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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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Forum Posts: 14
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9 September 2021 - 4:29 am
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Hi everyone so glad to have found this forum. Its been a roller-coaster of a couple of weeks. 

My nearly 14 year old border collie has been limping since a mobile dog groomer was unnecessarily rough when gripping his front leg to cut his claws (won't be going there again). The vet thought his shoulder was inflamed and gave us painkillers. We then went camping with Sam, during which time he did too much including hiking with us over mountains (not intentional, we got lost). He was very stiff for a few days after. We got home and he was still limping on the front but not badly and it would ease after a few mins walking.

In recent days the limp has got much worse, he can't put any weight on his front left leg at all. The vet pressed his shoulder bone and Sam cried out, obviously in much pain. The vet has diagnosed osteosarcoma, given us all the meds and told us to expect the worst.

I'm just unsure whether it could be a leg injury causing him to limp. He's in no pain when he's lying down, is well in himself and eating well. He just can't walk. If its osteosarcoma that is stopping him walking, would it also be painful when no weight is on it? Or is that going to be the next stage? I don't know if I'm being blindly hopeful or if the vet cou have got it wrong. 

The Rainbow Bridge



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9 September 2021 - 9:49 am
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Hi and welcome. What's your doggie's name? 

Your story sounds crazy similar to ours, and I know how heartbreaking it is to get that diagnosis. Did the vet take x-rays? Or recommend amputation? If not, get a second opinion ASAP from a vet oncologist for absolute certainty. I can help you find a clinic if you'd like. Move quickly. This is a painful condition that only gets more painful, fast.

Osteosarcoma is horribly painful and will affect gait differently depending on where the primary tumor is located. Put pressure on that limb and OUCH. Try to imagine what slowly exploding bone feels like. Most humans would not tolerate this level of pain for more than a few hours. Dogs are incredible that way.

And even if you're not leaning towards chemo (that's perfectly OK!), try to put any notions aside about what chemotherapy might look like for him: dogs handle it so well, and it's not the same kind of situation that you've seen in humans. The important thing is to get all your options on the table so you can make the best, educated decision for him. We will support you no matter which path you take, there are no right or wrong choices. Every dog is different, every situation is different.

I'm bummed your vet said to expect the worst. They sound biased and you don't need that right now. No, it's not the best diagnosis. But there are treatments out there that have helped a number of dogs go beyond expectations. And sometimes they go beyond them even without the latest and greatest treatments! There are no guarantees but the important thing is to help your dog so that he is not in pain.

Please let us know what we can do to support you and your pup. Your future posts won't need approval so post away. OH and be sure to check out Jerry's Required Reading List .

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




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9 September 2021 - 11:02 am
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Can only ditto  Jerry's informative  post.

Just keep things chunked down for now.  Get the second opinion from an Ortho Surgeon stays, etc asap and then you can formula a step by step plan to proceed.  Sounds like your pup's fit and healthy.   Age is just a number around here.

Keep us in the loop, okay?  Should amputation  be the best route to give your pup an extended  pain free quaility  life, we are here to support you thru that.   And if your pup is not a good candidate for amputation,  then we are here to support you through any other therapies,  okay.  We are here for you regardless!

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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9 September 2021 - 4:08 pm
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Thanks so much for the replies. Doggy's name is Sam and he's the best. He's been having weekly hydrotherapy and monthly acupuncture for arthritis in his back legs and we were on the up, he was doing so well.

I'm still hanging onto the idea that he has got a bone or soft tissue injury and that's why he can't walk. Maybe a fracture from the downhill mountain scramble. Could that happen? But either way, his quality of life has plummeted in such a short time as I now have to carry him outside and help him stand to have a wee. He does seem to get a bit better once he's been up for a few minutes, as if stiffness is wearing off. 

I've got a ct scan booked for next Thursday and hoping to bring it forward if there's a cancellation. A week seems so long. 

If we're in early stages, would he be in constant pain even when not walking? He started to always fold his affected leg at the knee joint when he lies down which is unusual. I can touch him and move his legs, no reaction. The vet must've pressed hard on the bone to get that reaction. 

I just want to know what lies ahead, if there's any hope its not osteosarcoma.  The vet didn't even mention chemo. Is that even an option? Is a week too long to wait for the ct scan? 

I'm in the UK by the way. Thanks so much for the support. 

The Rainbow Bridge



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9 September 2021 - 5:13 pm
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Welcome to you and Sam! He is such a lucky dog to be so loved!

Honestly you won't really know what you are dealing with until you get better diagnostics. So while we always hope for the best, it's good to find out exactly what you are dealing with. Did the vet take any x-rays on which to base his opinion? 

And is Sam on any pain medication? If not, he needs to be.

The way you describe his new sitting pattern is very typical of a dog who is in pain. Hopefully it's not cancer, but you won't know until the diagnostics are done. I know that IS a long way off! See if they can get you in sooner, ask to be put on a cancellation list. 

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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9 September 2021 - 5:33 pm
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The vet didn't want to do an xray because of Sam's age. He's already on Onsior and paracetamol plus now gabapentin and amantadine but it's made zero difference to Sam's ability to walk. I don't see that he's in pain when he's not walking. He's very stoic but I've seen him in pain before and right now, I'm sitting with him gently massaging and stroking his whole body - no tension, flinching etc, just contented sighs and relaxed sleepiness. He moves his left leg freely, pushes it against me to say 'scratch my tummy' and seems to enjoy a gentle massage and exploration of his shoulder.

I'm going to call the clinic tomorrow and plead for an earlier appointment. 

The Rainbow Bridge



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9 September 2021 - 5:38 pm
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Woah. So he assumes osteosarcoma without an x-ray? Did he do a needle biopsy? What would make him conclude this kind of cancer?

Yes, get another opinion ASAP.

I'm glad Sam's on some type of medication but honestly those are mild meds when it comes to treating osteosarcoma pain. Keep his activity verrrrry mellow right now. There is always a risk of a sudden pathological fracture with osteosarcoma IF that's what you're dealing with so use care.

It's great that Sam is still Sam in so many ways!! Give him some extra belly scratches from us.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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9 September 2021 - 6:22 pm
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The diagnosis is based on limping which has got worse, Sam's age and severe pain when the bone is pressed. He's an experienced vet so maybe, probably he's right, I don't know. But some vets discriminate against old dogs don't they? Write them off and say nothing to be done.

I'll update when I know more 🐶

Virginia




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9 September 2021 - 8:31 pm
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As you are waiting  to gather more conclusive information,  check out the size and age matters thread.  We've had lots of senior members who have convinced  many Vets that age is just a number!

Not sure why Sam's age would prevent the Vet from taking an xray, but hopefully  you can get one soon somewhere. 

The fact that Sam is doing so well other than the awful mobility  issue is quite amazing.   He sounds like quite a spunk fella's

We'll be looking  for your follow  up and sending  pawsitive ene to your special Sam

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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11 September 2021 - 5:07 pm
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Hi all, just checking in after reading some more of the resources on the website. So good to have all this information.

We've got the ct appointment on Monday morning now, results will come on Tuesday. I'm going to ask for a blood test too. 

Sam has been very cheerful for the last couple of days, walking around the house now and wanting to go out for a wee. He's a bit wobbly but expect that's the meds, but he's not collapsing on the floor any more. I guess the pain relief is helping and I'm trying to be hopeful but not too optimistic just yet.

In the evenings he's more unsettled so I've been giving him lots of love, massage and even tried reiki today which I haven't done for years. He does these long low groans when in his bed, so he must be in pain but I don't know how much.

Anyway I'll update as soon as I know more. Thank you all for being so supportive to us and to everyone who comes by the forum. 

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11 September 2021 - 5:09 pm
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By the way the reason the vet wouldn't do an xray is because of the risk of general anaesthetic in old dogs. Whereas the ct scan needs short mild sedation. 

The Rainbow Bridge



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11 September 2021 - 5:18 pm
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Hey it's good to hear from you. I'm glad you got the appointment just around the corner, that's great. It's also wonderful that Sam is feeling better too. As we say around here, prepare for the worst and hope for the best. You are doing that, you rock! 

That's neat you do reiki. I can only imagine the love that flowed between you and him. It's helpful, for sure. 

Of course we are here for you! We want to make sure that Sam doesn't hurt and his situation is made better, and that you stay sane and calm too. Write anytime, we are ready to talk when you are. 

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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14 September 2021 - 8:20 am
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Unfortunately the ct scan is not good news.

Left humerus proximal metaphyseal aggressive bone lesion. Consistent with primary bone tumour, most likely osteosarcoma.

I'm heart broken. He's still Sam with his funny sense of humour and all the will to go out for a walk, but his legs won't carry him. He had acupuncture this morning and the vet that does his treatment said he couldn't manage on 3 legs in her opinion as the arthritis is so bad in his back legs. Also he has spondylosis which I think is fused vertebra?

I'm waiting for the vet to call me to discuss the ct report. I'll ask about chemotherapy. Is there anything else I can do? 

Virginia




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14 September 2021 - 9:06 am
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Okay, dep breaths.  We know this is ja4d to hear, but there are indeed  some options you ca.n pursue IF...IF...IF...amputation  is off the table.

First thing....get a second opinion from an ORTHODEDIC SURGEON,  of even a third if necessary.  They are the ones who are best able to assess if a dog is a good can6 with arthritis.  And they have done many surgeries  on arthritic dogs, as well as older dogs.

Secondly , check out this alternative.  It's just a short paragraph  that I've copied, but it's certainly  worth pursuing  with your Oncologist. 

Contin to do upir research and cont to follow Sam'x example of loving in the present.  He didn't  hear a word about what that ol CT scan showed.  All he knows is he's being  spoiled and loved and gett lots of tummy rubs....and extra treats.

Okay....here's the information 

    The bisphosphonate drug alendronate was used to suppress bone remodelling and tumour osteolysis as a palliative treatment for two dogs with osteosarcoma, one of the tibia and one of the maxilla. A spiral fracture associated with the tibial tumour healed after it was stabilised with an external skeletal fixator. Both dogs remained comfortable and survived for 12 and 10 months respectively after diagnosis, despite the fact that neither primary tumour was resected.

Extra 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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14 September 2021 - 9:22 am
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I'm so sorry, that news really hurts. I agree that an evaluation from an orthopedic vet is the way to go if you want more clarity so you can decide. We have had many members here do that, and some opted for amputation, some did not. There's no right or wrong choices here, but if you can make them with all the education you can possibly gather, you'll feel better about the path you take. We will support you no matter what you decide.

Here's a post about gathering medical records for a specialist opinion if you decide to go that route.

Let us know what the onco vet says. I'm curious about their take. They see way more dogs on three legs than general practice vets, so you should be able to get some helpful input from this person. 

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