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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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Husky with agressive cancer -amputation or pallative care?
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Forum Posts: 3
Member Since:
30 November 2018
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30 November 2018 - 4:02 pm
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this story will be familar.  11 year old husky wolfdog Denali was diagnosed with metastatic apocrine cancer in his elbow (which is highly unusual for this type to be in the elbow). The specialty vet thought they could save his leg so we have done surgery, stereotactic radiation, carboplatin, and a little bit of palladia since June 2018. 

After all that, the cancer has returned to his leg and is probably still present in one of his nodes. A chest xray 1.5 months ago showed no cancer. He is limping,  very slow, and not putting much weight on the bad leg. Currently he is on gabapentin, carprofen, and trazadone for the pain. I’m trying palladia again if he doesn’t have diarrhea from it. 

The oncology vet said we could discuss amputation to relieve his pain, but it would not be a cure-all for this cancer “on fire.” So now we have a decision of amputation or palliative care. 

Some things going thru my brain-

1.  Even if amputation relieves his current pain, he is an older dog and will have to recover from it. Not sure if he has arthritis in his other limbs. He has recovered very well from other surgeries. 

2.  He will probably die within 6 months ? (No one is saying but this is my guess) – so will amputation help his qol in his short time left?

3. We have spent probably $30k on his diagnosis and treatment thus far. We make a decent living so we could afford it. We made a deal to ourselves not to regret the expense even if Denali died soon after. Amputation would be $5-7k? A part of me wants to stop spending money. I feel very guilty about this. [insert rant about my $8k car and how $30k could have bought me a new Subaru Outback lol]

4. My husband is willing to throw money towards the dog (who is like my first born son) and is pro-amputation. But he is much softer hearted and I am harder hearted and more pragmatic. I have been at many animal euthanasia’s and know it’s a peaceful process which we will do at home)

5. Is there anything else we can do for his pain? Acupuncture? 

6.  We discussed amputation at the beginning of the process but opted not to. I’m trying my hardest to not have hindsight regret. 

Thanks for reading. This is such a difficult decision when we know death is coming fairly soon either way. 


Here and Now

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30 November 2018 - 4:38 pm
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Welcome and best wishes for Denali! No regrets allowed…they told us Jerry would have “only six months” and he ended up Loving Life On Three Legs for two years after his osteosarcoma amputation.

Plenty of your story is familiar, and you will find many success stories about senior Tripawds here in the forums and blogs. Of course, every dog is different. But it is all about quality of life now, not quantity. Everyone also understands that cost is always a concern, and they do add up.

There are many things you can do for pain, and you will find many helpful pain management articles, podcasts and video interviews with experts in the Tripawds News blog – the best treatment, however, to ensure pain relief in these situations, is amputation. The pain of recovery may last 2± weeks, while tumor pain will only get worse, often resulting in rupture or pathological fracture.

While you wait for comments from others, use the Advanced Search above to refine your forum search results with specific phrases, and you’re sure to find lots of helpful feedback. You can also search all blogs here . Or, consider downloading the Tripawds e-books for fast answers to common concerns and feel free to call the toll-free Tripawds Helpline anytime!

Please keep us posted. Your future forum posts will not require moderation. Meanwhile, start here for help finding all the helpful Tripawds resources and assistance programs.

Latham, NY
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2 December 2018 - 2:46 pm
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So sorry you have to go through this.  Cancer is horrible.

I do understand about the money piece.  We went all in with Fallon’s treatment, and were in for tens of thousands of dollars after amputation, chemo, vaccine, curveball medical stuff–but for us, as long as there was a bit of hope, we were going to chase it.  When our primary vet told us that amputation was ^not* the best option for Fallon, I have to admit I felt a bit relieved about the financial piece, knowing what wed be in for.  But we got a second and third opinion, and amputation rose back to the top–our vet was wrong.

Would I do it differently, knowing we only had almost a year with her after all that?  No way.  Our girl was happy, healthy until the last few days, and definitely enjoying life.  A fairly soon death is all relative, and you’ll read all kinds of beating the odds stories here.   

We had pretty good savings available to cover any vet issues, and thought that would be sufficient–but cancer sucks.  I will not let finances dictate a medical decision for my “kids”.  Because we could never again pay out what we did for Fallon’s care, we decided going forward we’d insure our dogs.  Live and learn. 

It’s a really rough decision, hopefully you’ll find a path that bring you peace.  Hugs to you and Denali heartheartheart

Fallon  8/28/06--9/6/18.  My Heart.

Fallon's left front leg was amputated due to osteosarcoma on 10/11/17.

Nothing But Love in Her Heart -

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