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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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An Impossible Decision, our 10 year old Boxer has Osteosarcoma
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Forum Posts: 3
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23 October 2014
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24 October 2014 - 10:28 pm
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Our sweet pup was diagnosed with OSC Tuesday and amputation was recommended. Actually our vet and the specialist recommended either euthanasia or amputation. She also has a rather large met on her lung. Like others who have posted here we don't know what to do. I want to have time with our pup-she's been a constant, gentle presence in our lives. I just dk if surgery is the right thing. We have an 8 week old baby and a 4 year old. How feasible is it to nurse a dog through such a surgery when time and energy is limited? If appreciate hearing any stories of older dogs who have had the surgery, esp to hear what the recovery was like. Our dog also tore her back ACLs ( her front leg would be the leg we'd amputate.) Im curious if anyone has experience with repaired ACLs on the remaining legs. Also any thoughts on pain related to the cancer and the dying process. We were told she may have 3-5 mos after the surgery if we elect not to do chemo. I am concerned that the pain free time we'd get after the surgery would be short. I know this is not what ppl want to talk about but for any who have been through it, how did your dog eventually pass? Was it quick, or drawn out? Did yiu feel you had enough time after the surgery to justify getting it done? We are devastated and what's worse, like many of you, we have to make a decision soon. Our sweet pup is in pain, and although it is somewhat controlled on heavy doses of medication (Tramadol, Gabapentin, Carpeofen), she is not herself.

The Rainbow Bridge



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25 October 2014 - 10:53 am
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Hi guys, I'm so sorry to hear about your dog. What's her name?

When it comes to this decision, it's never easy and anyone who's been through it can relate to what you are feeling. The lung met that's present makes it especially difficult to decide, I can see that. The advice that your vets have given you is exactly what everyone has heard as well, and what I can tell you is this: there are no guarantees and every dog is different. Sometimes the disease will act just like the statistics say it does and sometimes it does not. Sometimes the end happens in a textbook way, as it did for our Jerry, sometimes it does not. This entire journey is a huge leap of faith no matter what, it's one of those times we are really tested for our ability to live in the Now. Watching how our dogs handle it is a great learning experience, as difficult as it is.

Micro-mets are usually present even prior to surgery, so if a dog is dx'd with them chances are they are already present. In our case, we got two years after our OSA diagnosis (no chemo), and another 8 months with two big lung mets that were discovered 17 months after surgery. In some cases like Zeus', he got about a year despite lung mets picked up by a CT scan pre-surgery. How surgery affects the behavior of larger mets is debatable: I have heard from an oncologist or two that some studies show that amputation can cause the mets to spread faster but there's no hard proof I know of.

Has your vet mentioned bisphosophonates? This is a drug that can relieve pain when amputation isn't an option. It can provide a good quality of life for a while (click on the link for info).

I wish I could say "do this" or "do that" but only you can decide based on your pack's situation. You are a great parent for even considering surgery, your dog knows how much you love her. If amputation isn't in the cards, that's OK and we will support you through your journey. All anyone can really do is look into your heart and have a conversation with your dog, you will find the best answers there.

Keep us posted and hang in there. Others will chime in soon. Your future posts won't require approval.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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25 October 2014 - 4:30 pm
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Our dog Millie was 15 1/2 when we got the diagnosis. My first thoughts were to euthanize her immediately. I work in the field & I knew that OSA is a bad one, but my experiences are from many years ago. I took her home & started doing just what you are doing--reading EVERYthing there is online about OSA.

Reading about so many dogs getting more good quality time, I ended up getting a second opinion from a holistic vet that I know from a previous place where we both worked who now has her own practice. She looked at what my vet/employer had her on and added another herbal. Neither vet thought much on the bisphosphonates & neither even mentioned palliative radiation. But I never saw a specialist. That's probably the only thing I would have done differently other than making the mobile vet aware of what was going on (but she is another friend & one of my current coworkers helps her twice & week & told her, so she did know I might be calling her)

Unfortunately for my dog, the treatment we chose did not help. We had two more good weeks, a third OK week, and a forth not so good week. This cancer is very painful. Millie still wanted to be Millie & she did so as much as possible, but her last day and a half were spent moaning/groaning/whining. I ended up slightly overdosing her Tramadol on her last day just to get her to sleep until the mobile vet could come free her. I had decided several days prior that Saturday would be the day but Thursday evening she was in so much pain that Friday morning I called to make the appointment for as soon possible that day (which ended up being not until 5 pm).

I wrestled with the decision to amputate or not up until the very end & still sometimes wonder if I should have, but she was already past the average life span for her breed and had some other issues that really surgery would probably not have been the best option for her.

I know there are several older dogs on here that had pretty good experiences with the amputation, and I think if Millie was 10 (or maybe even 12) I would have tried it. Macro mets would have made the decision harder & I honestly don't know what i would do then.

I also have heard stories of dogs living far longer than expected without the surgery. The holistic vet I mentioned above had a patient that she treated for a year with just the same herbal she put Millie on.

The only thing you can do is learn all you can, maybe get a 2nd & 3rd opinion, and pick a plan that feels right in your heart and just go with it!

In the mean time, you learn to live like your dog is living--one day at a time! She doesn't know she is sick. She just knows that she is here & you are here & that means life is good.

We have all been where you are right now and know the pain of hearing the news and the stress of trying to decide what to do or not to do. It's no fun but of all the groups I joined these were the people that helped me best cope. You found the right place to be!

Sonya & "Millie"--born Feb 1999, diagnosed with OSA 8/27/14, set free 9/27/14
(RIP baby girl)

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26 October 2014 - 12:33 am
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Thank you for the reply. I appreciate the advice and stories. I esp appreciate the advice to enjoying the present moment with and looking inside myself and asking her what the right answer is. Our pup's name is Daisy, Daisy Mae. She such a sweet dog, even while in so much pain she still licks my feet to let me know everything will be ok when Im overwhelmed with my baby and preschooler. Daisy is so patient and loving. She seems better with the meds and we might just wait it out and not amputate. A part of me wants to to gilet more time to appreciate and enjoy her, but Im also uncertain about it. My husband feels strongly that amputation is not the right path for us or Daisy. Having differing opinions is hard too. Thank you for the support and sharing. I have found this forum so helpful. I will keep you updated.

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26 October 2014 - 12:40 am
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Sevydots- Thank you for your reply. I posted my last comment before reading yours. I am so sorry to hear about your Millie. I am surprised to hear it happened within weeks. And it's good to hear you say that Daisy doesn't know she's sick. I have this thought that she knows and knew all along when we didn't. It make me feel horrible to think she knows that she will die, Im not sure why, it just does. So thank you for that different perspective.

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26 October 2014 - 8:25 am
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Dear Mom of Daisy Mae.  There is no right answer, you have to go with your gut (not your heart) and take all the extraneous things in to consideration. My family was VERY opposed to amputation. I did my research on this wonderful site and kept giving them small doses of information. Based on your info, I am assuming that Daisy Mae was your baby before you had the human kind.  Not only are you dealing with the diagnosis there is friction between you and hubby.  You are lucky your kids are young. My 15 year old told me that she would move out if I "did it to him".  With that I said I am not doing it to him...I am doing it for him. Money and time are also a consideration. Well you will never have enough money or time, but somehow you can make it work.  My oven broke in May, I spent the money on Jake and nobody suffered....we used the grill until September. Living in the moment is what it is all about.  Daisy Mae is not afraid of dying. She is upset that you are upset. There is no right or wrong decision. Stay connected, we are here for you!

Laurie

The Rainbow Bridge



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26 October 2014 - 10:47 am
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As long as you can make the decision as a family and agree on it there will be just a little less heartache. Whatever you decide to do, we will be here to support you. 

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