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Debating Amputation for 9.5 Year Old Corgi Mixed Breed Diagnosed with Mast Cell Tumor on Rear Leg
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Member Since:
20 June 2024
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20 June 2024 - 3:53 pm
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Hi there. My dog Mia was diagnosed with a mast cell tumor on her rear left leg about 1.5 months ago through fine needle aspiration. Since then she has had an x ray on her chest and an ultrasound on her abdomen to ensure no spread, and there hasn’t been.

Mia is 9.5-10 years old and is a mix (think corgi build with chihuahua markings). She’s relatively active walking with us for about an hour a day and she loves sniffing and exploring on our walks. She also loves ripping her toys apart and cuddling. She is an anxious dog though and is easily afraid.

Since her diagnosis the vet has recommended amputation and we have decided to do it with much deliberation. We have looked at other alternatives, and given location the vet said they most likely could not get clean margins and would not be able to suture the wound. We also considered Stelfonta but it seems like an excruciating process. Her surgery is this Wednesday, and I can’t help but wonder if the surgery will be too hard on her? Am I making the right decision? I am prepared for the surgery with runners, stairs for her to use, and the recommended tripawd's harness but I am still so scared. I know it will be agonizing to see her in pain and learn to navigate life as a new tripawd, especially with her stubby little legs. She is so healthy and active otherwise I can’t help but think I’m taking her joy away by doing this surgery.

I’m just looking for support/advice, especially those who went through with amputation for an older dog, as I'm still debating whether to cancel the surgery or not.

Livermore, CA




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20 June 2024 - 9:17 pm
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Hello and welcome, your future posts will not have to wait for approval.

My first Tripawd was a Pug named Maggie, she lost her left rear leg to a MCT.  She was 7.5 years old at the time of her amp and although her prognosis was poor she lived almost 4 more years and did not pass from mast cell cancer.  If you are interested you can read her story and about her amp and chemo, the links are in my signature below.

How big is Mia?  Mag was about 17 pounds post amp.  Maggie was not fearful but very, very set in her ways.  She hated any changes to her routine and I was worried about her amp recovery... and I was right!  She was able to hop on her own the day of surgery (not far though) and she had no medical complications but she was not happy with her new normal.  She spent about 6 weeks mostly in bed until she was ready to accept her new life.  Then she was back to her old self, a bit more stubborn than before! There were things that she couldn't do anymore and I felt bad about that until I realized she didn't care.  She figured out how to do what she wanted and got back to her best Pug life.

Most dogs here are back to themselves after two or three weeks, some older dogs take a bit longer.  Life after amputation is certainly different but that does not mean its bad.  I got my first dog stroller once Mag was healed up so she could come along on all our walks. 

Now I have a 9.5 year old Pug Mix named Elly who lost her back leg to a car accident when she was 7 months old.  I take both my dogs up to a local lake once a week for a 3 mile hike.  Elly gets lots of time to sniff and explore and then rides in the stroller so she doesn't overdo.  We also do lots of food puzzles and games, trick training, and strength and balance exercises (which we treat like a game).  She also does the sport of Nose Work which is an excellent game for Tripawds. When I adopted Elly she had severe anxiety and fear issues so I understand your concern.  Elly was already a Tripawd when I adopted her so I don't know how she was before, but we believe her anxiety came from being re-homed over and over- I was her 4th home at 10 months old!  She was understandably afraid of cars when I first got her, but we worked through that and now she is fine.

You may want to look at our Size and Age Matters forum for stories about older dogs.  We have had dogs older than Mia have an amputation and of fine.

 

Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls and Boy

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

The Rainbow Bridge



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20 June 2024 - 11:05 pm
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Hi Brittany, welcome! I'm so glad that Karen was able to approve your first post because she really is our in-house expert on mast cell cancer. She gave you a ton of great insight and to that I'll just add that 9.5 really isn't that old. We've had dogs much older than that here, and they went on to live a good quality of life afterward. Smaller dogs especially are able to rock life on three for a long time! 

Yeah, amputation isn't always what we want but if it means our dog or cat can live a good life on three without pain, than why not? I do agree that Stelfonta is a pretty messy process that most people aren't cut out to deal with. It's an option for sure but if a dog's an otherwise good candidate for life on three, I'd chose amputation over a slowly disintegrating tumor that I had to manage at home. 

And although long-bodied dogs have a few more mobility challenges, that's no reason to think that Mia won't do well. Just check out Charles and Dewey! 

https://tripawd.....body-dogs/

Also, rehab therapy can be so helpful to us as we learn what is good and not good activity for our new 3-legger. It really makes a difference in recovery success, and we believe in it so much that Tripawds Foundation can pay for your first rehab visit too!

I hope you'll join us on our Zoom call on Tuesday night so we can meet you!

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21 June 2024 - 4:20 pm
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Karen, thank you so much for sharing your experience. I’ve read Maggie’s story and honestly it was so inspiring. What a roller coaster it must have been for you both. I can tell Maggie persevered with much strength and I’m glad that you were able to have the time that you had with her after the amputation. I'm surprised at how quickly she was on her feet after the surgery and how quickly she adjusted to her new normal. Maggie reminds me of mia, stubborn but playful.

How big is Mia?

Mia is 22 pounds and we would ideally like to get her to 18 -19 pounds (vet recommended), but we don’t want to put too much stress on her before the surgery. (I do plan to institute a weight loss plan that is vet approved after the surgery.

Elly sounds like such an intelligent and sweet girl, and I can relate to your point about her having a rough start in life. Mia is a rescue and I have no idea what her life was like before she came into my life.

 

Jerry, thank you for your kind words and thank you for sharing the post about short long bodied dogs. I can’t believe I missed this! And also I had no idea about the zoom call either, it is somewhat timely as it is the night before Mia’s surgery, me and my partner will definitely drop in.

The other things that worry me about Mia is that she just had a bout of pancreatitis in March and I really hope the stress of the surgery does not bring it on again. Furthermore, she does have some arthritis that presented itself with limping earlier this year (we actually brought her into the vet for the limp, and noticed the lump the night before), which she is on gabapentin (200mg) for now and back to her old self.

It’s 5 days now until her surgery, and is approaching so much faster than I thought. I really hope that she will be comfortable and in the least amount of pain as possible during her recovery.

 

Thank you both for the support, it has helped ease my my mind about this decision.

Virginia







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21 June 2024 - 8:32 pm
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Hi Brittaney  and Mia.  As you can tell from the invaluable insight and information fro. Karen  and Jerry you are definitely  in the right place for support. 

Everyone here understands the emotions, the fear, the uncertainty,  the panic, that consumes  us as we try and do what's best for our dogs and cats.  We have to remind ourselves  that a decision  made out of love is always  the right decision. 

The way you have described Mia's personality and her zest for life, I sincerely believe this is the decision she would want you to make for her. You're giving her a chance at a pain-free extended quality life for more spoiling, more loving and more toys to rip apart.  Once recovery is complete she'll be able to continue  on walks with you with her "stubby little legs".....and we want video!!

Is she staying at a fully staff 24/7 clinic? It's always best if possible to leave the dogs in that type of care for at least one night. I'm sure the surgeon will do all of the proper blood work, Etc prior to surgery to ensure Mia is in Tip Top shape. Many dogs proceed through amputation even with arthritis. Not considered a deal-breaker at all.

When you do go pick her up from the clinic don't even bother to look at her incision or draw attention to it. She just wants to see your happy smiling face telling her she's a good girl and she's going home! A strong confident positive energy is very important during recovery.

We are here 100% to be by your side  to help you navigate through recovery and on to celebrating all of the Milestones that Mia will achieve as an adorable tripawd

I hope you are able to make the zoom call. I think you'll find a lot of reassurance and a forum to answer any questions you might still 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!

The Rainbow Bridge



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22 June 2024 - 2:25 pm
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Aww I'm glad we could help you feel a little better about all of this. Mia has been through a lot lately, she sounds like one tough gal though! And she's very lucky to have humans doing such great research. We will meet you on Tuesday! 

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23 June 2024 - 7:23 pm
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Sally, thank you for the kind words and advice. And yes I will definitely share some pictures of her soon!

She isn’t staying at a 24/7 facility, she will be going for surgery in the morning and then coming home late afternoon. The vet is the best in the city but not 24/7 sadly. She just had her pre-surgical blood work this past week and there were no issues at all!

I will update this post after her surgery, and I hope to meet you on the call as well.

The Rainbow Bridge



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24 June 2024 - 11:06 am
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The first couple of nights can be rough so be ready for that. Animals come home pretty out of it and dysphoric from pain medications. But as long as her at-home pain management is good, she should do fine. Just keep in touch with your vet.

We are thinking of you! Please keep us posted. Hope to see you Tuesday.

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26 June 2024 - 3:52 pm
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Hi all, Mia has just come home after her surgery. The surgery went really well, when we got to the vet to pick her up she was curled in one of the vet tech's arms.

She is very alert (looking around and trying to see what the the cats are doing as always, and wagging her tail) but I'm really really worried about her pain management . She has been crying since we picked her up about an hour ago, although she did spend about 30 mins in a car on bumpy roads, but I feel like the pain management they gave us is not enough. Lifting her from the car was very difficult and she cried a lot.

 

She is on gabapentin (200mg a day (which she was already on for arthritis) which they told us to give her an extra dose tonight) and they gave us 0.69ml of M-ELOXYN (4 doses/1 a day, to be started tomorrow), and 250mg of the antibiotic clavaseptin. She is really really bruised too. I can tell she is in pain I'm just not sure if it's too soon to call them back

Virginia







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26 June 2024 - 5:08 pm
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Okay, surgery' is done and she is home👏👏👏👏

Most likely what you are seeing is a very confused, sort of out of it Mia  who is still shaking off anesthesia.   When a 24/7 clinic isn't  available,  it's an extra layer of stress for you to observe Mia going thru the first 24 hrs  after surgery. While their certainly  could be some pain involved, and probably is, , (I'll address that further down) most likely she had a good dose of pain meds at the hospital 5o get her through her next pill time.  Again, same day surgery you are probably  seeing the effects of the anesthesia  more than anything else.

Obviously we are not Bets and not giving Bet advice.  It does seem that one dose of Gaba a day is NOT  enough to curb her pain.  This is MAJOR surgery and most dogs have doses anywhere from every eight to twelve hours at least.  I know she only weighs 22 lbs, but whatever the mg she needs it cannot be stretched out to just once a day.......if I read this right.

 

So I would call the Vet about that the med dosing.  Also you can send a picture of the bruising  (which is to be expected) just to keep track if it gets worse, etc. FWI , sometimes it does get worse before it  gets better.....but just keep an eye on it

You can also ask of she received  an injection of Novicta .....8t's a pain blocker, msny surgeons give after this type of surgery.

Also, the Meloxicam in an anti- inflammatory and does very little to actually help thos type of pain.

So yeah, give your Bet a call about revisiting  her pain protocol.   Let us know the outcome, okay?. Hang in there, this first night is probably going to be pretty rough for all the reasons I outline. It is important that she drinks water and does urinate. Eating and pooping will probably be delayed a little bit, so just give her any yummy foods she'll eat to get the pills down.

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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27 June 2024 - 10:39 am
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Hey there, just catching up. How is she doing today? I'm guessing you saw her being dysphoric and a bit wacky from the surgery meds she received. I hope she's better.

Since she was on Gabapentin before surgery, my guess is that your vet felt the post-op pain was going to be at a lower level and wouldn't require a higher dose. Sometimes that can be the case. But again, not vet, but I agree that the dosing should be adjusted if she is still showing pain signals . A round-the-clock dosing 3 times a day is usually the ticket, if you can be home with her to give it to her mid-day). This is what we see that usually works well for members. Ask for the Gabapentin in 100 mg capsules so you can adjust up or down easily. 

The M-ELOXYN (Metacam) does help reduce pain by bringing down inflammation, but it works better when used together with Gabapentin that is consistently given. 

Keep us posted!

P.S. Now that Mia is on her way to recovery, you've graduated to starting a new topic in our Treatment and Recovery Forum! Please start one there so that people can follow along with her recovery. Thanks!

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27 June 2024 - 6:36 pm
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Thank you Sally and Jerry both. I created a new topic here (Mia - 9.5 year old Corgi Mix Recovering from Hind Leg Amputation) in the Treatment and Recovery Forum to follow Mia's recovery process with an update.

The Rainbow Bridge



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28 June 2024 - 11:51 am
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Oh pawsome, hopping over there now!

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