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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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Average lifespan of dog amputees
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Member Since:
13 March 2022
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28 March 2022 - 9:10 pm
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Hi Everyone,

we are debating on amputation versus palliative and weighing all of the options in a quick turnaround time. I read the survey that most amputee pawrents don’t regret the decision to amputate, but can people tell me on average how long their dog has lived post surgery? We are so conflicted because we don’t want our dog Birdie to be in pain but don’t know if surgery is the right option for us all. Thank you!

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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29 March 2022 - 10:54 am
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Hi Birdie & furmily! 

It's a tough decision for sure. How does your vet feel about Birdie being a candidate for surgery and life on 3 legs? What is Birdie's enthusiasm about every day, before the cancer was discovered?

Glad you found our quality of life survey information! Yes, even if a cat or dog didn't live up to the predicted prognosis, nearly 100% of pet parents don't regret that decision to give them pain-free quality time. There are a few that do, and usually it's because of a very rough recovery the animal had. It's heartbreaking, but thankfully those situations are rare. Most animals will recover and go on to enjoy extra time with their humans, free of pain from cancer.

The average lifespans of dogs after amputation really depends on so many factors. Health issues, mobility issues, cancer type, etc., all play into longevity after amputation. Your vet can give you the average lifespan for dogs with Birdie's type of cancer. But as we say around here (and have witnessed), dogs don't come with an expiration date stamped on their butt (an old Tripawds member taught us that saying and it's so true!). Nobody can predict.

Yes there are averages, but so many will exceed (or not) those numbers that the vet gives. Those numbers are based on averages that don't account for each dog's individual profile. So you can't compare one dog or cat to another, even if they do have the same cancer. For instance, our dog Jerry lived two extra fun years, without pain, even though he had osteosarcoma and didn't have chemotherapy. We were told he had six months with us! Other dogs have gone way longer when they did have chemo (or even when they didn't). Even living out to their normal life expectancy for the breed type.

You just can't put a number on any creature's lifespan. Those averages are given to us because our vet team wants us to prepare for the worst but hope for the best. There is just no crystal ball to say how Birdie will do. But one thing this situation teaches us is that every day counts. Every day is a great day if we make the most of it with our best friend. Because with or without cancer, there is no predicting how long each of us has on this earth. So you do your best to enjoy and live to the fullest. We call this learning to Be More Dog . And our pets are so good at showing us by their example! 

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |


Member Since:
22 February 2013
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29 March 2022 - 4:02 pm
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Re-read Jerry's reply a dozen times, or more as needed! Chock full of such wise feedback.   All I can say is ditto over and over.  

To add regarding "statistics ", some are sort of out of sate as a lot of progress has been made and it may not be reflected in all statistics. or averages. 

Being mindful that some blow statistics  out of the water AND some don't THE ost important  thi g is to make ecery mome t the vest mome t  ever for our dogs and cats.  That's  all they care about, not days on a calendar but how mich spoi and loving  they can squeeze out of you 24/7.


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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