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Can an English Bulldog be happy on healthy with one front leg? | Presentation and Diagnosis

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Can an English Bulldog be happy on healthy with one front leg?
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15 November 2018 - 7:57 pm
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I just found this forum and am so happy I did.  My 6 year old, love of my life, has what we believe to be synovial cell sarcoma in his front left ankle.  I say “believe to be” as we are still waiting on the final biopsy results to figure out exactly what kind of cancer it is.  But at this point, everyone seems to be in agreement it is most likely Synovial cell.  It is cured by amputation.  I am SO torn as to whether or not I should go with the amputation as my local vet says a bulldog can not be successful without 2 front legs as they carry so much of their weight on their front ends. 

My boy, Otis, is a lean mean fighting machine.  He’s got such a zest for life.  He loves everyone and everything.  I keep him lean because he has always been a big jumper.   Before he got sick he used to jump up onto our bar chairs!  They are tall!!  I took him to UC Davis vet hospital and that’s where they are running the tests.  I have yet to have a conversation with them as to whether they think a bulldog can live a happy life with only 1 front leg and what future complications to expect.  I have read where carpel tunnel can be an issue.

Anyone out there with a successful 3 legged bulldog story?

The Rainbow Bridge

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15 November 2018 - 10:26 pm
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Hi Colleen and Otis, welcome. 

I’m sorry about the potential diagnosis, but it sounds like you are in great hands at UCD. Those vets know their stuff. And I have a feeling they will say that YES! An English Bulldog can be a great Tripawd. In fact we have many examples here:

See:

Tripawd Tuesday: Bender’s Myxosarcoma Pain Management Victory

more about Bender here

Bruiser Bruno also did great!

And Sasha was instrumental in the development of the new osteosarcoma vaccine!

In the past it was thought that larger, deep chested dogs could not do well on three legs. But over the years thinking has changed. As long as a dog is otherwise healthy and fit, they have every chance in the world of being a good candidate for surgery.

  I have read where carpel tunnel can be an issue.

That is true for any front-legged Tripawd no matter the breed. A front wrist carpal joint issue is common. But if you keep him lean and fit, and focus on proper exercise, he should do fine. 

I can’t wait to hear what the UCD vets tell you so please keep us posted OK? We are here for you and Otis.

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16 November 2018 - 12:26 am
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Hello and welcome.

Jerry gave you some good links to other Bull Dogs who have done well with amputation.

I’ve only had rear amp Tripawds so I don’t have direct experience with a front amp, but I’ve been around here a long time and I’ve met lots of front amps, all shapes and sizes, and all doing well.  And there are hundred’s of success stories on this site.

It’s great that Otis is on the lean side- you definitely want to keep him that way. And Tripawds are likely to develop arthritis earlier than a 4 legger, and there is always the worry of hurting one of the remaining legs.  But keeping a Tripawd fit and strong, and making some activity modifications really help.  For example, you want to limit jumping down unassisted to save wear and tear on the one front leg.

If it is Synovial cell cancer are there other options beyond amputation?  UC Davis is a great place to be to get all your options.

Let us know what they say.

Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls

btw: we have quite a few Tripawds Members in the Nor Cal/East Bay Area- we get together a couple times a year in Mill Valley.

Tri-pug Maggie survived a 4.5 year mast cell cancer battle only to be lost to oral melanoma.

1999 to 2010

 

              Maggie's Story                  Amputation and Chemo

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16 November 2018 - 10:44 am
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YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!!

So sorry you find yourself here.  As you can see though, this is the best place to be for information, support, and a whole lot of first hand knowlede.  We understand  all the emotions and uncertainty  involved.  We’ll help you navigate through everything  as you continue  to do your research an develop a plan.

Otis sounds like he is a great candidate should amputation  be rhe best treatment plan.  Sure, recovery is no picnic for a couple of weeks.  It is MAJOR surgery and he will need good pain management  as he heals.  But once his sparkle starts to come back and you see Otis being Otis again you will be so happy!!!

Keep us updated and let us know any concerns you may have.

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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17 November 2018 - 1:39 pm
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Thanks for all your feedback!  So encouraging.  But I have to admit I’ve read some stories, including Bender’s, and they are scary!!  I know every situation and every dog is different just like their owners.

I finally heard back from Davis and sadly the biopsy results came back inconclusive.  They saw some abnormal cells but not enough to pin down what it is.  My Davis vet feels it is Cancer and my local vet is very convinced it’s Cancer.  The next step will be a surgical biopsy…which is no small deal. 

I am meeting with an oncologist on Monday the 26th to discuss all the what if’s of Cancer.  What are the types of cancer it could be and what are the treatment options.  I want to make sure I understand all of this before I move forward with the bone biopsy.  This first biopsy he had definitely did damage as he is more lame since.  I know this surgical bone biopsy will make him that much worse.  In the meantime they are scheduling the bone biopsy to take place after the 26th so if I decide to move forward, I can. 

Otis is already working the up steps on 3 legs and making turns on 3 legs like a champ!  I think he could be a very successful tripawd. 

Thanks again for all your feedback.  It’s so great to not feel alone!!

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17 November 2018 - 1:54 pm
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I’m sorry the biopsy was inconclusive- so frustrating!  Unfortunately not uncommon, though.

I think you are taking a great approach- finding out what all the options are before deciding on a path forward. I never had to make a bone biopsy decision as Maggie’s mast cell cancer was soft tissue and easily determined to be cancer with a FNA.  I have seen here that bone biopsies come back as inconclusive also- another reason to proceed like you are.

One question I would have for the vets: is the leg damaged to the point now that no matter what the results of a biopsy are the recommended path forward is amputation?

Good luck with your consult, let us know how it goes.

Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls

Tri-pug Maggie survived a 4.5 year mast cell cancer battle only to be lost to oral melanoma.

1999 to 2010

 

              Maggie's Story                  Amputation and Chemo

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17 November 2018 - 10:00 pm
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Yeah, such a bummer as far as “inconclusive”.

Karen made an excellent  point about wjether the leg needs to be amputated anyway.  No, surgical  biopsy  is not a small deal at all.  I hope you can avoid that.  And, again as Karen said, they can still come back inconclusive .

Otis does sound like he’ll be able to handle  being a Tripawd  like a RockStar, so that’s  really good news!

Keep is updated as you continue  to get more information. 

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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17 November 2018 - 10:48 pm
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Oh wow yeah so frustrating when the preliminary diagnosis is so inconclusive. I agree with Karen, it would be a good idea to ask if the leg is so damaged beyond repair that amputation would be required anyways. If so, you can spare him the bone biopsy pain. Most people here say they wish they would have done that had they known that all paths lead to amputation.

I’ll admit, Bender’s story is definitely not the most confidence inspiring based on the early recovery phases. He did have a tough time! But he also bounced back so well once the pain situation got dialed in, it really goes to show you the resiliency of the breed. 

I have no doubt that Otis will do fine based on what you’re describing. Please keep us posted OK? We are here for you no matter how you proceed.

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19 November 2018 - 7:20 pm
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Guys !!!  I have been wondering the exact same thing.  I’m not sure if his pain is due to inflammation or the bone breaking down/damage.  I don’t know if the oncologist can tell us that or not but I’m right there with you.  If there is too much damage that he needs amputation why bother with the surgical biopsy.

Poor Otis, last night we were sitting on the couch together. He was maneuvering himself to get settled in to lay down and his ankle gave out.  He fell off the couch and hit his head on the coffee table.  It all happened so fast.  He wouldn’t put any weight on his bad ankle after that.   So I kept him on Gabapentin throughout the night.  I usually only do it during the day.  He was feeling better this morning and I gave him some Cannabis oil at noon.  5 drops and it’s equal parts CBD and THC.  Oh my!  This afternoon he was running around, playing and being his old self.  All with a bit of a limp, of course.  I normally give him 8 drops at bedtime as I think it helps him sleep.  I’ll be interested to see how he is tomorrow after all his activity today.  It was a short amount of activity but still more than he’s been getting.

Does anyone else use Cannabis??

Karen and spirit pug girls…we are neighbors.  I’m in Danville.

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20 November 2018 - 8:29 am
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Hi Otis and family 🌸🐾

I was wondering how both of you are ? 

There are many members here who use cannabis oil, one of them is Simon (Luke’s dog) I’m sure he’ll pop in with his experience at some point.

Hugs and cuddles 😘🐮💫✨🌟🌹

Eurydice 77kg/170lb Great Dane limping end of April 2016, amputation (right front leg/osteosarcoma) 4 May 2016 6 courses of carboplatin followed by metronomic therapy, lung mets found 30 Nov 2016. 3 courses of doxorubicin, PET scan 26 Jan 2017 showed more mets so stopped chemo. Holistic route April 2017. Lung X-ray 5 May 2017 showed several tennis ball size mets, started cortisone and diuretics. Miss Cow earned her XXL silver wings 12 June 2017, 13 months and 1 week after amputation and 6 1/2 months after lung mets, she was the goofiest dawg ever and is now happily flying from cloud to cloud woof woofing away :-) 

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11 December 2018 - 9:42 am
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Hi gang!

Checking back in.  We had an Orthopedic consultation at UC Davis on Thursday and decided to go ahead with the bone biopsy on Friday.  Otis was home on Saturday.  He’s been in a soft cast type of bandage and it’s giving his ankle good support.  He’s on Tramadol (currently tapering off), Gabapentin, Galliprant and Cannabis oil and has been doing really well and has been very comfortable.  He hasn’t had to wear the cone of shame as he hasn’t messed with his bandages at all.  He’s the best dog!!  We take the bandages off today so we will see how that goes.

As far as his ankle, we decided to go ahead with the biopsy as Davis won’t consider any treatment, at this point, until they know exactly what it is.  Each vet we have seen (these 2 surgeons are vet numbers 8 and 9) have started off by saying “we don’t think it’s cancer based on his tests, but we always finish each appointment with…sorry yes, it’s Cancer but there is a VERY slight chance it could be some kind of crazy infection.  What kind?  They don’t know.  So we are getting a response I liken to…It walks like a duck, talks like a duck, looks like a duck….we think it’s probably a duck but not until we see it in black and white will we say for sure that it’s a duck.

During the biopsy they cut into his joint capsule and they said it looked very “fatty” and abnormal.  It also had some black spots.  The resident said it looked more like a sarcoma than synovial cell cancer.  With the damage to the bone and the thickening of the joint capsule they are shocked and can’t understand how he is still walking on it.  I keep reminding them it’s because he’s a bulldog.  They are so stoic and strong. 

We are currently in the waiting stage.  Preliminary reports on the joint capsule could come back as early as today but it may be another day or two.  They only took a very small piece of bone as they don’t believe it to be bone cancer.  Results on that will be back in another week or so. 

I have to say I have wavered on what approach to handle this whole situation, move forward or not, but with reading all of your success stories and these 2 orthopedic surgeons encouraged that Otis could be a successful Tripawd based on his body muscle and leanness, we are going to do whatever we can to help him be happy and pain free. 

I’ll keep you posted. 

I was trying to add Otis to the Avatar photo but as you can see….I’m struggling!

The Rainbow Bridge

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11 December 2018 - 10:50 am
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Hey it’s good to hear back. I’m so glad you got into Davis. Who were the surgeons you saw?

Yeah I can see how it’s in these really inconclusive situations that a bone biopsy is appropriate. You couldn’t have asked for better surgeons to do it and minimize the pain for Otis. Good job on your end too! Not messing with his bandages is a good sign that his pain is well controlled. Bravo! clap

Let us know what the path report says, we are all so curious about the diagnosis. Give Otis a smooch from us and tell him he’s a Very Good Boy!

P.S. Yeah the avatar photo (or any photo) can upload to the web sideways or upside down sometimes, it’s a weird thing that sometimes happens. You can open and rotate it in a photo editor like iPiccy.com, or upload a new photo. You’re almost there!

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11 December 2018 - 2:28 pm
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Hi Colleen and Otis,

Otis is so cute! And what a strong, determined warrior.

I had similar concerns about a front-leg amputation with my dog, Paddington. He’s an Irish Setter so at the opposite side of the size spectrum from a bulldog, but they also have large, deep chests and I couldn’t imagine how he would move with just one front leg. Even with the surgeon’s confirmation that he was a good candidate, I couldn’t wrap my head around it. It was really reading through the hundreds of comments and stories here that gave me the push to move forward. I can only say that I am so glad that I did. As others have mentioned, it is incredibly hard to see your loved pup missing a leg post surgery…and the recovery can be really difficult at times. it is only now, 7.5 months post-amputation, that I feel I have enough perspective and a clear enough head to post. That said, Paddington just seemed so happy to be free from pain, and, once he adapted, moved better than before when he was limping and stumbling, that even at its hardest, I was happy with my decision.

Once I made my decision, I was ready to dig in and get started. The surgery and aftermath, although very difficult, actually has felt easier to me than the decision-making. Being forced to decide what to do for your loved one, based on a series of what ifs, educated guesses, and cold statistics is excruciating! You are working through the hardest phase and sounds like you are doing an excellent job, putting Otis’ needs firsts and taking the time to be as well-informed as possible. No matter what you decide, I’m sure it will be the right decision for both of you.

Good luck,

Katie

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11 December 2018 - 3:30 pm
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paddingtonsmom said
I had similar concerns…

Thanks for chiming in Katie! Your future forum posts will not require moderation.

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11 December 2018 - 4:27 pm
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It makes such a difference to hear the success stories.  I just hung up with the surgeon and the preliminary biopsy has confirmed Cancer.  Now we are waiting for the stains to see if it is a histiosytic cancer or synovial and whether he will need chemo or not. 

They are going to call me to set a day for the amputation.  I’m so nervous about the 2 weeks after, as everyone states how hard it will be.  I know when I see him with the amputation and big incision… I will be a hot mess but will do everything in my power to stay upbeat and positive for him.  

Katie, I so appreciate your words of wisdom

The surgery and aftermath, although very difficult, actually has felt easier to me than the decision-making. Being forced to decide what to do for your loved one, based on a series of what ifs, educated guesses, and cold statistics is excruciating! You are working through the hardest phase

I will say this phase has been TORTURE.  Since mid October it has been a serious of sadness, concern, loss of sleep and soooo many tears.  I am looking forward for this part to be OVER!!

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