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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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How to cope with the decision to amputate a kitty leg without any symptoms
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Forum Posts: 2
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20 July 2019
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20 July 2019 - 8:59 pm
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One of my two tabbies, Miles (11 years old), had his first tumor removal surgery in November 2017.  It was determined to be a nerve sheath tumor and they thought they had got all of the margins.  Miles had his second tumor removal surgery in March 2019 after the tumor returned in the same place in his rear leg.  This time, they took even bigger margins and a nearby lymph node.  I was hopeful that the second time would do the trick.  Just about a month ago, I noticed that the tumor was growing back yet again and at an alarming rate.  Miles and I met with the oncologist and after weighing the options, I’ve made the decision to have Miles’ leg amputated.  The surgeon and oncologist both agree that amputation is a good choice and is most likely to give him a long, quality life.  His surgery is in 9 days.

The hardest part (besides thinking of my fur baby having to yet another undergo surgery) is that his leg is perfectly fine.  Miles has absolutely no symptoms – he has no pain, no limping, absolutely nothing that would make someone think he has a cancerous tumor in his leg (except of course you can feel the marble-sized tumor).  My brain and science tell me that I am doing the right thing by removing the cancer and leg that will eventually cause him complications/pain/etc.  My heart is telling me that he is a happy and active kitty (today he was chasing birds in the backyard). 

How can I help my brain to win this battle?  How can I justify to my heart that he won’t hate me for doing this and that it is the right decision?  While this forum has helped me see that tripod kitties tend to do really well, I’m just struggling. 

The Rainbow Bridge



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20 July 2019 - 10:02 pm
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Hey there, welcome. I need to make this short because I’m a terrible phone typist! I will have more thoughts when I’m at my desk tomorrow but for now, what I think may help is to put yourself in his paws.

If you had a cancerous tumor in your leg, what would you want?

By the time animals show pain things are really really bad, so by doing this now you are saving him a lot of agony.

I will be back tomorrow but until then others will see your post and can share feedback too ok?

Hang in there, we are with you every step of the way!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Forum Posts: 27
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21 July 2019 - 10:07 am
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Hi, 

Just thought I would give my thoughts on this. My kitty was also diagnosed with a cancerous tumor in her left hind leg last year, at that point we were basically told that there was nothing we could do besides palliative care until she passes because of her age. They gave her less than a month to live. As Miles she didn’t show symptoms of pain apart from the occasional limp which we managed with pain killers. For a year she walked on it but deep in my heart I knew the tumor was wreaking havoc in her leg. Until about two months ago she managed fine but then developed a constant limp, the tumor had also grown in size. It was evident by then that something needed to be done. I insisted they amputated her leg despite her age. We had it done and she’s recovering now, it was a tough decision even when the limp was present. The vet told us when they did the biopsy that there was basically nothing left (bone, connective tissue) she was walking on the tumor. And I only wish we would have proceeded much much earlier to spare her from the pain.

All this to say, I think that even if Miles manages fine now, there will come a point where you will have to make a decision because of the pain that will be worse…

Well those are my thoughts and my experience with this. Some other more experienced members will definitely give some expert advice!

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21 July 2019 - 11:03 am
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I totally understand the brain/heart conflict.  I know in my head that removing my dog’s leg was absolutely without a doubt the best decision for him.  You couldn’t convince my breaking heart in the first few days and weeks post amputation when he was struggling.  I mourned the loss of my bullet fast fur missile.  I cried a lot.

A month later, and my boy is doing great.  He is doing 95% of everything he did before the surgery.  More importantly, he is his happy, goofy lovable self.  If anything, the bond between us is greater than before.  I was there by his side when he was in need, and this has deepened our connection in ways I did not think were possible.  I love this dog with all my being.  

It’s important to realize that animals do no think like we do.  He has no “body image” issues.  He does not mourn the loss of his limb.  He just goes on day by day in the moment, experiencing his life without regrets for the past or fear of the future.

Nothing can diminish the fact that cancer is horrible, but I am grateful for how things turned out.

Hugs and love for you and Miles.

Livermore, CA




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21 July 2019 - 1:40 pm
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Hello and welcome.  I’m sorry you have to deal with this decision.

My Pug Maggie had mast cell cancer and unlike many here dealing with debilitating pain from bone cancer Maggie had no pain from the tumor in her knee.  I only found it one day by accident when we were playing.  I know dogs tend to hide their pain but Mag had always been quite the drama queen when it came to injuries so I think I would have seen some signs.  Anyway- I was devastated when the vet said amputation… how could that be the solution to a little bump on her knee?  I don’t think I had ever seen a three legged dog and couldn’t imagine how Maggie would cope with losing a leg.  We started our cancer journey before Tripawds was here so we went it alone.

With a little research and discussions with oncologists and surgeons I came to realize that because of the tumor location it was highly unlikely that they could remove it and if left in place the tumor it would eventually ulcerate causing a painful wound that might never heal and it was almost certain that the cancer would spread internally.

The first few weeks for us were challenging- Mag recovered physically just fine but was a grumpy slug for almost 6 weeks.  I certainly didn’t help matters since I was grumpy too, sure I had made a terrible mistake, we fed off each other emotions!  And I was mourning the things she couldn’t do any more- sure she would be unhappy with her new lot in life. 

Once she decided she was OK with her new normal (she was a stubborn Pug very slow to accept any change in her life) she came back to the happy, mischievous and even more stubborn Pug she had always been.  I still spent time worrying about what she couldn’t do any more until one day I realized that she could care less and was finding ways to do all the things she wanted to do.  Sure, there were things she couldn’t do anymore, but I was the only one missing them!

Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls

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

The Rainbow Bridge



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24 July 2019 - 8:25 pm
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How are you doing? I hope that you can see how others have felt exactly like you do now, and that there is a path you can take to overcome the guilt you feel about making this decision for Miles.

Remember that animals do not feel hate or guilt or anger the way humans do. They live in the here and now, and what Miles will know when his leg is off and he is recovered, is that he feels better. As his human, you are giving him the gift of a better quality of life without a tumor-ridden leg. Anyone would want that for themselves too. You are doing right by him.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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25 July 2019 - 8:44 pm
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Thank you nounou, kaisu, krun15, and jerry for your thoughtful responses.  I am doing okay with it all, but know I’ll be one sad cat mom on Monday when I drop him off at the vet.  Hearing the similar stories is helpful and knowing that so many dogs and cats go on to have quality lives is encouraging.  Miles is a champion of recovery – I’m sure he’ll do better than I will with all of it!  I’ll need some cat mom support to remind me that my attitude is important in his recovery!

Virginia




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25 July 2019 - 8:58 pm
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Just catching  up on your very handsome Miles.  You’ve  gotten such good input and I can only say “ditto”  We definitely understand   the inner turmoil that goes along with trying  to make the best decision  for our furbavies.  And we also kmow how happy you will be, and how happy Mike’s will be, when all this is behind you.

Were all here for you and right by your side the whole way, okay??

We would looooce yo swe mpre poctures pf thst handsome  Miles! Hint!

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!



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25 July 2019 - 9:04 pm
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Sorry to hear about the diagnosis and multiple surgeries. You say that “the surgeon and oncologist both agree that amputation is a good choice and is most likely to give him a long, quality life.” Perhaps you can ask what the risks are by delaying the amputation. Their response could help you with your decision. 

My cat Mona had her amputation 5 years ago and she’s doing great. Every now and then I can see that it’s more work for her to move since she lost her front leg but she’s a very happy cat, has renovated the house and she trained me to adapt. And, the best thing… the amputation saved her life.

Recovery isn’t easy. Make sure you get the support you need!

Kerren and Tripawd Kitty Mona

Virginia




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25 July 2019 - 9:11 pm
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KITTY MONA!!!❤❤❤❤❤❤   Kerren, so glad to hear from you and to know Mona is doing so well!  Rake care of yourself❤💜🧡💛💚💙

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



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25 July 2019 - 9:34 pm
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Likewise Kerren, thank you for your wisdom! 3-paws up to you and magnificent Mona!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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