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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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Indy- A soon-to-be tripawd (hopefully)
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Member Since:
7 February 2012
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7 February 2012 - 2:32 pm
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Hello there,

I am new to the forum and thought I'd post an introduction 🙂  

My almost 7 year old Chesapeake Bay retriever Indy was diagnosed yesterday with osteosarcoma  in his right front leg.  I am devastated, as Indy has already been though so much in his short life.  He came to us as a rescue puppy, and we've had to deal with (now non-existent) aggression issues, mild hip dysplasia and a torn ACL just a year ago.  He is a trooper and has pulled though the difficult times.  I'm am hoping this will be another one of those times he can pull through.  He is an amazing dog- a lover, a protector and a best friend to me, my son (his human brother) and his companion, CBR Jasmine.  

We are all just heart broken, and at this point we are looking into our options which look pretty meager.  I am hoping to go the amputation route, but of course I am torn about this just delaying the inevitable and putting him though more pain.  Chemo is being considered as well.  We have an appointment next week with his orthopedic surgeon to determine if his flimsy back end (bad hips and previous ACL tear) can support him with only one front leg.  We are crossing our fingers that he can go through with the surgery and still have a happy life.

It's so so sad that our sweet dogs must go through this agony.  Our family is really torn up about these recent turn of events 🙁 

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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7 February 2012 - 4:02 pm
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Hi Leslie, welcome. We're so sorry to hear about Indy's latest challenge, and understand how difficult and heartwrenching a cancer diagnosis is. We're glad you found us though, so we can help you reach the best decision for Indy.

I hope his surgeon says he is a good amputation candidate. Because if there's one thing that amputation will do, is get rid of the horrible pain of bone cancer. Look at it like this: amputation recovery is a short-term thing, versus the long, slow and painful decline of not doing any surgery at all. While there are palliative pain relievers like and "Three Legs & a Spare" e-book if you haven't already.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

San Diego, CA
Member Since:
29 October 2010
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7 February 2012 - 4:16 pm
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Hi Leslie - sorry you and Indy had to find us here.

I hope the doc will have good news for you and Indy will be a candidate for amputation. 

We know how overwhelming and scary the diagnosis is. You'll see in my signature that we lost our girl recently, but I hope you won't see that as depressing... We had 15 wonderful and AMAZING months with Abby after her diagnosis. I know it's so hard to feel anything but sadness right now, but there can still be good times ahead with your boy.

Keep us posted and hang in there!

Jackie, Angel Abby's mom

Abby: Aug 1, 2009 – Jan 10, 2012. Our beautiful rescue pup lived LARGE with osteosarcoma for 15 months – half her way-too-short life. I think our "halflistic" approach (mixing traditional meds + supplements) helped her thrive. (PM me for details. I'm happy to help.) She had lung mets for over a year. They took her from us in the end, but they cannot take her spirit! She will live forever in our hearts. She loved the beach and giving kisses and going to In-N-Out for a Flying Dutchman. Tripawds blog, and a more detailed blog here. Please also check out my novel, What the Dog Ate. Now also in paperback! Purchase it at Amazon via Tripawds and help support Tripawds!

Columbia, MO
Member Since:
10 December 2011
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7 February 2012 - 4:23 pm
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I'm so sorry Indy got cancer.  That's such a tough diagnoses.  My Daisy is a front left amp and she has hip displaysia with arthritis in the hips and spine.  Arthritis is why she lost her leg.  She gets around better now than before since she doesn't limp anymore.

Remember, there are no right or wrong decisions.  It took me a day and a half to decide on amputation.  Daisy was initially diagnosed with OSA (she had the characteristic lesion on radiograph).  In hindsight I'm glad I did amputate since it turned out not to be cancer.  My initial reaction was not to put her thru the pain of surgery for what I believed was so little time but there are so many stories on here of pups that went way beyond the median survival statistics with and without chemo.

Marla and Daisy

My Two Tripawds...Biscuit and Spirit Daisy

7 February 2012 - 5:23 pm
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Hi Leslie and Indy,

Welcome to tripawds.  I'm sorry you have found yourself here, but here is the best place to be now!  Indy sounds like quite a trooper- I hope the vet determines he is a good amp candidate.

My pug Maggie had mast cell cancer, not OSA.  I couldn't believe that amputation was my option, because in her case the tumor was not causing any pain.  But for OSA I know the pain is intense.  Mag was given 6 to 9 months WITH chemo after her amp, and lived almost 4 years and did not die of mast cell cancer.  Not all are so lucky, but there are some who beat the odds.  My local friend Cemil is a front amp due to OSA, he is a 150 pound Anatolian Shepard, and 3 YEARS past his amp!!!  He did not do chemo.

But the important thing is not the quantity, but the quality of life.

Let us know what the ortho vet says.


Karen and the pugapalooza

Member Since:
13 June 2011
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7 February 2012 - 6:19 pm
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Welcome, Indy and pack. We're sorry to hear you're dealing with cancer, but you have found a pawsome support group here!

It's hard not to think about the numbers, but the others are right. Try to think of Indy's quality of life, not quantity. OSA is so, very painful and if amputation is an option, it will help alleviate that pain. For our Bo, we chose amputation with no chemo. He lived for 3 months after surgery...pain free! We have no regrets.

Whatever you decide will be right for your family. Come here for any questions you might have. Good luck and keep us posted!

Member Since:
18 January 2012
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7 February 2012 - 6:51 pm
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Such a tough decision.  We went back and forth and to a few doctors before deciding to move forward with the amputation.  Baby's on Day 11 and doing great.   For us, we're thrilled that we had the surgery.  She had a rear leg amp and the doc took xrays to make sure she didn't have hip problems so she could support her weight (155lb).  My logic tells me it's less likely to be a problem with a front leg amp., but I'm no Doctor.  You're right to want to move on this as soon as possible, both to alleviate the pain and also because the cancer can spread so fast. Everyone has to make their own decisions, whatever you decide, you have found a great support group here.

Hang in there!

Judy and Baby

Las Vegas, Nevada
Member Since:
14 August 2009
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7 February 2012 - 8:43 pm
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I'm so sorry to hear of your terrible diagnosis with Indy.  It's so emotionally devastating.  But just know that we are here and can hopefully help you get through this.


I am one of those that had a three-legged dog with not one, but two ACL tears.  My Comet was born with a deformed front leg.  When she was 6 or 7 years old (I forget now), she blew her back knee out and had the TPLO.  She did great once it healed.  And then she blew the other one out a year later.  She did terrific on three legs and two TPLO surgeries!  I was sure happy since we had no more back knees to blow out! 


So, don't let the ortho tell you otherwise (if he does)!  She even had diskospondylitis in the neck at around 10 1/2.  She was still mobile.


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Sending you lots and lots of good wishes for Indy!

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.

Edmond, Oklahoma
Member Since:
7 January 2011
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8 February 2012 - 8:16 am
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Welcome Leslie and Indy; Indy-- you are one fine looking pup!  With front leg amps, it's the remaining front leg that takes the pounding-- it has to hop everywhere while the back legs trot along as they always did.  I wouldn't think his flimsy back end would bother Indy any more than it does now. You will be amazed how quickly that other front leg bulks up-- it will soon be solid muscle-- in fact, Scout's remaining leg was so muscular that the vets could never use it to draw blood.  Like the others have said, amputation immediately takes away the horrible pain of bone cancer, and Indy will enjoy whatever time he has left, be it months or years.  I know what a horrible blow this is; we are thinking of you and Indy.

Scout: January 31, 2002 to November 7, 2011

Scout's diagnosis was "poorly differentiated sarcoma"; amputation 1/11/2011.  Scout enjoyed 9 fantastic years on 4 legs and 9 glorious months on 3 legs.  If love alone could have saved you…

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