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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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Hello again, a twisted turn of events.
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Westcliffe, CO
Forum Posts: 18
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27 December 2018
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9 July 2019 - 7:46 am
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Hi Everybody! Alot of you offerred so many comforting words and advice to us back in December when our Marley had to have a front leg amputated due to a freak accident in the car. I have thought of you guys many of times throughout her healing process, she is doing fantastic. 

But yesterday, we were given the most devastating news about our male Catahoula, Knoxx. He has been limping on his left rear leg for the past six-ish months. We took him into our vet around Feb to see what was up. Doc gave him the thumbs up, his x-rays looked just fine. Gave us rimadyl, and some dasuquin treats. It didnt really get better. For about the past 3 weeks, he has really not been putting any weight on the rear left leg. I decided he needed to go in for a re-check. Yesterday was that day. Osteosarcoma. The worst news I could have imagined. We are now faced with so many heart aching questions that all of you have gone through. Luckily, I remembered we are not alone. So here we are.

The cancer is close to his knee in his rear left leg. My immediate thought was, amputation is a breeze- lets do that asap. But of course, doubt is setting in. This is different than Marleys situation because Knoxx’s days are numbered. Do we have recovery time? Is it worth going through? Will the cancer spread faster if we remove his leg? 

The closest cancer specialist to us (Colorado Springs) does not have an opening until Aug 15th. I went ahead and scheduled with them, but am going to call again and beg for an earlier opening. Our vet says chemo needs to begin no later than 2 weeks after amputation. So, to wait to amputate? Or to chance having to wait on chemo?? Or should we even do chemo?! Help. 

Tearily Eyed and Desperate

Elle

Virginia




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9 July 2019 - 10:09 am
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Nope, YOU ARE NOT ALONE!  And, as you already  know, we will do our best to support you and answer any questions we can.

Geez, so sorry to hear about Knoxx  We all certainly  understand  the shock of hearing this and how stressed you are about all the unknowns.

Of course, Knoxx didn’t  hear any of this and isn’t  worried about a thing!  Ahhh…the bliss of  being  more dog!!

For now, I would just keep things chunked down for now..  The first order of business  is making plans for the amputation,  if that’s  the path you take. You can decide  on chemo later.  And yes, a two week window  for chemo is generally  around two weeks, but many, many dogs have it delayed going into the third week, or even a bit further.  Some dogs take longer to recover,  get their appetite  back, have infections, or sometimes  scheduling  is an issue, etc and chemo is delayed  accordingly. My Happy Hannah got her first of four at the three week mark and sailed through  the treatments.

As you know, amputation is the only way to get rid of Knoxx’s pain.  If he’s limping, it hurts.  No one knows how much time anyone has.  If you keep in mind that the main purpose of the amputation  is to remove the pain and give Knoxx a quality lofe, for however long he is in this earth, it helps eliminate  all the second  guessing  questions.  Knoxx doesn’t  care about days on a calendar, he only cares about  being loved and spoiled  and making every moment  the best moment  ever!!

If you do have access to an Orthopedic  surgeon sooner, I would try and make that happen.  Not to scare you, but there is always  a chance of a fracture,  as well as the meds not being  able to manage  his pain while you’re  waiting  for the surgery.  What med is he on now for pain?

Almost everyone  here will tell uoj ths amputation  is “worth it”, whether  the extended time is months or years.  The amputation  gives them a chance to be pain frre AND to get great extended  quality  time!!!  The recovery  “generally” takes about two weeks-ish.  As yoj already know, at first it’s  about rest, short potty breaks and more rest and managing  the pain.  The sparkle starts to come back little  bit by little bit and then BAM, all the sudden  Knoxx will be living  life to rhe fullest!! 

So yeah, if you can get that bum leg removed sooner than later, that would be good!  Get the xrays cleared, have the surgeon  assess if he’s  a good candidate and move forward.

Knoxx!!  Listen up!!!  You sure did go to the extreme  to make sure you get all the attention  for awhile by pulling  this stunt!!  And, it’s  a really sweet way to show solidarity  with your brother!

(((((((((((((((((((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



Forum Posts: 25255
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9 July 2019 - 4:50 pm
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Oh no! Oh my gosh. I’m really sorry you are here for this reason! But like Sally said, you are not alone, not by a long shot. 

It’s a scary thing to proceed with amputation, but it’s the only way to get rid of his awful pain. Will amputation make the cancer spread faster? Nobody knows but odds are if it does that is not the reason why it would. What matters now is making sure that your crazy Catahoula gets rid of that bad leg before it shatters. You don’t want to go through another trauma like that again, this one would be even worse.

Did the CoS vet practice know why he needs that amputation? That is an unreasonably long time to wait in a situation like this. Can your family vet pressure them to get him in sooner? If they still can’t get you in, you are in luck because there are a ton of AAHA-accredited clinics in town. If you’d like help choosing one let me know, I can winnow down the best-sounding ones for your situation.

Right now the important thing is not to focus on the prognosis, or even the chemo decision. That can wait. Focus on helping Knoxx feel better. Catahoulas are strong, strong dogs and when they show pain, it’s bad. He has every factor on his side to do well as a Tripawd. And you as an experienced Tripawd mom, well heck, you’ve got the recovery part down! 

And yes, it’s ideal that chemo starts in two weeks but it’s not a make or break situation. Many dogs wait longer because of various circumstances. And some don’t get it at all. It’s not mandatory, don’t forget that.

Breathe. Be More Dog . And know that your boy will handle this much better than any human ever could. Now it’s up to you to set the tone. Be pawsitive! And let us help you once again, we are here for you.

Don’t forget to check out Jerry’s Required Reading List and the Tripawds e-books for lots of tips.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Forum Posts: 19
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9 July 2019 - 5:30 pm
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Hi Elle,

I know it’s definitely further away but you could also try VRCC in Denver. We had a much easier time getting in to see specialists there with our dog than up at CSU. We worked with both Dr. Elmslie and Dr. Arnold and we liked them both. The oncology direct line is 303-874-2054.

Our other dog also had an orthopedic surgery there years ago and we were pleased with his care in that department as well.

A bonus, VRCC is also one of the few hospitals that has the osteosarcoma vaccine available off trial which was also what solidified our choice to move our dogs treatment from CSU to VRCC.  I know it’s certainly not convenient but may be worth a call. 

Wishing you and Knoxx all the best. If you ever need a contact or support in the Denver area please feel free to reach out. 

– Heather 

Forum Posts: 52
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10 July 2019 - 6:34 am
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My boy was diagnosed with histiocytic sarcoma just over a month ago and despite the poor prognosis we opted for amputation as a first step. He has just had his first chemo – 3 weeks after op as he took quite a bit if time to adjust and we needed to get his body on track before the chemo.

The chemo has been fine so far – but we are awaiting bloods to check internal impacts. Outwardly he is coping with it very well, but he’s only had one dose! He is also on oral lomustine.

Personally I think its worth it – all your thoughts went around mine and to some extent, still do, but hopefully getting him out of bone pain was main concern. Checking internal organs for metasteses  is also key – so getting CT scans prior to decisions made would be my recommendation – if internal organs are clear, then you have a better benchmark of whether you feel he will benefit from surgery or not.

Wishing you luck – definitely think you need to get him seen as soon as possible anywhere – especially for scans if you haven’t had them already?

Westcliffe, CO
Forum Posts: 18
Member Since:
27 December 2018
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10 July 2019 - 8:59 am
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Thank you all. Yesterday, I had my husband call around. We got Knoxx scheduled for a CT scan on Monday, with another Vet in Springs (Powers something or another). He has his amputation scheduled for Weds with our regular Vet. Our thinking right now is to make sure the C word hasnt spread anywhere else, before we put him through an amputation. I feel confident that the amputation is the best choice and I even wonder if we should have the Vet in springs amputate depending on the scan results. He is going to have to stay over night for the scan anyways, I am dreading that.

But for now we are giving him Gabepentin (every 8 hours) and Rimadyl (every 12 hours). Along with some full spectrum CBD. He seems to be quite calm, slightly lethargic. Not his normal excited self. But that could be the meds, and it may be a good thing so we dont have a fracture before next week. 

We also changed his diet. Meat, Veggies, Fruits. And a touch of brown rice. Trying to do my best to research what is in his best interest. He has already been on a limited ingredient dog food for the past 4 years or so, but I doubt it is offering enough nutrients to him now. I also ordered him a calcium supplement and an omega 3 supplement. I am going crazy, arent I?? I just HAVE to do everything I possibly can.

Sally- Thank you so much. Youre right. Knoxx isnt counting the days. Thats a stupid human thing. I will cherish every moment. 

Jerry- I may need guidance here soon if I cannot find somewhere to do the chemo treatment. I appreciate it. And being more dog is the best advice. 

Heather- my hubby left a message with VRCC yesterday, they came highly reccomended from a trusted friend of mine. Thank you for the direct number. Were you able to try the vaccine? My vet sent me home with a packet explaining the clinical trial at csu. I live about an hour west of Pueblo, but I will drive just about anywhere for my boy. Thank you.

Lisa- I totally agree. I hope we can keep him relatively pain free for the next week. 

Virginia




Forum Posts: 17569
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10 July 2019 - 9:49 am
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Okay, whether it feels like it or not, you ARE moving forward!  Good job!

Is the Vet in Springs an overnight fully staffed clinic?  How ’bout your Vet??   It’s  always best IF possible,  to have them stay at least one night at an overnight  staffed Vet.  Another option would be to transport  him to an overnight  clinic after surgery.  And yes, we know not all of these are options so if taking him home after surgery  is necessary, that’s  still better than leaving  him unattended all night.  It is certainly  doable….. not fun, but doavle!

And  if Knoxx is a bit lethargic from the meds, that probably  is a food thing so he isn’t  running  around doing zoomies!

Keep us posted.  You’ve  got this!!!

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!

Westcliffe, CO
Forum Posts: 18
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27 December 2018
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10 July 2019 - 10:01 am
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Sally- I will check on that. That would give me some peace of mind for sure. 

But good news, we were able to get Knoxx scheduled with VRCC in Denver for the First of August, for potential chemo treatment. Thats a big relief. We will be babying him after his surgery next week, so hopefully he will be good and ready for that appointment. This is all such a roller coaster.

Is there a certain way we can prepare Knoxx for the chemo treatments? I know that they tend to wipe out everything. I am wondering about putting him on milk thistle to nurture his liver with all of the up coming meds.

The Rainbow Bridge



Forum Posts: 25255
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10 July 2019 - 10:06 am
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Great progress indeed!

Is the clinic Powers Emergency Animal and Specialty? If so that’s great! They are AAHA-accredited and they have a fantastic group of vets.

As for chemo…in my own experience, it’s best to hold off right now on starting any new supplements, diet changes, etc, especially if he’s had dietary issues in the past.

His body is going through a lot, so keep things as normal as you can until he heals. Some supplements may also interfere with surgery and chemo, so my best suggestion is to start reading the Dog Cancer Survival Guide , which will prepare you for the upcoming surgery and treatments. Remember, you ARE doing things for him. Go slow though, don’t get too overwhelmed and remember your job is to make things as normal as you can for Knoxx. He will appreciate it tremendously.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Forum Posts: 19
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10 July 2019 - 6:16 pm
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So glad you were able to get him in sooner! 

We did not get to try the vaccine as our dog’s cancer had already metastasized by her second chemo and it doesn’t sound like they’ve found the vaccine to be effective once that has happened.  She would have been ineligible to receive the vaccine as part of the clinical trial at CSU (because her tumor was in the scapula and we elected to do stereotactic radiation versus amputation) so we were very happy to learn we could purchase it off trial at VRCC. It’s expensive off trial but based on everything I read about it I would have sold my organs to pay for it if I had to!

We were fully prepared and excited to try it had her cancer not ruined our plans.

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10 July 2019 - 8:10 pm
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Amputation will not make the cancer spread faster.  Most people think of bone as solid hard stuff.  This is not the case.  Bone is extremely vascular (lots of arteries and veins and a big blood supply).  Remember that the components of blood are made inside the bone, and it makes sense that there is tremendous blood supply.  As further illustration of that, when we cannot get IV access in an emergency, we can insert a needle into the bone.  Medicines injected into the bone enter the central circulation as fast as an IV.

That being said, because bone has such good blood supply, cancer cells that start in the bone are spread along this blood supply to the body.  When small cells travel along the bloodstream, they pass through the heart and into the lungs.  The lungs are where these cells often come to rest.  That is why the most common metastases (spread tumors) are in the lungs.

As a hospice nurse, I have learned the one of the most challenging pains to manage is bone pain.  The vascularity of bone is matched by its innervation.  Lots of nerves being disrupted by growing tumor means lots of pain.

When humans have bone cancer, they can tell us about their pain.  We can adjust medications, both amounts and types of meds because we can figure out with the help of the patient exactly how effective the drugs and combinations are.  Our dogs can’t tell us and in fact, are programmed by evolution to hide their pain.  We have to be very alert to see pain.  When a dog limps, they HURT.

This is why the best choice to remove the pain is to amputate the leg.

It’s ironic that lung cancer is often painless until the very end.  Symptoms are respiratory.  

I hope this helps explain a little bit about what this bone pain, metastases and amputation is all about.

Peace and love to you.

The Rainbow Bridge



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10 July 2019 - 8:16 pm
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kaisu said
I hope this helps explain a little bit about what this bone pain, metastases and amputation is all about.

WOW. I. Am. So. Impressed! Thank you a million times over for sharing your knowledge with us, this is a wonderful explanation! I have never seen it put into such terrific, easy to understand laypeople terms. If you don’t mind I’d like to include it in a future news blog post. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
Latest Tripawds News
Read my story here.

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Forum Posts: 36
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10 July 2019 - 8:19 pm
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Absolutely my pleasure.  It is the least I can do to repay you and this site just a bit for being here and helping me when things were really rough.  Anything I write is yours to do with as you see fit.

The Rainbow Bridge



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11 July 2019 - 7:13 am
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Paw shucks, thanks! We look forward to reading more of your knowledge!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
Latest Tripawds News
Read my story here.

Support the Tripawds Foundation!

Westcliffe, CO
Forum Posts: 18
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11 July 2019 - 12:22 pm
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Yes thank you for that. I hate to hear that the cancerous blood has travelled throughout his body, but that is reality I suppose. I am still searching for the magical “just do *this* and he will be fine” answer. I am anxious to have his leg be taken off. I want to have it done asap, but with our vet asap is Wednesday. I am hesitant to take him any place else. 

Also, we got a quote for the CT scan. About 1600 dollars. I absolutely hate to even consider money as a factor when thinking about my Boy’s future but if we skip the scan, that is money we can put into chemo treatments. I am considering cancelling the scan.. and thats one less anesthesia session. 

I ordered some K9 Immunity Support powder. Hopeful for some healing. How have you guys coped with life continuing?? Like how I am supposed to keep working like nothing happenned? I am a hairdresser and am seriously wanting to cancel all further appointments. In fact, I am only working half days as soon as I can. All I want to do is be with Knoxx. 

Thanks for letting me ramble. 💙

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