member Since:
17 February 2010
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28 May 2012 - 11:39 pm
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I'm so glad to hear that Ren is doing well after surgery! The chemo decision is a little harder to make. My Sadie (who is not the dog in my avatar....I'm on my 2nd tripawd smiley), had osteosarcoma in her right front shoulder blade. She was about 7yrs old and we went the chemotherapy route. Sadie tolerated it very well. She never got sick (maybe a little tired the day or 2 after), never had nausea or diarrhea. She never got lung mets (the most common metastasis.) Unfortunately, she did get another bone tumor in her rear knee. I do not regret doing chemo, but I also know that it is not for everyone. Cost and side effects are definitely limiting factors. There are other options, that I know others here can tell you about those. A lot of people try chemo with the understanding that they can quit if the side effects decrease quality of life. Let's face it, THAT is what it's all about anyway. Good luck, I'm also sending happy, healing thoughts!


Sadie is my 9yr old Rott/Shepherd mix. Diagnosed with osteosarcoma in her right scapula 1/28/10. Our brave girl had her amputation 2/13/10 and her last chemotherapy on 6/6/10. Unfortunately, a tumor appeared in her back right leg and on 10/7/2010 Sadie's earthly journey came to an end.  On 10/24/2010 we adopted Ranger, a handsome Rott/Lab mix tripawd (got hit by a car) I think Sadie sent him to us.

29 May 2012 - 8:52 am
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Good to hear Ren is doing so well!

Chemo or not to chemo is a hard decision.  My bottom line is that what ever decision you make you need to be comfortable and confident so there are no 'what ifs' later (at least not too many!!).

I have chosen to do chemo once for Tri-pug Maggie, and not to do chemo for quad-pug Tani. Keep in mind they have/had mast cell cancer not OSA, and the chemo regimen is different, but I think the decision making process might be the same. You have to weigh all the factors- your feelings about chemo, finances, location, age of the dog, other health issues....etc.

When Maggie had her amputation I was thinking that post amp we would be done, at worse chemo might be recommended to be sure we got it.  Pre surgery there was no indication of cancer mets anywhere. Then the path report came back- the cancer was confirmed to be in her lymph system. Chemo was then offered as a palliative treatment, we were hoping to get 6 to 9 months. Maggie's comfort and life quality were the most important thing we considered when choosing the regimen we did.  Mag surprised everyone and lived almost 4 years, beating the mast cell cancer.

Maggie did develop kidney failure, but was not diagnosed until 3 years after her chemo was done, although she was showing signs a couple months earlier, I just didn't catch it. I asked our oncologist then if she thought they were related and she said no.  Recent studies now indicate that one of the drugs Mag was on can cause kidney issues- but I'm unclear if those issues come up right away- or years later like Maggie.  She was almost 11 when diagnosed with the kidney failure so who knows if it was age or the chemo drugs.  Maggie actually passed from an oral melanoma tumor; the kidney failure did not allow us to treat the melanoma aggressively.

Quad pug Tani has re-curing mast cell tumors, she has had 8 all together. When her cancer re-appeared just over a year ago I chose not to do chemo, although one vet recommended it.  She has many health issues, and frankly the cancer is not my biggest concern for her.  I have just treated her with supplements and a quality diet.  Recently we started seeing a holistic/eastern med vet.

So it goes back to considering all the variables.  I do not regret choosing chemo for Maggie- even if the kidney failure was a result.  When a dog has cancer in the lymph system the prognosis is not good- you are not thinking years down the line.  I do wish I knew to watch for the signs of kidney failure- so I would have maybe caught it sooner.  I am also comfortable with the non-chemo decision I made for Tani.  She is almost 12 and is enjoying her senior years.

Good luck with your decision.


Karen and the pugapalooza

San Diego, CA
Member Since:
29 October 2010
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29 May 2012 - 12:14 pm
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Glad to hear Ren is doing well.

We did chemo, but Abby loved going for her sessions and was very minimally affected by it. It's not for everyone, that's for sure. Post IV-chemo, we also did metronomic protocol with holistic stuff mixed in - what I call a "halflistic" approach, cuz it wasn't wholly holistic. Traditional meds-wise, we did Cytoxan and Piroxicam, and we also tried Palladia (for 3 mo. Had to abandon it due to GI issues) and then tried Masitinib (v. similar to Palladia). Holistic-wise, we did artemisinin , plus other supplements (Fish oil, Vit C&E, K9 Immunity , and butyrex - which is supposed to help the arte do its thing).

If you have questions about any of it, you can PM me. I would also recommend the Dr. Dressler book - it was a life saver when I was feeling overwhelmed by all the options out there.

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!

Rock Hill, SC
Member Since:
28 November 2011
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29 May 2012 - 1:47 pm
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We chose chemo (six rounds of Carboplatin for Zeus) and here are my thoughts in a nutshell:

Although I do not regret doing chemo, I will stress that you must be prepared to alter the course if your dog doesn't do well on it.  He tolerated the first dose fine.  Every dose after that had to be postponed by one week b/c his WBC count was too low to go forward.  Treatments two through five we noticed lethargy (effects are cumulative, so it got a bit worse with each treatment) but he only threw up once and had one time of diarreah.  Until treatment six I had no regrets.

The week prior to treatment six Zeus seemed to have a bug of some sort.  When we went in for the treatment his blood work was fine and I went ahead with treatment despite my gut feeling that he wasn't up to it.  He seemed to have a really, really hard time after that last treatment (ended up with an infection and had to spend the night in the hospital) and I wish I had postponed it or even stopped at five treatments.  Unfortunately, only hindsight is 20/20.

We are the type who have a real need to fight this cancer crap with every weapon we have.  Otherwise I really believe we will have regrets.  That said, if you also have the desire to pursue all avenues I completely understand but keep in mind that you can always stop if your dog is not handling it as expected.

Good luck!

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...

Sydney, Australia
Member Since:
13 September 2011
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29 May 2012 - 4:51 pm
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Like Zeus I did 6 rounds of chemo with Carboplatin and we also had to postpone a couple due to low WBC count.  The last 2 rounds were tougher on Magnum but her only symptom was lethargy for a few days, although she was more nauseous in the car the entire time she was on chemo.  I wouldn't change that treatment plan if I had the time over agin, I still think Magnum tolerated it well.

We also did 4 weeks of metronomics with Palladia when the lung mets showed up and it did seem to be keeping the mets under control. But, it gave Magnum GI issues.  If I had that time again I'd still try it but I'd insist on her having meds to protect the tummy from day 1 and I'd be more vigilant about stopping it if she still had GI issues.  I think the worst suffering she endured during her "extra time" was the bleeding in her tummy that happened after 4 weeks on Palladia.  She was so sick.  I can't stress enough the importance of taking protective meds for the tummy as a preventative when taking Palladia.

Like Zeus, I would have had regrets if I hadn't tried chemo, but that's me.  Everyone is different and every cancer and every dog is different.

I'd also recommend Dr Demian Dresslers' book. It provides an excellent guide to understanding the cancer and treatment options.

Good luck.


Karen and Spirit Magnum

Magnum: 30th May 2002 to 5th May 2012. Lost her back left leg to osteosarcoma on 5th Sep 2011. Lung mets found on 20th Mar 2012 but it was bone mets in the hip that ended her brave battle. Magnum's motto - "Dream as if you'll live for ever, live as if you'll die today" (James Dean). Loyal, loving, courageous and spirited to the end. My beloved heart dog, see her memoirs from Rainbow Bridge ......

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