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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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Cancer has reared its ugly head
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South Jersey
Member Since:
24 May 2021
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19 March 2022 - 5:20 pm
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I can’t believe that I have to post this, but it’s so hard for others to understand.

Hard for them to understand the guilt, the regret, the heart and soul crushing sadness I’m so overwhelmed with.

In 2021, an incisional biopsy on Miss Emily’s front leg revealed she had a grade 1 soft tissue sarcoma with a mitotic index of 2.

The chance of spread was low. Aggressive treatment was considered curative.

We went aggressive and took the leg.

It came with a whole set of challenges but we were ready for them. She had difficulties with seroma , desire to walk, refusal to eat, many falls on her face, and just an overall depressed appearance.

We worked through it all. From a horrifying experience with a physical therapist to an amazing experience with being picked to be featured on The Wizard of Paws TV show.

We went to Virgina for the casting and first fitting in December.

It was incredible.

We went back to Virginia in January for the fitting and final taping.

We were so excited to get started with working with her and her new device. Things were really starting to look up.

We found an incredible therapist this month who not only set her up with amazing treatments but had experience with the bionic pets devices.

We were getting ready for an adventure filled summer full of happiness and opportunity. We couldn’t wait to get out and meet people, educate them on how well tripawds do, and to share her smile with everyone we met.

Last week, her new therapist found a hard mass on her side during her deep tissue massage. She strongly recommended we get it aspirated.

Without hesitation, we went to the vet Monday. They aspirated.

I’ve been in this seat before, more times than I’d like to admit. Cancer took both my parents, 2 of my other dogs, and I knew by what I felt in the room on Monday, the cancer was back.

The vet called Wednesday and confirmed my biggest fear. It’s cancer.

We don’t know what kind unless we do an incisional biopsy.

I can’t do it to her.

After her first incisional biopsy she had anesthesia struggles with her heart rate. Not only that, but the biopsy aggravated the tumor and it grew substantially from the time of biopsy to the time of amputation. During her amputation, her BP dropped multiple times, her heart rate dropped multiple times, and it was several days before she fully came out of the post anesthesia “haze”.

I am now questioning every single decision I’ve made for her. Filled with guilt and regret that this is how her story will end.

We have no way of knowing how much time she has, no way of knowing what we’re dealing with, we’re just stuck in this black cloud of canine cancer…again

Traditional Veterinary medicine all points to another biopsy and surgery.  With her previous biopsy results, the incisional being a stage 1 with mitotic index of 2 and the full limb biopsy being a stage 1 with mitotic index of 4, and wide clean margins, what better odds could I have asked for?  She didn’t beat those odds and now I can’t help but think going through a surgery again will just give me more time until the next surgery.

Doing nothing, I feel like this is a ticking time bomb with a death sentence.  Doing another surgery feels the same.  

This beautiful girl of mine, who captivates everyone with her smile, wasn’t supposed to have this type of ending to her story.  

Do we try to go a holistic route?  Do I just need to come to terms that we have done all we can?  Crying every day, in the face of canine cancer sucks, completely sucks.

I have the dog cancer survival guide, it’s good reading but I’m overwhelmed with all the information.  I’m in tons of Facebook groups and there’s so many “potential” remedies, I can’t make sense of it all.  

Has anyone been in this situation?  Where did you start?  How do you sort through the chaos of sadness, grief, frustration, etc? 

Virginia




Member Since:
22 February 2013
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19 March 2022 - 8:53 pm
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Of course this is a kick in the gut to hear and every single emotion you are feeling is so understandable!    It's hard to think clearly and focus on a path forward right now.  HOWEVER, it does not mean this is the end of the story for Miss Emily, okay?? 

The only way to sort through the sadness and grief is to feel it, acknowledge it as not serving you or Emily, then move through it. And reminding  yourself that Emily is still being Emily and has no interest in whatever  the Vets say.

As hard as it is, and it is hard, you need to put aside any waste of time  feelings of "guilt", regret and questioning  your decision to amputate.  To look in the rear  view mirror right now through the prism of fear and negative thoughts is a waste of energy.   The reality is you have given Emily a chance at a wonderful quaility life chock full of loving and fun and spoiling  and tummy rubs and butt scratches.   Emily most likely would never have had this extended quality time so full of joy and love.  

And Emily is NOT giving up so you cannot either!!!  And we know you won't!!!

BTW, before I go further, I can assure you Emily has already made a pawsitive impact on everyone she's met, including  all the therapists, physicians,  the bionic pet people,, including staff and camera  people!!!

You do not k ow what the tumor is specifically.   And to go through a biopsy  surely put sweet Emily at risk and, it would be hard to justify going that route based on her bad experience  before.  On top of that, a biopsy could still be inconclusive. 

Others will see this and can give you  more insight into a path forward.  I'm also going to email one of our long time members who is very well versed on mast cell sarcomas..

This is in the FWIW category and based on nothing more than "thought, okay?  To find out what "kind" of tumor it is with all the risks involved, really wouldn't  change your path forward as far as going through more surgeries, right?  Again, a completely  uninformed observation, It could be a slow growing tumor, or a tumor that just stalls.  Or maybe responds to Piroxicam or some other tumor shrinking med.

Okay, take some deep breaths.....really......deep inhales..deep exhales.

Continue your research here and checking jnto Holistic approach as well as talking g further with second opinion Vets for options.

((((((((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!

On The Road


Member Since:
24 September 2009
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19 March 2022 - 10:27 pm
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I'm so glad you decided to post here. I'll be back with some thoughts in the AM. Stay strong like I know you are doing!

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene
tripawds.com | tripawds.org | bemoredog.net | triday.pet

South Jersey
Member Since:
24 May 2021
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20 March 2022 - 5:43 pm
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Thank you!  A tumor shrinking med.  The vet didn’t mention anything like that.  Sadly, as much as I love my vet, when I told them we weren’t interested in any more surgery, it seemed we were “useless” to them, if that makes sense?  It was more or less, “sorry about everything, call us if you need anything”.  Pretty disappointing. 

On The Road


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24 September 2009
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21 March 2022 - 10:18 am
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Doing nothing, I feel like this is a ticking time bomb with a death sentence.  Doing another surgery feels the same.  

I think that really, you are doing something. You made the decision to focus on her quality of life, and enjoy every day without the interference of surgery, recovery, pain medication, etc. That IS really doing something! Don't think that it isn't. By having confidence about your path forward, that is really good medicine for Emily. 

When we opted out of further cancer therapy for our Jerry, we made the most of every day together. And it's all of those fun things we did that we believe helped him have a good quality of life, live longer than anyone expected, and when he left his world we had no regrets. It goes to show you that doing 'nothing' really is doing something tactical and important so that this awful illness doesn't steal your time together or the joy in the life that you share. 

I recommend talking to a hospice vet just to make that connection so that some day when she does need it, you'll have a friend and team member who understands your choice and can give Emily the pain management and care she needs. 

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene
tripawds.com | tripawds.org | bemoredog.net | triday.pet

Virginia




Member Since:
22 February 2013
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21 March 2022 - 2:19 pm
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As far as mentoning Piroxicam , (or even  Prednisone ) as a way of "shrinking" tumors and/or inflammation  caused by tumors, just throwing out things that may.... may....may be worth mentioning  to another Vet.  I say this from a perspective where my Vet (who  understands me well), sometimes will say. " X...X....X  may be worth a try...we can try it if you want.". She basically comes from a place of knowing that, in specific scenarios where I can't afford a procedure or the procedure  would be too risky for my dog, I "need"  to try anything possible.

I guess I'm trying to say feel free to mention any  possibilities to your Vet, know ,matter of 9t's ridiculous  or a slim possibilit.y.  That way, it will add to your reassurance  that  you have, indeed done everything  ppssible and have left no stone unturned.  And it may be you n3ed another Vet to "listen" to you and what you are tryi to accomplish  with your questions.

AND, at the same time, you can live your life with Emily as Jerry said, because it is medicinal without  causing harm or being invasive. Making sure that peoce of crap disease  doesn't  interfere  with your todays is something  you will NEVER regret.

 really, you are doing something. You made the decision to focus on her quality of life, and enjoy every day without the interference of surgery, recovery, pain medication, etc. That IS really doing something! Don't think that it isn't. By having confidence about your path forward, that is really good medicine for Emily. 

Some here have used a phone consultant  with Dr Charl3s Loop who I believe  still has his base in NC.  He's pretty knowledgeable  about holostic approaches if something  may, or may not work in specific  cases.

Sending  love and 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!

Livermore, CA




Member Since:
18 October 2009
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21 March 2022 - 9:59 pm
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Hello.  Your story brings back memories of my little Pug Maggie's journey.

Maggie had her rear leg removed because of a mast cell tumor, her prognosis was poor, 6 to 9 months with chemo which we did.  I was surprised and relieved when Mag beat her prognosis and seemed to be beating the cancer.  Fast forward a couple years and with everything Mag had been through I decided that no matter what came up we wouldn't do any more invasive treatment.  She didn't do well with anesthetic either- in fact she almost passed during her amp surgery.  When she was 10.5 years old she became suddenly incontinent.  Testing to find a cause revealed that she was in renal failure. That was supposed to be manageable, at least for a while, but a couple months later she absolutely crashed.  Quit eating, lethargic, etc.  After 3 days at the vet for fluids and care (I was pretty sure we would lose her then) it was discovered that she had developed a second cancer- an oral melanoma on the roof of her mouth. I was devastated, even more I think than the first cancer diagnosis that took her leg. The standard treatment was surgery to remove the tumor and some of the jaw, followed by radiation treatments.

There was just no way I could put her through more surgery and recovery- and add to that the kidney issues and the fact that she had another cancer.  I wanted the best for her and the best in my mind was palliative/holistic care. Oh- and she didn't handle pain meds well either.

Here is what I did:

I did not ask for a prognosis.  I knew time was short but I didn't want to be consciously or sub-consciously watching the calendar.

I decided what defined Mag's minimum life quality.  I couldn't use lack of appetite because of the kidney failure, my major indicator would be pain.  When the tumor broke through into her jaw it would become painful and she didn't tolerate pain meds, and with the kidney issues and liver issues (from the first cancer) any meds could make her sick. Other minimum quality indicators were that she was engaged, was interested in going places, and that she could bathroom by herself (for the most part the incontinence was being managed). When she reached any one of the indicators I knew that she was done. 

I wrote down my decision making process.  I wrote down all the reasons I chose the path I did, why I thought that aggressive treatment was not in her best interest. As humans we tend to second guess ourselves which can lead to that guilt and regret. Sure enough after Maggie passed those thoughts entered my mind... 'maybe I should have done surgery'... 'maybe we should have tried more meds'... etc.  I went back to my notes and it really helped me be comfortable with the decisions I made.

I made sure every day was Maggie's best day.

Maggie lived 3 months after the second cancer diagnosis and I know every one of those days were her best.

You need to remind yourself that you did your best for your girl. You got the information from the vets and made the best, most logical decisions you could.  None of this is your fault!  IT IS CANCER'S FAULT!!! This journey is hard enough without carrying around the guilt and regret. 

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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