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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13 April 2014
Hello, I'm new here. My 7 year old Dobermann mix Axl was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma in his vertebrae a few weeks ago following an MRI and we are considering cyberknife raditation at VCA in Yonkers NY as an option. Given the location of his tumor, it's inoperable, so we're trying to help him cope with any discomfort. Further tests have shown that the cancer may not have spread yet (I know sometimes this is undetectable with OSA). The tumor is affecting his ability to walk, but any pain seems to be manageable by meds as needed for now.
He's on Tramadol (50-150mg as needed), Prednisone (20mg/day) , and Gabapentin (600mg as needed).
We're in a tough spot with a tough choice to make - we can either keep him comfortable and try to make his remaining days good ones, or we can put him through the Cyberknife with no guarantee of results and 4 courses of anesthesia and any radiation-related side effects. He is still interested in life, loving, and has an appetite. The goal would 100% to try and give him a longer period of quality living.
We do have a vet who makes house calls visiting regularly to ensure he's still doing well.
I know many of you have been in this situation, I would appreciate any input. We love our dog and just want to do what's best for him.
Hi Chris, welcome and thanks for registering. Your future posts won't require approval. I hope you don't mind I moved your post here, we just try to organize pre-surgery members' stories in this one generally.
First, I'm really sorry to hear about the diagnosis, that's a tough place for the osteo to start. But, let me say that we know the folks at that clinic (Dr. Sue, right?) and boy you couldn't be in better hands. Whatever treatment you decide to pursue, they will do it with the utmost compassion and concern for Axl's quality of life.
I think this is a situation where you truly have to take things one day at a time. First, figure out if the potential side effects are going to interfere with your life together. Next, weigh that against the prognosis. Then of course there's the cost, which is expensive. I hate that finances weigh on a situation like this but the reality is that they do for most people.
Normally we don't like to focus on prognosis here. After all, many dogs and cats really make their doctors look silly and go on to kick cancer's butt for much longer than statistics say they will. I truly with all my heart hope this is the case with Axl and that cyberknife, if you do it, gives him a happy, healthy life for as long as possible. Here's a story about Katy, who underwent cyberknife radiation therapy.
Did the docs mention the possibility of bisphosphonates for pain relief?
As you know, your situation is different than most. When osteosarcoma or another bone cancer is in the spine, what we've seen here in stories like Jake's is that it tends to affect the body much faster than when it's in the limb. Nobody can predict what exactly will happen, but the terrible reality is that you're working with a much shorter timespan until the pain affects quality of life. What did Dr. Sue tell you about the overall prognosis and how much recovery time is generally necessary from cyberknife treatments? That of course also weighs into this decision.
I don't know if this helps but I know that more folks will chime in shortly so hang in there. Give Axl a big hug from us and remember that no matter what you decide we are here for you.
17 September 2013
Hi Chris, so sorry to hear of Axl's situation. We are the ones that started the thread on cyberknife vs amputation. In our case, Katy's immune system was pretty out of whack for years with Sebatious Adenitis and Endocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency. So in her case (we think) everything we tried didn't work including working with Dr Ettinger on cyberknife with a biphosphonate treatment added, our local oncologist with chemo, amputation, metronomic chemo and palladia. We were about to add in the inhalant treatment as well next but unfortunately she didn't make it. In regards to cyberknife, if finances are not an issue, I would do it again in that situation. I have to believe Katy was a one off given nothing worked in her case and Dr Ettinger has a reasonable history in treating Osteo with Cyberknife.
Katy's side effects from the cyberknife were virtually nil. She stayed there for 2 nights and was just a bit tired from the anesthesia when she came home. She was up and about without a limp and we were more concerned about her activity level and damage she might do to it wanting to run around business as usual. Dr Ettinger and her staff were great and supportive throughout, well after the cyberknife.
Feel free to reach out with any other questions or concerns in regards to this.
Hi Chris, so sorry to hear of Axl's situation. We are the ones that started the thread on cyberknife vs amputation.
Thank you so very much for chiming in here, what a wonderful gift, thanks.