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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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10 yr old Lab Mix: decisions
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Member Since:
20 October 2022
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20 October 2022 - 8:07 pm
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Hello all,

I’ve been struggling with this decision for a very long time. My 10 yr old lab mix, Max, has a soft tissue sarcoma in his left hind knee.  We had it removed and it grew back bigger.  We removed it again and told they can’t get it all because it is inside his knee. It grew back faster and bigger, as we were told it would.

He is the problem, he has a torn ACL in his good (right) hind leg. We can fix the right ACL then amputate the left but we are not sure how he will handle this. He is pretty sedentary since his leg hurts so pretty out of shape. He seems happy but doesn’t play like he used to.  My fear is also there is more cancer. 5 years ago he had jaw cancer and part of his jaw removed!  He looks and acts fine after that but I have that thought he will just get cancer somewhere else. I don’t want to torture him with procedures but I also don’t want to lose him.

Side note, I had 3 dogs. His litter mate was put down last year due to a mass that was keeping her from being able to defecate. It could not be removed.  Then my Great Dane died a few months later (she was 10 and had pancreatitis and that all happened really fast).  I don’t know if I can lose my last dog. My vet tells me there is a chance he just won’t respond well and we’d have to put him down and I really don’t want to push up his death date.

Thanks for any advice or thoughts you may have.

The Rainbow Bridge


Member Since:
25 April 2007
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21 October 2022 - 10:36 am
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Hi Cherie and Max, welcome. Your future posts won’t need to wait for approval so please post away.

I’m sorry for so much heartache, and that you are faced with this tough decision. It’s hard enough when the situation is straightforward but when there’s other conditions to consider it’s really, really tough. You aren’t alone in this though, we are here to help make it easier somehow.

Where are you located? electrochemotherapy or intralesional chemotherapy are good alternatives when amputation is questionable or not feasible. I really encourage you to look into that. Follow our links for details about these procedures. They are limb-sparing options that aren’t commonly practiced here in the US but very much so outside the country. Some members here have had great success with how it keeps cancer under control and sometimes actually eliminates the tumors.

He is the problem, he has a torn ACL in his good (right) hind leg. We can fix the right ACL then amputate the left but we are not sure how he will handle this. 

Has he been evaluated by an orthopedic surgeon yet? 

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21 October 2022 - 10:48 am
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Thank you for the information.  I am in Omaha. NE which limits me some to newer treatments.  His jaw surgery was at Iowa State Univ. (4 hrs away).  So chemo trips that distance is difficult but also it sounded like 10s of thousands of dollars. Yes I love him but that is excessive and still leaves me with the thought of more cancer showing since he seems to be susceptible to cancer.

He has seen an orthopedic surgeon who evaluated him and told me he could fix the ACL and amputate the other. He also gave me the option to have my regular vet do the amputation but I’d prefer the specialist to do that if we go that route. Max does have arthritis and that is managed fine with Carprofen.

I will take some time to read the articles you sent. I appreciate the everything you send my way!

Virginia




Member Since:
22 February 2013
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21 October 2022 - 11:19 am
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Clearly Max is a very loved boy.  And he has two very special Guardian Angels watching over him.and you♥️

Have to head to work, but just wanted to quickly  add this link for you to read

https://tripawd…..-recovery/

Hang in there!  You’re  definitely  in the right place for guidance and support!

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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18 November 2022 - 12:21 pm
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I contacted/searched to find alternatives for his sarcoma and unfortunately nothing suggested is available to me in my area.  The other issue is the sarcoma is rapidly growing which is quickly closing up any additional options.

As of Monday, we are halfway to the amputation. On Monday he had his TPLO on the non-cancer (good) leg.  He’s doing OK but the first day home was rough and made me worry about the upcoming amputation. The first day home he refused to get up and refused help (would roll on his back). But the 2nd day he was getting up on his own, after being prompted and today he does get up without prompting. It’s rare but he’s doing it.

Due to the size of the sarcoma they don’t want to wait the 1-2 months they initially suggested and want to do this 2 weeks post TPLO if he is healing well. That is how fast this sarcoma is growing and if we wait too long it will be in his groin and amputation won’t do any good.

I felt like I should update since I put the question out there. I do appreciate the advice.

The Rainbow Bridge


Member Since:
25 April 2007
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18 November 2022 - 8:56 pm
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Hi Cherie, thank you so much for coming back to let us know how things are going. It stinks that the tumor is growing so fast, but I’m so glad Max is moving through the TPLO recovery, that’s wonderful! It all sounds spot-on like how it’s supposed to go. And if it’s any comfort, that recovery is far worse than amputation surgery recovery. It’s much more confining for the dog, lots more to consider to help the dog heal. Amputation surgery recovery is pretty straightforward. not super easy but easier, and as long as the pain is managed well, it’s just a few weeks and then Max can get back to doing what he loves (with some modifications, “the new normal” as we call it). 

Be sure to check out our What to Expect articles and the Tripawds Recovery Shopping List when you get a chance. We are keeping our paws crossed for more good news!

Virginia




Member Since:
22 February 2013
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19 November 2022 - 11:49 am
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You and  Max are certainly confronted with lot of hurdles, but you are knocking them down one by one.

Glad to hear Max is responding  so well to his surgery.   The challenge of going basically straight  into the amputation  has to be seen daunting,  to say the least.  You can use the next two weeks to gauge this reco, weight bearing, etc.  Certainly  not a Vet and not giving   et advice, but it would seem if you needed an additional  weeks-ish after the two week mark that would  be okay.  You and your Bet can monitor  the sarcoma atthat point.

Please know we are all cheering for you and Max.  Your bond, your devotion,  quite admirable ♥️  You’ve got this!!!  We’re  rightby your side the whole way!.

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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20 October 2022
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1 December 2022 - 10:10 am
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Max is scheduled for his hind leg amputation Monday morning (12/5).  Excited and scared at the same time. My biggest fears are him not responding well to getting up or the cancer has spread too far. It’s so close to his groin now.  His TPLO on his non cancer leg will be 3 weeks post op at time of amputation. He is doing excellent on that leg but we are asking a lot of it after the amputation. Ideally we would have waited 2 months.

I now have area rugs and harnesses, etc in preparation. I learned from his TPLO that our floors are very slippery!  The area rugs make it so much easier for him to get up.  He hates slings/harnesses so this is an added challenge.  When you try to help lift him he just flops onto his back.

Virginia




Member Since:
22 February 2013
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1 December 2022 - 11:44 am
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Of course this is scary to move forward.  Sray focused on the fact that t’s a plan to give him extended  quality  time for more loving and spoiling. .

At this point up you can only rely on the “professionals ” as far as concluding it hasn’t  spread and that his TPLO has recovered  enough for amputation.   

The other thing you can rely on is how well Max has handled  his TPLO surgery.  Had to chuckle at how he hates help of any kind.  I can relate with my tripawd and when I tried to help him.   Yeah, Max  is a “do it his way or not at all”!  The “good” about that is he is strong willed and determined and that will help in his recovery..

Just know we will be here to help you navigate through all this as best we can.  Come on Max! You can do this!   

Hugs

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!

PS…..And definitely continue  keeping those floors covered👍 

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


Member Since:
25 April 2007
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1 December 2022 - 10:00 pm
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I agree, Max sounds like a very determined and strong boy who can handle this surgery! Yes you are asking a lot, but you are also well-prepared and know what to expect now that you’ve joined us here. We will be with you two every step of the way.

It’s not unusual for dogs to not like assistance with a sling. Have it handy just in case he’s super wobbly at first, but also see if Max really wants to try to potty himself when he comes home. Most dogs will, a few need a sling. It just depends on each individual dog. Sounds like you’ve gotten your house as ready as it can be.

Do you have help for his first week at home? Will you be able to have assistance when you take him home from the vet? 

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