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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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Forum Posts: 68
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27 August 2016 - 9:16 pm
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Hi All,

First off what an amazing forum to stumble upon. Just reading through some of the posts makes me feel like I’m not alone in making these decisions, there are so many of you having done the same thing. 

Here is our story, Schlomo’s story really. Schlomo will be 11 years old in December, he is an active, healthy dog, an amazing lab mix with a beautiful and kind spirit. He has taught me about what it means to love unconditionally. He truly is always happy.

This might be long, I apologize, bear with me if you can. 

A few years ago he suffered from a shoulder injury which turned chronic and he developed a limp on his right front leg. After some time I noticed him limping on it more than usual but specifically licking his paw and lifting it almost as if he was cramping. 

I took him to my orthopedic surgeon vet but they couldn’t find anything. I took him back a few more times saying something was off and noticing he was almost pointing his right paw, like a ballet dancer as to avoid putting pressure onto the middle of his paw. After much back and forth they finally found a tumor under his big paw pad and removed it. He was then diagnosed with low-grade hemangiopericytoma, which is a locally invasive cancer and rarely spreads further but is very likely to recur in the same area. 

It has been removed 3 times total and radiation was recommended by my Vet. I met with the Oncologist and she went into a litany of statistics and numbers and percentages of curing the disease but from all the research I have done on my own these are very, very invasive treatments. He would have to go through 18 radiation treatments over the course of 3.5 weeks with sedation every time and about another 3 -4 weeks in after care for the burns that will occur. It being under his foot it is likely his paw pad will be entirely destroyed. 

I am at a loss here. Knowing my dog and how sensitive he is I think for him having to do that 18 times and being sedated and in a clinic, which scares him, would be a severe psychological event. 

I have asked them about amputation when just uttering those words was excruciating for me, they seemed surprised but the more I tell them about him and what I think he would best recover from they seem to understand. 

Am I crazy for thinking this might be better for him? 

I am also wondering about arthritis. Will that potentially be increasingly difficult for him as he gets more senior if he were to have an amputation? 

He eats very clean, he is on raw meat, bones, organs, vegetables and supplements. I am working with an herbalist to boost his immune system. I know I have to take care of his paw one way or another and then keep him healthy. 

Has anyone been through something similar? What do you think of these possibilities? 

Thank you so much for reading this if you are and I would appreciate any feedback. 

THANK YOU!!!

-Schlomo’s Mom

Livermore, CA




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27 August 2016 - 10:29 pm
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Hi and welcome, your future posts will not have to wait for approval.

I’m sorry you are dealing with such a difficult decision for your boy Schlomo.  I don’t know much about the type of cancer you are dealing with, I did a search in the forums and got these results: http://tripawds…..;include=1. Maybe there is something there that could help.

My pug Maggie had mast cell cancer, she lost her left rear leg because of a tumor in her knee. Radiation was one of the initial options, but I decided that it was not the right treatment for her.  She didn’t do well under anastetic, we almost lost her because of it, so putting her under multiple times was not something I would consider.  Turns out our only real option was amputation anyway, but years later when she developed a second cancer I rejected rad again (as well as a very invasive surgery).  I do understand why you don’t think it is a good option for Schlomo. 

I would recommend a second opinion from another oncologist, and maybe a longer conversation with the original oncologist. It is important to understand what the side effects of the radiation would be and how much damage the foot would have to absorb. Then how would he be able to get around on a bad foot and a bad shoulder? Does the oncologist know about the bad shoulder? Could the orthopedist weigh in on this? I’m wondering if the combination of the two issues would affect his ability to walk.  

I don’t think you are crazy at all! You clearly are trying to find the best solution for your boy.  While I know first hand how well Tripawds get through life, I think for your own peace of mind you need to be sure amputation is the best option for your boy.

No matter what you decide we are here to support you and help in any way we can.

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

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28 August 2016 - 7:56 am
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Hi Karen,

Thank you for your response! I’m so sorry to hear about your Maggie. Reading through your story I’m completely with you, you know your dog best. 

I had an appointment with another Vet yesterday who came highly recommended to me. She told me about an Oncologist with a better bed side manner whom she also used for her 12 year old dog. I will get another opinion from her and see what she says.

The Vet yesterday said that both options are viable and that neither one of them is wrong, but that I should at least think about radiation one more time, though it being under his paw pad plus considering his shoulder injury it could be problematic. 

She tested his balance and strength on 3 legs and said he was very strong, healthy and slim which would likely make him a good candidate for a tripawd. 

I am scheduling the other oncologist appointment today, hopefully I can get him in there this week already. He already started lifting up his paw again, which means the tumor is growing back and it was only removed in June. 

I just want him to be able to run around again without pain. It’s heartbreaking to see him not be able to do as he wants to, especially when I take him to the beach, his happy place. 

Do you or anybody else have experience with bloodroot therapy? 

Warmly, 

Mascha and Schlomo

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28 August 2016 - 9:22 am
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Hi,

Milo is ~75lb Australian Labradoodle (think Muppet Show escapee.)  Her turns 10 on Friday and has been a Tripawd for one month today.

6 weeks ago I was posting to this forum with similar questions. Milo has osteosarcoma, front left leg, but had injured his front right shoulder twice in the 2 months prior to diagnosis and it had never healed quite right. He also hurt his back years ago and sometimes has weakness in his back legs as a result.  His front left leg was his only reliably good leg!

The orthopedic at Tufts did put Milo in a velpeau sling (?) – basically tied his left leg up – and had him spend an hour as a tripawd.  He had the balance and strength needed.  Of course, there is the chance that he fails over time with wear and tear, but at one month out, he’s fine. It sounds like you may have done a similar test.

What I do know is that we took away the pain. Radiation for osteosarcoma helps with pain but the bone is still fragile so Milo would have to stay on a leash to avoid a fracture.  For us, it was more important to take away the pain and give him a chance to succeed on 3 legs where success included being able to be outside on his own. If he failed, we knew we made the choice with the best intentions.

I can honestly say I am thrilled with the route we took. He has his full, goofy, ornery personality back.  He chased a neighbor dog this morning and is now lying on the deck while we do our “easy Sunday morning” routine. (Note:  he did choose to sleep on a one foot ledge behind the sectional, which has me worried about falling off the deck when he does get up.  I wouldn’t have worried about the 4-legged Milo.  Things aren’t identical….)

Peace,

Jenifer & Milo  

The Rainbow Bridge



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28 August 2016 - 9:36 am
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Hi Mascha and Schlomo, welcome.

Oh my gosh you are most certainly not crazy to think about forgoing the radiation therapy. This is one of those instances where only you know what is best for Schlomo’s quality of life. Not all animals are capable of dealing with so many trips to the vet and that kind of treatment, and that’s OK. You are so smart for investigating all of your options and keeping his best interest in mind ahead of everything else.

It sounds like Schlomo’s showing pain indicators, so moving quickly is wise of course. Have you talked to any holistic-minded vets about this condition? As for bloodroot therapy, it’s been mentioned here but as you can see it’s not widely used at least within our community. 

Many senior dogs do great on three legs. Be sure to check out our Size and Age Matters forum for examples.

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


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28 August 2016 - 11:31 am
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Mascha and Schlomo,
Your post looks very similar to our first post here! We have a cat named Purrkins who had soft tissue sarcoma on his front left carpus(wrist). http://tripawds…..g/#p167607

Our options from our Oncologist were surgery which would not get rid of the entire tumor, followed by radiation, or amputatation .
We also were extremely concerned of the radiation and the toll it would take on Purrkins. Going everyday for 16-20 treatments being put under evertime and with our cancer Soft tissue sarcoma they said they could keep it under control for 2 years. If it came back we could then amputate.

We also see a holistic vet. He gave us some holistic options as well. Which I see was also brought up . This is the link where he sent us to research the Neoplsene . http://www.buck…..asene.html  

We researched everything we could and a long story short we opted to amputate . We felt for Purrkins it was the best chance he had to beat the cancer and have a full life. He is now over a month on 3 legs and amazes us everyday. 

This is never a easy decision ,research all your options to make the best informed choice for Schlomo .You will have a gut feeling telling you what to do and what is right for your guys. Listen to that! 

I just wanted to add we Understand what your going thru, as everyone here does,  and I wanted to add the link our holist vet gave to us. Hoping that will help in your research. 
Big hugs to you both! Holly & Purrkins

The Rainbow Bridge



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28 August 2016 - 11:38 am
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purrkins said
We also see a holistic vet. He gave us some holistic options as well. Which I see was also brought up . This is the link where he sent us to research the Neoplsene . http://www.buck…..asene.html  

Ohhhh, I totally forgot that “bloodroot” = “neoplasene.” Thank you Holly.

Here’s an article from the Tripawds Downloads blog that we published after asking an oncologist about neoplasene:

Neoplasene Dangers in Dog Cancer Therapy

It’s also been mentioned here in the Forums.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Minneapolis, MN
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28 August 2016 - 12:41 pm
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Hello:

We are in such a similar position – Pofi started with a toe amputation for a non cancerous tumor over a year ago now.  And while we were all distracted by that and other bumps and lumps, there really was a cancer, STS or soft tissue sarcoma like Purrkins the cat, except Pofi’s was a nerve sheath tumor located in the armpit (brachial plexus).  Amputation is nearly always first course as it is very locally invasive. Depending on grade, radiation may be recommended.  We drew the short straw and his was grade 3 of 3 and we did not get clean margins.  Also had destroyed a lymph node and wrapped around a rib (both removed).  So we had local metastasis already.  Pofi will be 12 in 3 weeks…

I was ready to commit to that radiation – 18 to 22 rounds.  But first we opted to do a CT – the onco thought we could do a lung scan (make sure there are no mets) and the radiation mapping the same time, but the radiation onco said that would not work.  So we did just the lung and lymph node view.  Inconclusive, so we waited 8 weeks and did a second to compare to baseline.  For now, we know feel certain there are no mets and the incision area looks more conclusively free of anything suspicious.  But he has been under GA now 8 times in a year. And I just don’t know how I can take a month of his life and subject him to 18 to 22 more drop offs at the clinic, which he hates, and tube down his throat and GA AND the radiation.  Really, really struggling with it.  There is little doubt it is best shot at a few more cancer free years.  

For the moment, we are following Metronomic chemo approach with alternating Cytoxan and Palladia.  

But the amputation has been an absolute blessing – he bounced back with real bravado and I am grateful for every day since as he looks and feels like my boy again and is clearly happy and not suffering real pain anymore.  

Take a look at our blog (in my signature).  Videos are also on the Hopping Around, Just Before and After topic.  

Glad you found us – this place has been important to my sanity!!

Lisa, Minneapolis

On October 27, 2016, nearly 6 months after amputation, and 18 months since his cancer likely started, we lost Pofi to a recurrence of Soft Tissue Sarcoma in his spine quite suddenly.  His canine sister also succumbed to cancer on March 1, 2019 - we lavished her with our love in the interim, but life was never quite the same without her only real canine friend. Cliff kitty had to leave us, too, suddenly, in August 2019. Lucia kitty grieved all these losses, but helped us welcome two new Lurchers into our home and our lives, Shae and Barley.

Blog: Pofi, Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumor Amputation

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28 August 2016 - 4:03 pm
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Thank you everyone! I can’t tell you how grateful I am to have other people to talk to and share this with who went through similar situations. Thank you very, very much.

I have taken Schlomo to two different holistic Vets. One clinic in Connecticut called Smith Ridge  (we live in Brooklyn) and one closer to us who is in Brooklyn as well, Dr Young at Hope. She was great, she told me about Bloodroot or Neoplasene. She mentioned possible side affects of nausea and loss of appetite but her main concern was that his tumor is below the paw pad under his foot and depending on how big the margins of the infected cells are it could be a major wound and would make healing and walking very difficult. The first holistic Vet I took him to also recommended radiation. I really am feeling crazy for disagreeing with him. There is something about my gut that says putting him under that many times with burns of that severity and such psychological trauma will be very hard for him. Maybe it’s harder for me than for him? Maybe I am transferring my fears onto Schlomo. I don’t know. On the other hand I would of course want to save his leg if possible. Ugh. I just don’t know. 

I scheduled a second opinion with the other oncologist for this upcoming Wednesday to see if this one has any other input. 

Some of my concerns about the amputation also include life in a city like this. We live on the third floor and it’s a walk up. He is 45 pounds and I can carry him up and down if I have to, I’ve done it for his surgeries. Would he be able to do stairs again? 

His quality of life is the most important thing to me. I don’t want to keep putting him through all these treatments and have him suffer and be in pain, even though he is so brave and never utters a sound. 

Sorry I am rambling. There are so many things to take into consideration.

The Rainbow Bridge



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28 August 2016 - 4:19 pm
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You’re not rambling, you’re thinking it through and that’s why we are here.

Wow you went to Smith Ridge? They are GREAT! Founded by one of the first and most respected holistic vets, Dr. Marty Goldstein who wrote “The Nature of Animal Healing.” What was their recommendation?

So I’m wondering, is it possible to just amputate the paw and have him fitted for a prosthetic paw? From what I understand it’s one of the easiest situations for adding and training and dog with a prosthetic. See our OrthPets interviews for insight on what prosthetics entail.

As for stairs, even if he lost a leg you probably wouldn’t have to carry him as long as you had an appropriate harness. The Ruffwear Webmaster harness is ideal for these situations, it’s indispensable for us.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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28 August 2016 - 4:36 pm
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Hi Mascha and Schlomo heart

Sorry you are here but we are all in the same boat with you and understand what you are going through.

My girl Eurydice is a huge Great Dane with osteosarcoma and had her right front leg amputated almost 4 months ago.

In our case, I didn’t want to pursue radioterapy, because (amongst other reasons) of the risk of a pathological fracture which never heals and because due the level of aggression of her cancer sooner or later the leg would need to go and by the time we would get to that point she may no longer be a good candidate for the surgery.

I personally found making the decision about which route to take has been the hardest thing so far.

But once I had a plan, I sort of got some relief (for lack of a better word) and could start focusing on dealing with this.

You are doing all you should be doing by getting all possible advice and options from qualified vets/onco and also by sharing your thoughts with us and getting so much first hand information from Tripawds pawrents. 

if you decide to amputate you will find it will be harder on you than on your cutie as dogs and cats adapt remarkably at life on 3.

Plus you can carry him so he doesn’t have to do stairs if he doesn’t master that in due course.

I find it is always a good thing to follow one’s gut feeling as we know our babies better than anybody.

You will make the right decision,no doubt about that.

We are thinking about you both and sending you a cloud of pawsitive energy, big hug and cuddles to your sweetie heart

Eurydice 77kg/170lb Great Dane limping end of April 2016, amputation (right front leg/osteosarcoma) 4 May 2016 6 courses of carboplatin followed by metronomic therapy, lung mets found 30 Nov 2016. 3 courses of doxorubicin, PET scan 26 Jan 2017 showed more mets so stopped chemo. Holistic route April 2017. Lung X-ray 5 May 2017 showed several tennis ball size mets, started cortisone and diuretics. Miss Cow earned her XXL silver wings 12 June 2017, 13 months and 1 week after amputation and 6 1/2 months after lung mets, she was the goofiest dawg ever and is now happily flying from cloud to cloud woof woofing away :-) 

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28 August 2016 - 4:43 pm
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Hey Jerry,

Yes, I did. They were great and took a lot of time with him. They did a metabolic blood test and I got a lot of supplements but they did also say radiation would be my best option to cure it. They also said with radiation comes a damaged immune system as it’s toxic and they would propose their Vitamin C treatment post radiation. However the oncologist said amputation is a more definite cure than radiation after I specifically asked her. With radiation being 90% in the first year and 75% after the second year given it has already been removed 3 times and is aggressive in that local spot. 

Thank you for bringing up the prosthetic! I have thought about that recently when I watched The Bionic Vet and never asked them! I will definitely ask that on Wednesday. 

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28 August 2016 - 4:46 pm
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Thank you so much! 

Eurydice is beautiful heart

Sending much light and love 

The Rainbow Bridge



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28 August 2016 - 4:47 pm
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I’m glad to hear they were good with you at Smith Ridge. Sounds like they’ve given even more to think about. Is your head spinning yet? Eeek.

You may have more luck discussing prosthetic options with an ortho vet who is familiar with it, but it can’t hurt to ask.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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28 August 2016 - 5:06 pm
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No one can tell you for certain how Schlomo will do with radiation or amputation and recovery, unfortunately, but so many of our dogs have exceeded our expectations.

Here is Pofi going upstairs at 6 weeks post amp.  He is a bigger dog, but here is the truth – he was virtually a tripod before surgery due to his type of cancer and the weakness and pain in that leg.  He, despite my best efforts, went upstairs in our house the night he came home….

And, going down stairs.  No guarantees, of course, on how any one dog will handle treatments or amputation, but I wanted to give you some hope and context for what is possible.

Lisa, Minneapolis

On October 27, 2016, nearly 6 months after amputation, and 18 months since his cancer likely started, we lost Pofi to a recurrence of Soft Tissue Sarcoma in his spine quite suddenly.  His canine sister also succumbed to cancer on March 1, 2019 - we lavished her with our love in the interim, but life was never quite the same without her only real canine friend. Cliff kitty had to leave us, too, suddenly, in August 2019. Lucia kitty grieved all these losses, but helped us welcome two new Lurchers into our home and our lives, Shae and Barley.

Blog: Pofi, Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumor Amputation

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