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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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decisions to be made for 15 1/2 year old Dal with OSA
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Forum Posts: 68
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1 September 2014 - 9:19 pm
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My Millie had been limping for a couple months. I thought it was part of her arthritis issues, but a few weeks ago it got really bad & she was moaning & groaning while at “rest” and then i noticed the muscles on that leg (left front) were atrophied. Xrays show a tumor in the humerus near the shoulder, no obvious mets

My first reaction was to PTS right away but then I learned that there are options to help ease the pain. Was told to up her tramadol & Rimadyl and add Doxycycline and cyclophosphamide (which I haven’t been able to get yet due to holiday weekend). She’s doing OK & still herself, but it is obvious that it hurts (though she has stopped the vocalizations)

Am I crazy to even consider amputation on an old dog (not older; she is OLD). And one that has arthritis issues. She is not at the point where she needs help getting up but she has fallen up the stairs sometimes.

vet is saying osteo sarcoma but I wonder if it could be hemangio. Not sure how often that would go to bone but she had a splenectomy in dec 2012 with a final diagnosis of hemangioma. Kind of wonder if that biopsy was a false negative & this new tumor is a met

Sonya & "Millie"--born Feb 1999, diagnosed with OSA 8/27/14, set free 9/27/14
(RIP baby girl)

Livermore, CA




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1 September 2014 - 10:03 pm
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Welcome to Tripawds, your future posts will not have to wait for approval.

I’m sorry you are dealing with cancer in your girl- what is her name?

We have had older dogs here who have done fine with the surgery, but in those cases the dogs were still physically ‘young’. We have had some members with arthritis in their pups- hopefully they will chime in.

I have an old quad pug, Tani who is just over 14.  She has terrible arthritis in her back legs and moderate arthritis in her front legs. She recently hurt one of her front feet and is wearing a bandage.  She is having a terrible time getting around- it crossed my mind that if it ever came up for her she could not be a Tripawd.

What does your vet say about amputation? Does he/she think she is a good candidate?

 

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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1 September 2014 - 10:24 pm
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Vet didn’t even mention amputation. I am thinking we will not do it. I sure wish I could ask the dog! She had a very good day today but is currently laying here whining. I gave her her 3rd dose or tramadol about 10 min ago, so I hope that will kick in soon.

Sonya & "Millie"--born Feb 1999, diagnosed with OSA 8/27/14, set free 9/27/14
(RIP baby girl)

Virginia




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1 September 2014 - 11:18 pm
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Soooooo sorry you are having to deal with this. Everyone here knows the heartbreak when hearing that awful news. We are all right here with you, whatever you decide, okay?

Also want to say congratulations on having a dog almost sixteen years ol!!!! That is a remarkable dog who is clear well loved!!

This, in my opinion and only speaking for myself, is a really, really tough decision. I know there was a dog here recently named Cookie who was fifteen and alpeared to be a fairly good candidate for surgery.The vet did express concern that, at her age, it would definitely be a risk. Unfortunately it did not turn out very well and she was not able to leave the hospital.

Perhaps Shooter’s mom and Franklin’s mom will chime in…their dogs were both close to fourteen when they went forward with amputation and got great extended quality time. Also Lexie, a rnother miracle dog around here, had an amputation at almost fourteen and has been beating the odds for several months now.

And no, you aren’t crazy about thinking about amputation…you just love Millie and wwould do anything to keep her with you forever. We all understand that kind of devotion here. Have a heart to heart talk with your vet….she has quite a few challenges to consider very seriously.

My Bodie had his spleen taken out at thirteen years and it was hermangio. He crossed over almost three years later and the hma gio did seemed to have spread in the form of tumors around his heart.

I guess I would want a one hundred per cent guarantee that Millie has no other tumor or mets anywhere else before I would even consider going through surgery.

Work with your vet on getting the right pain relief balance. The medscan definitely keep the p ain at bay and give you some more quality time. Talk to y i ur vet about doingeverything possible to make surenhe doesn’t fracture the weakened bone in that leg.

You know Millie better than anyone and she trustsyou will do what’s in her best interest…as you have all her life.

Do have a “conversation” with her. Would she tell you she’s had a full life with more love and hap p y times from y o u that anyone could ever imagine possible? Would she tel l you she needs to know that whatever te two of you decide, she needs to know you will be okay?

The one thing you can do right now is stay in the present withMillie! Stay in the NOW! Take one day at a time and let nothing robnyou of your time together!! Take lpts of pictures and enjoynthe time you have. No one knows how much time any of us have.

I real k y hope she can get some relief with the Tramadol. And yes,check into options other than amputation..t..holistic also.

Please keep us posted.

Sending you and Millie love and clarity for doing what’s best for sweet Millie!

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle

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!

Virginia
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2 September 2014 - 1:11 am
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Hi Millie’s mom — Welcome, and we’re so sorry that you have to deal with these tough choices. It might be worth getting an opinion from an orthopedic vet or a physical therapy vet (in addition to your regular vet). Some GP vets seem skeptical of amputation anyway, especially for our older dogs.

One of our vets wasn’t sure Lexie would be a good candidate given her hip dysplasia and arthritis (plus Lexie had lung mets, too), but we did a surgical consult and the surgeon explained why he thought she’d be okay — and she has been, thanks to PT and great pain management meds. I also think that our K9 Immunity Plus and Glycoflex III supplements have helped. Both of those supplements may be helpful for you either way you end up going. 

One pro in the amp column is pretty immediate pain relief of the bad leg, which may possibly be contributing to overall discomfort and Millie acting older than her age. Have you heard about Dr. Dressler’s Dog Cancer Survival Guide ? It’s an excellent book covering the emotional journey as well as the physical aspects of cancer, from a traditional vet and an onco point of view.

IMO the Dog Cancer Survival Guide book should be required reading early on–especially for guardians of senior dogs. I wish I had ordered it sooner in our journey; I think I would have had less anxiety in hindsight on a number of fronts.  I think it’s worth ordering the paperback from Amazon (and if you search the Tripawds site and order it from their page, Tripawds will get a small portion which helps fund the great work they do, like making these forums available to us). 

Another option to consider to help Millie, in addition to aggressive pain management meds and supplements, is an evaluation with a PT vet, who also can be helpful with the amp/no amp pros and cons. Either way you can ask about a soft brace or possibly a firmer one, and the PT vet can take measurements and make recommendations. The soft kind you can custom order online from Therapaws, and the firmer one you can custom order from Orthopets. Spirit of full disclosure: Lexie hates her Therapaws brace and refuses to wear it, but most dogs do better in them than she does. 

Good luck on your decision, and please keep us posted. And if you don’t end up going the Tripawd route, you’re still welcome here as an honorary Tripawd!

 

  

Deb and Angel Lexie* Diagnosed at age 13. Tried radiation first; wish we had amputated upon diagnosis (even with lung mets). Joined Club Tripawd April 2014 & Lexie loved life on 3 legs! Advice: Start physical therapy as soon as your vet clears it, especially hydrotherapy if available :-) See Lexie pics here.  

The Rainbow Bridge



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2 September 2014 - 9:15 am
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Hi and welcome. So sorry you are dealing with this tough situation. It sounds like you aren’t entirely sure about your vet. If that’s the case and you have an inkling that amputation could be a possibility for her, then seek another opinion. If your vet is good s/he won’t get offended when you ask for a referral to a cancer specialist. If they do, then go anyways, if you think this is something you want to pursue. Many dogs and cats here have had lots of extra quality time with their families because their humans got a second opinion. Amputation isn’t always right for every dog but if you think it could be for yours it’s worth investigating.

Oh, a hemangioma is different (benign) from hemangioscaroma, which can go to the bone. A cancer specialist and path report can tell you what you’re dealing with.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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2 September 2014 - 3:57 pm
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thanks. I work for my vet & she probably assumed I wouldn’t want to do an amp on such an old dog & I’m not sure I do. She ordered me some Bone Stasis, a chinese herb and is looking into adding a bisphosphide? that was recommended elsewhere online and one my friend who worked at an ortho vet said they used there. I think it’s fossamax or something–one of the osteoporosis drugs.

There is another vet I would probably be using if I didn’t work at this one, but for the most part I like her pretty well. I do actually use a different doctor for most of my pets, but Millie went to her before I worked there & she is the only Dr there that does acupuncture/herbs.

I know hemangioma is benign. I was wondering if we got an incorrect biopsy result. It does happen. They only take 4 slices of the whole thing (her spleen tumor was grapefruit sized) & if all 4 slices were blood clot but a small piece they didn’t check was HSA then it could happen. It probably is not the case, but it was a thought I had.

Sure wish I had a crystal ball…

 

been awhile since I’ve been on one of these forum thingies & realized I don’t have a signature on this one so I am editing to add my name to this post

–Sonya

Sonya & "Millie"--born Feb 1999, diagnosed with OSA 8/27/14, set free 9/27/14
(RIP baby girl)

Virginia




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2 September 2014 - 4:45 pm
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HI AGAIN SONYA AND MILLIE!!!

I just want to commend you for keeping such a cool head and real k y, real k y focusing on what is best for your sweet Millie at this point in her wonderful “mature tenure” on this earth!!

Ane we’re all yelling BENIGHN!!!! BENIGN!!! It can certainly happen!!

I’m glad to hear you do have such a good relationship with your vet. It is very valuable that she knows you and Millie so well. It makes a difference! And sher open to holistic approach…all good.

To check out options that can offer some more almost guaranteed quality without putting her through the rigors of major surgery and recovery time (which can be somewhat “easy” OR..can be very, very rough and extended) seems to really be in Millie’s best interest.

Do a search on thissite for bisphoshide…Im not sure of spelling either. Also search alternatives when amputation is not an option.

Okay…now you’ve mastered adding your signature…..how about some n pictures of that sweet Millie!?

Sending lots of hugs to all! Keep on spoiling and loving…it’s so much fun!

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle

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!

Westminster, MD
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2 September 2014 - 6:05 pm
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Hi Sonya,
So sorry for the possibility of the “ugly c” in your sweet, old girl Millie…….this is surely a tough situation for you. While I am not an expert on hemangioma, I do know it is basically a harmless benign tumor, so my thinking is this current situation couldn’t possibly be related to that. Now, if you are talking about hemangiosarcoma, I surely know quite a bit more than I want to about that ugly cancer. My sweet Lab girl Polly, had a tumor on her front leg that resulted in her having her amputation, and it was a definite diagnose of hemangiosarcoma…..however, it only involved soft tissue and no bone involvement. Hemangiosarcoma rarely goes to the bone if ever, because it is a cancer of blood vessels, specifically major blood vessels in major organs which usually does start in the spleen, but this did not happen with Polly. My sweet black Lab Maggie, that I lost not long before Polly’s diagnosis, did have splenic hemangiosarcoma and only lived 46 days from start to finish with emergency surgery till she passed away from liver rupture. So my thinking is, your Millie’s splenic diagnosis of hemangioma was most likely correct. Hemangiosarcoma is evil, very aggressive, and vicious…..

Don’t know if this helped you at all, but I just wanted to give you my unfortunate experience with this awful cancer. I am hoping you will be able to make an informed decision for your Millie, because I know her being a senior can be a factor. Talk to your vet, and even talk to a surgeon to see what they think. I agree with Sally, holistic can be a very good approach as well, with good pain management .

Keep us posted on precious senior Millie, and as Sally says, more pictures……!!
Bonnie & Angel Polly

The Rainbow Bridge



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2 September 2014 - 8:38 pm
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Ohhh gotcha now, I totally see where you are at and I would be feeling the same way. 15.5 is quite advanced especially for a large dog like a Dal.

I like the way your vet is thinking, sounds like she is suggesting bisphosphonates ? If so, that’s a great idea, we’ve had quite a few members here utilize it as palliative care and it worked very well.   Here are some Forum search results about using bisphosphonates when amputation isn’t an option.

What do you do at the vet clinic? Are you a tech?

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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3 September 2014 - 5:01 pm
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At this vet i am a groomer. I started my career as a kennel assistant at a kennel/groomer then went to a vet hosp as an all around helper. Eventually became the boarding kennel manager there then went to grooming school & have been just grooming & pet sitting for the past 3 years.

 

my vet did look at Bisphonates at my suggestion & found information that they were not very helpful, especially given orally. I will probably do more research on it as a friend of mine said they used it quite a bit at the ortho practice she used to work at. I think she specifically looked at Fossamax.

 

No vet knows everything and treating such an old dog is very unsual. I asked 2 others in the practice if they’ve ever had a really old OSA patient & neither of them had any over 10 yrs old.

At 10 Millie was still like a pup & amputation would not have even been a second thought. It would have been scheduled ASAP.

At almost 14 she was still in great shape with no signs of arthritis. the decision for a splenectomy was tough, but I felt I had to take the gamble. It was the right choice, but there was no way to know that at the time.

At nearly 16, she has been showing a lot of sign of arthritis which has responded pretty well to acupuncture & really well to NSAIDS. I am having a really hard time not trying but I just don;t know if it is the right thing to do for her. I really just want comfort, not so concerned with “how long”. But would she be comfortable as a tri–I just don’t know. AND there’s the $$$ part. I have never let that be my deciding factor before but for the past year or so I have really been struggling to make ends meet. A couple thousand on a dog that isn’t going to make it is harder to justify than it used be.

basketball game is on so I need to give up the computer…

 

–Sonya

Sonya & "Millie"--born Feb 1999, diagnosed with OSA 8/27/14, set free 9/27/14
(RIP baby girl)

Here and Now


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3 September 2014 - 8:32 pm
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sevydots said
I really just want comfort…

If you decide not to amputate, you might consider getting a brace from Orthopets to help prevent a pathological fracture from the growing tumor.

Best wishes with the decisions you face, please keep us posted!

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3 September 2014 - 10:48 pm
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thanks. a fracture is a definite concern

Sonya & "Millie"--born Feb 1999, diagnosed with OSA 8/27/14, set free 9/27/14
(RIP baby girl)

Virginia




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3 September 2014 - 11:05 pm
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I just want to commend you for the incredible devotiow you have for Millie and commitment to doing what’s in her best interest.

Remeber, no dog has a time frame stamped in their butts.

Yeah, dealing with someting like this if a dog is ten versus fifteen and a half…no brainer. While a younger dog maybe able to handle this major surgery and adjustment efficiently…in an older dog it coud be the tipping point that starts a downward spiral, which can happen so easily in older dogs.

You are doing a splendid job of weighing your options and focusing on Millie’s well being and quality above all else. And don’t say you are “not trying” sweet Sonya! OMD! Deciding not to risk an amputation/surgery at her age doesn’t mean you aren’t trying!!! You are checking out other options and doing everything to ensure whatever time she has left is absolutely fulll of loving and spoiling and joy and comfort!!! That defines “trying”!!!

You two are a magical team!!!! Stay in the moment and let NOTHING rob you of your time together!! NOTHING!!!

((((((((((((Hugs)))))))))))))

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle

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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5 September 2014 - 5:25 pm
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Sonya,

Welcome to you and Millie.  While there is no RIGHT answer, you need to do what I best for all.  We are all aware of the money constraints and unfortunately there are no guarantees. I agree with Sally and have to ask…Did you have a conversation with Millie. Ok you and others may think that is crazy but I truly believe.  Jake promised me 5 years ago that he would tell me when he had enough. We were fortunate to have almost 5 years before the Ugly Cancer reared it’s head again.  In the end, we had the painful conversation and Jake told me when it was time.  We are here for you!

Laurie

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