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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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Nine Year Old Husky with Cancerous Leg Tumor
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Forum Posts: 1
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10 April 2020
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10 April 2020 - 10:42 am
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Hello all,

I’m looking for advice. We have a 9 year old female siberian husky. Within the last few months a bump sprouted on her right rump. We thought initially it was a cyst but then it grew, quickly. We took her in and the vet started her on antibiotics – it did not get better. We took her back in and they basically did an I&D and found “unidentifiable tissue” that went all the way to her hip bone with no imaging done to confirm. At the time, we neglected to have the biopsy done for financial reasons. We were told by the vet they would save the tissue sample in case we changed our minds or wanted to do it at a later date. Cut to now, 2 months later and the bump is back. We called the vet to let them know we wanted to have the biopsy done and it turns out they had thrown it out. So she went back in, went under and had biopsies done and NO IMAGING done. When my husband brought her home, her rump looked TERRIBLE. The vet hadn’t even cleaned out the area. I work in an OR and to me, leaving a wound like that is neglectful. 

So we got the biopsy results back today. It is cancerous. The vet recommends amputation. She says that it is aggressive but that it is “localized” to the leg. I’m not sure how they can tell that with no imaging. I am struggling here. We love our dog. Other than this she is just as spry as ever. You would not think anything was wrong if not for the bump. 

I WANT to do the surgery and my husband WANTS to do the surgery. But I’m conflicted. For one, it is a LARGE amount of money. For two, without any imaging, how do I know that it hasn’t spread and won’t be back? How do I know that it won’t be back in two months time? How do I know that the surgeon won’t get in there, (once my dog is asleep) and see that it has spread and then I’m out a large sum of money only to have a death sentence? I want to do it but there are so many factors at play here. I also don’t know what rehab looks like for a tri. Is it difficult? Do they go to some type of rehab? Do they just instinctively know what to do? 

I need advice/input with no judgement. All outcomes. All ideas. Anything. 

Thank you,

Savannah

The Rainbow Bridge



Forum Posts: 27457
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10 April 2020 - 11:12 am
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Savannah and family, welcome. Your future posts won’t need approval so post away. 

What’s your girl’s name? Huskies are such resilient dogs, I have no doubt that she would bounce back from amputation. We see it all the time with Huskies.

I hate to cut this short but I have to run to a meeting. For now, my first thought is:

Get another opinion from a veterinary oncologist.

All sorts of alarm bells are going off in my head about how this vet is handling your dog’s situation, and your gut instincts are spot-on. If it were me, I would not move forward with that current practitioner until you talk to someone else who is more experienced with oncology and proper surgical protocols. No, your current vet most likely cannot tell how bad this cancer is without proper staging and diagnostics. A veterinary oncologist can. Yes it’s expensive but you will know what you are dealing with. 

I’ll be back later with more feedback, stay tuned for thoughts from others…

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Forum Posts: 161
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11 April 2020 - 7:09 am
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Hi Savannah (sorry for the long post but it thought it might be useful to you)

I’m just a couple of weeks ahead of you with my dog, Arktik a Siberian husky as well, 10 years old. This group as been such a wonderful source of support and knowledge, I hope it will help you as much as it is for me. I know exactly how you must be feeling this is such a tough decision. I think as Jerry mentioned a trip to the oncologist if that is feasible would be a good place to start. Or at least I would definitely asked how they come up with that diagnosis. In general, with the biopsy they are able to determine what type of cancer it is, and some are more aggressive than others but that being said without further evaluations I don’t think they can determine the stages and malignancy. Also, as Jerry mentioned trust you instinct. This is such important decision you need to have all the proper information and be confident in what is presented to you.  I can tell you a little bit about our case if that helps.

We went to the vet about 2 weeks ago because my dog has been limping more and more even after trying anti-inflammatories for a week. We took an x-ray and saw the damage to the bone (almost none left in the middle section of his right humerus). Even without a biopsy it was quite evident that this was an osteosarcoma. I took the news pretty bad considering the not so great pronostic that comes with osteosarcoma. 

My vet recommend herself that I get an evaluation with an oncologist. Even if they (4 vets looked at my x-ray to confirm) were 90-95% certain of the diagnostic. So I went to see the oncologist 4 days after (not really waiting for a different diagnostics) but rather to discuss my options with somebody who deals with cases like this everyday. Honestly, it is my visit there that help me to get out of my ‘shock stage’ after the news. He was so helpful and really took his time to answer the million questions I prepared. He said I could also call him back if I had any other questions/concerns. 

We opt out of the biopsy for different reasons in our case, first the bone was so brittle that doing a biopsy could have just weaken it even more and all vets who looked at the x-rays were all agreeing (with 95% certainty) this was most likely osteosarcoma (the cancer really destroyed the bone). There was still the option of a fine-needle aspiration to get a cytology but considering that no matter if the diagnostic would be a different cancer, the first step if we wanted to act on it was amputation, we decided to not put Arktik through a procedure that would not change how to deal with this anyway. But this is very specific to our situation, some are more in a grey area and in a different case I might have wanted the cytology.

So we decided to go forward with the amputation because without it he would suffer greatly and have most likely very little time left. Arktik as huskies tend to do, was still super active and happy even with the pain and I felt he still had so much life left in him that I wanted to give him a fighting chance by removing his leg. Very very difficult decision because in the end this is never how we imagine our last (hopefully) years with our dogs. 

Finally, Arktik went through surgery this week on Thursday. So we are still in the first 48hr post op. The morning after the surgery (yesterday)he was already standing and walking, not super comfortable but he seemed very happy to go pee outside, and even wanted to go walk farther (which we didn’t). In the pm he was getting more and more comfortable and this morning he is really doing well. That’s only 2 days after the surgery. It is impressive how agile he is already. I believe the difficult part of this will be to keep him resting instead of doing exciting things he likes to do. But hopefully this will be behind us soon. 

For me the most difficult things so far have been hearing the bad news first and then making the decision. Once we did and that we were more in the proactive mode it was easier to deal with all of this (mentally). 

Huskies are so athletic in general I believe it really helps them to cope with this. Feel free to contact me if you have questions and you can look at the story of Arktik if you want: Update on Arktik

Keep us posted and we are thinking about you!

New York, NY
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11 April 2020 - 10:12 am
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Hi Savannah!  My name is Stacy and my 10 year old goldendoodle, Griffin, underwent amputation surgery for right front limb osteosarcoma on April 2, 2020, so today we are 9 days post-op.  You can read more about our path in the forum Griffin’s Journey.  I think Patricia covered all the bases in her post about Arktik, so I just wanted to reach out to let you know that all of us here are ready to support you in any way.  I hope you are able to get a second opinion and have all the information you need to make an informed decision.  There are no right or wrong answers.  You know your pup the best and I know you will make that decision based on love.  Good luck and please keep us posted.

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