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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Brand new here and quite sad about having to join this community. My amazing 10 year old rescue mutt Bailey was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma last week in her front right leg. We are considering amputation – one surgeon said we should absolutely go for it and another said he doesn’t recommend it because of how hard it will be on her to recover. I’m curious if anyone has experience amputating a front leg AFTER a rear ACL has already been repaired. She healed wonderfully from that surgery about 15 months ago. She’s quite spunky for an old girl (except recently – she won’t even walk right now due to the pain) and the idea of giving up on her breaks my heart. I’m a cancer survivor myself and she was by my side the whole time. But I also don’t want to put her through unnecessary surgery if she won’t be able to handle it and recover and get back to doing to her favorite activities. So thanks for any insights.
Hello and welcome to you and Bailey! Yep, this is the club nopawdy wants to join but you’ve come to the right place for support. I’m sorry about the diagnosis. We dealt with it for our Jerry and I remember the emotions like it was yesterday.
Yes, we’ve had quite a few members join us in this same exact situation. And some Tripawds even had cruciate repairs after amputation, a recovery that some vets would say impossible but these dogs proved otherwise. I’m on my mobile right now so a little challenged to look up these examples but stay tuned for others to chime in with some, and I will do my best to remember to post some links later today.
Meanwhile why did the second vet think that amputation wasn’t a good idea? And was that vet a boarded surgeon? I’m assuming the first one was?
Yes both board certified – the one who recommended against it was the one who repaired her ACL and he did a great job so I was heartbroken when he said we shouldn’t do it. So I sought a second opinion of course from another board certified surgeon. The one who said no has done this twice with his dogs – I suspect his past experience plays into his opinion in the matter. What he said basically was that, any result, any outcome is ultimately fatal. There’s lots of nerves and arteries to be severed. It’s going to be really painful and he just doesn’t think we should put her through all of that for her to live another 6 months. In my mind – if we can get this leg off safely, she’s gonna beat the odds. She’s always had an incredible spirit!
22 February 2013
Glad you got a second opinion!! You are to be commended for a great attitude and for advocating gor Bauley! Bailey sounds like she’s ready to get rid of that bum leg and get on with living life to rhe fullest!
I’m owned by a front legger rescue Hound named Frankie. He has had rear leg surgery on BOTH legs almost exactly the the day a year apart! I get confused on the “names” of the procedure. The first one was the “less expensive ” cruciate repair with the “fishing line type” method. The second one was the more expensive procedure (TPLO?) with screws and medal. The second in healed faster and seems to have given him a better range of motion and a more normal gait with that particular leg. Knocking on wood, thankfulky both got the job done!
KNOCKING ON WOOD, he gets around just fine all things considered, especially having been a tripawd fot many years! Not a Vet and don’t know Baikey’s specific situation, but in general, and based on what we’ve seen here numerous times, the previous cruciate repair shouldn’t be a problem.
Now, as far as the first Vet’s opinion. There are no guarantees one way or another as far as “timeframes”. We DO know that no dog has a timeframe stamped on his butt! Check Bailey’s butt. Nothing there, right? We DO know that amputation takes away the pain, and clearly Bailey is inm pain. Is she on any pain meds now?
Statistics don’t mean much around here! As a survivor, you know that better than anyone! Yes, some dogs blow stay6 oit pf rhe water around here!!! And some don’t. But one thing we know, we have to give them that chance AND, again, we must remove the pain!
Now, as far as the Vet describing it as a painful surgery, yes, it is! It’s major surgery! HOWEVER, with proper pajn management protocols it can be minimized AND recovery doesn’t last furever! Generally it’s about two weeks for recovery fron rhe surgery itself, and about thirty days to get good adjustment yo walking in three.
It sounds to me, and I may be hallucinating, the Vet was more concerned about Bailey being in pain and not quite as concerned about the cruciate surgery. Is that right? Again, the pain can be managed. Not saying recovery is a picnic, but the meds will help tremendously!
Here’s a great link Jerry just posted on current information on managing pain by Dr Dressler. He is a Bet who coauthored a great resource The Dog Cancer Guide Book Update for Dogs, by Dr. Dressler
And reme, dogs don’t count days in a calendar. They live in the NOW, in the present. Once recovery is done, your sweet Bailey will make your heart smile every day as you watch her effortlessly flow from k e glorious pain free moment to the next😎 Watch out sibling Mastiff, Bailey ‘s gonna wamt tom play with you non-stop !
Keep us posted and let us know if you have any questions, okay?
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!
You’ve done a great job checking your options. It’s hard to understand why the first surgeon would be so down on doing the amp since it’s not your dogs weight or other medical conditions that are the reason why he said no. Maybe his other patients weren’t taken to rehab right after surgery. I’m guessing he had a bad experience clouding his recommendation. Who knows.
But what I do know is that not all dogs will succumb to osteosarcoma in six months. Our own dog Jerry did not, he lived two years with no chemo. We never expected him to live that long, nobody did. Others in our community have gone much longer, five years even. Some do not. But almost everyone says they are glad they were able to help their pet get out of pain and live out a normal life for whatever time they had left. As the saying goes, life itself is ultimately fatal, and there are no guarantees either way.
Your pup is in pain, and acting quickly is smart. If a third opinion will help, do it. We’ve seen others seek out third ones to break the tie, it can help.
Thank you so much for taking the time to respond and share your insights with me. You’ve given me some new things to consider and some hope! Unfortunately our tests on her lympnodes came back inconclusive and we were waiting on those to proceed with surgery. But right now, we are tentatively schedule for this Weds for the amputation.
I’m nervous and second guessing myself whether or not this is the right thing to do. But having success stories is very helpful. It’s such a hard choice to make. This is awful. But if I consider the alternative, that is even more awful.
It doesn’t seem that either surgeon was concerned about her ACL – so that is a good perspective to consider when thinking about why the first surgeon said NO. If anything, I saw how quickly she recovered from that surgery!
Thanks again for your insights and support. I know every dog is different so I have to just trust myself and know that I can make the best choice for my girl.
You are so welcome. Yes! She has many positive things on her side and with your good attitude, you can get through this hard part with flying colors.