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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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8.5 Year Old Rottie with Osteosarcoma
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Forum Posts: 6
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14 March 2020 - 9:03 am
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Our “baby” recently was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma in his left shoulder.  He’s been limping, on and off, since November.  We had assumed the limp was from a when he tore his rotator cuff at age 2.  At that point, we did stem cell therapy and it worked very well.  Between November and January, he stopped limping for about 3 weeks.  When he started limping again, we made an appointment to have the stem cell therapy again.  We brought him to the vet for the therapy, she did an xray, and saw the Osteosarcoma.  I’ve spoken to multiple doctors, and they all recommend amputation.  Our concern is his size and his age.  He is 120 pounds, with the bulk of his weight in his chest and head.  Rottie’s life expectancy isn’t much more than 9.  So my biggest question is:  Do I put him through such a drastic surgery, hoping his remaining days are good days?  Or is he going to suffer the last months of his life?  This is absolutely breaking my heart.  I’d appreciate any guidance if you’ve had any type of experience with this.  Thanks.

The Rainbow Bridge



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14 March 2020 - 10:10 am
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Hi Michele and pup. What’s your dog’s name? I’m so sorry you had to join us but glad you posted. We are here to help with whatever path you take. 

He’s a big boy but 120 lbs isn’t that huge really. We’ve had many Rotties in our club, as well as giant Great Danes, Mastiffs and even Saint Bernards. The majority do very, very well with just a few exceptions over the years. Search our blogs and forums for “Rotties” and Giant Breed Dogs and you’ll find excellent examples!

If your vets think he’s a good candidate that’s terrific news, sounds like he’s fit and in good shape. 

Recovery isn’t always a picnic but it’s not always horrible either. With excellent pain management , it makes things so much easier. 

When it comes to this disease, it’s not about the number of days you have left, it’s about giving a good quality of life for whatever time you are together. Quality over quantity is what we say around here. Nobody knows really with or without cancer when our time is up, and to a dog, it’s all about living in the moment. They are so good at that! And when they are, all they want is to feel good. Get rid of the pain and you help your boy live out the rest of his life in a happier way. One way to frame it is to remember you’re not doing this to your dog, you’re doing it for him.

I have to run now but I want you to check out Jerry’s Required Reading List and the Tripawds e-books library if you haven’t already OK? Also, our What to Expect series is also helpful. And don’t be afraid to ask questions, that’s why we are here.

I hope this helps!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Forum Posts: 6
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14 March 2020 - 10:59 am
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Thanks so much for your reply.  My “baby’s” name is Dante.  I agree that it’s his quality of life that matters.  That’s what I’m so unsure about.  I am afraid that amputation will hinder his final days and I don’t want that. I’ll check out your suggestions, and continue to reach out for more.  Thanks again.



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14 March 2020 - 6:20 pm
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Hi Michele & Dante,

Welcome to the club that no one wants to join.  I know unfortunately from experience how Rottie’s develop Osteoscaroma.  I also know the “life expectency” of a Rottie but that is a statistic too.  I just lost my almost 13 year old boy from a tumor on his leg.  I chose not to amputate him because he had arthritis in his back and front feet.  If it wasn’t for those two things I probably would have.  Bosch was healthy otherwise. 

Sassy is the reason I joined Tripawds.  She was 6 when diagnosed with Osteo.  She lived 10 months with cancer and 7 3/4 of those with lung mets.  She was 130 pounds when she had her amputation.  She did awesome.  Each dog is different.  You know the health of your dog.  Would I do what I did again.  Yes.  I gave Sassy a fighting chance. 

My thing is this.  You don’t want to regret not trying.  No pressure here.  I agree if your vet thinks he is a good candidate that is awesome.  Besides many Rotties live longer than that “life expectancy”.

we do have a blog you can read about fair warning though you do have to go back to the beginning of it because I have shared recently about my other babies too.

hugs and best wishes

Michelle & Angels Sassy, Bosch and Baby Simba

sassymichelle-sm.jpg

Sassy is a proud member of the Winter Warriors. Live long, & strong Winter Warriors.
sassysugarbear.tripawds.com
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."

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15 March 2020 - 7:39 am
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Michelle,

I am so sorry about Sassy and Bosch. It’s awful to watch them suffer, and such and incredible loss when they’re gone. Thanks for the encouraging words.  Dante is still so full of life, and is the most expressive dog I’ve ever seen.  I need to decide very soon which way we’re going to go.  I feel, as you  said, I need to give Dante a fighting chance, or I’ll never forgive myself.  

Who is Baby Simba?

Thanks,

Michele and Dante



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15 March 2020 - 8:52 am
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Baby Simba was my 8 month old Rottie that passed away on Feb 8th from Sub aortic Stenosis.  That is the narrowing of the aortic heart valve.  Not long enough life.

Michelle & Angels Sassy, Bosch & Baby Simba

sassymichelle-sm.jpg

Sassy is a proud member of the Winter Warriors. Live long, & strong Winter Warriors.
sassysugarbear.tripawds.com
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."

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15 March 2020 - 10:59 am
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Oh my goodness.  I am so very sorry.



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15 March 2020 - 11:31 am
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Thank you.

sassymichelle-sm.jpg

Sassy is a proud member of the Winter Warriors. Live long, & strong Winter Warriors.
sassysugarbear.tripawds.com
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."

The Rainbow Bridge



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15 March 2020 - 3:29 pm
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micheled2011 said
 I am afraid that amputation will hinder his final days and I don’t want that.

Can’t blame you for worrying about that. Anyone who’s been through it has the same fears. In almost every case, it’s not the amputation that causes a degraded quality of life, but the cancer’s progression. Cats and dogs are so much more resilient than we give them credit for.

Dante is a great name! 

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
Latest Tripawds News
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16 March 2020 - 7:54 am
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Thanks.  Dante is a strong, sweet boy.  If anyone can come out of this with a good attitude, it’s him.  I just pray his other 3 legs can hold up his big chest and head.  

The Rainbow Bridge



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16 March 2020 - 10:33 am
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You would be surprised at how strong he is. When it comes to a missing limb, the real strength isn’t necessarily in the legs, it’s in the body’s core muscles. So as long as he is fit, and not overweight, and you keep him lean on 3, he can do fine even with that big ol’ bod.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
Latest Tripawds News
Read my story here.

Support the Tripawds Foundation!

Virginia




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16 March 2020 - 2:19 pm
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We know this is a lot to process and a very stressful and scary time for you. We get it. You are doing a good job of asking questions and getting your research done.

We can tell you that age and size don’t matter per se. It’s about how fit a dog is and how much zest for life he has. It sounds like Dante has been evaluated and has been deemed to be fit and still has plenty of zest for life.

My Happy Hannah was 125 lb big headed big chested Bullmastiff. She was 8 and 1/2 when she had her surgery.  I was so scared  at first that I even can the scheduled surgery.  Then her pain got so bad, I proceeded with fear and tears!!!  Recovery was no picnic for a couple of weeks and, like so many here, at first I questioned my decision. I didn’t find this site until day 6 after her amputation. That’s when I really got great information and support and was thrown a Lifeline to pull me back from the edge. I found out how to manage her pain better and found out that the recovery she was having was  “normal one”. for a dog recovering  from  major surgery!!

She had a great quality  extended  pain free life for over a year!  And it was a glorious  time!! I. crammed in more .loving, more spoiling, more fun, more tummy rubs than most dogs ever get in ten lifetimes!!!  It’s  all about making the most of every moment,  and staying in that moment, with no worries  about the tomorrows.   Be More Dog !

Let us know as questions arise.  We support you no matter  what path uou take, okay?? Any decision  out of love is the right decision. ❤

Hugs

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

PS….What pain meds now, does and frequency?

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 March 2020 - 7:29 pm
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Sally,

Thanks for your encouraging words and support.  Your Hannah was the same age as Dante is now. 

It’s such a scary decision, I just don’t know what is right.  I only know that Dante is still Dante, and I feel I need to give him a chance at continuing to be him.  I keep hearing two weeks after surgery, they’re much better.  But it sounds like it’s a really rough couple of weeks.  What did you do to get through those first couple of weeks?  

Currently he’s on Meloxicam (once a day), Gabupentin (twice a day), and Amantadine (once a day).  He’s still limping terribly, so I don’t know how much it’s helping.

Thanks again,

Michele

Virginia




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16 March 2020 - 8:11 pm
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I can share my thouht process, as well as some of my panic,  it helps. And, again, this was before I found Tripawds and it’s  just.me, my dogs.  I was soooo alkne amd scared and panicked and hysterical.. I vacillated between doing “it” and not for dozens and dozens of times.  Ti does sound like Dante is where my Hapoy Hannah qas as far as pain.  The meds were starting  to have to be increased and the results were not as effect as they had been.  The day she held her leg up was when I made the appointment…well, the first appointment. I mentioned I canceled  the first surgery.  I think it probably  no more than a week later I rescheduled snd followed thru.

What could I live with and not have any regret…or as little as possible.  Yes, this is a scary “forced choice” to make, but it must be made one way or another.

…. If I just tried to manage the pain for as long as possible and not do anything further, would I second guess myself? Would I have regret?

…..If I did surgery and, for whatever UNFORSEEN reason, things didn’t  “go well”, during, or after the surgery.   Would   I forever second guess my decision and regret it?

…..If I proceeded with surgery, it was successful  and we got excellent  extended  quality  time.  Well, obviously  I would be thrilled that I made such a good decision!!!

…..Then, it came down to this:  If I didn’t  do anything and at least give her a chance, would I forever wonder “What if”…, “if only”….

For me, I KNEW I had to give her a chance.  I KNEW she would want me to give her a chance!  What would Dante want??

I could live with trying to give her a chance, regardless of the outcome, far better than never trying…never knowing what could be possible.

Every dog’s recovery is different.  Generally… but not always…dogs need short leashed potty breaks and rest, rest, rest for about two weeks. No jumping, no running, no stairs, just lots of rest and time for the surgical site to heal.  It generally takes about two weeks for surgery recovery  and then about thirty days to adjust smoothly to their three legger gait.

Some dogs are mobile (or somewhat mobile) within 24 hours, some take several days.  Larger dogs and front legger dogs sometimes  need an extra few days for mobility.   We can show you how to make a towel aling ot ise a harness  if extra help is needed at first.

pain management   can be a bit tricky and can need some tweaking off and on with your Vet’s guidance.  Most dogs come home with Gabapentin,  Tramadol,  Rimadyl and an antibiotic.   Some dogs are a bit restless  and whiny at first (mg Hapoy Hannah was) and some dogs just lay around a sleep.  Again, each dog is different.

It took me about three weeks before I could finally say I did this FOR my Happy Hannah and not TO her.  I started seeing her sparkle come back and it was the best feeling evvvver!!!

Shouild you go that route, we are here with you the whole way!  YOU ARE NOT ALONE!  

So talk with Dante.  See what he would want.  

((((((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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