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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 here - Rear leg amputation scheduled for next week. Scared as hell
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Member Since:
6 December 2015
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12 December 2015 - 10:30 am
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Hi, I am a newbie here and love the insight and input that goes on here. Please don't hesitate to chime in.

My boy, Barkley, is about 11 1/2 years old, Lab, Golden, Chow mix. He had a cut on his foot pad that just would not heal starting about one year ago. The pain was causing my baby to walk on his rear left foot up on his toes like a ballerina. I guess they call it curling the toes. We tried to find an answer but after months of wrapping, antibiotics, etc, we were referred to so many different specialists. Finally we had half of his foot pad removed and it was only then that they discovered a tumor inside and upon biopsy found it was a rare case of an adenocarcinoma in his foot pad. They were not able to get a clean margin in surgery (and would not if they repeated the procedure) due to the location of the growth in his foot pad gland. Too many bones and nerves and not enough foot pad to remove it all. This surgery took place 6 months ago. After it healed, he was still unable to walk on his foot flat.

They recommended radiation, but my heart told me it was not the right path for Barkley. He was already unable to properly walk on his foot, I couldn't imagine it would make the walk any better even if it did get the rest of the cancer cells, which is not a guarantee anyway. We chose to try pain management first and if there was any sign of regrowth, then we would consider another plan. Barkley's current oncologist also thought the side effects far outweighed the benefits of radiation treatments for this rare occurence of this type of cancer in the foot pad.

pain management worked for a good 2 months or so and he was running and playing and yelling at squirrels etc, but then he started the ballerina walk again a few weeks ago. 6 months down the road the tumor has grown back, covering a larger area already. Re-doing the surgery is pointless because it will apparently just regrow again in another 6 months. The open cut now has 2 kinds of bacterial infections he is on antibiotics for now, which has never happened before. We can't get it to heal. We did a staging and he is clear everywhere except for his foot pad. Gosh, what else, I am just so fried emotionally and don't want my puppy to feel my sadness and anxiety.....Barkley has hip displaysia and arthritis and a narrowing of the nerve columns at his sciatica (I can't recall the technical term). The surgeon said on a scale of 1-10 in amputation, she would rate him as a 5+ as a candidate mostly due to the existing hip issues. She said he would probably require a little extra help getting up sometimes but thinks he would bounce back great in spirit and happiness because he is still so full life and joy.

My husband and I thought long and hard about it all and then I found this wonderful place!! I think it is the right thing to do for Barkley but would love to hear opinions from experienced parents. Maybe there is something we didn't think about?

Thank you for reading and sorry if this is so long and not very good reading. Like I said, I'm so drained.................and scared.....and perhaps confused!!

Livermore, CA




Member Since:
18 October 2009
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12 December 2015 - 10:38 am
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Welcome to Tripawds, your future posts will not have to wait for approval.

You've had a long haul getting to this point with Barkley. I don't have any other ideas for you.  I have to run now, my iPad is not behaving. I'll check back when I can get on my computer. I wanted to get your post approved so other members could comment.

Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls

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:
22 November 2015
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12 December 2015 - 11:43 am
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Boy, Barkley sure is a cutie in your profile picture. He does look so fun loving and happy! I would imagine it is quite uncomfortable walking on his painful foot pad. I sure hope someone with an older dog with perhaps some similar arthritis issues is able to chime in and offer advice on what worked for them. I would imagine Barkley would feel like a new guy again, once his limb is removed!

Good luck - hope to read that he (and you) is feeling better soon!

Hattie & Jerry

Hugs,

Hattie and Jerry Cat (right front leg and scapula amputation due to chondrosarcoma at age 14, lived 2 1/2 years post amputation, succumbed suddenly to suspected lymphoma at age 16)

10/2001 - 10/9/2017 R.I.P ~ Love you always

On The Road


Member Since:
24 September 2009
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12 December 2015 - 12:23 pm
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Hi Linda and Barkley, welcome to the club nopawdy wants to join! But we're glad you're here so we can make it easier for you.

Sounds to me like you've covered all of your bases and are working with a great vet team. I like the way your surgeon gave Barkley a 'rating' instead of automatically dismissing him because of his age or ailments. And I'm even happier to hear they give him good odds of being hoppy and healthy again when recovery is over! Sounds like you are in great hands.

Have you checked out Jerry's Required Reading List and our Tripawds e-books library? I always recommend those two places to begin. Also, be sure to check out our "Size and Age Matters" forum for more examples of senior dogs on three legs and of course our Tripawds News blog for more examples of older Tripawds.

It sounds like you haven't actually decided for sure or scheduled a surgery day yet? If you're still on the fence, an opinion from another board-certified specialist can help put your mind at ease.

I hope this helps. Stay tuned for more feedback from others and remember, never ever hesitate to post as much as you want and ask as many questions as you want, that's why we are here OK?

Hugs to your pack!

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

Schofield, WI
Member Since:
13 August 2015
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13 December 2015 - 8:59 am
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Welcome.  Our big boy Max 110# had osteosarcoma.  We amputated under less than stellar circumstances as he had a previous injury to his remaining back leg.  He's now 31/2 months post amp and is doing quite well.  There are times later in the day he struggles to get up so we help him up.  Once he's up he's fine.  He still loves to go outside and do his patrolling etc.  We don't take him for long walks but do more exercises with him to strengthen his core and balance.  What I do know is we did the amp to get him out of the pain of walking on that cancer ridden foot and we succeeded in that.  He is on rimadyl daily to help with the arthritis he has in that remaining back leg.  I think after your boy is out of pain from walking on that leg he will do just fine.  You might want to look into rehab for core strength, acupuncture or chiro too after recovery.  These are all tools to help us on this journey.  You know your boy the best and if you make any decision based on love and quality of life you won't go wrong.  Sounds like you've got a vet that supports you in your journey.  Hugs to you and Barkley and keep us posted.  Well help you in this journey that none of us wanted to do.

Linda & Max



Member Since:
4 November 2015
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14 December 2015 - 5:13 pm
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You came to the right place.

Buddy had a hind leg amp 6 weeks ago for a different cancer - osteosarcoma.  I was confused, lost, emotional - you name it.  I made the decision to amputate.  The first few days were hell.  Couldn't figure out if I did the right thing.  Then I found this website and I had an instant family.  6 weeks later, i can tell you I DID THE RIGHT THING.  He's pain free.  Going through chemo and thriving.  

It's tough but it sounds like you are doing what's best for your pup.  You are a wonderful pawrent.  Never doubt that you would do nothing less than the best.

Please keep us posted and please reach out if you have any questions or just need emotional support.  IT WILL GET BETTER.  Just breathe...and drink wine!!!

xoxo

Buddy and Julie



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14 December 2015 - 5:17 pm
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Also, call the help line if you ever need someone to talk to or help you talk things out.

Sally called me back and she was my sanity.  Her wisdom was such a huge comfort during a very difficult time.

xoxo

Oakland, CA
Member Since:
20 December 2008
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14 December 2015 - 7:46 pm
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Hi and welcome to the Tripawd Nation. Try not to be scared! We've got your backsmiley

From your description it really sounds like Barkley should do well as a tripawd. He is otherwise fit and healthy and is a happy dog. There are many examples here of senior dogs that have done very well on three. It is good to hear that your vets also think that Barkley is a good candidate for amputation even with the arthritis. 

I have a ten year old GSD who has been a tripawd since she was 8 months old. She does now have mild dysplasia and arthritis in her remaining hip and is starting to slow down and get cranky sometimes but she still gets around really well with some pain management . If we need to down the road we will consider getting her a K9 wheelchair .  

When is Barkley's surgery? You said sometime this week? Be sure to let us know how it goes, we'll be sending lots of positive thoughts for an uneventful surgery!

xoxo,

Martha, Codie Rae, and the Oaktown Pack

Woohoo! Tripawds Rule!

Regulator of the Oaktown Pack, Sheriff of the Oaktown Pawsse, Founding member and President of the Tripawd Girldogs With 2 Names ROCK Club, and ... Tripawd Girldog Extraordinaire!

Visit Codie Rae's Blog!

Member Since:
6 December 2015
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15 December 2015 - 6:45 am
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Gosh, am I the only one who just cries every time I read posts here in this amazing place?

THANK YOU ALL for responding, it means the world as I'm sure you already know. 

Barkley is scheduled this Thursday, Dec 17th. Sigh. I keep finding myself trying to convince myself that he is actually okay and does not really need this procedure done. I keep thinking that he is walking fine with the splint on, even though I know he is dealing with something much darker underneath the wrap on his foot. Out of sight out of mind? But he hides the pain well and I also know the tumor won't stop growing and will just continue to hurt him and cause harm to his foot and not allow his wound to heal and most likely split it open more over time. It just seems so drastic to eliminate his entire leg at the hip for something so localized on his foot, but we have discussed all our options with several vets and specialists and it has narrowed itself down to just one choice. 

Barkley has become so finicky about what he wants to eat. I was worried at first because I cook a stew which our holisitic vet recommended for him (Guess he doesn't like my cooking??? HAHA) and he used to just gobble it down like he was starving for the last 4 months! Now he may or may not eat some of it, but not all. I think it's pain. I add chicken strips or some frozen raw diet bits that he loved a week ago, and sometimes he still just walks away. The one thing I found that he absolutely loves is pre-cooked roasted chicken from the store in the hot foods section. He will eat that til the cows come home!! I try to rub the seasoning off the skin first, but this is the only way to get him to take his meds and eat so I do this. I think he is just playing me, but I'm not sure. He does have an appetite, just not for anything else but roasted chicken! 

My mind is racing and afraid, yet I am trying to be strong and have courage to be whatever Barkley needs me to be. I am prepared to sleep on the floor with him until he is better like I did when he had his surgery about 6 months ago, only this amputation is so much more that a partial pad removal. I'm sorry to just ramble here again. I fear the first few days I hear so much about, but we will all get through this.

Thank you for sharing your stories, they comfort me. And thank you for reminding me of the hotline. I will be reading up on the required reading list for sure and checking out the other forum topics and blogs as suggested. Thank you again.



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4 November 2015
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15 December 2015 - 9:49 am
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Hello again Linda and Barkley,

The first few days are difficult.  I'm not gonna lie.  Buddy was up and down all night.  Thank goodness I could take time off work.
I cried a lot then I decided to be strong for Buddy.  Remember, we are their pack leaders, they will take their cues from us.  Make sure his pain is controlled - that's the key.  Restrict activity as vet recommends.  Spoil that pup!!  Once the immediate post op period is over - the pain will be gone.  Just keep telling yourself it's temporary - because it is.  Buddy was a different dog 2 weeks post amp.  Now he is almost 7 weeks post-amp and he's back to being his old self before all of this started. 

So, Buddy is a finicky eater at his normal baseline.  Became even more finicky after his amp.  I just did what you are doing - gave him what I knew he would eat.  Rotisserie Chicken.  Now that he's getting Chemo - I got smarter. I mix it with white rice and add chicken broth.  So - maybe try that then start sneaking back his food in gradually when he feel better.

I hope this helps.  We are here for you.  We've all been through it.  Email or text me if I can ever help you.

julie.darling@me.com

240-743-8178

Hugs and prayers to you and Barkley for an uneventful surgery and speedy recovery.  PLEASE keep us posted!!

Best,

Buddy and Julie

Schofield, WI
Member Since:
13 August 2015
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15 December 2015 - 10:31 am
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You'll do just fine Linda!  The first few days are the worst then you find yourself sort of settling into a routine that works for you.  Just take it day by day and enjoy each new success as it happens.  He's already got you trained to feed him what he wants 😀😀 so you're on top of that.  We found mixing a can of tuna with Maxs food helped us so that's what we did.  Whatever works right?  Stay connected to us let us know what you need and well get you through this with your sanity.  Hugs to you and Barkley!

Linda & Max

Norene, TN
Member Since:
21 October 2014
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15 December 2015 - 11:45 am
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LOL! Many times I won't sign on because I know I'll be crying and there are days my work dictates that I don't look a hot mess!

Howdy and welcome!

Good-God-Gurdy! You and Barkley sure have been through alot and still have your sanity!? ROCK STARS! Glad you found us! We can always use Rock Stars!

pam

Harmony became a Tripawd on 10/21/14 (MCT). She left us way too soon on 11/1/14.

"We miss you so much; our love, our heart, our Harmony."

- Pam, Ron and Melody, Meesha, Doublestuff and Mariah Carey

Member Since:
6 December 2015
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15 December 2015 - 9:58 pm
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I guess this is a different topic - I will search for it but post here anyway. I've been quoted $5,000-$7,000 for this procedure with the price varying based on 1-3 nights staying at the vet post op. This seems rather high. They said it was mostly anesthesia cost....Is this outrageous? No price is gonna stop me, but.... yikes

On The Road


Member Since:
24 September 2009
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15 December 2015 - 10:02 pm
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Well I'm going to be that once the bad leg is off, his appetite will return. He is a Lab after all! 😉 Keep in mind that the post-op pain meds will probably make him even more finicky and not want to eat, but that's just temporary.

You will be fine, really. Try to stay calm, balanced and be a strong pack leader. And the more you project that confidence the more he will give that back to you a hundred times over. One thing about sleeping on the floor: I know a lot of people do it, but ever since rehab vets told us that babying our new Tripawds by sleeping on the floor is detrimental to their recovery, we don't recommend it. It's so hard not to, but the more normal you can make things around the house, the better for the patient. See these CARE videos for more tips.

Holler with whatever questions you have, Thursday is just around the corner!

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

On The Road


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24 September 2009
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15 December 2015 - 10:09 pm
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linda2 said
I've been quoted $5,000-$7,000 for this procedure with the price varying based on 1-3 nights staying at the vet post op. This seems rather high.

It really depends on where you live and where you get it done, but here is a post with others' experiences:

Costs of Amputation and Chemotherapy for Dogs: What Did You Pay?

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

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