Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat
Tripawds is your home 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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Hi All, brand new to group; in shock as vet surgeon just told us that bad limp on right front leg of our beloved Golden Retreiver Maya is due to osteosarcoma. We thought x-rays would just show arthritis. Because cancer is high up - humerus bone - surgeon recommends amputation of leg. She says that should give Maya 6-12 months with decent quality of life. Alternative is palliative care (with risk of fracture) which she says would give her roughly 3-6 months. Curious about group's experience - do those time lines square with your experience? Thanks very much, D.
Hi David, Maya and furmily, welcome to the club nopawdy wants to join. We are sorry for the diagnosis, and hope to make this easier for you.
If it's any comfort, you are in good company. Many of us here have felt the gut punch of the cancer news. Getting it for a senior dog is even tougher, it's hard to know what to do.
What does your vet think about Maya being a good candidate for surgery? It sounds like she is otherwise healthy? If so, that's terrific. She would not be the oldest member to join us, and most times age is just a number for fit, healthy dogs of any age.
As for the timelines your vet gave you. Yes they are standard prognoses that we get with this cancer. But keep in mind that with today's immunotherapy treatments, those timelines are getting much longer than ever before. Plus, Maya is her own dog and those statistics don't take her physiology into account. We've seen many dogs here blow those numbers out of the water and go on to thrive for longer than anyone ever hoped for. Some do not, but some do. You just never know. Our Jerry lived two amazing years after his diagnosis and we even opted out of chemo. There's no guarantees either way.
If you decide on radiation therapy instead of amputation, and palliative care, that's fine too. Bisphosphonates are typically given to increase pain relief and strengthen the bone. Hazel's story is a good example of radiation therapy and that type of therapy.
There are no right or wrong choices when it comes to this situation. Every dog is different. Whatever you decide we will be here for you.
Hello and thanks very much for your kind words. Maya has been healthy over the years so I think the surgeon thinks she's a good candidate for surgery but we need to explore that further with her. We are waiting the results of the chest xray - hoping it hasn't spread to her chest. That's amazing that Jerry got another 2 years! Thanks again, D
22 February 2013
Jist want to sitto every Jerry said. As you can see from her input, this is the gest place to be for support and information from people who really understand all the emotions, the uncertainty and the fear. Add lack of sleep from worry and exhaustive hours spent researching to this crazy journey
What's important to remember is that Maya doesn't have a timeframe stamped anywhere on her pretty fluffy Golden butt. She could care less about days on a calendar and a prognosis is just :schmognosis" to her.
Yes, many dogs blow those "estimates" of timeframes oit of the water. Some live a good quality life with great extended time, some don't get as much "time". To some degree, it really is a crap shoot. The most important life lesson of this journey will be taught to you by Maya. That is to live in the moment....live in the NOW....live in the present and make every moment the best moment evvvver!! It's called Be More Dog .
Through amputation we do all we can to give them the best chance possible at an extended quality pain free life. Not saying that recovery is a picnic. It can be a bit rough in the beginning. Tweaking of pain meds, taking things slowly, short, leashed potty breaks and back in for more resr, rest, rest. Recovery from the surgery itself usually takes about two weeks to get through. It takes about thirty days for a dog to adjust to three and develop a good flow, a good gait, good muscle adjustment, etc.
Talk with the Surgeon, "talk" with Maya and let us know how we can best support you on whatever path you take.
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!
4 April 2019
Hi, just wanted to chime in. First so sorry about your beloved Maya. I always called my dog Brownie, my beloved Brownie so I know how much you care for her.
Brownie was diagnosed right before his 12th birthday and had amputation. He was given 3-5 weeks without amputation and 2-3 months with amputation. Proud to say My Beloved Brownie lived an additional year. As Jerry and Sally said all dogs are different but some do beat statics.
Sending positive thoughts to you and your Beloved Maya.
My Beautiful Beloved Brownie was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma on February 26, 2019. With all odds against him he lived an additional one year and eight days with amputation, love, and prayer. I was honored to be his mom, and I have never been so proud! He will live forever in my Heart!
04/01/2007 - 03/05/2020
David et al,
I am in this same exact situation but a little further down the road. Isabelle my 12 1/2 year old golden was diagnosed with the same in the same location. I initially said no to amputation, and looked into palliative radiation, but the oncologist felt it was a big fracture risk, and if she was a candidate, surgery was a better option. Two days ago she had her left forelimb amputated. She came home yesterday. It's a bit of a shock to be honest. I myself need support as to how to get through all this preliminary adjustment period. It's a lot harder than I thought it would be. The surgeon makes it sound like nothing, but it's not nothing, and now I'm regretting my choice just a bit. I'm sure once we get through this period it will be ok, but it's really really hard. Not trying to pre-empt your post, but we have almost the same issue. Good luck! And hoping to learn much more from this community.
Hi Isabelle's mom, welcome. We are so glad you shared your feelings here, and hope to be able to help you on this journey. It's not easy, but we are here for you.
Please consider starting an all new topic so you can give us more details on what's going on. Also consider registering as a member so your posts won't always need to be approved. See you there!
14 January 2023
Please consider starting an all new topic...
Thanks. I did register and I will start anew! Thanks.
25 April 2007
Elizabeth Mitchell said
I did register and I will start anew!
Welcome! Your post here has been approved.
Thanks all for your support! Update on our 12 year old Maya: CT Scan, sadly, showed that besides bone cancer in right leg, there are 2 nodules (at least) in her lungs, and tumor in back. Prognosis isn't good says surgeon. She's hobbling, not putting weight on right leg, so we can't do daily walks which we really miss. But on the plus side, she's her usual loving self - leans on everyone, follows us everywhere in the house, eating and takes meds well, barks like crazy at amazon guy, etc. Surgeon initially said she was good candidate for amputation since cancer was just in 1 spot. Now that it has spread, she says its a borderline case, but that she slight favors doing the operation since Maya is clearly in discomfort, even though she still may not have much time remaining. Chemo and radiation don't seem to be good options. BTW, surgeon is really nice and empathetic while oncologist has the bedside manner of a snail. Sorry to be so long-winded. Anyone face similar situation - whether to amputate when cancer has spread?
Isabelle's mom - how is the post-surgery going? Are you / Isabelle adjusting?
I'm soooo sorry to hear about Maya's scans. Ugh! How big are the nodules? When you say there's a tumor in back, do you mean her spine?
It's not unheard of for veterinarians to proceed with amputation despite the metastasis. Long ago the first dog we heard about who had the amp despite mets was sweet old Zeus. He got more time than anybody imagined. And he wasn't the only dog so far, but he's the first one that comes to mind.
Remember that before CTs were invented all we had were x-rays and that's what vets went off of when deciding whether or not to proceed. CTs are way more sensitive than x-rays when picking up mets.
Instead of amputation is there any way at all that stereotactic radiation therapy can be done? Or the newest limb sparing procedure of cementoplasty?
Thanks for suggestion Rainbow Bridge - haven't yet connected with surgeon re your questions. But, after much thinking, we have Maya scheduled for surgery for this Fri. for pain relief (she's hobbling / putting no weight on right front leg) and to avoid potential fracture. Tumor on back is "very invasive" and radiation could control pain but won't decrease size of tumor says oncologist. 2 spots in lungs are visible so have much lower chance of decreasing in size with chemo, they say. UGH. Oncologist recommends surgery. Surgeon leaning slightly toward surgery too.
My questions: when she's back from surgery, do we need a harness to help her get up or is a towel sufficient? In rooms without carpeting, do we need to put down blankets / towels / yoga mats? Can she go up and down stairs? Will she be able to go outside to do her business or should we get something for her so she can go inside?
I welcome your advice...thanks as always!
Ah gotcha. You've covered all your bases with the vet conversations. It does sound like she's in really bad pain, and if two vets are recommending surgery for her, she sounds like a good candidate who can have a strong recovery. The pain of a bone tumor is always worse than the recovery itself.
As for Tripawd proofing your home, see our Tripawds Recovery Shopping List for ideas. Yes, traction is essential for a new Tripawd, especially an older one. Inexpensive throw rugs with rubber backing should be placed in her favorite paths inside the home.
Stairs can be tricky so you want to block them off until she gets stronger. How many do you have inside? And are they carpeted or not? Once she is able to do stairs (after stitches are out), and if you have more than say 3 or 4, then you can assist her with a harness that has a handle on top. The Ruffwear Flagline is our favorite for front-leg amputees. She shouldn't be allowed to do any longer staircases on her own. Front leg Tripawds always have a tougher time going down stairs than going up.
Your vet won't let her go home until she can stand and potty on her own. If she doesn't need stairs to access her potty spot outside the house, she should be fine going outside but you should definitely accompany her for the next couple of weeks after surgery.
Be sure to check out our Tripawds e-books library and Jerry's Required Reading List . Oh and our What to Expect articles are also helpful.
And as aways ask any questions you'd like. Keep us posted.