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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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Amputation Decision
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Forum Posts: 7
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18 November 2019
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18 November 2019 - 10:40 am
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My 5 year old Rhodesian Ridgeback Dave has been diagnosed with a soft tissue sarcoma in his back leg that has affected the bone. The vet was quite cautious about recommending amputation as she said he’s a large dog and may struggle to cope.  The alternatives were palliative care or attempting to save the leg at 10,000 plus which I can’t afford.

I’ve read a lot about large dogs coping well with amputation and am wondering what the reason for the highly cautious attitude of the vet is. He’s only 5 I can’t understand why she’d suggest palliative care?

I’d appreciate any thoughts/experiences as I have a big decision to make and I’m not sure what to do.

The Rainbow Bridge



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18 November 2019 - 10:47 am
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Dave’s people, I’m in the Tripawds Chat right now if you want to talk. Back in a sec with some feedback.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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The Rainbow Bridge



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18 November 2019 - 10:57 am
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Hi and welcome Dave and family. We are SO glad you joined us as we have LOTS to say on this matter.

First, go get another opinion from a vet not associated with that clinic. We aren’t vets, but we interview lots and what we’ve learned from these forward-thinking awesome docs is that neither size nor age be a limiting factor in whether or not a dog is a candidate for amputation surgery. Just scroll through our Size and Age Matters Forum, or check out our Tripawd Tuesday about Gabriel and you will see many dogs much larger than a Ridgeback who are doing great! 

If Dave is otherwise healthy (is he?) there is almost NO reason why he cannot thrive on three legs. He is not that big of a dog compared to some Saints like Thurston here, and he’s sooo young! He has an entire life ahead of him.

Many people who are initially told by their vet that their dog isn’t a candidate discover that yes they are. All it takes is finding a vet who is more experienced with amputees. We can help you find one if you’d like. Consider an AAHA-accredited clinic to start with. 

It sucks when you find out that your vet isn’t practicing the most modern medicine at a time like this. But that’s why we are glad you joined us. We can help you find one who is.

Secondly, there are other options besides amputation, limb salvage and palliative care. You can also look into electrochemotherapy or intralesional chemotherapy to see if Dave is a candidate for that type of therapy.

I don’t want to overwhelm you so I’ll sign off here. I just get so smiley7when I find out about another old school narrow minded vet who dismisses a young, vibrant dog for amputation just because of their size. Go get another opinion OK? And let us know what you find out.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Massachusetts
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18 November 2019 - 11:19 am
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I had to take my Riot to an emergency vet when he stopped walking. Turns out he had osteosarcoma, and lost the leg that day. He was 12+, and 112 pounds, and otherwise healthy. I’m seconding the second opinion choice. 5 is young, and he hopefully has many years left on 3 legs. 

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18 November 2019 - 11:54 am
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He’s completely healthy otherwise which is why this is such a shock.

Everything I’ve read suggested there was no reason to think he wasn’t a candidate but I wanted to get the views of some owners with experience.

Thank you for replying so quickly 

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18 November 2019 - 6:51 pm
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Hi,

First of all he is absolutely beautiful. And with that shiny coat he looks extremely happy and healthy, besides the sarcoma.

Brownie was 90 lbs at time of front leg amputation, and 10 days before hiis 12th birthday. On the site you will see where large dogs thrive such as great Danes and massive.

Two that come to mind are Roane, a Anton Shepard. I didn’t spell that correctly. And Happy Hannah, a massive.

I third on getting a second opinion.

new hampshire
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18 November 2019 - 7:45 pm
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Hi dave and Dave’s human, Im so glad you found us. 

I second everything said above! I can tell you first hand size should never be an issue. If thats the only reason your vet has for not doing the amputation its time for a new vet. 

Our Roane was a BIG girl, 130 pound 6.5 year old anatolian shepherd. she had a rear leg amp for osteosarcoma and she literal never missed a beat. She found “creative” ways to do all the things she use to do. Even the things that gave mom a heart attack like rock climbing and the pond!

We did add a few things to the mix like joint supplements and our vet opted to keep her on a low dose of carprofen and gabapentine. (Pretty much the equivalent of humans taking aleve.) We also did some minor renovations in the kitchen and put a carpet runway over the tile. She liked to get where she was going in a hurry 😉 there are also some great products like harnesses that have a handle so you can help dave while hes recovering. Having a handle to grab onto was a big help for me since roane not only out weighed me but was waist high.

roane has a bit of her journey on her blog if you want to take a peek. Just click on the globe next to my avatar.

It certainly looks and sounds like dave is otherwise healthy. I wouldnt hesitate i would get a second opinion. Is there an orthopedic surgeon or another accredited practice in your area. Im believe rene posted the link to finding one if you need help.

If you have any questions or concerns im here to help in anyway i can. And of course we will all be here for support and to cheer you on no matter what!

Big hugs, 

Bev, Moe cat, autumn angel Roane & angel dog Gypsy 🐾

         Hugs ❤ Bev, nurse Moe cat, Autumn's Angel Roane & Angel dog Gypsy 🐾

My sweet soulmate Roane was diagnosed with osteo in June of 2019. Had a rear leg amp on July 2nd & crossed the rainbow bridge to be with her sister Gypsy on the first day of Autumn Sept 23 2019.

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19 November 2019 - 4:47 am
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I will contact the Vet again today and see if she has a particular reason for her views. If she would recommend an amputation for a smaller dog then that is what we will try for Dave. I just wonder if she’s seen a large dog have a negative experience and this has led to her concern, or maybe she is concerned about how we, the humans, will cope with a large dog undergoing this type of surgery. It’s quite a large practice so it may also be that there are other vets with more experience we can talk to.

We discussed it as a family last night and although not completely decided we are agreed that we wouldn’t forgive ourselves if we didn’t try everything we could to save him. I will let you all know what happens.

Virginia




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19 November 2019 - 5:23 pm
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Just catching up.  My Happy Hannah was a fluffy, ,loveable, cuddly 125lb Bull Mastiff and handled  being a tripawd like a graceful ballerina 😎 Recovery was no picnic,  but once her sparkle came back she was blissfully  happy…as was I.

Her regular  Vet was the first one to mention  that I have a consult  with an Orthopedic  Surgeon to see if a amputation  was an option for her.  He also said that, while he himself he had done. numerous amputations over his long career, he generally referred surgeries  on lbig arger dogs to the Specialists. 

Keep us posted and let us know how we can help.

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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19 November 2019 - 6:24 pm
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I just wonder if she’s seen a large dog have a negative experience and this has led to her concern

That’s an astute guess and probably correct. Many members have reported that their vet formed a negative opinion based on a negative experience. Which makes sense. If one doesn’t see amputations all the time, they have little to go on to form an opinion.

And as I mentioned we aren’t vets, but we have seen thousands of large dogs do well since we started. There are no guarantee they will, but overall most do well.

Let us know what you find out, we’ll be waiting.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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20 November 2019 - 2:15 am
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So I spoke to the Vet yesterday. I prepared a list of questions this time to work through and we are now both agreed that based on the current diagnosis, the information we have, Dave’s age etc. that we will proceed with the amputation.

We discussed this as a family last night and I phoned this morning to make the booking and he is going in on Tuesday.

Thank you for all your messages, this has been a very difficult and heartbreaking time and your kind words and support have been wonderful.

I guess I will speak to you again from the other side.

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20 November 2019 - 4:12 am
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Hi Dave and Dave’s human! 

Good for you for making a list before moving forward! My Huckleberry is a kitty, but having been here for a couple of years I can say with total confidence that many dogs here, young and older, small and large, do very well after recovery. You have had some wonderful input from fantastic people so I am just welcoming you and wishing you well on your journey.

Please stay tuned in, get yourself prepared, and get your house in order. If you have slick floors, you may want to get some skid free rug runners for areas and stairs if they are not carpeted. Make a recovery place for Dave for a couple of weeks as the most important thing for him throughout recovery will be rest, proper pain meds, eating, and short potty breaks on leash only. Some people set up a room, some gate off an area. 

Discuss pain management early if you can. They should get antibiotics, some kind of pain medication, and gabapentin for phantom limb pain. I say this now because too many people are sent home with nothing or next to nothing and most of these furbabies do best with a good pain regimen for about 2 weeks, some a bit longer. I say “some kind” because it can vary and the wonderful folks here can probably chime in on what worked for them. 

It can be a bit of a rollercoaster ride for a couple of weeks but you usually see that beautiful, shining personality come back after a couple of weeks, around suture/staple removal time. 

If you have any questions or concerns between now and the surgery please let us know and we will do our best to help you out.

Best of luck on your journey!

Jackie and Huckleberry sp_hearticon2 

Hugs,

Jackie, David, Bo, Andy, Oscar, Angel Mitchell, and the coolest feral tripawd kitty Huckleberry

Huckleberry's Blog

new hampshire
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20 November 2019 - 5:22 am
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So glad to hear that you were able to find a middle ground with your vet and come up with a plan for dave. I know its stressful right now but it will get better. For now lots of rest for dave and the family. 

Dave just got his own cheering squad. 😉 we’ll be here to help navigate and celebrate his journey as a tripawd.

Wishing you the best for surgery on tuesday. Keep us updated and let us know if theres anything we can do to help. 

Hugs,

Bev, Moe cat, autumn angel Roane & angel dog Gypsy ❤

         Hugs ❤ Bev, nurse Moe cat, Autumn's Angel Roane & Angel dog Gypsy 🐾

My sweet soulmate Roane was diagnosed with osteo in June of 2019. Had a rear leg amp on July 2nd & crossed the rainbow bridge to be with her sister Gypsy on the first day of Autumn Sept 23 2019.

The Rainbow Bridge



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20 November 2019 - 10:43 am
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That’s really good to hear, go Team Dave!

Be sure to check out the Tripawds Recovery Shopping List (https://tripawd…..ping-list/) now that you have a bit of time to prepare for his homecoming. And in the meantime let us know whatever questions you have. We are here to help.

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

Support the Tripawds Foundation!

Forum Posts: 379
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20 November 2019 - 7:07 pm
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So happy to hear. Brownie is rooting for Dave!

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