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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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I’m terrified-need advice
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Member Since:
30 April 2022
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30 April 2022 - 3:11 am
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Hi everyone! I’m here because it’s been a rough week. 

I’ve got a 14 month old pup, his name is Dee and he’s the light of my life. I’ve had him since he was 6 weeks old and he completely changed my life in the short time he’s been in it. I got him during the pandemic and he’s made it through law school with me (I’m literally taking my last finals in the upcoming week). 
Unfortunately I was told he might have osteosarcoma. Although I haven’t gotten a biopsy to know for sure, the X-rays and all of his symptoms support that. 

Dee started limping about a month ago and initially I just rested him so he stopped limping. I thought nothing of it. 2 weeks ago he began consistently limping. I took him to the vet and asked about X-rays, unfortunately I couldn’t afford them then so I asked if we could simply try meds and I would be back in 2 weeks if the limping persisted. It did. 
This past Saturday (4/23/22) my partner pointed out that Dee had what appeared to be a bump/ball on his front right paw. Immediately I began to call different pet hospitals and clinics to find the most reasonable price. I was fortunate enough to find a reasonable price and extremely fortunate that my mom was willing to pay for the X-rays. 
After X-rays were taken, the veterinarian showed me that Dee’s bone was almost gone. He was concerned and immediately I was crushed. I had no clue what it could be, the doctor was hoping for a fungal infection, but I was just so mad at myself because my baby was probably in so much pain for weeks and there was nothing I could do for him. The doctor referred me to specialists and I was able to make an appointment for Thursday (4/28).

When I took Dee in to see the specialist, I was told that it was most likely osteosarcoma and the best thing I could do for him is amputate his leg but regardless, he would not be likely to survive past the 6 month mark without chemo.

Luckily chest X-rays didn’t show a spread to his lungs, but from what I understand, that really only allows him to have the amputation done as osteosarcoma is so aggressive chances are stacked against him. 
The quote for the procedure was extremely high at the specialty hospital so I had almost resigned myself to losing my Dee in about 2 months. But I was fortunate enough to find a reasonable price elsewhere and booked him an appointment for surgery on Monday (5/2). I am a million percent okay with my Dee losing a limb if it means I get to have him longer. I have no doubt that he will adjust and I have even less doubt that I will love him all the same if not more.

I’m terrified because I can’t afford chemo but I really don’t want to lose him. Everything I’ve read tells me I should expect to lose him in the next 6 months. I don’t know how to be in this world without him again. I can’t stop thinking about it. 

I think I just came on here to get some support and advice from other pawrents who’ve been through a similar situation. I want to know what I should be expecting and if I am going to lose him, what can I do to make him happy and comfortable?

The Rainbow Bridge

Member Since:
25 April 2007
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30 April 2022 - 7:42 am
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Hello and welcome to the club nopawdy want to join. We are glad you found us though! 

Im so sorry for the diagnosis, he is so young! What kind of breed is he?

Please don't beat yourself up, the circumstances are very familiar to everyone here. You caught it pretty quickly actually and now you are doing something you can afford to help him feel better, soon. That's what counts most. Chemo is always optional, many people opt out and that is ok. 

I know the prognosis sucks but try to remember that those numbers are statistics based on other dogs, not Dee. He is his own dog on his own timeline and could prove everyone wrong! It happens! Many dogs who don't get chemo do the same, including our Jerry who lived two years without it. He's not the only one.

Try to put the worst case scenario out of your mind right now... cancer is a reminder that nobody knows how much time we have with or without the disease. The important thing is to focus on the here and now. Learn how to handle recovery and take things day by day!

Check out Jerry's Required Reading List and our What to Expect articles if you haven't already.

Stay tuned for feedback from the community.

Livermore, CA

Member Since:
18 October 2009
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30 April 2022 - 8:43 am
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Hello and welcome.

I'm sorry cancer has brought you here, Dee is so young!

Don't beat yourself up for not being able to afford chemo, we all do what we can do.  Even if you had all the money in the world it wouldn't guarantee the outcome.  I've seen dogs here do chemo and only get a couple of months, and as Jerry said- many dogs here don't do chemo and get years.

My little Pug Maggie lost a back leg to mast cell cancer. After amputation I was told that she had 6 to 9 months with chemo.  She did do chemo, but actually lived almost 4 more years. You never know what you will get.

The first big mistake I made was believing the prognosis. Honestly, I spent those '6 to 9 months' waiting for her to die. Mag did take a little time getting used to her new normal, but while I was still watching the clock, Maggie was getting on with her life.  I was so fortunate that she lived so long so I could get back to enjoying our time together. 

I know it's hard, but you have to approach a cancer diagnosis with optimism. There are dogs that survive for years- why can't that be Dee? I've used this approach with dogs and people...the advantage with dogs is that they don't know they are sick!

I'm not saying you stick your head in the sand- but you need to focus on making every day Dee's very best day.  Don't waste time now on what may happen in the future, deal with it as it comes.  Focus now on getting that painful leg removed and getting Dee healed up.

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

Member Since:
30 April 2022
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30 April 2022 - 4:24 pm
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Thank you both for your great advice!

I’m not sure what Dee’s breed is, our best guess is a German Shepard and/or Rottweiler mix. He’s a big boy, weighing at about 80lbs right now.

Reading your responses truly made me feel better. It reminded me that I can’t dwell on what might be and I need to focus on making his day the best day everyday. He deserves it. Every day that I’ve got with him, I will certainly start it with a “There are dogs that survive for years- why can't that be Dee?” attitude. 

I hope to give you all positive updates in the coming days. Again, thank you for your beautiful words and for not letting me feel alone in this. 

The Rainbow Bridge

Member Since:
25 April 2007
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30 April 2022 - 6:05 pm
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You are so welcome! And your mindset is exactly what's needed to help Dee recover and know that everything's gonna be alright. GREAT attitude!

Remember you are not alone. You can always call the Tripawds Helpling, jump into the Tripawds chat (I'll be there next week during business hours, later on Monday), and also post any questions you have and we'll do our best to answer them.

Give your big guy a smooch from all of us!

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