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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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Need advice, so heartbroken
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Member Since:
26 September 2022
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1
27 September 2022 - 12:00 pm
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Just found out yesterday my almost 12 year old golden has bone cancer in his back left hind leg. We had blood work done 2 months ago and X-rays and bloodwork all came back good. Dr said X-rays showed signs of arthritis and minor hip dysphasia. Skip to yesterday, I was taken him in for a cold laser treatment because he was starting to limp on his left leg and just assumed his arthritis was flaring up. We saw a different vet who said she was concerned and ask to do another X-ray. This is where she saw the cancer. It seems at this time his lungs are not affected. 
She said his time is very minimal without amputation and his time with amputation won’t be long. How do I make the decision? I need advice from people who have gone through this. Was it worth it? Will my dog adjust to 3 legs? Its a lot of money for not much time and I will struggle getting the money together but how can you put a price on your baby’s life…I’m so heartbroken. 
Please flood me with any and all stories and suggestions and pray for my sweet Votto boy 💙

The Rainbow Bridge


Member Since:
25 April 2007
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27 September 2022 - 3:22 pm
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Hi there, welcome! I’m sorry you are facing this situation, we always say this is the club nopawdy wants to join. How did you hear about us? We are so glad you found this community. Hopefully we can help you feel better no matter what path you decide, and we will support you either way, whether you choose amuputation or palliative care.

So it sounds like your dog is probably dealing with osteosarcoma?  If so, then yes, statistically speaking, a dog who only has an amputation will last on average about 6-8 months. With chemo, a year. BUT, these statistics everyone gets when they get the bad news are numbers that don’t reflect your dog’s unique physiology, nor do they reflect the advances that have been made over the last few years with immunotherapy treatments. And we have seen many dogs blow those stats out of the water. Not all will. But there is always that chance.

How do I make the decision? 

Right now the important thing is not to focus on the numbers or the calendar, but focus on helping your dog deal with the excruciating pain of a bone tumor as quickly as possible. Your vet caught it fast, which is great. Unfortunately, amputation is the fastest way to help get rid of that pain. No it doesn’t cure the cancer, but the pain of recovery is far less than the pain of disintegrating bone. You can also choose palliative care, with radiation therapy or even cementoplasty limb sparing. But these are temporary measures. Amputation is more of a longer-term pain relief solution in this type of cancer scenario.

 I need advice from people who have gone through this. Was it worth it?

Yes, absolutely. Or Jerry got an extra two years, and we opted out of chemo. Other dogs have gone longer. And even when they do not, almost all pet parents say the amputation decision was worth getting extra quality time together. See our Tripawds Quality of Life Survey results. 

Will my dog adjust to 3 legs?

In almost every case, yes, they do, and within weeks. Senior dogs do need more time than younger dogs so it’s important that you don’t compare recoveries. Your dog is unique. He will bounce back on his own schedule. Generally it takes about 3-4 weeks, but can sometimes last a bit longer with senior dogs. If you take advantage of the Tripawds Foundation Rehab Reimbursement program, which pays for your first rehab visit , your dog can bounce back sooner. Rehab makes a huge difference.

I hope this helps. Please stay tuned for feedback from others. Oh, and what’s your dog’s name?

Virginia




Member Since:
22 February 2013
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27 September 2022 - 4:13 pm
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We understand all too well the panic and fear and uncertainty when getting this “kick in the gut” diagnosis!  We are here to support you every step of the way with which ever path you may chose. 

As Jerry said, the important thing is to get rid of your sweet Golden’s pain,  And amp does that.  Not saying  recovery  is a picnic, but  once recovery from the surgery itself is complete  then the sparkle  starts coming back.

We know it is sooooo hard to not focus on days on a calendar or timeframe.  What’s  important  is that none of that means anything  to your girl.  All she cares about is being  by  your side, being  loved and spoiled  and pain free.  So, from a dog’s persective,  “is it worth it?”   Check in with what your Votto and see what he would want. Pretty sure he wants a “chance”.to flow effortlessly  from one moment to the next, never  worrying about about the tomorrows….just living In  the now…in the present.   We call that being more dog.

As Jerrynoted, some dogs blow statistics  out of the water.  Some get “less time”, some more.  Most of us here proceed  for that chance to beat the odds.  

My Happy Hannah  had a glorious additional quality  time loving life for one year and two months(over seven years in doggy uesrs).  Another dog who comes to mind is Murphy.  He lived large for over four years. 

Stay connected and let us know how we can best support you, okay?   You are not alone!

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!

Member Since:
26 September 2022
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27 September 2022 - 4:31 pm
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Thank you so much for all your replies! I feel a little better. My vet in Northern Ky is who told me about this website. It’s so nice to have people to help that have experienced the same situations. 

I don’t think I could live with myself if I don’t try everything possible for my sweet Votto. He is the most amazing, best friend I could ask for 

Virginia




Member Since:
22 February 2013
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27 September 2022 - 7:40 pm
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I don’t think I could live with myself if I don’t try everything possible for my sweet Votto

That was pretty much what helped me decide to move forward too.  I had to TRY!!  I would have had more second guessing  furever had I not tried.  And even IF things didn’t go well for some unforseen reason, at least tried.  

One quick story on member Stubborn Pug Maggie.  IF I recall, statistically  she was given around six months.   But Stubborn Pug Maggie didn’t  listen.  Four years later she passed.

Keep in keeping on Votto!  We’re  cheering for you!

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!

Livermore, CA




Member Since:
18 October 2009
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27 September 2022 - 9:09 pm
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Hello and welcome.

I’m sorry you are dealing with cancer and amputation.  When I was told my Pug would need an amputation for mast cell cancer I was devastated.  I don’t remember ever seeing a three legged dog before and making that decision was terrifying.

Because of lymph node involvement discovered after the amputation Maggie’s prognosis was poor… 6 to 9 months with chemo.  In hindsight I was glad I didn’t know about the lymph nodes when I decided on amputation… I may have not done the surgery.  Without the surgery she wouldn’t have lasted more than 6 months, probably less.  But back then I was counting months in human months- not the way dogs do… living in the moment.

Mag lived almost 4 more years and did not pass from mast cell cancer.  It does not always happen but it does sometimes. What I came to realize was that with the surgery I gave her a chance and she was one of the fortunate ones who beat her cancer.

No matter what decision you make we are here to help you on this journey.

Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls and Boy

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:
13 March 2021
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28 September 2022 - 4:12 pm
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Hi!  I have been away from the site for awhile with a busy summer, but just looked and saw this post.  The advice you are getting is so helpful!  Our Corgi, Shadow was diagnosed with Hemangiosarcoma when he was only 2 1/2 years old. They gave him 3-5 months with only amputation and 8-12 with amputation and chemo together. We opted to do both. He bounced back so well from the amputation, despite his short legs and long corgi body. He gets around fine at home, running and playing with his brother.  We use a stroller for his “walks” as he does tire out quickly.  For the chemo, he struggled with some diarrhea the first couple of rounds, but otherwise seemed to have no side effects. We worked with the vet to adjust his chemo dosage (plus with the use of the absolutely amazing RX Clay that I learned about on this forum to help with diarrhea) and the remaining rounds were symptom free.  Fast forward to yesterday…Shadow just had another re-check and is cancer free 18 months from diagnosis!!  The vet is so happy…as are we. And most importantly, Shadow is loving every day.  Only you will be able to decide what is best, but do know that dogs get through the recovery from amputation pretty quickly, and it’s so much better than being in pain!  And if you do chemo, it’s not bad at all!  Finally, don’t worry about the months the vet says…just love and enjoy your baby every day!  We like to say our baby is living his best bubby life every day and we learn from him!  Good luck!!

Virginia




Member Since:
22 February 2013
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28 September 2022 - 4:21 pm
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Just want to pip back in and say”thank you” to Lindafor sharing such good insight and support.

And a HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to SHADOW!  HAPPY EIGHTEEN  MONTH AMPUVERSARY!  👍💖👏

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!

The Rainbow Bridge


Member Since:
25 April 2007
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9
28 September 2022 - 7:26 pm
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LINDA! This is HUUUUGE! OMD! Please send us a Tripawd Tuesday story, we want to share Shadow’s incredible news with the world. Thank you for giving so much hope and inspawration by stopping by today. Give Shadow a big big smooch from us!

Member Since:
13 March 2021
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29 September 2022 - 9:07 am
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Thanks!  I will take a look at how to do a Tripawd Tuesday story!

Sending well wishes to Votto!sp_hearticon2

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