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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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Molley's Introduction
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molley
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20 December 2012 - 11:17 pm
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molley is our 12 year old 105 lb mix breed.She was diagnosed a week ago with some sort of aggressive cancer in her left front leg.  It is consistent with carcinoma as well as sarcoma. They have done x-rays, a bone scan, a biopsy and ultra sound. They said the cells were not organized enough to tell what kind of cancer it is, so they want to do a surgical biopsy.  They said there is a possibility that the type of cancer is not treatable with chemo, but if it is, they will not treat it unless they amputate. They said she is not really a good candidate for amputation because of her age, her size and she has severe arthritis in her ankles and knees and a torn ligament in her left rear leg. She never really appears to be in pain, but they have put her on very much pain medication.  They said they would try pamidronate to see if it would ease the pain, and if it did not work, then they would go ahead and amputate, but it might be too late to do chemo then.  The Dr. said every case metastes somewhere else sooner or later, but she currently shows no signs of it anyhwhere else. We are in a real quandry as to what to do.  They had convinced us to have the amputation, but then when we scheduled it Tuesday, the chief vet told us he didn't know if she could stand it. She has a little bit of trouble getting up sometimes, and she can't jump up in the car or on the bed, but we always help her. She still eats and drinks as she always has and loves to go in the car and doesn't really act like anything is wrong except for her limp. We did not do the surgical biopsy because if the cancer is a certain kind and not treatable, then we are back to square one. If it is treatable, they won't do it unless they amputate, and they have doubts about that. I was just wondering what other's thoughts were on our situation. Are we being selfish because we want more time with her? How do we know when enough is enough for her?

 

 

My heart lives at Rainbow Bridge
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28 November 2008
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21 December 2012 - 4:04 am
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Molley, I hope you won't mind that I opened a new topic for you.  I didn't want Molley's story to get lost in another topic. We are glad you found us and hope you will find the support here you need to face the new challenges ahead.

Shanna & Spirit Trouble ~ Trouble gained her wings 3/16/2011, a 27 1/2 month cancer survivor, tail wagging. RIP sweetheart, you are my heart and soul.  Run free at Rainbow Bridge.
The November Five - Spirits Max, Cherry, Tika, Trouble & Nova. 11/2008 - 3/2013 An era ends as Queen Nova crossed the Bridge.

In your heart, where I belong.
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21 December 2012 - 9:14 am
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Welcome to the club you didn't want to join! I'm glad you found us.

You have a lot to think about. If Molley is 105 and not terribly overweight (like 15 or 20 pounds), then she is indeed a big girl. Dogs that large at age 12 are considered pretty geriatric. And of course you have no crystal ball telling you what her natural life expectancy should be without a cancer. If you did, you'd have no trouble with your decision.

And what about the torn ligament? Was it a tear that you opted not to repair surgically? Did it develop a good amount of scar tissue? Did she limp because of that? That complicates things in your mind and maybe for her.

If Molley were my dog, I think I would get a second opinion from an orthopedic vet, simply because of her old ligament injury and the likelihood that she has arthritis elsewhere (and also in that knee). Some people may say you should see an oncologist, but it sounds like you've got more than enough scenarios for treating the cancer and not enough answers for how amputation will affect her structurally.

My dog was turning 9 at his amputation and already had some shoulder arthritis (front leg amputee). After the surgery, he could still do most things he did before, but he never went on a real "walk" again. He played outside, rolled in the grass, sniffed for hours, enjoyed naps in the sunshine, got baths, took necessary car rides. I do not believe that his life was diminished by his amputation. But he was 9 and 80 pounds.

Lots of dogs here as old as Molley had amputations, and some older. I think for every one of their humans, the decision was made because the dog was not ready to give up on life. If you take a dog's leg when they're 12 and already living with old-age discomforts, then I think you have to ask if you're doing it for you. But if your dog greets every sunrise with joy in seeing your face and experiencing what the day has to offer, then you're doing it for them. And that matters.

Clear as mud, huh?

Shari

From abandoned puppy to Tripawd Warrior Dude, Dakota became one of the 2011 February Furballs due to STS. Our incredibly sweet friend lived with grace and dignity till he impulsively raced over the Bridge on 12-15-12.

Dakota's thoughtful and erudite blog is at http://shari.tr.....pawds.com/



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16 October 2012
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21 December 2012 - 9:18 am
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When we went into the amputation for Sassy we didn't have a definate diagnosis.  Infact 1 biopsy came back inconclusive and one said no Osteoscaroma.  But I still went ahead and amputated because I thought if it was cancer it would give us more time. 

 

The major differences I can see here is Sassy had no other problems.  You can always get a 2nd opinion.  I agree 100% with Shari.  I know Sassy is overweight and this is something we are working on to get that off.  But we had our 1st snow of the year and the 1st one since she had her amputation and she was trying to play with my other dog in the snow :)

sassymichelle-sm.jpg

Sassy is a proud member of the Winter Warriors. Live long, & strong Winter Warriors.
sassysugarbear.tripawds.com
07/26/2006 - Sassy earned her wings 08/20/2013

05/04/2006 -  Bosch, Sassy's pal, earned his wings 03/29/19  fought cancer for 4 months.

"You aren't doing it TO her, you are doing it FOR her. Give her a chance at life."

On The Road


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24 September 2009
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21 December 2012 - 9:39 am
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Hi Molley and family, we're glad you found us. Many members have faced this same situation, some proceeded with amputation, some did not. 

Geez, this is a tough situation. When you say "they" as in the vets who have looked at her, are any of them board certified orthopedic doctors? Because as Dakota says, I think that is who you really want an opinion from. Did the vet who was going to do the surgery cancel it at the last minute because she didn't appear to be a good candidate? 

Something to consider is this; when a dog shows a limp, that is a strong indicator that the pain is pretty darn bad. Animals will do anything to  hide pain, and when they actually show signs like a limp, that means something must really be hurting terribly. You may want do decide quickly on this, to keep her from unnecessary pain.

I think Dakota's Mom gave you some excellent advice. Twelve years old in a larger dog is indeed geriatric, and an amputation could make life extremely difficult. Many senior dogs do great on three legs, but generally they don't have pre-existing conditions like a torn ligament. That's what really concerns me. 

A bisphosphonate like Pamidronate is an excellent idea. If you haven't already found Chance's story, check it out. 

MY CHANCE HAS A SECOND CHANCE

This post may also help:

Bisphosphonates: When Amputation isn't an Option

p.s. If your register as a member, your posts won't require moderation so we hope you'll do that.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene
tripawds.com | tripawds.org | bemoredog.net | triday.pet

Member Since:
2 June 2012
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21 December 2012 - 5:52 pm
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molley said
molley is our 12 year old 105 lb mix breed.She was diagnosed a week ago with some sort of aggressive cancer in her left front leg.  It is consistent with carcinoma as well as sarcoma. They have done x-rays, a bone scan, a biopsy and ultra sound. They said the cells were not organized enough to tell what kind of cancer it is, so they want to do a surgical biopsy.  They said there is a possibility that the type of cancer is not treatable with chemo, but if it is, they will not treat it unless they amputate. They said she is not really a good candidate for amputation because of her age, her size and she has severe arthritis in her ankles and knees and a torn ligament in her left rear leg. She never really appears to be in pain, but they have put her on very much pain medication.  They said they would try pamidronate to see if it would ease the pain, and if it did not work, then they would go ahead and amputate, but it might be too late to do chemo then.  The Dr. said every case metastes somewhere else sooner or later, but she currently shows no signs of it anyhwhere else. We are in a real quandry as to what to do.  They had convinced us to have the amputation, but then when we scheduled it Tuesday, the chief vet told us he didn't know if she could stand it. She has a little bit of trouble getting up sometimes, and she can't jump up in the car or on the bed, but we always help her. She still eats and drinks as she always has and loves to go in the car and doesn't really act like anything is wrong except for her limp. We did not do the surgical biopsy because if the cancer is a certain kind and not treatable, then we are back to square one. If it is treatable, they won't do it unless they amputate, and they have doubts about that. I was just wondering what other's thoughts were on our situation. Are we being selfish because we want more time with her? How do we know when enough is enough for her?

 

 

 

   molly.......please read my chance's story she could not have the amp surgery as well.....she is with the university of illinois clinical trial, "fight against osteosarcoma" radiation to the tumor site then monthly infusions of Zometa....all i can say is my Chance is doing remarkable.....still has the leg{no more limp} and just had her 6 month exrays,,,,no cancer spread to her lungs, THIS IS WORKING>>>>>> could this be the new treatment for bone cancer??? January 1st will be 8 months of diagnosis and it is a miracle.....Chance was not expected to be here for Thanksgiving much less Christmas, i had a conversation with her local vet this afternoon, Chance has been licking bricks on my house,,,,vet is not sure, perhaps could be the gabapentine she is taking, however, she told me your dog is a MIRACLE, she has NEVER had a dog whom she diagnosed live more than 2-3 months....is Chancey living on borrowed time??? i dont know all i know is i promised her when she got sick that i would do everything i could do to help her as long as her quality of life was not compromised, Chance today is happy, healthy, lost weight{she needed to} and still goes for walks and gets to play in the snow...also, the leg exray showed a small intact fracture at the tumor site, however, they believe the Zometa which is a bone rebuilder is keeping it intact,,,this is also a miracle in itself, she is waking, not limping, around with an intact fracture. you can PM me, i will share all i can with you, if Chance can help just ONE who is going thru this, than we would be so happy to pay it forward, cause today we have so much to be grateful for,,,,I have my Chance and she has gotten a second Chancesmiley

Madison, WI
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5 December 2009
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22 December 2012 - 6:31 pm
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Is it for sure that Molley's current mobility problems aren't related to the cancer in the front leg? My dog before Gerry, named Yoda, had osteosarcoma and after his ampuation he surprised me by losing all his reluctance to get himself into the car. Well before his tumor was found, the vet had told me his reluctance (which seemed to come out of nowhere maybe as long as 6 months before his osteosarcoma diagnosis) must be behavioral, but after he had his amputation (getting rid of the tumor in his front leg) he went from almost always being reluctant to get in the car to almost never hesitating. I think the only time he hesitated was when other complications of the cancer were making him feel sick. It was a HUGE difference I didn't expect. Also, he was more much more outgoing with other dogs at the park than he ever was, which was the opposite from what I expected to see. Just something to consider...

Gerry has been a tripawd since 12/16/2009.

He was a shelter dog with a mysterious past and an irrepairable knee injury.

Videos and pics of Gerry's pawesomeness can be found at: http://gerry.tripawds.com

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