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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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New Diagnosis Osteosarcoma - Considering All Options
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Forum Posts: 9
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21 August 2019
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21 August 2019 - 6:12 am
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Hello,

I found this website while researching osteosarcoma, as I knew that would be my dog’s diagnosis even before we got his x ray results back. He just fit the descriptions, and he is a large breed, so I wanted to be prepared for the worst while still hoping for the best. Ralphie is our 5 year old Newfoundland, (he will be 6 in October,) and he weighs about 140lbs. We are aware that he is overweight, and we have been working on it with our vet. (He is down 6 lbs, woohoo!) We thought that this may be the reason for his limp, initially, as he had a “big” weekend at the lake and with the added pounds we assumed that he was overly tired. When he didn’t stop limping after a few days, we got more concerned, and the day that we noticed swelling on his ankle, we took him in. We trialed anti-inflammatory meds for 10 days and the swelling went up and down, then we tried another 10 days along with gabapentin to help sedate some because Ralph would get a little too spunky and we thought that it probably didn’t help his ankle to keep trying to use it how he was. When nothing worked, we took him for x rays. The vet had to send them out and said that it would be a few days but I knew it wasn’t going to be good news. Yesterday we got the call confirming osteosarcoma in his right front leg.

He is a good candidate for amputation since his left leg looks very strong, and they didn’t see any spread to his chest in his x rays. With amputation and follow up chemo for a little while after, the vet is hopeful that we could give him another full year in his life. I am just still in shock, and I am going back and forth with our decision to amputate because I want to do what is best and fair for Ralphie. It seems very unfair to do nothing and to start palliative or hospice care because he is still in great spirits and health overall, but I can’t get over the feeling that taking off his leg will turn his life upside down. I would go to the ends of the earth for this dog, and amputating gives him a chance to keep going. My husband says that if it lowers his spirits or worsens him, then we’re just in the same boat as we are now, but I don’t want to lower his spirits. I want him to not be in pain, but he’s huge; what if he can’t get around on 3 legs? It’s his front leg, so I think that makes it hard, too. Please excuse the all over the place post, but as most of you have probably experienced, my thoughts are all over the place.

Thank you for any responses,

Emily

Forum Posts: 9
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21 August 2019 - 10:03 am
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Just wanted to say hello. We got our xray xray diagnosis yesterday. We are looking into amputation and chemo as well as the Immunotherapy vaccine that’s being trials and showed success last year. I spent a lot of time crying because I lost my mom to cancer in her bones last year and I’m not ready to go thru this again. 

The Rainbow Bridge



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21 August 2019 - 10:05 am
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Emily, Ralphie and family, welcome. We are sorry you had to join our club but we are here to help. As you’ve guessed, many of us have had the same worries you have, and understand your concerns.

You’ll hear this a lot, but it’s true: amputation is worse for the people than it is for the pets. Seriously. We overthink it. They, however, just want to feel better and get on with life. Once that bad leg is gone they do their best to get back to making the most of every day. And the stronger and more optimistic we can be during recovery, the better it goes for everyone. A good attitude about the future is a must. 

Ralphie can lose weight. He’s not the first Tripawd who needs to. Work with your vet to stay on track with that, because a slim Tripawd gets along much, much better. The Tripawds Nutrition blog has lots of diet tips.

Giant Breed dogs do take a bit longer to recover than other dogs, based on what we’ve seen here, but they do get there. Be patient, don’t compare, and remember that Ralphie is his own dog, on his own schedule.

Whatever time you have left with him really is icing on the cake. And remember: there are no expiration dates on dogs. Many go on to beat the osteosarcoma odds, you just never know. But if you can make Ralphie’s life pain-free and happy, that’s the best medicine there is. 

I hope this helps. Be sure to check out Jerry’s Required Reading List and the Tripawds e-books library if you haven’t already. And ask as many questions as you’d like, we are here to help.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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The Rainbow Bridge



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21 August 2019 - 10:08 am
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hknox1989 said
Just wanted to say hello. We got our xray xray diagnosis yesterday. We are looking into amputation and chemo as well as the Immunotherapy vaccine that’s being trials and showed success last year. I spent a lot of time crying because I lost my mom to cancer in her bones last year and I’m not ready to go thru this again. 

  

Hello and welcome. I’m sorry you are dealing with this and you have my deepest condolences for your loss, what a tough time. (((hugs)))

Please consider starting an all new topic so we can learn all about your pup OK? We’ll be waiting.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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21 August 2019 - 10:39 am
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Sorry to hear about Ralphie’s diagnosis. Here’s a great dane who also had osteosarcoma, had her front leg amputated and chemo, and continued to travel around Europe enjoying a life full of spirit and love: https://tripawd…..-eurydice/

My situation was different as my cat Mona got cancer from a vaccine injection. In 4 days after seeing a lump on her leg she had her amputation. I didn’t have time to research or think about it and put my trust in the vet. Mona came home without a leg and a “can-do” attitude. She now rules the house and is the favourite cat at the vet clinic, animal chiropractic clinic (they keep asking to make her their in-house clinic cat) and even at a boarding kennel.

You know Ralphie best. It’s hard to take in and many things come in to play in making the decision (finances, time, house layout, family support, etc). Research this site and post any questions you may have.

All the best to you and Ralphie,

Kerren and Tripawd Kitty Mona

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23 August 2019 - 2:29 pm
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Thank you all for your words, thoughts, and resources.

Eurydice the Great Dane is really amazing to see, and really gives me faith in Ralph. The fact that she is 170lbs and is living her best life all around Europe is so great – amputation won’t stop her! I also found a story online about a Newfoundland who had a front leg amputation and did hydrotherapy to help build strength back, so maybe we can explore this option with Ralphie, as I think his vet offers it.

Ralphie’s surgery is scheduled for Wednesday, August 28th, and he will most likely stay a couple of days afterwards depending on how he is doing. We have been trying to gather things to be as ready as we can be for recovery and the time that follows. We have ordered 2 different styles of slings, traction socks, different cone-options since Ralphie chewed through his cone when he was neutered, and we stocked up a first-aid kit with tips from this site including a soft-muzzle to use if he is insistent on trying to lick or bite at his surgery site.

Something that I would love to hear thoughts on is ideas of how to get this giant Tripawd into the car post-op, and then back out of the car when we get home. Once he’s home, he is more than welcome to lay around as much as he wants because we won’t be traveling in the car right away, and we can assist as much as he needs to get himself around, but I’m not sure what kind of shape he’ll be in and how much he’ll be able to help getting in and out of the car right after surgery.

Thanks for everything, it is really nice to have this support system.

Emily and Ralphie

The Rainbow Bridge



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23 August 2019 - 8:25 pm
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You’re doing great getting prepared! 

Please do keep in mind that soft grooming muzzles aren’t mean to be worn for more than a couple minutes, as they keep dogs from panting and cause overheating. The best thing to prevent a pup from messing with the incision is the cone of shame .

As for the car…most big dogs just step right in as always. It helps to have others  there to spot him, and your harness handle will help too. I think he will surprise you at his ability to maneuver.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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26 August 2019 - 8:55 am
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As much as we are preparing, I still feel so unprepared! We’re getting there, and I think that a massive weight will come off of all of our shoulders after the stress of waiting for surgery to happen has passed.

I know the muzzle is not for long term use, too, as I more meant that we had it in case we needed something to use in the few minutes between switching out his cone to his inflatable ring collar when he inevitably chews through the cone.smiley2

I really hope he does surprise me and he jumps right into the car; that would give me so much more hope for the entire recovery! I have faith in my boy, but that’s one thing that I keep going back to is getting him home post-op. My husband is unable to get out of work, but I will have my mother, father, and brother (-in laws) with me, so the 4 of us should do fine.

Reassurance and tips are always appreciated – this forum has kept me [mostly] sane.

Emily, Eric, and Ralphie

The Rainbow Bridge



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26 August 2019 - 10:06 am
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Will it help you feel better if I say that WE are totally confident in YOU? 😉 Seriously, you’re doing great. And what a team Ralphie will have to cheer him on! All pets should be so lucky when they come home from the hospital. You guys will do great.

Whew, glad you knew that about the muzzle. Lots of people don’t, we’ve even seen people use grooming muzzles at the dog park! Eeeeeek.

Oh here’s a question: how are your floors? Are they slippery? In case Ralphie doesn’t take to the no-slip socks (you might want to try them on him today to see how he does) adding rubber-backed throw rugs around the slippery areas of your home will give him confidence.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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26 August 2019 - 11:37 am
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At home we have all wood floors, but we have always had rugs down because Ralphie would slip even before this diagnosis. We are staying at my in laws house for his recovery because it’s bigger, and because their backyard is easier for Ralph to get out to. They have mostly carpet, which is nice, and we have placed new rugs and runners down on wood areas for traction .

Speaking of outside, we have a deck on the back of our house that has 5 or 6 steps to get up and down to get into the yard. There is an open area of deck awaiting steps on the other side: if we put 2 or 3 larger steps, that would probably be easier for Ralph when he’s healed and comes home, right? He should be able to take a couple of stairs at some point in time right? Otherwise I foresee a move in our future since it takes 3 steps to enter our house…

The Rainbow Bridge



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26 August 2019 - 12:51 pm
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See, you’re all set with no-slip floors at either location. Great job!

As for the deck…2 or 3 steps usually isn’t a problem once a Tripawd is healed up, and it’s much easier for larger dogs. You can put the 2 or 3 steps in as long as the reach in-between the stairs isn’t too high. I think you’ll be in your home for a while!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
Latest Tripawds News
Read my story here.

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26 August 2019 - 2:16 pm
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Wow, lucky dog living with you!! A huge support team and you’d even move to accommodate Ralphie! Well, Ralphie is obviously royalty in your home and I’m sure appreciates it.

One thing I would suggest for the deck currently without stairs is to consider a wider tread (the run) than normal, perhaps more of a landing. That, along with a short rise may add on another step and take the steps further out. A builder or your municipal building department could help you with this. Although my cat is a small front-leg amputee I noticed she prefers a wider base to go down on. Perhaps that’s because she has short legs. Going up doesn’t matter to her. 

Take care of yourself on surgery day! You sound very well prepared.

Kerren and Tripawd Kitty Mona

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26 August 2019 - 2:47 pm
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I was thinking wider stairs, too…that way he has a bit of a landing if he needs to pause for a rest. My husband and father-in-law do our building so they can plan it however we need. My father-in-law built small ramps at their house to cover the 1 step that they have out of their house onto their deck and the 1 step from the deck to the ground and Ralphie can use those until he’s ready for stairs. We’ll see!

Virginia




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26 August 2019 - 6:08 pm
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WOW!  Just catching up on Ralphie and his DEVOTED ADVOCATES je jad as his hoomns!!!  And I’m  joining  the chorus in saying how lucky Ralphie is to have you as his hoomans!!

You are doing a stellar job, absolutely  stellar job of preparing for Ralphie’s homecoming!!!😎

Recovery is no picnic fot a couple of weeks.  You may see some restlessness, some crying, just overall tackiness.   Some dogs are very lethargic (mostly pain med related), which is actually kind of good because they need rest.  Some dogs are more restless and whiny and just can’t  seem to get comfortable.   Tweaking the pain med doses and frequency  usually helps to balance things out.  Just remeber, it is MAJOR surgery and patience  is usually  hard for us hoomans.  Stay and strong confident for your Ralphie and he’ll feed off your energy.

We are here right by your side to support you in anyway we can.  We understand your love and devotion  yo Ralphie.  We understand  your commitment  to do everything  possible to give your boy pain free quality  time for more for loving and spoiling and tummy rubs!  You are doing this For your Ralphie…and he knows it!!!!

Oh, as far as getting in and out of the car.  You can use a towel sling to help support him, but most likely he will surprise you how well he manages!  The staff will be there to help you too.

STAY CONNECTED!  We’re  all cheering for Ralphie!

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!

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26 August 2019 - 8:28 pm
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Hi Ralphie and emily, 

Just wanted to send you all some positive vibes. You sound like you’ve really done a great job preparing! Ralphie is one lucky pup!

I also want to give some input on stairs. Our big girl is a rear leg tripawd and did well with the 2 stairs in the back of our house. However for the first month or so she had an easier time with the 5 stairs in the front of the house. Like you said wider stairs 😉 more space to get all that big dog organized! 

Roane and i will be routing for you! you guys have totally got this!

❤ Bev, Roane & nurse Moe

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