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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Our 4 yr old pup Rye went in for ACL surgery, but they called us soon after because her x-rays weren’t looking right. Radiology confirmed osteosarcoma in her left hind leg. The timeline we were given was 4-6 months with or without amputation, so we were thinking we’d do straight palliative care, but as I see her become more uncomfortable, I’m giving amputation a more serious think.
I’m sure there are folks here that have gone thru similar. If she only has a few months as a tripawd (or, Ryepawd), do you suppose it is worth it? We are also likely not opting for chemo.
Here’s our girl:
Hi Rye and family, welcome. We are sorry you are facing this decision, and many of us have been there and thinking the exact same things you are, so we hope we can help it make the decision process easier for you. There are no right or wrong choices when it comes to amputation, every dog and situation is unique. We’ll support you in whatever path you take.
Rye is such a beauty! I’m so glad you shared her photo. She is so young to be diagnosed, that really sucks. But at least they found it and it sounds like she’s a good candidate for surgery, which is great. At her age, she should do just fine as a Ryepawd (love that!)
The osteosarcoma prognosis is a grim one, we were given the same timeframe, everyone does when their vet drops the cancer bomb. But you know what? That prognosis doesn’t take into consideration your unique dog, and her physiology. Those prognoses for cancers are just averages. We see many dogs here live way beyond them. Some don’t, tragically. But the important thing is that they lived a pain-free life after amputation and the majority ofTripawd parents surveyed say they would do it again, even when their dog didn’t live to the prognosis.
As for chemo, it’s a personal decision, it’s optional. We didn’t do it, and our Jerry lived two years without getting the treatment. While chemotherapy statistically gives dogs a better chance at beating the prognosis, it’s by no means a guarantee they will. We see it go all sorts of ways. You just don’t know. what will happen. But what you can be pretty confident knowing is that once recovery is over, Rye has ever chance to bounce back and live life on her terms, without pain.
Dear Rye’s Parents,
I have no great wisdom to give you because I too am fetching around in the darkness of this uncertainty. But what I do have to give you is an expression of very tender compassion and support.
I want to assure you, that you already have the wisdom you need among you. Gather up the thoughtful things that Jerry said, and then ask yourself a very relatable question… What would you want? The pain involved with osteosarcoma is significant… and the only recourse without removing it is to manage it with medications… which all boils down to quality of life concerns.
“Be More Dog ” is a bit of wisdom I was given today…. Be more Rye and let her guide you to the answer. She’s likely the wisest soul you know.
With deep kindness,
Thank you guys for responding. It’s great that there is this responsive community. Especially now, vet offices are so busy and it’s hard to find anyone who will really spend the time, or are available to. We looked to get an oncology appointment and the earlier is June 24! This diagnosis has been so so hard, shattering our world, and it’s hard to be understanding to why Rye would have to wait for answers. Of course, new questions come every hour.
Since Rye initially was thought to have a torn ACL, and it took a few weeks to get her surgery appointment, I’m worried we’ve let the cancer do too much already. Jerry, thanks for your considered note, and I’m thankful you mentioned that all physiologists are different. Maybe Rye can fight this even if we didn’t catch it right away (the chest x ray didn’t show any obvious signs of spread, but I know they can sometimes be micro).
and thank you tsuki, I think it’s terrific advice to Be More Dog . I wish everybody were
Woah June 24th? Did they know the kind of cancer you are dealing with?
If you’d like help searching for another onco vet, message me your location if you don’t want to share it here and I’ll help you look. Even if you opt out of chemo, at least you can do it knowing that you got all the information necessary to decide.
Yeah, I spoke to another as well and they said they need ‘definitive diagnosis,’ before scheduling a consult and don’t consider the x rays definitive. So instead of scheduling a biopsy and getting all of that, I’d rather move forward with an amputation so as not to delay it further.
We’re located in the Hudson Valley, NY.
Relatedly, I’ve noticed more tripawds have the front limb removed. I supposed it’s just more common? Is the quality of life still high when losing a back limb? Can they eventually manage stairs/play with other dogs?
Not speaking from experience…. but hind legs are very easy on them, from what I’ve read. 60% (I believe – St. Jerry will correct me if I am wrong) of their weight is carried on the front, so the weight distribution is more favorable for the hind end amputees. I had to call everyone and their monkey’s uncle to get an appointment that fast… your solution is good, given you are looking for palliative care pathways.
22 February 2013
You’ve gotten great support and insight from Jerry and Vic.
Just keep things chunked down for now. You can investigate chemo or not later..
Good news that xrays were clear. And no worries about “waiting too long”. Many dogs are “misdiagnosed ” and treated off and on for for arthritis, muscle sprain etc. And FWIW, biopsies are often inconclusive anyway, plus can be a quite painful procedure.
Its important to remember Rye does not have a timeframe stamped on his butt and could care less about days on a calendar. Rye is an individual and not a statistic. Making every moment the best mome t ever is the best therapy for Rye and for you! Now is all we have.
I had not found this community when my Happy Hannah first started her journey. When my Vet first mentioned amputation, I was shocked! Amputation? Absolutely not! He said to at least talk with an Ortho Surgeon. She was barely limping…..u told she started lim a lot consistently and she was starting on pain meds. I FINALLY made the decision for surgery….and then cancelled because I was so scared….and very uninformed. Keep in mind, I had not found this community.
Anyway, it was the best dec I could have made. After recovery, which was no picnic, she loved life to the fullest with no pain, just sheer joy! She was 125 lb rear legger and handled three like a Champ! Going UP stairs can be harder on rear leggers as they need to “push off”. Going down is no problem. Even if you hafe ro ise a bit of harness help going up the stairs at first, that’s certainly doable.
And yes, they can play and run and snuggle and beg for treats and enjoy sunba and spoiling!! You just want to avoid high jumping like they would for fetch. That’s hard on the joints. You can throw the frisbee lower to the ground though. .
STAY CONNECTED! As you can see, you are not alone! We all understand the stressful emotions and lack of sleep during this part of the journey. We also under how Happy you will be when surgery and recov6 are done and Rye’s sparkle has come back bigger and brighter than before!.
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!
30 March 2021
Good morning Rye and her peeps. I want to offer another word of support. My Toby had surgery to remove his left rear leg one week ago today. From the shock of the vet mentioning amputation to now has been a rollercoaster. But things are improving every day and I can see that Toby is going to be as good as new soon enough.
Please know that you and Rye are in my thoughts. This is a tough decision and it’s not fair that you have to make it. Just try to do what’s best for your dog and love her as long as you can.
Thanking everybody for their kind responses and insight, it’s really what we need right now.
We made an appointment for her amputation in one week, April 14. We figured we could cancel if need be but spending time here and monitoring her discomfort we are intending to go forward with it at this moment.
A technician at the hospital doing the procedure just went thru this with their similarly-aged dog a week prior, same osteosarcoma location, same prognosis. So that has also helped, talking with her.
Anybody know if insurances generally cover some of this? I’m guessing they’ll view it as preventative?
Excited to have this resource as we Rye transitions into Ryepawd.
Best wishes for a perfect procedure and speedy recovery! Coverage at this point is doubtful if you don’t already have an insurance policy. If you do, call them to discuss ASAP.
We do already have insurance. Healthy Paws. But yeah more curious, it’s not gonna change our decision.
We had a hard day today, would love to know if people have experienced similar. Rye was noticeably more uncomfortable. I’m not sure if she tweaked her knee more (they said she also had a partial cruciate ligament tear), but she was hobbling MUCH more. And then we noticed that from her breakfast she dodged one of her Gabapentin pills, so they probably had to do with it. She looks a little more comfortable now they she’s had her dose but still very hardcore limping.
Anyway, we were spinning out a bit today— we are worried we just waited too long, and are so scared that she might have spread to her lungs in a week, if the new hobbling is an indication of it spreading fast or something. This fear came because we called the surgeons office today and they mentioned they’d xray her chest to make sure it’s clear before surgery. She does still have her appetite in full, and seems relatively herself aside from the pain and gait.
I suppose I’m just thinking out loud a bit. Hoping to call myself down and not worry I didn’t do more—that’s kind of my m.o.
Healthy Paws gets great reviews from people. I would call them ahead of time to let them know what’s going on. The less you have to deal with later on after surgery the better.
It does sound like the pain is breaking through the medications, which is not unusual. Very doubtful it has anything to do with cancer spread. Try to put that out of your mind right now, take things one step at a time so you don’t get emotionally spent. Rye needs you present and pawsitive 🙂
I was just telling a new member who is also scheduled for the 14th that it’s a long time to wait for surgery (their dog is walking around with a fracture from osteosarcoma). Did your clinic put you on a cancellation list to see if they can take Rye sooner?
Think out loud as much as you want, that’s why we are here.
19 February 2021
Hi Ry and family,
Our big boy Koda Bear had his amputation 6 weeks ago and is doing fantastic. We opted for an experimental vaccine, which can be pricey. A sample of Ry tumor will be used for the development of the vaccine (3 to 4 vaccines). The vaccine teaches the her body’s immune system to seek out and destroy and remaining cells that have yet to reveal themselves and cannot be seen in an x-ray or ultra sound. For Koda, it was recommended 4 chemo therapies at a minimum with 6 being the max. We are opting for the 6. With each chemo treatment, Koda will not be as hungry or energetic on days 2 and 3 after chemo then he is fine.
Koda’s pathology report indicating there was no sign of his cancer in any of the leg lymph nodes which is fantastic news however that does not mean the cells are not elsewhere in his body but for now his lungs remain clear.
We are here for all of you offering our experiences with lots of love! Just know you are not alone there are more of us then realized.
Lots of HUGE KODA BEAR HUGS for all,
Catherine and Koda Bear
Hi Catherine and Koda! What a gorgeous pup!
Sorry for my delay here. Rye has her amputation scheduled for Wednesday and it can’t come soon enough! She’s in some pain for sure.
The technician at her hospital mentioned this vaccine but thought that it wasn’t currently being developed. I’ve heard there are some promising results. Does it need to be done in conjunction with chemo?
Would love any information on how you went about signing up for this, as it sounds like we will need to use samples from her amputated leg?
Thanks so much, hope everybody is having a nice weekend.