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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 with a 6 year old GSD Pre-Diagnosed with an osteosarcoma
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Member Since:
10 August 2022
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10 August 2022 - 9:17 pm
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My black coat GSD will be 6 in October and the vet exam/radiologist report diagnosis is consistent with an osterosarcoma on is front "foreleg"/ankle.  We live in Northern California and thankfully got a cancellation at Sage Vet Center in Dublin CA with an oncologist for tomorrow (8-11-22). 

Koda is 87 lbs and otherwise very active and healthy. He first presented as an injury on Mother's Day of this year where he jumped off a bed in our RV and came up limping badly.  He recovered to 100% or close to it within 72 hours so we weren't too concerned.  A month later he seemed to reaggravate the "injury" and started limping for 1-2 days before a full recovery.  It wasn't until around July 20th of this year that he was fence fighting with the next door neighbors small chihauha and came up limping badly that we got him into the vet.  The vet examined his leg and feared the potential for a bone lesion.  The office x-ray confirmed the vets fears and the radiologists report then confirmed a likely osteosarcoma.

We don't know the options yet but thought this would be a great place to go since our vet advised the likelyhood of amputation.  We are extremely nervous, heartbroken, and scared but at least we think it's relatively early. He doesn't have any other symptoms to indicate a spread of the disease and we are of course praying that is the case.   

Any advise for us being pretty early in the process? Thank you in advance.

The Rainbow Bridge


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10 August 2022 - 10:38 pm
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Hi Koda and family! Welcome. You are the second NorCal person to join us today. Wow. Being from there originally I know you are in good hands at Sage. I'm sorry for the situation through. We are glad you found us and hope to make things easier.

Its good you caught the osteosarcoma this early, you're in a good position to consider your options. Is Koda on pain meds right now? I hope so, it's a super painful cancer. Our dog Jerry had the same one, and oh how I remember that limp. Ugh! Use care with Koda, you don't want to risk a fracture of that weakened bone.

Ill have more input tomorrow when I'm at my desk. Until then be sure to check our our Jerry's Required Reading List , the Tripawds What to Expect articles and this list of questions to ask your oncologist .

Let us know how your appointment goes tomorrow.

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10 August 2022 - 10:44 pm
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Thanks Jerry.  Koda is taking Carprofen and also Gabapeten for pain management .  He's one of those tough guys that won't slow down and does his best to hide it and not complain.  I'll update once we know more tomorrow. 

Livermore, CA




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11 August 2022 - 8:34 am
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Hello and welcome.

I'm sorry you got this diagnosis but glad you were able to get into an oncologist today.  Vet appointments around here can be hard to get!

I don't have much to offer right now except support- once you come back from your oncology appointment I'm sure you will have more specific questions.

My Tri's have both been rear amps and small.  My first was a Pug who lost a rear leg to a different cancer. Although it's been many years I still remember the anxiety and devastation I felt around the diagnosis.

I'm in Livermore so must be pretty close to you, please let me know if I can help in any way.

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

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11 August 2022 - 6:21 pm
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The oncology appointment was not comforting but also not surprising given the expectation from the vet exam and radiolgy results.  They did a chest x-ray, abdominal ultrasound, and blood draw today after the Oncologist exam and review.  

She is confirming the probability of it being a osteosarcoma and at the very least it is some type of sarcoma.  We reviewed all of the options for treatment and prognosis but none of them are encouraging at all.  

We are leaning toward the most radical but likely the "best" option which is a full amputation followed by chemotherapy.  The "average" she talked about is 3-4 months with amputation without chemo and 6-12 months maybe up to 2 years with amputation and chemo.

The other option is doing nothing but pain medication and pallative radiatiom but then the probable outcome is further bone destruction ultimate fracture risk and then either amputation or euthanasia.  So devastating.

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11 August 2022 - 6:23 pm
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krun15 said
Hello and welcome.

I'm sorry you got this diagnosis but glad you were able to get into an oncologist today.  Vet appointments around here can be hard to get!

I don't have much to offer right now except support- once you come back from your oncology appointment I'm sure you will have more specific questions.

My Tri's have both been rear amps and small.  My first was a Pug who lost a rear leg to a different cancer. Although it's been many years I still remember the anxiety and devastation I felt around the diagnosis.

I'm in Livermore so must be pretty close to you, please let me know if I can help in any way.

Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls

  

I'm in Tracy so just over the Altamont from you.  We've been to Sage in the past with our two other dogs. Thanks for reaching out.

The Rainbow Bridge


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12 August 2022 - 11:52 am
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Hi Bruce,

I'm sorry you got the bad news. Osteosarcoma is a heartbreaker, but also keep in mind that many dogs go on to beat the odds. Our Jerry had two great years (and no further treatment besides amputation), and others have gone even longer with immunotherapytreatments now being offered. I don't know if you are into the idea, but UC Davis has some incredible clinical trials going on that you might be interested in pursuing.

Also see this info about the Torigen Immunotherapy Vaccine. It's something you'd need to ask about before surgery, but if you decide to do it the results are very, very promising with average survival times exceeding 400 days in many study participants:

Try not to focus too much on the prognosis. Right now the important thing is to help Koda feel better so he can get back to enjoying life. 

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12 August 2022 - 1:02 pm
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I'm ready to do whatever it takes that is best for him.  I'm honestly grappling with the question that I'm sure you all have asked;

Is it best for him to put him through a major limb amputation surgery and chemotherapy just for him to hang on for 6-12 months and chance for up to 2 years (according to my oncologists and statistics).? 

Is it more humane to treat him palliatively for as long as he's got and try to make him as comfortable as possible and hope that the sarcoma doesn't weaken the bone where it fractures?

The Rainbow Bridge


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12 August 2022 - 2:46 pm
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Hey there,

Yes we've all wondered about that. Here's what I've learned over the years:

The prognosis isn't always correct. Yes, there are statistics that back it up. But all dogs are different. Some dogs outlive the prognosis, with or without chemo, some do not. It's a gamble either way. If this experience teaches you anything it's that we humans are too obsessed over timelines and predictions. It teaches you to let go of our obsession with time, and the future, and learning to live more in the present. We call this learning to Be More Dog .

Also, dogs typically bounce back in a couple of weeks depending on the age and size. They don't have the baggage that we humans do over limb loss. And when it comes to chemo, it's not nearly as aggressive as it is for humans. Chemo for pets is about maintaining quality of life, and if the disease goes into remission, even better. But you are not committed to it if you start and then don't like how Koda responds to it. Most dogs handle it just fine with maybe some GI issues. They don't receive the same doses as humans that cause hair loss, constant nausea, lethargy, etc. Their quality of life is always the #1 goal.

Many people do the palliative route. There are no right or wrong choices here and we will support you either way. The problem with palliative is that you will likely say goodbye to Koda sooner rather than later compared to amputation. There are just no drugs that can manage the pain the way amputation does. However if you're willing to explore stereotactic radiation therapy, you can get some good quality, pain-free time together that might rival the time you get with amputation.

But again, this journey is not about time, it's about quality of life for whatever time he does have left. And with or without cancer, there are no guarantees.

I hope this helps!

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12 August 2022 - 6:07 pm
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Hello brucelfrank, it is truly a tough decision and my wife and I are going thru it now also. We have decided to go the amputation route (scheduled for 8/17) as from everything I have read and been told it eliminates the pain and can get them back to a more normal life. It does go thru my head daily if we are doing the best think for him though.

The vet at the clinic doing the surgery has not suggested Chemo to us yet, I figured we would get thru the surgery first and then go from there. 

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12 August 2022 - 7:44 pm
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captron said
Hello brucelfrank, it is truly a tough decision and my wife and I are going thru it now also. We have decided to go the amputation route (scheduled for 8/17) as from everything I have read and been told it eliminates the pain and can get them back to a more normal life. It does go thru my head daily if we are doing the best think for him though.

The vet at the clinic doing the surgery has not suggested Chemo to us yet, I figured we would get thru the surgery first and then go from there. 

  

Good luck with the surgery.  I spoke to the oncologist again this afternoon and I keep doing internet research along with soul searching.  We are leaning toward surgery and chemo.  I wish you the best your pup.

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