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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13 July 2020
My 8 year old mixed breed dog Dante was recently diagnosed with mast cell tumor on his back hind leg. Unfortunately the vet is recommending amputation since radiation is not an option where we live. And because of the pandemia we can’t travel to where it’s offered. I was wondering if we did decide to do the amputation, would our dog have to continue with chemotherapy? He hasn’t had many side effects but a couple times he has and our main goal is quality of life. We are considering amputation. But hoping that he won’t have to continue with all the meds/chemo.
Also do tripawds have much difficulty managing stairs? We live in Puerto Rico in an apartment. There is an elevator but one flight of stairs to get to the elevator. What about multiple fights of stairs if for any reason the electricity went out? Thank you in advance for any information, insight, and advice!!
25 April 2007
Hi Dante and family, welcome. Your future posts won’t need approval so post away.
I’m sorry about the diagnosis. Amputation is a tough decision and so are the follow up treatments. If amputation is all you guys can do right now to help your dog enjoy a good quality of life, then don’t beat yourself up if you aren’t able to do chemotherapy. The general prognosis will depend on the grade of the tumor, which they can find out once the leg is removed. Yes, statistically dogs have a better chance at living long when chemotherapy is provided after amputation. But we have seen MANY dogs outlive those prognosis when they weren’t able to have chemo. Our own dog Jerry was one of those dogs, he lived two years after amputation for osteosarcoma, without chemo, when the prognosis was just six months or so. You just never know.
Ask your vet about a drug called Palladia if they haven’t mentioned it yet. It may be an option to treat and prevent further spread, and was developed for dogs with mast cell cancer.
As for stairs, Tripawd dogs can do fine with stairs as long as you are able to assist so some degree, especially if the stairs are slippery. Rear leg amputee dogs will have a harder time going up stairs because their jumping power is all in the two back legs. With one less leg, he could use your help going up, but assistance down stairs is helpful too. See these blog posts for some tips:
How is Dante’s health otherwise? Is he in good shape physically? And does your home have no-slip floors with traction ? That is one of the best things you can do, get carpet runners down on the floor so he feels confident walking on slick surfaces. See our Jerry’s Required Reading List for more tips! And stay tuned for feedback from others.
18 October 2009
Hello and welcome.
Weather or not Dante would need chemo after amputation really depends on the path report you get back after surgery. When my Pug Maggie lost her back leg to a mast cell tumor I thought it would be curative and we wouldn’t need further treatment. Unfortunately the path report showed there was cancerous mast cells in the lymph node removed with the leg which indicated the cancer had spread. Maggie’s prognosis was downgraded to 6 to 9 months with chemo. We did do chemo and Mag actually lived almost 4 more years and did not pass from mast cell cancer. The path report should also tell you the grade of the tumor and the mitotic index which can help determine how aggressive the tumor is- this information will also help determine if additional treatment would be recommended.
If you are interested you can read about Maggie’s amputation and chemo, the links are in my signature below.
Have they done an abdominal ultrasound to check for spread? Mast cell tends to go to the spleen and liver so a US would be wise before surgery.
As far as stairs- most Tripawds are able to do stairs after they heal up. My current Tripawd is a little Pug-mix rear amp named Elly who lost a back leg at 7 months old (hit by a car). I live in a split level house and we have two flights of stairs inside although they are only 6 or 7 stairs each. Elly has no problem going up or down stairs on her own. In a perfect world I would help her but that’s just not practical for us. She has learned to wait at the top or bottom of the stairs for me to tell her to come- so we save some unnecessary flights that way. I also have stairs or stools next to all the furniture she is allowed on to reduce the jumping up and down. A harness is a great way to help a Tripawd on the stairs, especially one with a handle on top and good support underneath.
Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls