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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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Forum Posts: 10
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1 November 2019 - 4:18 pm
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Hi, I’m new to the forum.  I’ve spent the better pRt of this afternoon reading posts and blogs.  

I am so unsure what to do.  My 8 yr (and 4 and a half month) old Great Dane was diagnosed by our vet with osteosarcoma on Monday.  He’s currently having more testing done as we speak – infact we get to pick him up shortly.  He was undergoing chest x rays, blood work, an abdominal ultrasound, orthopaedic consult and a fine needle aspiration.

the only news that we have received is that the team all feel it’s definitely osteosarcoma.  We won’t have all results until Tuesday or possibly Monday.

we discussed treatment options such as pain management , radiation and amputation with chemo.  I’m struggling with the idea of amputation, but don’t want to see him in pain either.  He’s in pretty good shape otherwise for a Dane of 8 years.  I’m waiting to see if the ortho feels he has arthritis and if so what does this mean.

Any advice and experiences would be appreciated.  He’s a big boy at 140 lbs and I’m wondering if I can take care of him post op by myself for the majority of the day while my husband works.  He’s also used to going up and down stairs…does anyone have a Dane that can still do this after amputation.

sorry, if some of these questions seem ‘out there’, my mind is all over the place this week.

Here and Now


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1 November 2019 - 4:53 pm
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Welcome and best wishes with the difficult decisions you face. Your future forum posts will not require moderation.

Search these forums or search all blogs here , and you will find plenty of success stories about much larger dogs Loving Life On Three Legs . Of course, every dog is different. Only you and your veterinary team can make the best decision for your big pup. Is his name Maver?

If he is otherwise fit and strong, he should adapt quickly and manage well.

While you wait for comments from others, use the Advanced Search above to refine your forum search results with specific phrases, and you’re sure to find lots of helpful feedback. Or, consider downloading the Tripawds e-books for fast answers to common concerns and feel free to call the toll-free Tripawds Helpline anytime!

Please keep us posted. Meanwhile, start here for help finding all the helpful Tripawds resources and assistance programs.

Forum Posts: 10
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1 November 2019 - 6:49 pm
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Thank you for the welcome.

His name is Maverick.  He’s somewhat for for an 8 yr old Dane and has decent muscle.

we just got him home and he took a long time to get out of the vehicle.  It was heart wrenching to watch and it made me wonder how we would all cope with an amputation.

Livermore, CA




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1 November 2019 - 8:08 pm
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Hello and welcome.  I’m sorry you are facing this difficult decisions with your boy Maverick.

Would he lose a front or back leg?

I can’t help you with the size, the two Tripawds I’ve had are less than 35 pounds together!

However, one of the first Tripawds I met after my Pug Maggie lost a rear leg to cancer was Cemil, a 150 pound Anatolian Shephard who lost a front leg to OSA.  Cemil was only 4 at the time I think so younger than Maverick, but he went on to hope for years!

Another inspiration for you is Eurydice.  A 170 pound front amp Dane who traveled around Europe even after mets were discovered!

Eurydice’s travels in Europe thread 1 and thread 2.  Teresa posts as eurydice, you can PM her, I’m sure she would be happy to share her experiences with you.

Remember that Maverick is now dealing with the pain from the bone cancer- did the vet put him on any pain meds now? So him being slow to get out of the car may be due to that.

As Admin guy said, this is your decision to make.  We have had many giant breed dogs here do well with amputation.  Do your research and talk with your vets.  Even get another opinion if that helps you make your decision.

No matter what path you choose we are here to help.

Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls

Tri-pug Maggie survived a 4.5 year mast cell cancer battle only to be lost to oral melanoma.

1999 to 2010

 

              Maggie's Story                  Amputation and Chemo

Virginia




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1 November 2019 - 10:50 pm
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Maverick! Love the name!

Sorry you find yourself here, but as you’ve seen from the replies, this is the best place to be for support, information  and understanding!  And we understand your commitment  to do what’s best for your Maverick and we understand  how daunting  it is to figure out the best path forward for your Maverick.

As weird as it sounds, being”large” or “mature” doesn’t  really hinder a tripawd  much at all.  It may take larger dogs more time to recover from surgery and  ore rime yo fet their sea legs, but ul6 it all works out.  And arthritis doesn’t usually interfere  in the decision making process.

Another Great Dane who comes to mind is ATLAS.  Can’t  remember  his exact weight, but thinking  it was close to 170 lbs. AND, he also had Wobblers!  TWO Bets told his Holman he was not a good can6 fot amputation  snd both recommended  euthanasia.  Well, Atlas’s hooman k ew je qas mot ready to throw in the towel.  She got a third opinion and that Surgeon  said Atlas would do fine as a tripawd!!  And he did for over two uears!  He thoroughly enjoyed life and lived it to the fullest.  If I recall, some other than the osteo is what “took him to Rainbow Bridge .”

While my Happy Hannah only weighed 125 lbs, it was just myself to care for her.  I was soooo worried about how to help her walk, etc.  She spent one night at the clinic and was avle to walk on her own within 24 hrs.  At first I tried to help her with a towel sling while she was trying to master the art of three, but she really didn’t  like it.  Even if she isn’t  mobile on her own for a couple of days (and that cert can happen with big dog), you can use a harness to help her.  

Stairs can be a hurdle, especially  at first.  She shouldn’t  be doing stairs for about two weeks.  She just needs short leashed potty breaks and lots and lots of rest.

If you have hardwood  floors, you’ll want non slip scatter rugs for traction .

Do your research, talk to the Vets, ask us any and every question  you can think of.  We are here to support  you in any way we can.

Extra hugs

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!

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2 November 2019 - 1:43 pm
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Hi Maverick’s family – 

I am so sorry that you all are in this situation. I remember the anxiety and pain of having to make such a big decision for Grover, my 10 year old Great Dane. We had a lot of fears before amputating his leg – was this the right decision for him, were we doing it for us, would he walk again (he had other pre-existing orthopedic and neurological issues), would he be happy again. 

Grover had a left forelimb amputation in July. The first three weeks were a little rough, but I can say 100 percent without a doubt that we are so thankful that we went ahead w the amputation. Grover is very happy. He plays w his toys, he goes for 1 mile hikes a few times a week, he basically does everything he used to do. Every dog and family is different but I can say w certainty that we are SO glad we amputated his leg. Our oncologist commented the other day that he is more active and stronger than a lot of four legged dogs his age. 

This is a great group – for knowledge, support and resources 

Jamie and Grover 

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2 November 2019 - 7:21 pm
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Thank you for your responses Karen, Sally and Jamie.

The possible amputation would be his front left.  We have hardwood throughout our house and it never occurred to me that I would need traction boots – does everyone usually get them?

It does help to know other dogs accommodate (not sure that’s the word I’m looking for, but I can’t think straight) to being on 3 legs and especially big dogs.  I look at Mav and still seem so unsure that he could deal with it, but maybe it’s more me.

I will try to let you know what all the tests results tell us and our options once we know next week.

in the meantime if you know of any questions that we should definitely ask the specialist, please let me know.

thanks again

Virginia




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2 November 2019 - 8:02 pm
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Of course you can’t  “think straight”.  This is a kick in the gut to hear.  It’s all so new and scary.  You are overwhelmed  as yoi are trying to do your research and do what’s  best for Maverick.

You are not alone! You now have a Team Maverick to help support you on whatever path you may take.

You’ll have more clarity after your appointment and a path forward will start to reveal itself…whatever that may be.

IF you decide to go with amputation,  you’ll want an Orthopedic  Surgeon to evaluate  Maverick as far as being a candidate for amputation.   Should you go that route, you ‘ll want it done in a 24/7 fully staffed clinic.   You’ll want know what  pain protocol they have during and after surgery, and for recovering  at home.

We have a list to ask your surgeon somewhere on here… just not sure where to find it.

I never used booties for my Hapoy Hannah inside, just non slip scatter rugs fot traction .   Some people use inexpensive  yoga mats.  Check out our Gear Shop for more ideas on booties, etc.

Continie to take deep breaths AND eat lots of chocolate! It helps!!

Hugs

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie!

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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2 November 2019 - 10:41 pm
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Thank you Sally 🐾

The Rainbow Bridge



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3 November 2019 - 11:58 am
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Hi Maverick and family, welcome. I’m sorry you found yourself dealing with this situation but rest assured you have come to the right place. You may not know this, but Tripawds wouldn’t be here if we hadn’t seen a Great Dane named Moose, who was missing a front leg and sooo happy digging for gophers! Seriously, click on the link for more about that amazing Tripawd. 

There have been many, many giant breed dogs like Danes who have done well as three-legged pups. Yes, it is always harder on the human! The dogs get over it as soon as that leg is gone. All they want to do is feel good again. You’ll see that in our e-books like Three Legs and a Spare and Loving Life On Three Legs , we have lots of examples and things to ask your vet about surgery. Here are some more links for you:

https://tripawd…..-and-cats/

https://tripawd…..oof-house/

https://tripawd…..ncologist/

I don’t want to overwhelm you so we will start with these links OK? Please ask any questions you’d like, that’s why we are here.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
Latest Tripawds News
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3 November 2019 - 7:57 pm
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Thank you so much for the links, they are extremely helpful.

The Rainbow Bridge



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3 November 2019 - 8:02 pm
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Glad to hear it! Just keep us posted OK?

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
Latest Tripawds News
Read my story here.

Support the Tripawds Foundation!

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5 November 2019 - 6:37 pm
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Hi, i.have a 12.5 year old choc lab. He had his front left leg amputated. At first I was not going to amputate due to his age and his front leg. For some reason I had it in my head that loosing a front leg is worse. I was treating his pain with meds. It worked for awhile, but then his pain got worse. He was no way ready to be put down. I started feeling sorry for myself thinking I am loosing my heart dog. Then it came to me. This is not about me and the way I feel. This is about Brownie! I started researching and found this site, and thank God I did! I saw many senior dogs with front leg amputations happy and getting around fine. Most important pain free! Brownie stayed at the vet for two days due to being such a light weight on meds. His second day home he was hopping without any help from me. It took him about three weeks to get his spark back, but he did! I do live alone and I was scared. But you have a lot of support with this community. I also have hard floors and use scatter rugs with rubber backs. No booties needed. For walks brownie now has the webmaster flag line harness. It has a handle for when he needs a little help. You can use it after stiches come out. You can find it in the gear blog. It suppose to be the best for front leg amputees, and I love ours!

All I can say is I am so happy I found this site and went thru with the amputation. Best wishes to you on your decision.

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6 November 2019 - 2:16 pm
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Hi Maverick and family, and welcome to this site.  I am a fairly new user myself, so I know hearing from everyone else will help.

We struggled with the decision to amputate Ranger’s leg, too.  But, you are doing all of the right things to ensure you come to the right decision.  All that testing will give you more of an idea of how early you caught this, and if the cancer has metastasized anywhere else.  In Ranger’s case, the tests showed clear, but there is a chance that what’s there is too minuscule for the ultrasound and cat scan to pick up, hence the follow up with chemo.  One other thing I want to mention as far as the surgery.  Ranger was in pain and on pain meds prior to surgery.  If you opt to just to palliative care, that bone will break at some point.  And, I could not imagine the pain he would be in when that happened.  Even if you do chemo and the cancer goes away, the bone is still compromised.  Please discuss this with your vet so you understand fully your options.

If Maverick gets up after surgery, I think you will be ok to handle by yourself.  My Ranger is 11, so he had to have a little more convincing.  Also, Ranger is a big mama’s boy and very shy by nature.  If Maverick is more adventuresome I think he will do better post op.

If you opt for amputation, it will be one of the hardest days in your life.  Just remember how much you love him and the long-term goal of being pain free.

Good luck and much love to Maverick.  Keep us posted!

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6 November 2019 - 3:46 pm
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Hi Everyone

Here’s an update.Everything came back good.  He does have a spot on his liver and another on his spleen, however the vet feels these are unrelated to the osteosarcoma.

we took him for an injection today as the pain is getting worse and his limping is also worsening.  At that time, we did not have a surgery date.  If we don’t have a date by next Wednesday we would proceed with Radiation. Well we just got the call, his surgery is tomorrow,  so as some of you can imagine, we are freaking out..is this the right decision? Is this for him or for us? The roller coaster of emotions is in full effect.  He’s been in pain for the last few weeks, we just want our dog back.

im very nervous about the recovery because I’m a hovering mom and I’m not sure what to expect.

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