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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15 June 2017
This is my pup Sebastien (photo below). He's a Pyrenees/Golden mix, approx 9 years old.
Last week he fractured his leg. After some X-rays, we discovered there was cancer in his bone next to the fracture. Yesterday we took him for a 7 hour day of testing at the vet.
Dr's discovered that has a tumor in his anal sack, the cancer has spread to some lymph nodes, and the cancer has now caused him to have hypercalcemia. Before he fractured his leg, you would never know he was sick (like most dogs with growing cancer). He has no other cancerous growth, and his lungs and organs are in good shape.
His prognosis is 4-6 months if we amputate, remove the tumor and lymph nodes, and start him on chemo. I decided it wouldn't be worth it to put my dog through that much surgery, but we have some other options.
The Dr said we could amputate just to take him out of pain and live out his days until we decide he can't do it anymore. We can also amputate and start chemo to give him a couple more happy months. He cannot walk on his leg at all at this point. It is severely swollen and he's in terrible pain.
The vet told me that if it were his dog, he would do nothing, not even amputate. But a second vet said we should amputate, and just let him be comfortable for his last 1, 2, 3... months. A holistic vet said we should amputate, start holistic treatments to keep the cells from growing, and monitor his cancer until we feel he is not living his best life.
He's already getting around without using his back leg, but the injured leg is making everything so difficult. It's nothing but a burden to him at this point. If I decide to do nothing, I would have to let him go because I can't have him sitting in pain every day. He's hopped up on 250 mg of Tramadol every 8 hours, and it's completely erasing his personality.
I know at the end of the day this is a decision I have to make on my own, but I feel so lost and helpless and have no idea what to do and nobody that can relate to what I'm facing.
I was so happy to have found this community the other day, it really made me feel more confident about amputation if that is the road I decide to take.
Any advice, story sharing or kind words would be helpful. I only have one more day until I must start making decisions.
C & Sebastien
Hello C, thanks for joining. Sorry you had to find yourself here, it's a tough situation for sure. Sebastien is a gorgeous dog and clearly you love that boy with all your heart.
You've clearly done your homework by talking to three vets. By any chance were any of them oncologists? It sounds like it but I thought I'd ask. If so, what was the onco's opinion about the longevity odds if you decide to go forward with treatment?
Every dog is so different. What is right for one dog is different for another. So what I would do may be totally different than what someone else would do. But FWIW here goes.
First, I would get better pain management than Tramadol. It's an acceptable drug but there are better ones available. Ask your regular vet for something you can use in combination.
Has anyone discussed the option of bisphosphonates with you? When a dog isn't an amputation candidate, bisphosphonates can provide good quality of life. Here's one member whose dog is going through palliative care with bisphosphonates, chemo and radiation therapy.
In most circumstances if a member's dog is otherwise healthy, amputation would be a no brainer. When it comes to cancer it's all about quality of life and one month of pain free living is something that even members whose dogs didn't last very long usually say they would do all over again.
But when another cancer is involved it complicates things. Has that other cancer been graded yet? What is the prognosis for it? I would be concerned that surgery could expedite metastasis with two cancers, but I have no idea if it could because I'm not a vet. Could his immune system be severely compromised with the two cancers and cause him to have a difficult recovery? Maybe. What was the holistic vet's opinion about that? Did they say?
I'm thinking I"m not much help because I have more questions than answers for you. Drop us a line and let us know if you have feedback on those thoughts OK?
Sending you lots of love & strength...
14 February 2016
My Otis fractured his leg due to osteosarcoma. We amputated and did chemo. He only lived almost 7 months, but I have no regrets. He was not in pain and we had a wonderful summer together.
Otis - 106 pound lab/Dane mix, lost his right front leg to osteosarcoma on Febuary 9, 2016. Four rounds of carboplatin completed in April, 2016. Lung mets August 25, 2016. Said goodbye too soon on September 4, 2016. Lost his adopted sister, Tess, suddenly on October 9, 2016. likely due to hemangiosarcoma.
Wherever they are, they are together.
Hi, our rottweiler /great Dane mix was diagnosed with osteosarcoma March 25th 2017, our vet encouraged an amputation of the right back leg, which we did do. Zeus is now on his last chemo session and has adjusted very well on three legs. He is happy and has a healthy appetite. We have him on a high protein diet, and give him a teaspoon of turmeric and 3000mg of salmon oil per day. With God's grace we continue to pray he does well and we feel blessed to have him with us still. I suggest you talk to your vet about amputation. The amputation takes away the pain from the dog. And dogs adjust very well to the three legs. It is us humans who have a harder time adjusting to seeing the dog on three legs usually.
I send positive thoughts to you and prayers for your dog.
Hi Sonia, thanks so much for sharing your story. We send all our love and best wishes to you and Zeus for a long, happy life ahead. Please consider starting a new topic all about Zeus in Size and Age Matters so we can follow along with your journey!
22 February 2013
Your boy is soooo handsome! Such a sweet and gentle looking boy.
So sorry yiu find yourself here. I know it is pure agony trying to decide what ro do. Pure agony!
The amputation does get rid of the pain. Recovery is no picnic for abput two weeks, but once recovery from the surgery itself is over, dogs get on with enjoying life.
And yes, he does have other "issues" that muddy up the water, that's for sure. And then you get conflicting opinions from different Bets. It does mayke ine thing "clear", there are no cut and dry "clear" answers.
You do jave two Vets leaning towards amputation. As Jerry already asked, are any of thise Oncologist?
Jerry really gave you some good follow up questions to ask, as well as potential options. It does seem like the "severity", or "lack of severity" of the anal gland and lymph involvement matters.
Every dog is different and no dog has a timeframe stamped in their butts. And dogs dont care abput days in a calendare. They live in the moment with no worries!!
Sometimes it boils down to this. What scenario could you love with the most? Which one would you regret, or second guess?
If you do nothing woukd you always wonder "what if" and second guessand regret that you didn't "try"?
If you amputate and he only gets "weeks", woukd you regret the decision to amputate?
Of course, the very best scenario would be you got great extended quality time for more loving and spoiling!
You know yourself and you know Sebastian best. If these "other issues" aren't an immediate threat to quality of life, an amputation may give you some great extended quality time for ore spoiling and more loving. No guarantees though. If the other issues are far more invasive with no options for treating and they are an IMMEDIATE threat.....that would just plain suck!
Take some deep breaths. Have a "conversation" with Sebastian AND the other two Vets who are favoring amp...And see what feels right for you and Sebastian.
We are eillnyou sll the way! Whatever decision you make will be out of love...a d that ks always the right dece!
YOU ARE NOT ALO E....STAY CONNECTED! And in the meantime, give Sebastian some ice cream and steak!! 🙂
Love and hugs
Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!
Happy Hannah had a glorious additional bonus time of over one yr & two months after amp for osteo! She made me laugh everyday! Joined April's Angels after send off meal of steak, ice cream, M&Ms & deer poop!
14 December 2016
Hello and welcome,
I am so sorry, it really sounds like very very tough decisions that you have to make. My dog was amputated due to osteo and we did 5 rounds of chemo. We are now 17 months post op, doing good. However, Manni did not have any visible spread to anywhere else and that was why I decided to go with it. The recovery period is no picnic, at least it wasn't for us. the first two weeks were bad and it did take a lot of strength from all of us to get through it. I would do it again though, because it gave me many more months and I was able to say I gave him that chance.
If I were in your situation I think the most important thing would be to hear what his chances are with the leg gone. if he can likely get through the recovery period and have a few good weeks/months/years after that and a quality of life, it's all worth it.
And I agree with Sally in that this is a very personal decision and that everyone has their own preferences and priorities, which is as it should be. You obviously have your dog's best interest in mind and I have no doubt that whatever you decide to do it will be the right thing. Sometime there is more than one right decision.
all the best and stay in touch
tina & Manni
Guardian of Manni the Wonderdog. -Or was it the other way around?
Osteo and amputation in Dec 2015. Second, inoperable, primary osteosarcoma found in June 2017.
The end of our adventures came Dec 10, 2017. 2 years to the day.