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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My rescue Shih Tzu has been diagnosed with cancer in his right front leg. It isn’t bone cancer, just a tumor that is hanging off his leg that continues getting larger. It bleeds and we have to change the bandage daily. We have been told by several vets the leg needs to be amputated. However, he also has collapsing trachea and we are having a hard time controlling his coughing with medications. The specialist wants to do a single surgery to place a tracheal stent AND amputate the leg. Does anyone have experience with a dog having surgery for both of these problems? I am more than willing to do this if it will help him. But, I don’t want to put his body through more than he can handle. I would like feedback on this and if anyone has had stent surgery for your dog, how your dog has done afterwards over the long term. I know each case is different but I am struggling in making this decision. Rudy is very tough so I ‘think’ he would do well after, but I’m scared for him.
Hi and welcome. What’s your pup’s name? How old is he? He’s lucky to have such caring parents asking great questions.
My first thoughts are, has the specialist done any kind of dual-surgery like these two before? If so, how often does s/he do them.
On the surface it makes sense to do both, since it’s one anesthesia procedure. I’m not familiar with the stent procedure but I thought I read that a collapsing trachea puts a dog at a higher risk of anesthesia complications. Combined with the Brachycephalic structure of your dog, you really, really want someone good to do this.
If your vet is a board-certified surgeon with the “DACVS” initials after their name, you’ve got a highly qualified person to do surgeries, but the bigger question is how often do they do something like this?
Did the vet give you any feedback on the recovery procedure for the stent portion of the surgery?
Sorry I’ve got more questions than answers right now!
Hi Jerry. Thanks for your concern. His name is Rudy. We aren’t positive of his age because I rescued him along the road in 2012. At that time, the vet I took him to thought he was under a year old. I have had several dogs over the years and I also thought that was a good guess based on his teeth, size, etcetera. So we are thinking he is around 8 to 9. We have been to several vets for both the collapsing trachea AND the leg, including Ohio State vet clinic 3 times and they basically did nothing except charge us exorbitant fees to do a fluoroscopy, a fluid biopsy, and some blood tests. Before we found this specialist in Cincinnati, we were either told it was too risky or they wouldn’t blame us if we opted to euthanize him. This Dr is accredited, has been practicing over 16 years, and I found an article where he also works with the Cincinnati zoo some. He assured me he does the stent surgeries on a regular basis. He was very thorough in explaining everything, and while he said there is risk, the alternative is to do nothing and eventually Rudy will have to be put down as the leg will become necrotic when the tumor outgrows it’s blood supply. There was absolutely no pressure from them to commit to anything. So I think we are in good hands, but didn’t ask him if he’s ever done an amputation and a stent on the same dog. He gave us several papers and a detailed description of what would be done for Rudy, along with his card. I think I am going to email him and ask several more questions. Before committing to the surgery I was doing a bit of research and I found this site. So I was hoping to get additional feedback from others who may have experienced this also.
Oh fantastic! Rudy is in great hands it sounds like! You’ve done your homework and while it certainly won’t hurt to ask more questions that will give you peace of mind, my guess is that you’re dealing with a top notch surgeon.
Also, Rudy’s still a young pup relatively speaking, and he sounds like he’s got a fightin’ spirit.
I’m honestly not sure if we’ve ever had a member in a similar situation but maybe someone here can jog my memory and provide some names we can look up.
Stay tuned for some feedback from the community!
Hi and welcome.
I can’t think of a member in a similar situation… I know we’ve had some collapsing trachea dogs but as Jerry said it was more of a concern about anesthesia.
I’ve had Pugs for 20 years or so and am on my second with a collapsing trachea. Obie is a 13 year old quad Pug however and we are just now starting the discussion about adding meds for him, I’ve not had to do the surgery so I can’t help with that.
It sounds like your surgeon is on top of things! My question would be how long does the trachea surgery take to heal? A front amp Tripawd is going to hop on the front leg and I wonder how much pressure that would exert on the throat and chest area. When my Pug Maggie had her rear amp (mast cell cancer) we were told that she was only allowed short, leashed potty breaks for the first two weeks so if the healing time from the stent surgery is about the same then Rudy might be fine with both.
The other concern that just popped into my head is getting meds into him. There can be lots of pills after an amp surgery-pain meds, anti-inflammatory, sometimes and antibiotic. Good pain management is really important after a major surgery so you want to be sure that the trachea surgery won’t interfere with meds.
Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls
And hello to Krun15 – Thanks for your input. From what I’ve been told and found through lots of research, it is more of a ‘procedure’ than a surgery and recovery is instantaneous after they wake up. The nitrol mesh stent is lowered into the trachea then pulled through a tube-like device that lets it expand as it comes out. There is no suturing, it is held in place by pressing against the walls of the trachea. The main concern is to keep him from coughing as little as possible for several weeks afterwards, so the walls of the trachea can heal around and absorb the mesh into them. I worry the most about him coming out from the anesthesia as he may also have collapse in the main stem bronchus, and there is currently not a viable stenting procedure for that deepest part of the trachea. The only confirmation we have is from a fluoroscopy that was done the first trip to Ohio State. So the current specialist in Cincinnati wants to grade the collapse and do a bronchoscope to see what we are truly dealing with. This along with chest xrays and blood tests would be done the morning of surgery to make sure his cancer is local to the leg and hasn’t spread. The specialist is confident as long as he’s had this tumor that it hasn’t, plus Rudy had a chest xray last year and he was clear then. Fingers crossed the stenting procedure would help him enough to give him a good quality of life for the next 4 to 5 years… hopefully longer! I know if he could talk, he would tell me ‘let’s go for it!’ as he still tries to run and play sometimes, and it breaks my heart when he has to stop playing due to a coughing fit.
I think that sounds like a totally reasonable plan. What a surgery! Gotta love the technology out there.
You may want to ask your vet how pill form medication could be given without causing any issues. Maybe you can get compounded pain medication in a liquid form instead?
Seems like Rudy is definitely “talking” to you with every play session, run and romp that he tries to enjoy. He’s got the spirit of a champ!
22 February 2013
WOW!!! JUST WOW!!!! K ow k e thi g fot sure, your love for Ridy comes shiny through! Clearly, you are doing 3CERYTHING POSSIBLE, E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. P.O.S.S.I.B.L.E to give him the best chance for a quality life. Your research is commendable. Your devotion has no limits.
You know Rudy best. And to me, this says it all:
I know if he could talk, he would tell me ‘let’s go for it!’
Thank you for taking g rhe rime yo share all this I valuable information. Rudy’s presence here will help others in the future who may be faced with the same issues.
We’ll be cheering for Rudy. We’ll all be watching for his updates. And we must have pictures! Here’s a link for adding images .
Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!
PS. BTW, great insightful questions from Jerry and Rene. Glad you got such great jnput to follow up on.
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!
Wow- that stent insert procedure sounds pretty awesome…too bad he needs it but it sounds like it will have almost no affect on an amp surgery. Thanks for sharing the info you have found. We aren’t near needing a stent but it is comforting to know how ‘simple’ the procedure seems to be.
I hope all the pre surgery test and evaluations come back with good news and Rudy is soon on the road to feeling better all around.
Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls
Thank you all so much for your kind words of encouragement, and support. And I wanted to clarify for informational purposes to anyone who may have to have this done – while the stenting sounds like a wonderful thing, I have been cautioned there are risks involved with it as well. It does not usually totally eliminate the coughing, and it is considered more of a ‘salvage’ procedure when other options have failed. Scar tissue can form on the stent, and there is a slight risk of the stent splintering or migrating. It’s a very expensive procedure and I can’t seem to find much information or feedback from others who have had it done for their dog. But I feel in our case we are running out of options so we will most likely take the plunge and do a lot of praying for his well being. I will definitely provide updates to how things go with this, once we get through it. Thanks again to everyone for your input… I really appreciate it!