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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 Member: Kaydee the Great Dane
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Member Since:
29 October 2012
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29 October 2012 - 10:01 am
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Hello everyone.  Kaydee, our 4 year old Great Dane, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in her left rear leg right where the femur meets the hip bone.  We went to the University of Minnesota Vet Clinic on Friday (10/26) to get a feel for all of our options and spent the entire weekend discussing and agonizing over all of the options and their uncertainties.  After all that, we are leaning towards amputation but we decided against chemotherapy.  Based on all of our research, we think this would give her the best quality of life but obviously its impossible to know for sure.

I guess we just want to know if anyone else has a similar sized dog (120 lbs) with an entire rear leg removed and how the recovery was. We were told she is a great candidate for the surgery.  Will her quality of life with 3 legs be better than if we managed the pain of the cancer?

All of this was so unexpected and we are just devastated.  Kaydee is the best dog ever.  Everyone who meets her just loves her.  All we want is what is going to make her the happiest.  


On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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29 October 2012 - 10:24 am
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Welcome, your future forum posts will not require moderation. Be sure to check out Nova's blog.

We are not vets, but in the vast majority of cases, quality of life improves after amputation recovery while it will only continue to get worse as a tumor grows without it. Of course, every dog is different, but if your vet believes Kaydee is a good candidate for amputation she should do well.

There are plenty of giant breed success stories here, so search these forums and the blogs, and don't miss our video about Tazzie, a 125 lb three legged English Mastiff. Best wishes in the decisions you face, please keep us posted.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

Member Since:
24 September 2012
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29 October 2012 - 3:41 pm
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My thoughts are with you as you wrestle with the decisions involved for the lovely Kaydee. My sweet Shan is also fighting osteosarcoma and has recovered from a front leg amputation well, but she is much smaller than Kaydee (65 pounds).  However, I have had a personal experience with a much larger dog (150 pounds) who went through a rear leg amputation.  Bear was abandoned at the animal shelter where I volunteer.  He had been hit by a car and we were lucky to be able to save his life.  However, his back leg was so badly mangled that it could not be saved.  Bear is a mastiff mix and I could not imagine how that giant heavy-boned dog would ever manage on only 3 legs but he shocked me by getting up the day after his surgery and he immediately figured out how to handle bathroom breaks unassisted.  That boy had some foster care initially, but did most of his recovery at the shelter and even with that less than wonderful environment he recovered like a champ. Kaydee will have so much more going for her (all your love and attention!) and at 4 years old, I'll bet she will adapt really fast if you decide to amputate.  Whichever way you go, I wish you and Kaydee the best!

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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30 October 2012 - 10:53 am
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Hi Kaydee, 

As Admin (my pops) said earlier, we've had many big dawgs do just great here after amputation, some as big as 165 pounds. Some do chemo, some do not. I didn't have chemo and I beat those nasty odds by living two years! I hope you can too.

This decision isn't easy but always remember there are no right or wrong answers. Since there are no guarantees either way, with or without chemo, you can't make a wrong choice. We are here to support you no matter what. Thanks for joining.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

30 October 2012 - 1:13 pm
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Welcome to Tripawds, sorry you are dealing with cancer though.

These are difficult decisions but since you are putting Kaydee's needs first I know you will do the best thing for her.

My little pug was a rear amp due to mast cell cancer.  I did chemo because we unexpectedly found cancer in the lymph node removed with her leg.  It was really a palliative measure and she handled it just fine.  She beat mast cell cancer too, after she was given 6 to 9 months WITH chemo she lived almost 4 years.  No false hope here, but it does happen. I have another pug who also has mast cell cancer and I am treating her holistically.

My local tripawd pal Cemil is a 150 pound Anatolian Shepard front amp.  Cemil is doing great, coming up on 4 YEARS post amp for OSA, and he did not have chemo.

You really have to decide if the amp is right for you, and if chemo is right for you.  As others have said- there are no right or wrong answers, and no guarantees.  My only advice is to be as confident as you can be in your decisions, and at peace with whatever might come.  We tend to second guess ourselves when things go bad but the truth is we can never know what would have happened if we took another path.

Keep us posted on what you decide to do.  We are here to help no matter what decision you make.


Karen and the pugapalooza

Member Since:
29 October 2012
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30 October 2012 - 1:16 pm
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Thanks for all the warm wishes. This site has been a great resource for us during these difficult times. Hopefully this update will be of some use to others facing a similar situation.

After days of deliberation and several talks with surgeons and oncologists, we decided the best choice for Kaydee would be to go ahead with the amputation. However, due to the proximity of the tumor to her pelvis we wanted to be assured that they wouldn't have to remove a portion of her pelvis, as this is a much bigger surgery with longer recovery times and possible other complications. Despite the x-rays not showing signs of the cancer affecting her pelvis, the vet recommended running a CT scan before surgery. This CT scan is much more sensitive to subtle changes in the bone and also provides a 3-D look, vs a 2D image of an x-ray. The CT scan and pending surgery happened this morning.

Unfortunately, the results of the CT scan showed that the tumor has affected the pelvic bone and in order to remove all of the pain they would have to remove a portion of her pelvis. The CT scan also showed a very enlarged lymph node, which they suspect to be metastasis of the cancer. Very bad news for us, especially after we just became comfortable with the thought of a three-legged Kaydee. Due to the larger surgery and the potential metastasis we feel she might be on the short end of the averages for dogs with osteosarcoma (regardless of the amputation) and we have decided not to go ahead with the surgery and to manage her pain. We haven't decided if we will manage the pain with palliative intent radiation therapy or just with pain killers and everyone is pretty taxed from making big decisions at the moment.

Thanks again for this site and to all the people who have shard their stories, it has truly been a great help!

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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30 October 2012 - 1:50 pm
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Awww I'm so sorry! Ugh! I hate cancer. It's so sad when things like this happen, I wish things could be different. My heart goes out to you, I know this has got to be exhausting.

One you recover from this news, keep in mind that Kaydee doesn't know anything is different. She is just going to  keep on making the most of every day as she always has, and you can learn so much from her if you follow her lead and do the same. Forget the tears for now, there will be plenty of time later. Enjoy every precious day, and you can get through this. 

In the meantime, ask your oncolgoist about bisphosphonates if you haven't already. Many dogs have experienced excellent pain relief with them when amputation isn't an option.

Keep us posted and remember that we're here to help you through this no matter what. Since many of us have dealt with cancer, we get it.

P.S. I hope you dont' mind but I moved your post here to make sure everyone knew what was happening with Kaydee's story.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

30 October 2012 - 5:02 pm
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You got tough news, I'm sorry.

To echo what Jerry said- I hope you stay around here if you want or need the support this site has to offer.  We have had several quad dogs battling cancer that stay active here.  Cancer sucks no matter how many legs you have, 2, 3 or 4.  Sometimes having a support group who really get it can help with the journey.


Karen and Spirit Maggie

San Diego, CA
Member Since:
29 October 2010
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1 November 2012 - 1:31 pm
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Sorry I'm late in welcoming you to the site. I'm also sorry you had to find us here. As Karen said, no matter how many legs your pup has, we're here to offer whatever support we can.

Hang in there. I know this is such a hard time. Enjoy every moment you have with your beautiful pup. There will be lots of time for crying later. Now it for making more memories.

All the best,

Jackie, Angel Abby's mom

Abby: Aug 1, 2009 – Jan 10, 2012. Our beautiful rescue pup lived LARGE with osteosarcoma for 15 months – half her way-too-short life. I think our "halflistic" approach (mixing traditional meds + supplements) helped her thrive. (PM me for details. I'm happy to help.) She had lung mets for over a year. They took her from us in the end, but they cannot take her spirit! She will live forever in our hearts. She loved the beach and giving kisses and going to In-N-Out for a Flying Dutchman. Tripawds blog, and a more detailed blog here. Please also check out my novel, What the Dog Ate. Now also in paperback! Purchase it at Amazon via Tripawds and help support Tripawds!

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