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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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Chondrosarcoma Leg Amputation Recommendation
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Forum Posts: 4
Member Since:
6 September 2016
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7 September 2016 - 8:35 pm
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First, let me tell you about Daisy.  A wonderful rat terrier mix.  30lbs.  Maybe about 8 years old (adopted so don’t know for sure).  She loves to hunt squirrels, rabbits, toads, birds, etc.  Loves to chase a squeaky ball and sticks.  But she also has quirks.  She is a sensitive soul.  She is deathly afraid of shiny floors.  She doesn’t jump (leave her feet) and never has.  And she won’t wear a harness.

Two weeks ago I noticed a lump on left hip.  No other symptoms.  I took her to our vet two days later and his initial diagnosis after x-rays was a tumor in her muscle tissue near the femur head.  No apparent engagement of the bone.  Blood work was normal.  A biopsy confirmed a chondrosarcoma and we were referred to an Oncologist.  Went there yesterday and the oncologist recommended a full amputation of the left leg including part of the pelvis and a full biopsy of the leg.  Chemo, radiation, and surgical removal by other means is not an option (although radiation may be required depending one what the leg biopsy shows).

Obviously this has been devastating especially since she was acting completely normal before the initial biopsy was done.

My dilemmas:

I am concerned about how Daisy will be after the surgery.  Will she be even more timid about her footing?

Should I use my local vet or go an 1.5 away to the 24 hr vet hospital where the oncologist works?

Is taking part of the pelvis necessary and if so will it cause more problems.

Livermore, CA




Forum Posts: 3952
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7 September 2016 - 9:11 pm
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Hello and welcome, your future posts will not have to wait for approval.

My pug Maggie had mast cell cancer, but Mag sounds a bit like your girl Daisy.  Mag’s tumor was in her knee- she never limped or showed signs of pain. When I found the tumor I knew it was a recurrence of her cancer, but I was in disbelief when my vet said she would need an amputation.

Maggie was also quite stubborn and hated change in her routine.  She was also weird about linoleum floors- wouldn’t walk on them.  I was worried about how she would deal with the amp.  And early on in her recovery my fears were realized- Mag didn’t have any medical issues but she didn’t play with me for 6 weeks after surgery.  Most pups here are back to themselves in 2 or 3 weeks.  I spent most of those 6 weeks sure I had made a huge mistake.  In hindsight her taking her time to get used to her new normal was right in line with her personality.  Once she got used to things she hopped happily through life for almost 4 years.

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

Forum Posts: 155
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7 September 2016 - 9:48 pm
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Our Kylie girl was a skiddish about our slippery floors for a couple years now, ever since she was running around and wiped out 🙁  but since her pre-cancer limp when we didn’t know that’s what it was, we’ve had rugs down in various areas. Now since surgery we have even more. She has learned quickly to trust the reaction we provided & she’s hopping around like a proud new tripawd!

Personally I chose to drive 2+ hrs to have a surgeon from the oncologist clinic to perform the surgery rather than my regular Vet. Dont get me wrong I love my Vet! But I felt the job was better suited to the experts in their field. It was totally worth the drive and the cost.

Not sure about the removal of part of the pelvis affecting things but that’s a good question for your Vet!  I wish you the best of luck & that things go great! 

Chris & Kylie 🙂

Michigan
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7 September 2016 - 10:53 pm
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We took Murphy to an Michigan State University teaching hospital for a consult with the orthopedic specialist for his limp when he was diagnosed.  It takes us about 1 1/2 hours to get there.  That’s where he had his surgery and then his chemo & his follow-up treatments.  They were good about coordinating care with our regular vet.  As inconvenient as the drive can be, you want to make sure that you have the best possible surgeon for such a complicated surgery.  I would think that since it also includes part of the pelvis, that it’s not just a “normal” amputation, so I’m not sure how much experience your regular vet would have with this.  There was another dog, Scout, who had this same surgery last year…here’s a link to her story:  http://tripawds…..sarcoma/ 

Donna

Donna, Glenn & Murphy 

Murphy had his right front leg amputated due to histiocytic sarcoma at 7 years old. He survived 4 years, 2 months & 1 week, only to be taken by hemangiosarcoma at 11 1/2 years 6/12/17  
Read about Murphy's Life on Three Legs

Donna.png

Forum Posts: 2010
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8 September 2016 - 1:36 am
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We also choose to use a private hospital with both a surgeon and oncologist.  Seamless and integrated care was important, as was the fact that the surgeon did many, many amputations.  Plus, they had overnight care, which my family vet did not.  For us, it was only 40 minutes (v. 5 to my vet), and Otis was really good in the car, so worth it.

Otis - 106 pound lab/Dane mix, lost his right front leg to osteosarcoma on Febuary 9, 2016.  Four rounds of carboplatin completed in April, 2016.  Lung mets August 25, 2016.  Said goodbye too soon on September 4, 2016.   Lost his adopted sister, Tess, suddenly on October 9, 2016. likely due to hemangiosarcoma.  

Wherever they are, they are together.

Minneapolis, MN
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8 September 2016 - 5:58 am
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Though I love my own vet practice and they have two gifted surgeons I really trust, and even though the U of MN missed an early diagnosis on Pofi, I chose to go with them for the integrated care and especially the robust post surgical hospitalization.  Pofi’s surgery also really required MRI imaging and U of MN is the only place in the state with an MRI large enough to accommodate his size.  

The round the clock post op care with close medical monitoring, which he needed for about 36 hours post surgery, was simply much more than my practice could provide.  And they themselves said they felt a specialist was warranted.  One of my vets had performed amputation for his type and location of soft tissue sarcoma twice before with a presumptive diagnosis and no access to MRI imaging – but in the end, Pofi’s was a difficult surgery even for the more practiced rehab / orthopedic surgeon, so it was the right decision for that reason, too.

But the choice is very individual.

Best thoughts for you and Daisy!

Lisa, Minneapolis

On October 27, 2016, nearly 6 months after amputation, and 18 months since his cancer likely started, we lost Pofi to a recurrence of Soft Tissue Sarcoma in his spine quite suddenly.  His canine sister also succumbed to cancer on March 1, 2019 - we lavished her with our love in the interim, but life was never quite the same without her only real canine friend. Cliff kitty had to leave us, too, suddenly, in August 2019. Lucia kitty grieved all these losses, but helped us welcome two new Lurchers into our home and our lives, Shae and Barley.

Blog: Pofi, Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumor Amputation

The Rainbow Bridge



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8 September 2016 - 7:42 am
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Hi Daisy and family, welcome. Here’s some info to consider:

1) The question of family vet versus specialist when it comes to surgery comes up often. To me, it’s the difference between having your general practice MD perform amputation or having an orthopedic doc: who would you want to do the surgery on you? However, if your veterinarian is an AAHA-accredited vet, that’s different. Here’s an article that explains why:

Why Your Pet Should See an AAHA Accredited Vet

More articles about AAHA are here:

http://tripawds…../tag/aaha/

and also this article about choosing a qualified vet:

http://tripawds…..n-surgery/

2) If your vet feels that it’s necessary to do a hemipelvectomy, that’s probably because they want to get clean margins and eliminate as much of the cancer as possible. This is a good question for them but I have a feeling that’s what they’ll say. Let us know.

Also, this article may help explain treatment options:

Canine Chondrosarcoma and Chemotherapy

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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8 September 2016 - 7:47 am
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Didn’t someone else on the site in the last few months do a hemipelvectomy?   I think they have a blog going.

Otis - 106 pound lab/Dane mix, lost his right front leg to osteosarcoma on Febuary 9, 2016.  Four rounds of carboplatin completed in April, 2016.  Lung mets August 25, 2016.  Said goodbye too soon on September 4, 2016.   Lost his adopted sister, Tess, suddenly on October 9, 2016. likely due to hemangiosarcoma.  

Wherever they are, they are together.

Forum Posts: 2010
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8 September 2016 - 11:13 am
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Check out Eider the Lab – they have a blog, with great photos of Eider post-hemipelvectomy.

Otis - 106 pound lab/Dane mix, lost his right front leg to osteosarcoma on Febuary 9, 2016.  Four rounds of carboplatin completed in April, 2016.  Lung mets August 25, 2016.  Said goodbye too soon on September 4, 2016.   Lost his adopted sister, Tess, suddenly on October 9, 2016. likely due to hemangiosarcoma.  

Wherever they are, they are together.

Forum Posts: 4
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8 September 2016 - 4:13 pm
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Thanks for all the inputs and directs to other areas.  I confirmed with the oncologist that they recommend the partial pelvectomy to ensure clean margins.  Frankly I am good with the leg amputation at this point (except all the dogs I see with hind leg amputations have tails for balance and all my Daisy has is tiny stump (genetic not cropped).  Even with my vet performing it.  But the pelvis part scares me.  I am really unsure if I want to let them do that to her even though the oncologist says it should have no long term effect on her quality of life.  This is difficult for me to make that call as this is a lot more involved than just removing the leg.  I am not sure if it is worth it or not.

I am have an appointment to see my vet tomorrow to discuss the situation and inspect her biopsy incision.  He was comfortable with the leg amputation, but the pelvis is probably a different story as far as his facilities and capabilities go.   So maybe the 1.5 hour drive to the hospital instead – if I decide to do the pelvic surgery.

The Rainbow Bridge



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8 September 2016 - 4:46 pm
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Can’t blame you for being nervous at all, it is a bigger surgery. But of all the dogs we’ve seen here who’ve had it done, they did very well afterward. It’s so important to get clean margins, that not doing it could possibly make just surgery moot if the cancer comes back sooner. Talk to however many vets you need to make a decision you can feel comfortable with though, that’s what counts. We’re here to support you no matter what.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
Latest Tripawds News
Read my story here.

Support the Tripawds Foundation!

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9 September 2016 - 9:20 am
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After consultation this morning with my vet and his partner, we have decided to not have surgery.  Her tumor is way up on her hip next to her spine.  It is not really in the leg.  Leg amputation would not get it.  She would have to lose her pelvis on the left side and even then there might not be margin between the spine and the tumor.  She risks losing integrity of her abdomen and the loss of the active life she loves.  There is also a high risk of damage to nerves that control her intestinal tract.  I am unwilling to put her through all that for the remote possibility that she will retain her quality of life.  She is happy and in no pain now and we are going to enjoy whatever time we have left before I have to make the next choice.  I make this difficult decision out of deep love for Daisy.

I really appreciate this website and all the wonderful people who have answered this forum topic as well as all those who have posted elsewhere.  It has helped a lot. I have tried to make an informed decision, but I know that there will be a time of self criticism and regret at some point.   We ultimately have to make the decision on our own, and live with that decision the rest of our lives.

It took me five years between dogs to get over the pain of losing my last one.  But this time I will not be afraid to get another dog after Daisy.  She has brought such joy and although there has been and will be times of pain and sorrow, the bad does not outweigh the good.

For all of you who are dealing with these difficult decisions, I offer this advice that I have tried to hold true to during my life:  Find out as much as you can so you can make an informed decision.  You need to be able to say to yourself that I made the best decision I could at the time.  No one knows the path that a different decision would have made.  You can only know the result of the path that was chosen.  Therefore you should not second guess yourself if you made the best decision you could at the time.

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9 September 2016 - 9:34 am
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I am sorry that the news was not better, but for everyone on this site, it is about quality of life.  After weighing the risks and potential outcomes, you have made the decision you think best for Daisy.  We all stand behind you in that – when cure is not an option, a good day/week/month is far better than a extended day/week/month of illness and pain.

Otis - 106 pound lab/Dane mix, lost his right front leg to osteosarcoma on Febuary 9, 2016.  Four rounds of carboplatin completed in April, 2016.  Lung mets August 25, 2016.  Said goodbye too soon on September 4, 2016.   Lost his adopted sister, Tess, suddenly on October 9, 2016. likely due to hemangiosarcoma.  

Wherever they are, they are together.

Livermore, CA




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9 September 2016 - 11:49 am
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I applaud your decision and decision making process.  It is very hard to choose not to treat and accept the consequence. 

One thing I did when I chose not to treat Maggie’s second cancer was to write down my thought process while it was still clear in my mind.  When the inevitable happens I think it is natural to second guess ourselves and wonder ‘what if?’.  But as you said- we will never know what would have happened if we chose another path.  We have to be able to find peace in our decisions and having my notes to refer to helped me know that I had made the right choices for Maggie.

I want you to know that you and Daisy are part of our family now and are always welcome. We have had several pups here for whom amputation was not the right option, but there is still the cancer journey to deal with.  I have always found that having help on that journey is invaluable so I hope you will stay here if it feels right.

Karen and Spirit Maggie

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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