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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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Newly diagnosed with osteosarcoma.
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Member Since:
18 November 2022
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18 November 2022 - 9:20 am
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Our dog, Boone – an almost 5 year old mastiff/Rottweiler mix, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma yesterday November 18th. 10 days after our other dog, who was older at 13, deteriorated quickly over 3 days and we had to say goodbye.

We are beside ourselves.

He started limping on November 15th, we got him in on the 18th and received the news.  He’s a very stoic dog and he is clearly in a lot of pain. The osteosarcoma is in his front left leg, just above his wrists joint. They staged his chest X-ray and it appears clear of spread. The vet has referred us to the three cancer clinics in our area and we anxiously are awaiting an appointment call.  He is on an NSAID and gaba to manage pain now. He is whimpering almost constantly.

He is 145lbs. The primary vet said that he may not be a candidate for amputation as it’s his front leg and he is very large.  We will get a second opinion from oncology.

We just want more time with him, but want good time with him. I’m terrified that if we amputate his remaining time will be terrible, and I’m equally of limb saving (eg SRT) and having him shatter his leg.  Doing nothing is not an option, he is so young and he has so much love and life in him.

I’m not sure what I’m looking for, maybe opinions on what you would do? How to process?

The Rainbow Bridge


Member Since:
25 April 2007
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18 November 2022 - 11:06 am
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Hi Una and Boone, welcome. Your future posts won’t require moderation so post away.

I’m sorry for the diagnosis. It’s such a heartbreaker and one we never expect to deal with. Try to take comfort in knowing that you moved quickly, and by getting another opinion on whether or not he is a candidate, you are leaving no stone unturned to find the best path for you and Boone. Since many general practice vets don’t see a lot of big dogs who need amputation surgery, it’s super smart for you to talk to specialists who do see them more often. 

The best vets in the world tell us that neither size nor age should exclude a dog from being a good candidate for surgery. If Boone is otherwise healthy there’s no reason why he couldn’t do well on three. Your specialists can evaluate him to find any possible reasons to not do the surgery, but generally we see that most large dogs do fine after surgery. They may take longer to recover than smaller dogs, but they do find their way into a happy place on three.

Here’s a story about Hazel the Great Dane who had SRT instead of amputation. Many dogs go that route, and some like Hrafi do have their leg fracture and do end up amputating anyways. 

Are you in Australia or New Zealand? It sounds like you might be a day ahead of us here in North America?

Unfortunately only you can decide what’s best for Boone, since we don’t know him as well as you do. Check out our stories about giant breed Tripawds to see how you feel about it. Generally, most people do not regret going forward with amputation as our Quality of Life Survey results show. 

Member Since:
18 November 2022
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18 November 2022 - 1:09 pm
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Hi, thank you for your response. I’ll look at your resources

im in Canada, on the west coast (vancouver Bc); I’m just completely lost in time. Sorry, he was diagnosed on the 17th.

The vet just called – he said that the radiologist has confirmed it is likely sarcoma but that it may also be a bone infection. Boone has had no known trauma or cuts to his paws/legs, but he may well not have let it show. His blood work is also “really good”.  The vet (general practice) advised against a bone biopsy to confirm as it would further increase his chance of fracture – but deferred to speaking with an oncologist before deciding. 

have you heard of a dog that was initially suspected of sarcoma having a bone infection? I might be grasping at straws but I’m absolutely desperate. 

The Rainbow Bridge


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25 April 2007
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18 November 2022 - 8:44 pm
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Hi Una,

So yeah, a bone infection can definitely happen but unfortunately it’s rare, especially up where you live. I can only recall a couple of times when that’s happened to a member here.

I agree that a bone biopsy can definitely present a fracture risk, and it’s another surgery that is incredibly painful. It’s really only useful if the diagnosis is very uncertain. If not, and if the leg is beyond saving no matter what the cause, a biopsy can take place after the leg is removed. The most important thing is to get rid of that pain and then take things from there. Sounds like you are doing just that, which is great. Pretty nice that you have three pet cancer clinics in your area, that’s rare.

145 pounds is not small but we have seen members with dogs that size who did well after surgery. 

When is your oncology consult?

Member Since:
18 November 2022
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19 November 2022 - 8:12 am
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We’re waiting for the call. Our primary vet said he processed the referral same day as urgent, but we haven’t been called by end of day Friday. I’m hoping soon, but the vet said that sometimes there can be a wait in which case we’ll consider an ortho referral for the amputation in the meantime. 

I guess I’m just grasping at straws, I really don’t want this to be happening to him. 

The Rainbow Bridge


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25 April 2007
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19 November 2022 - 1:15 pm
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Oh ok. I’m sorry you’re having to wait, every minute feels like forever. Hopefully they’ll get back to you first thing on Monday. Be assertive if not, let your vet know they haven’t called. I hope they will!

Nobody ever expects to be in this situation, I sure didn’t. You can lean on us no matter what happens! Enjoy some quality snuggling this weekend.

Member Since:
19 November 2022
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19 November 2022 - 6:21 pm
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Hello, I’m so sorry this has happened to your pupper- I also just got the diagnosis of osteosarcoma in my Irish Wolfhound and am just heartbroken. I am curious how Boone is doing now? I am pretty sure we will be doing amputation and chemo for Mailie as she is only 4.5 years old.

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29 September 2022
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20 November 2022 - 1:50 am
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Hello to my neighbor to the north, I live 45 minutes south of the Canadian border in Washington State. My 125 pound Mastiff Mix just turned 8 on Tuesday and had her front limb amputated at Washington State University on November 8th.

Your story sounds the same. We were suddenly shocked and she actually had a previous foxtail issue with her paw and did X-rays and found a lesion below her shoulder after we took a trip to the coast on August 14th. It was a huge shock and was also told…although rare, it could be a bone infection. I grasped to that factor and it doesn’t help thst osteosarcoma is tough to get a diagnosis and biopsy can be risky. Her bone was strong and couldn’t get a good sample after making three FNS attempts.

It just left me on an emotional roller coaster and even though I knew it was OSA, the holding on to hope and becoming more apparent each day that its inevitable and either have to say goodbye or push forward and amputate was becoming real and always felt the clock working against us. I was told by one vet he had doubts she’d do good with amputation and too big and old. The choice whether to move forward or not was crushing.

On a whim we were invited to have a consult at WSU. We drove over on a Monday and they did radiation that afternoon and the second radiation part the next morning and we drove back home. A week later the pain started to seem nonexistent and she could put weight on her foot. She was happy and excited and we got our old girl back. That’s when I made the choice to amputate with no question or hesitation. I want her to have even more good moments like this and called WSU brought her back to amputate. CT scans and lymph nodes were still good, even after all this time. She stayed in ICU for two days and when we picked her up, she hopped over on her own and instantly started moving around and have had zero issues with her mobility.

Please don’t grasp for straws like I did. It just leads to being crushed twice as hard when hanging on to hope. I received the pathology report two days ago and FINALLY been officially diagnosed with OSA.

PS – She did have a few issues with swelling and crying the first few days, but I hopped on this site and Jerry and friends in the tripawd community helped me along the way.  

Please reach out if you need to chat or have any questions. 

The Rainbow Bridge


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25 April 2007
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20 November 2022 - 1:49 pm
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The love and support here restores my faith in humanity on a daily basis. Thanks for sharing Mailie and Mix’s story with Boone’s pack! Hopefully they’ll see this real soon. sp_hearticon2sp_hearticon2sp_hearticon2

Member Since:
18 November 2022
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20 November 2022 - 4:22 pm
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I am so grateful to you folks for sharing your stories with me.  Babygirl, how is your pup now? Was it front or rear leg? I hear shoulder and I think front like Boone.. how is she getting on now?  How much does she weigh? I’m sorry for the 12 thousand follow up questions.. but here’s a few more – do you use a sling? Which one? I’ve ordered two so far, because I might be a psycho. 

I’ve been doing a lot.. a LOT of research. We would proceed with amputation and chemo; I’m also hopeful that we can gain access to an immunotherapy clinical trial.

  • recombinant vaccine (ADXS31-164), For the 18 dogs treated with ADXS31-164, the median disease-free interval was 956 days (source: https://www.ncb…..MC7020630/)

I have spent a lot of time on this site looking at stories of dogs adjusting to being tripods and it gives us hope. My fear is that if we did LSS via SRT that he would eventually deal with a pathological break. Boone is an adventure dog – he is ridiculously strong and strong willed, and I am hopeful that he can and will adjust with our help. So far, we’ve relocated downstairs – to avoid stairs to outside, and we’re working on staying off couches. That part breaks my heart. Currently sourcing all the carpet I can find for traction but also considering gym snap together rubber flooring mats?

he is in pain but still weight bearing; Jerry we will absolutely be following up Monday with the clinics. I have already stalked them all on Saturday and they assured me triage happens Monday and they will call.. if not, I’m not above re calling or literally camping out in their waiting rooms. 

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18 November 2022
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20 November 2022 - 4:25 pm
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I’m sorry, I just re-read, front leg.  How is she adjusting?

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18 November 2022
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20 November 2022 - 4:44 pm
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Katie Carlile said
Hello, I’m so sorry this has happened to your pupper- I also just got the diagnosis of osteosarcoma in my Irish Wolfhound and am just heartbroken. I am curious how Boone is doing now? I am pretty sure we will be doing amputation and chemo for Mailie as she is only 4.5 years old.

  

I’m so sorry about your baby – she’s the same age.  It’s ridiculously too young.

He is in pain, but he is still weight bearing.  I think we’re also going the route of amputation and chemo.  Now i’m just anxiously watching the clock for Monday so I can get him scheduled for oncology and surgery.

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16 November 2022
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20 November 2022 - 5:52 pm
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1.7 years old with amputation and chemo here.   Went from nothing to tumor and lung metastasis in 4 weeks.  Life is cruel sometimes 🙁

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20 November 2022 - 5:59 pm
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tcari394 said
1.7 years old with amputation and chemo here.   Went from nothing to tumor and lung metastasis in 4 weeks.  Life is cruel sometimes 🙁

  

I’m so sorry.  Life really, really is cruel sometimes.

Virginia




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22 February 2013
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20 November 2022 - 6:19 pm
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Just ca6 up on Boone.  As you can se from the support of Mallie and Mixx’s input, along of course with the invaluable advice fro. Jerry, YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

We all understand the kick in the gut it is to hear the “diagnosis “.  The tears (probably more like hysteria),  the uncertainty, the panic…..yeah, we get it.  The good thing is Boone hasn’t  heard a word about ” diagnosis ” and isn’t  worried about a thing.  Ahhh….the bliss of being a dog.

To add some additional reassurance,  my Happy Hannah  was 125+ lb Bull Mastiff, 8 yrs young  when she had her amputation.  Recovery  was not easy and I questioned  decision  for her the first couple of weeks.  This community  threw me a lifeline of information, reassurance  and suppor I can tell younknownit was a very, very good decision!  Her sparkle came back bigger and brighter  with that bum leg gone. 

FWIW, I struggled  with the decision to the point that I even cancelled  the scheduled  amputation  surgery.  Within a week’s time she was holding  up her leg from pain thst the meds no longer masked.  Obviously  I rescheduled and moved forward.

We’re  right by your side and will help in anyway we can, okay?  And remember,  yu are not alone!

Hugs

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!

PS.  So very, very sorry to know that yournother beloved pup headed to The Rainbow  Bridge.  Clearly  your heart has broken I to a million  pieces and now you have sll thos addtional  stress….it just sucks.  

When you can, we would  love to hear more about yoir sweet senior pupper♥️

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!

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