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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 yo Male German Shepherd with osteosarcoma on hind right hock.
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5 August 2021 - 11:03 am
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Hello everyone!  My name is Amy and I am mom to almost 8yo Gunnar, a male 90 pound German Shepherd. He became lame on his right rear leg with a mass on his hock almost one month ago and, after seeing his regular vet soon after, has recently seen an ortho specialist. They thought it could be aspergilla fungus but tests this week proved it looks ‘most likely’ like a tumor instead and the fungus is all but ruled out. Radiographs show a lot of lysis in the bone. We are still waiting on more results from the aspiration on his left rear leg since the radiographs show some  deterioration there as well before we move on to the biopsy. The word amputation has been thrown around since day one so I am mentally accepting of this. My concern is ‘life expectancy after surgery’ and if he is an ‘amputee candidate’. Radiographs of his chest are clear and aspirations of his lymph nodes near the mass are also clear. Any advice on a similar experience you’ve had is greatly appreciated! 

The Rainbow Bridge



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5 August 2021 - 3:40 pm
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Hi Amy and Gunnar! I'm so glad you decided to start a topic all your own.

So it sounds like you caught this early, and that Gunnar could be a good candidate for amputation if you decide to go that route. It also sounds like he is getting great care, and your vets are doing everything right to rule out other conditions and only amputate if necessary. Team Gunnar has the situation under control!

Now, the hardest part about this is not how Gunnar deals with it, but how you will. This is always harder on us than our dog or cat. We carry the burden of knowing all that information and it is hard. But right now, check out Gunnar. He doesn't care that he possibly has cancer, right? All he wants is to feel better again! Whatever form that takes, it all that he wants in this world. He's not thinking about the life expectancy of osteosarcoma, or feeling sad that he may have cancer. So follow his lead, because your good attitude is the best medicine for him!

Unfortunately this experience you are having is not at all uncommon. You're in great company. Most of us here have dealt with cancer and much of it was osteosarcoma. And as I mentioned in that other post, many dogs will go on to defy the odds and have a great quality of life for however long they have left. Some will go years, some will not, but the important thing is that they enjoyed that time pain-free and with the people they love. Our own Jerry was Gunnar's age when he was diagnosed, and he went on to live out the typical life expectancy of a German Shepherd.

Some things that will give you confidence if you decide:

The Tripawds Quality of Life Survey

Jerry's Required Reading List

and our What to Expect articles .

Of course our e-books library is also full of great material too. But one step at a time. See how the diagnostics go this week, and keep us posted OK? 

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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5 August 2021 - 9:53 pm
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Be sure and read Jerry's post several times.  Full of wisdom and Sage advice.

While  you are waiting feedback in both legs during the up and down roller coaster portion of this journey. follow Gunnar's lead.  The bliss of being dog is he has no worries, just lives effortlessly from one moment to the next.  Gunnar  doesn't  have a timeframe  stamped anywhere on his butt and could care less about days on a calendar. 

Gunnar  does care about being pain free, getting lots of tummy rubs, being spoiled and living life to the fullest.

We know it's hard not to focus on statistics at first.  We all do.  Then we see where many dogs blow statistics  out of the water.  Some don't.   Statistics  just dont mean that much around here one way it another.  What does matter is making every single day count!  Don't  let that piece of crap disease  interfere with your time together take your focus away from living  in the moment....living the now!

We are here for you and with you.  Update when yoj can and we'll take it from there, okay?

Higs

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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12 August 2021 - 8:23 pm
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Thank you all so much for the support and information! Gunnar's biopsies came back and he is cancer free in his left leg! YAY! so now we are on to amputation of the right leg scheduled for Thursday the 19th. We are nervous for him but are also confident that he is otherwise healthy and will come out great on the other end and will be camping and playing with his pack in no time ! I want to make sure he has the best environment for after care at home, what are some things I should prepare for? smiley4

Virginia




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12 August 2021 - 10:43 pm
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So glad you are able to move forward now!  So glad the tests show he is fit and a good candi6 for amputation.   Sure, it's scary, bipit  it's the best path to take to give your sweet bou a quality pain free life!

Check out the ebook Loving Life On Three Legs and Three Legs and a Spare for some good tips.

A couple of things uou can do now to help Gunnar have an easy recovery.  Go ahead and raise his food and water bowls to prevent  strain.

Get some non slip scatter rugs for traction .

Do you have stairs he will have to use  to go in and out?  If at all possible  go ahead and build a ramp (with rails) and have him get use to that.  Obviously not every can I stall a ramp, so you may want to get a harness to help him with the stairs.  Uou can check outmour Gear shop for suggestions. 

No stairs, no jumping or running  and just short leashed potty breaks for the first two weeks-ish.  You'll want a firm Orthopedic  bed for him to help supp his joints, but also to make it eas for him to stand up without  slipping around.  One that is an "investment" but exceptional  is The Big Barker Bed (Gear shop)

Your fully staffed clinic will keep him for the first night.  Sometimes  they stay a night or two longer, just depends on the I individual  dog.

When you go to pick Gunnar up, don even look at his incisioon or draw atte tion to it.  Jist praise him and tell him what a good boy he is and he's going home!  Keep your energy strong and upbeat.

Most dogs come home with Gabapentin,  Tramadol, an a antibiotic  and an anti inflammatory  like Rimadyl.   Most Surgeons now give a nerve block called Novicta that really helps for the short term. Some come home woth a Fentynal  patch.

Sometimes  because the dogs are so hopped up on pain meds, they may act that they can do more than they should.   Once the meds wear off though,there can be a bit of a crash and that's  when tweaking  the meds becomes "interesting ".  Sometimes  though, they can be zonked out at first and, of they have the patch, they can act quite weird!

It's import that Gunner drink water and pee.  Sometimes  not eating much and talking  a few days to poop can happen.  Just give him any yummy food he''ll eat.

Just remember,  recovery doesn't  last furever!  Recovery is no picnic at first., but we'll be here with you the whole way, okay?  We've all been thru stand we can tell yoj Gunner's sparkle will come back bigger and brighter  than before!! Oh, and you will tru be amazed  at how well Gunner adopts to three as he gets further  and further  away from reco!

Just wanted to throw out a few things.  Stay  connected  and ask any ques, o,ay?

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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13 August 2021 - 11:37 am
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WOOHOO! We are glad that he's good to go for surgery so he can get on with doing his favorite things in life! That's wonderful news! 

So I really cannot top the amazing and loving information that Sally shared! I'll add a couple of other links you can check out:

Tripawds Recovery Shopping List

And the Tripawds Foundation Rehab Reimbursement Grant. The foundation can pay for Gunnar's first rehab visit so we really recommend taking advantage of the program. It's so helpful to have a new Tripawd assessed, and get an expert's opinion about the kinds of activities that can help him get strong and stay injury free.

In the days leading up to surgery, try to keep calm and remember that your attitude will set the tone for recovery. So the stronger and more optimistic you are, the more he will sense that and give it back to you. It makes recovery sooo much easier! We call it learning to Be More Dog , and we know you have it in you! Gunnar does too! 

Holler away with any questions, we are here to help. Amputation can be a scary thing but lean on us and it'll be tons easier.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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25 August 2021 - 9:58 am
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Hello all, Gunnar has been home since Friday the 20th and is doing great with his surgery recovery. The fentanyl patch has been removed and I've added in the Gabapentin along with his antibiotics and Carprofen to help chill him out because he is so full of energy and excited to be back in his pack and home. He has a great disposition and the happy loving boy we all know and cherish.

Unfortunately we got heartbreaking news from the Oncologist yesterday icon_cry The biopsy on his removed limb is showing that the osteosarcoma did indeed metastasize into his lymph nodes, so they are not recommending chemotherapy for my boy, the prognosis is no longer positive for an extended life. The expectancy was stated as '60 days' which we just cannot believe. Our hearts are broken. We feel so helpless now where we were once feeling we had some control over this nasty disease. We have vowed to make each day we have left with him a positive, fun and loving one and have started a bucket list to revisit all the places and activities he loves. Any advice on homeopathic remedies is appreciated since we are out of options at this point medically. Thank you all for reading and your support, it means more than you know. Amy and Gunnar 

The Rainbow Bridge



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25 August 2021 - 11:57 am
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Amy, I'm soooo sorry to read this. Cancer is so mean...grrrrr smiley7 You are holding strong with a GREAT attitude, and Gunnar needs that now more than ever. I can tell that you can do this! Remember, nobody can predict the future. Dogs don't have an expiration date stamped on their butt, no matter what the report said. All that matters is making the most of here and now, and you're doing it.

It's great that he is recovering so well, what a rock star smiley10 He doesn't care what the lab report says, all he cares is getting well so he can make the most of every single day. He lives in the moment, and doing so has so many great lessons for us silly humans who obsess about the unknowable future. 

So, there's no chemo about to happen, and IF and when he starts showing any symptoms of metastasis, there are some natural medicine approaches you can take to help him stay comfortable depending on the symptoms. Things like a cough, tiredness, and lack of appetite can manifest, but not always and the things you can do to alleviate the symptoms range from cough medicine to prednisone . Every dog is different. So it's good to be alert to changes, but try not to be hypervigilant (I know it's hard not to obsess, I did it too). Since he's not showing any symptoms now, try to get that out of your mind and focus on the recovery and spoiling him rotten!

Would working with an integrative vet be a possibility? I highly recommend it. If so, the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association directory can help you find a practitioner nearby. I can also help you look for one if you'd like.

And in the meanwhile, remember that the only way cancer can "win" is when you allow it to steal precious time away from you and Gunnar. I know you won't let that happen! Keep us posted and don't forget to share photos, we would love to see them!

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




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25 August 2021 - 5:02 pm
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he is so full of energy and excited to be back in his pack and home. He has a great disposition and the happy loving boy we all know and cherish  

All that matters is Gunnar gets to be Gunnar again and Gunnar is pain free with that bum leg gone!!

Do us a favor,okay?   Read Jerry's post over and over.  Write it down.   Carry it with you.   Absorb it, because  it is all so true!!!  

"Statistics "  just don't  carry much weight around here.  I guess they serve a purpose in that it heightens our awareness to make every single moment the best moment evvvver!.   Our whole focus changes and our dogs well being is all that matters.  Always has been the case, but we learn to Be More Dog .  To live in the bliss of the now just like our dogs.

Our dogs don't  give a rat's ass about reports or statistics  or prognosis.   They do love all the spoiling  though and getting to do whatever they want anytime they want!

A couple of pups come to mind who did listen when the Bet gave their hooman a "statistic ".  Stubborn Pug Maggie's hooman was told she "had about  three to six months" (may have been less, can't  reme exactly).  Stubborn Pug Maggie didn't  listen.  She passed FOUR years later!!   Founder dog Jerry another example  of blowing statistics  out of the water!   Dog Murphy was given about six months and rocked it on three for about another three years.

When my Happy Hannah's "report" came back it said no lymph node tissue was presented.   The Surgeon  had already "suggested" there was lymph node involvement.   The Onco had them double check the report.  Nope, no tissue.  The surgeon said it must have been so destroyed that the sample basically disintegrated!!  Say whaaaat?Prognosis schmognosis!      My Happy Hannah headed to The Rainbow Bridge a year and two months later.

So glad that Gunnar is having a good recovery.   Aounds like you've got the pain well managed.   Good job.

Extra hugs.......and extra cookies to Gunnar for us.

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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28 August 2021 - 7:20 am
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I am so sorry to hear the news. Brownie was given two to three months at time of amputation. All dogs are different but Brownie lived an additional one year and eight days without chemo. So as mentioned earlier don't go by statics. Just embrace each day and love on that boy. 

Sending positive thoughts your way❤️

My Beautiful Beloved Brownie was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma on February 26, 2019.  With all odds against him he lived an additional one year and eight days with amputation, love, and prayer.  I was honored to be his mom, and I have never been so proud!  He will live forever in my Heart!

Brownie Bubba Bell

04/01/2007 - 03/05/2020

"March Saint"

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25 September 2021 - 9:52 pm
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Hello everyone I want to thank you again for all your support and prayers along this journey we were on with Gunnar. Today Gunnar crossed the Rainbow Bridge with his mommy and daddy by his side, surrounded in love. In the end and all too quickly the cancer was just too much and he was in so much pain. We will forever cherish his memory. 

The Rainbow Bridge



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26 September 2021 - 11:32 am
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Ohhhhhh I'm so sorry to read this sad news. My heart goes out to you, and all our condolences to you and your family. It's never easy to say goodbye, even when we know it's the most compassionate thing to do. Cancer can be so mean and unpredictable.

Gunnar was so loved, that much is clear. You did all you could to give him a shot at beating those odds. He left this earth knowing he mattered more to you than anything else. There is no greater gift we can give our beloved animals. If you ever feel like posting a tribute in Coping with Loss, please do. We would love to honor your boy's memory with a celebration of his life.

Our deepest sympathies. Thank you for letting us know.

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




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27 September 2021 - 4:11 pm
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Our hearts break with you and our tears are falling hard with yours.  Even with the "prognosis ", I find the outcome today a shock.  Just shaking my head in disbelief. 

You gave Gunnar a chance....and he def wa ted that chance!  To have a path forward that "should" have given you extended time...and then this.  We all hate this dastardly  disease  so much.  Its cunning  and brutal. 

From Gun art's perspective, he DID get extended time for each moment  to be filled with more loving  and caring and spoiling than most dogs ever fet in a lifetime. 

Clearly the wisdom of Gunnar is so enlightened and his love for you is so Pie.  I think sometimes  dogs just "know" we hoomans need "extra" time with them.  They just "know" that we need the certainty  of doing everything  ppssible for them.  And with that "knowing"  they can let go of their earthly "duties" when they feel that gift to their hoomans is complete.  For whatever reason, Gunnar felt his earth  mission was complete  and could not be expanded  from a higher place....from an energy source  that will always be there to guide you and continue  to teach you the lofe lessons he will still share with you.

Please look for signs from him and, when you can, share those with us if you like.  Right now your hearts are too heavy and the void is unbearable.   But he will connect.

So sorry.  Just no words ever.

Surrounding  you with all the abundant  joy Mr Gunnar has given you all these magical years♥️♥️♥️

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie 

PS.  Make no mistake  about it, while all our beloved Spiritual Beings were there to greet Gunnar and welcome him home, the GSD were front and center...led by Jerry and Wyatt Ray and some of the Oaktown Pack.  

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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27 September 2021 - 6:03 pm
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benny55 said
PS.  Make no mistake  about it, while all our beloved Spiritual Beings were there to greet Gunnar and welcome him home, the GSD were front and center...led by Jerry and Wyatt Ray and some of the Oaktown Pack.  

Awww. Yeah, our Wyatt has a new Shepherd friend that's for sure. A beautiful thought, thank you.

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