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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

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Calgary, AB
Member Since:
30 January 2010
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29 March 2012 - 10:10 am
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A few of you may remember me from my best gal Tai who was my Tripawd warrior and lost the fight October 2010. I also have a couple of other labbies, including a lipoma factory 14 year old, a one yr old puppy and Kali who is now 2 1/2. Yesterday I was given a preliminary diagnosis of Kali's persistent shoulder lameness. Possible deep seated mast cell tumor. This is as a result of fine needle aspiration during an MRI. The report indicates some spindle cells, some mast cells, blah blah blah, difficult to provide a specific diagnosis, blah blah blah. Lots of big words. A biopsy is scheduled for Tuesday to hopefully fully excise the tumor but seeing as it is well hidden under the scapula I'm not expecting a great result. I am extremely reluctant to amputate as her other shoulder was broken as a puppy (playing with Tripawd Tai) and has 2 screws in it. Does anyone have any experience with NOT amputating, instead opting for debulking the tumor as much as possible and then doing radiation? For that matter, does anyone have any experience with radiation in general? It wasn't a road I went down with Tai. All of my dogs are all grain free already and I have started Kali on K9 Immunity , CoQ10, Omega 3 and various other supplements right away. Any other suggestions or recent developments I should be aware of specific to mast cell?
Thanks everyone.
Laura, Angel Tai and Kali

Tai – 9 yr old lab. Diagnosed Osteosarcoma Dec 18/09. Front right leg amputated Dec 21/09. Started chemo Jan 7/10. Lung mets discovered Sept 16/10. Valiant to the end on Oct 26/10 when cancer reappeared in a leg and we made the decision to set her free. Forever in my heart where not even cancer can take her from me.

29 March 2012 - 1:59 pm
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Hi Laura,

I'm right with you on the 'here we go again'- quad pug Tani has recurring mast cell tumors although so far they are all on her torso.  Maggie lost her leg to a MCT. De-bulking was not an option for us- the tumor was into the tissues in and around the knee and they would not have been able to get enough of it out. 

I've never done rad so I can't help with that.  Angel Rio's Mom Micki (riosmom) is probably your best resource here on MCTs, Rio battled for almost 4 years, did rad and chemo and an amp.  Here is their blog.  Another pup who recently did rad is Happy (happy2003)- although his was after amp and is not because of a MCT.

Maggie went through chemo after her amp- you can read about that HERE.  What I've seen recently on MCTs is this chemo or a variation is still used.  There are also new drugs out since Maggie's amp: palladia, and mastinib or kinavit.  Both were released for use in MCT treatment but are now being used for other cancers in dogs.  I think Rio tried palladia, and Angel Abby tried them both (I think) you can ask Jackie (AngelAbbysMom).

Dang- I hope the biopsy comes back as nothing...

Tani has done well so far with minimal intervention, but we are in a little different boat with recurring tumors. Once there are multiple tumors they tend to keep coming.  I'm not even taking them off now.  Maggie also had recurring MCTs after her amp- I think I had 6 removed besides the one that caused the amp. She had a diagnosis of mets in her lymph system after her amp which is why we did chemo.  She was given 6 to 9 months and lived almost 4 years, and she didn't pass from mast cell cancer. I would not have done rad with Maggie because she had trouble with anesthetic, and they have to be put under each treatment.  I almost lost her after two surgeries. Turns out it was not an option for the tumor in her leg anyway.   But I know many dogs do fine with rad. You can PM me if you want to talk more about my experiences.

I'm sorry you are going down this road again.


Karen and the pugapalooza

knoxville, tn
Member Since:
12 February 2010
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29 March 2012 - 5:19 pm
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we don't have any help on radiation, but gosh, this is just so awful to know you are facing the path again...hope you get good news from the biopsy, and you can find a treatmen that will work for both of you.  sending our best ET juju to you guys!!


charon & spirit gayle

Life is good, so very, very good!!! Gayle enjoyed each and every moment of each and every wonderful day (naps included).  She left this world December 12, 2011 – off on a new adventure.

Love Never Ends


western Washington
Member Since:
7 June 2010
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29 March 2012 - 11:23 pm
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Hi Laura,

I remember you (we were in the same time period).

I'm so sorry about Kali. We don't have any radiation experience. Just wanted to send you my prayers and support.

Here's to pawsitive thoughts and health.




Kona turned 9yrs on April 16, 2010.
Kona was diagnosed Memorial Weekend 2010 with osteosarcoma.
Right rear leg amputated on June 4th. First chemo June 18th 2010
Second chemo July 9th, 2010      Third and final (yea !!!) chemo July 30th, 2010
ONE TOUGH GIRL this Australian Cattledog !

***Kona's journey/fight ended late in the evening of December 22, 2010***

                               We Love you so much Kona….always   

  Bella 9yrs, albino lab/aussie shep/pit?(abandoned in mts as a puppy) deaf & blind (from birth) in one eye limited vision in other.(laid back, ok lazy 73 lbs)

Cotton, 5yrs, albino hound/terrier of somesort/???(abandoned in mts as a puppy) deaf & blind in one eye(from birth), excellent vision in seeing eye. (ball addict…destroyer of Kong balls…yes,etc), high energy 55lbs knots of muscle)

Kona Kai's pup brother and sister as well as her buddy and playmate cat, Shaymous 12yrs (like Seamus), miss her terribly.

Greater Western Washington area
Member Since:
25 August 2010
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30 March 2012 - 4:50 am
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I remember you too, I am so sorry about Kali!  I hope it isn't cancer 🙁  I will be saying my prayers for you guys,


Elizabeth, Sammy's mom

Diagnosed with osteosarcoma in the right front leg 8/23/10,

leg fractured 8/27/10,

leg amputated 8/30/10


I couldn't begin to say how special Sammy is to us.  Living and laughing with and loving this wonderful boy is priceless.

Member Since:
1 February 2011
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30 March 2012 - 2:57 pm
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Hi Laura,

As Karen mentioned, we have lots of experience with Mast Cell tumors.  If that ends up as the diagnosis, then on the one hand it's better news than osteosarcoma, but on the other, cancer is cancer, and it's too bad that you're having to deal with this again.

Rio's first mast cell tumor was in her "armpit" area.  As such, it was difficult to get really good margins on it, or maybe it was just a particularly obnoxious manifestation of MCTs, because it would grow back just about as fast as we could remove it.  We decided to go for radiation, and following her third surgery, she went for a course that was twice a week for about 6 weeks.  She was seven at the time.  I can honestly say that her cancer never came back -- in that same area.

Most folks don't go the radiation route, because there aren't a lot of places that have the resources to provide that sort of treatment.  We actually went to Swedish Cancer Center in Seattle for ours -- a people care center -- because there were no vet facilities that provided radiation treatments.

Some of the new targeted drugs (that Karen mentioned above) have shown some promising results, although, like all new therapies, they are a bit spendy.  We tried the Kinivet as a last ditch effort when the final round of chemo didn't work, but from everything I've read about it, it actually is more likely to have positive results when used as a first-round effort (vs. following traditional chemo).

If I can answer any questions, please feel free to PM me.  Here's hoping the biopsy gives you some definitive answers, and that it's good news.


Micki, Rio's momma

the Woo

~ ~ Rio ~ ~
Forever in my heart...

April 2000 – January 20, 2012
Diagnosed with Mast Cell Cancer in June 2007. Left rear leg amputated Feb. 8, 2011.
Mets discovered Aug. 31, 2011. Read more of Rio's story here.

Las Vegas, Nevada
Member Since:
14 August 2009
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30 March 2012 - 8:30 pm
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I'm so sorry to hear about Kali.  I don't have any answers to your questions but I did want to send good wishes and to say, it rather sucks to face it all over again.

Sending you my best. 

Her Retired AvatarComet - 1999 to 2011

She departed us unexpectedly  January 23, 2011 at the age of 12 1/2.

She was born with a deformed front leg and a tripawd all of her life.

Peoria, IL
Member Since:
8 November 2010
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31 March 2012 - 12:17 am
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We've had no experience with radiation, but sure understand this agonizing process. I am so sorry you may have to go through the whole cancer thing again — sending you good wishes and pawsitive thoughts.

Beth and Spirit Smilin' Sammy

Smilin' Sammy, March 16, 2004 – Dec. 5, 2011
Golden retriever, diagnosed with osteosarcoma in September 2010 — right front leg amputated November 2010. He fought valiantly to stay with us; but a second diagnosis of osteosarcoma, this time in his left front leg, was more than our golden warrior could overcome. He loved his pack — and everyone else he met.

We loved him even more.
Thanks for the pennies, Sammy. They helped.

1 April 2012 - 12:08 pm
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No experience with any of that stuff but I am so sorry that you have to get back on that not so fun rollercoaster. I will be praying for you and Kali and hoping for the best possible outcome.

Kirkland, WA
Member Since:
2 June 2009
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1 April 2012 - 12:41 pm
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Hi There!  We didn't do radiation, either, but I currently work for a veterinary oncologist and we see many patients who have.  Our oncologist doesn't do rad onc, but we refer our patients to WSU or a radiation oncologist down the road who uses a human facility after hours.  Usually, the doggies do quite well!  There may be a slight burn appearance or pigment changes in the skin, but that's no biggie.  The thing with radiation is that it requires multiple sessions, and the dog must be under anesthesia.  This may be a non-issue, it just depends on how comfortable you are with having your dog anesthetized multiple times, and any risk factors that Kali may have with regards to anesthesia (each anesthesia session carries a risk of death - it has happened).  The thing I would be worried about would be if it turns out to be a MCT - the skin issues related to radiation can cause itchiness, and if she scratches at the site, this can irritate the Mast Cells and cause them to become inflammed.  Also, if it's a MCT, it should be graded, and an ultrasound should be performed to make sure it hasn't spread to any internal organs.  The only issue we've had with a patient that received radiation was for an oral mass - the procedures caused holes to be burned on either side of his tongue which made for breathing and swallowing issues.  Once discovered, the holes were stitched up and he is fine.  Radiation can be a good option depending on the type of tumor, grade of tumor, or location of tumor.  Just be sure to weigh the benefits and risks, make a list, and discuss them with your oncologist!


<3 Laura and Invisible Jackers

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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1 April 2012 - 8:35 pm
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Oh Laura, I'm so sorry you're probably dealing with cancer again! This is so unfair. Poor Kali, she is so darn young.

From what I understand, I think the success factor of radiation therapy varies. Sometimes the tumors come back some times they take a long, long time. I wish I could help you more but I"m not very familiar with MCT. Have you checked out Dr. Dressler's E-Book, the Dog Cancer Survival Guide ? I know he has some good, current info about it. Here are some links about Dressler's work.

This sounds like the kind of situation where you might want to get a second opinion. I'm hoping that her age is a huge advantage with whatever you are both faced with. Please keep us posted OK?  {{{{higs}}}}}

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

Member Since:
13 July 2009
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1 April 2012 - 10:03 pm
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Hi Laura, of Tai - and also Laura of Cap'n Jack - this is like a reunion

That has to be a bummer to face another form of cancer this soon and with such a young pup. I am so sorry to hear this.

I did not do radiation and Tazzie of course had OSA, not whatever Kali has, but if I were in your shoes and was really uncertain about what to do I might consider talking to the people at CSU (Colo state). I think you are in Calgary, right? I wasn't terribly impressed with the high-priced specialists there (I think we went to Western and I realize there is another place in town and have heard better things about it).

CSU has that fancy form of STS radiation that is higher dose but more targeted, so it seems to be one or two sessions rather than a multitude of sessions.

A few dogs on this site have used radiation for OSA when amputation was not an option (bilateral OSA). Timberkins had a good result with STS at CSU. They used bisphosphonates to strengthen the bone at the same time. Pez (sp?) might also have had radiation - not sure but you can probably search the archives. He was older and the vet did not think he was a candidate for amputation due to age and arthritis. I think after 6 months or a year of bisphosphonates and radiation they did amputate, and he did great and lasted quite a long time.

Good luck on Tuesday. I hope there is good news. Keep us posted.


p.s. to Laura of Jackers - Congratulations on your position! You are rattling on about oncology treatment the way you used to rattle on about Jack's list of supplements! Gold star superstar smiley

Madison, WI
Member Since:
5 December 2009
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1 April 2012 - 10:09 pm
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No input here, but pawsitive thoughts and paws crossed for you guys!

Gerry has been a tripawd since 12/16/2009.

He was a shelter dog with a mysterious past and an irrepairable knee injury.

Videos and pics of Gerry's pawesomeness can be found at:

Calgary, AB
Member Since:
30 January 2010
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2 April 2012 - 11:00 am
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Wow HI Laura of Cap'n Jack, Susan of Tazzie,Elizabeth of Sammy, Denise of Kona, Micki of Rio, Karen of Pugapalooza, Charon of Gayle, Comet, Jerry, and everyone else!! It was so good to hear from you all.
Charon...thanks for the juju, Kali is running around like a lunatic in the sun with hardly a limp so she must've received that healthy ETjuju dose you sent.
Laura...congrats on your job, it sounds like an ideal fit for you! clap I have missed you being around since Jack became invisible and am touched that you answered my call for help.
Susan...I will definitely contact CSU. Thanks for the suggestion and info on the "new" rad treatments. I feel a Colorado road trip coming up laughing
Jerry...Yes I agree, a second opinion is warranted. I keep hoping they only find a muscle tear in tomorrows surgery (I hear comments about Ostrich's and sand being murmered but I don't care winker) otherwise I'll be asking for another viewpoint.
Micki and Karen...I appreciate the PM offers and will probably be picking your brains on MCT, STS etc in the future

Thanks again everyone!
Laura, Kali and Angel Tai

Tai – 9 yr old lab. Diagnosed Osteosarcoma Dec 18/09. Front right leg amputated Dec 21/09. Started chemo Jan 7/10. Lung mets discovered Sept 16/10. Valiant to the end on Oct 26/10 when cancer reappeared in a leg and we made the decision to set her free. Forever in my heart where not even cancer can take her from me.

Member Since:
13 July 2009
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2 April 2012 - 6:46 pm
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Hi Laura of Tai and Kali

I forgot to mention - CSU has a phone consulting service that is excellent. You leave your information. An oncologist will call you back in the evening. These are the oncologists who work with the dogs during the day (overworked oncologists I would say, but they are good). I believe it is a free consult although they like people to leave a donation, understandably. You can find that info on their website.

CSU would be a nice one-day drive from Calgary. Tazzie and I were en route, but it was too late in the game for him so we didn't make it that far.

Hey - I like ostriches. I hope you receive good news tomorrow, or whenever the results come in. Hopefully none of this sorry advice will be needed.


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