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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Hi! I am new to this and looking for advice. My gorgeous 9 year old chocolate lab, Bonnie, was diagnosed yesterday morning. I have not stopped crying yet. I am waiting to get to the specialist since my vet found it on a Saturday. Needless to say, I have a thousand questions and am grasping for all the hope I can get. I am not opposed to amputation, just need to be sure that the diabetes will not interfere or complicate. I have 3 labs, the mom, Saydie Godiva, and brother and sister, Bittersweet Bonnie and Kodiak Clyde. I am also worried about her getting knocked over by one of the others. Suggestions and any help would be greatly appreciated. I cannot bear to see her hurt unnecessarily.
I am sorry to hear of Bonnie’s dx.
Osteosarcoma is a very aggressive form of cancer. The pain from the tumor site is unbearable and beyond our imagination.
As far as treatment is concerned… Amputation primarily is to eliminate the source of pain, and hope to stop or slow down the metastasis. After that, some might opt for chemo, some might just go with alternative treatments, or even both.
Speaking of recovery and adaptation physically… Most dogs cope with the lost of a limb well. There are a lot of stories here about tripawds of different age, size, lifestyle, being in a multi-dog pack, … etc.
That said, amputation is a major surgery, so the first 2-3 weeks post-op is usually a challenge for the parents to trying to guess whether they are in pain, why they have poor appetite, sleeping too much, worry about them stumble on things … etc. Again, all these stories can give you a better feeling of what to expect after the surgery, as every recovery story is very different.
The fact that Bonnie has also diabetes… to be honest with you, it indeed poses more challenges in her case. As cancer cells thrive on sugar, the general recommendation of cancer diet is to keep the blood glucose level as stable as possible to avoid sudden spike of insulin level. Besides, radiation and some chemo drugs do cause blood sugar levels to rise. I would expect the oncologist and the vet (or vet nutritionist) to work closely as a team to design a plan of attack for Bonnie, to keep her diabetes in control and yet keep feeding the cancer cells to a minimum. (Just curious, what is Bonnie’s current diet?)
That being said, let’s not worry about diabetes for now. Hope that by gathering more info, you will be able to come up with the decision on whether or not to go for amputation. Once this difficult decision was made, the rest would be much easier to handle.
For the time being, think positive, and don’t let Bonnie and the rest of the pack pick up any of your negative energy.
Please keep us posted. Wish you and Bonnie all the best.
Thanks for you quick response. Believe me, I am on pins and needles. Trying to not be too optimistic, but hoping against all odds. Bonnie is currently eating Innova Evo Red Meat and California Natural Chicken and Rice. She is a finicky eater so we have to add some sort of incentive like ground beef, turkey bits etc. to get her started. She gets fed twice a day and her insulin shot follows. She is fairly stable as far as glucose levels, but I need to get her checked now I am sure. I would think that the specialist will do all that hopefully tomorrow. I am hoping that the prognosis is good and the amputation and chemotherapy can be accomplished.
I have now joined the forum. I had to change my name to register, but I am now official. This is a great forum and I am grateful for all the posts. They have answered many of my questions so I can go into the specialists visit better informed. Thanks to all of you for that.
chris & bonnie said:
odds. Bonnie is currently eating Innova Evo Red Meat and California Natural Chicken and Rice. She is a finicky eater so we have to add some sort of incentive like ground beef, turkey bits etc. to get her started. She gets fed twice a day and her insulin
Innova EVO line is good quality food which actually suits canine species. I am not quite sure about California Natural brand. Just checked out their webpage, it looks like all their products for dog are with rice or brown rice.
Dog diet in general should not contain grains, and preferably low in carbs. Diet for dogs with cancer is more restrictive. (Of course there is exception. I’ve heard of a case in which the cancer dog was prescribed barley by her vet, who practised Traditional Chinese Medicine. Obviously, he knew what he was doing and in fact barley was "cooling" food, and it helped that particular dog’s body constituency.)
Again, I am not sure if Bonnie has a special need in her diet to contains grains / relative high in carbs to help with her diabetic condition.
Thanks for the advice. I have been pretty lucky so far and have kept her glucose levels in line with what I have been using, but there is no need for the rice. I changed to the EVO last month on my own. My vet had not pushed for any change in diet. Bonnie’s brother, Clyde, could use the straight EVO, as could Bonnie, but I was told that their mother, Saydie, should not have such a high protein diet since she is 12. Considering that I can no longer free feed anyone since I need to control Bonnie’s intake, it should not be a problem changing her to straight EVO. It just seemed so high protein that it scared me to change totally. I will work on switching her this week. I have no idea what will happen tomorrow or even if the specialists will see me immediately, but I plan on spending the day there if they will fit me in. I cannot thank you enough for responding so quickly. I really do not think I will sleep until I know what is going to happen. I just spend the day hugging and loving Bonnie. The other guys let me know when I am overdoing it and push their way in for love too. I just hope I can be strong enough to do whatever is necessary. Boy does love hurt!!
Chris & Bonnie,
We apologize for not being able to respond sooner, my Mom and Dad are working hard this summer at a dude ranch, and just now got a chance to get online. Many thanks again to Jessie (Genie) for being there.
Yes, the diabetes situation is somewhat of a challenge, but it’s not anything that can’t be coped with. Are you able to work with a good nutritionist or holistic vet? We’ve learned so much from our visits to an acupuncturist that practices doggie nutrition. I once you find out the right food combinations for Bonnie duirng this time. I think doing so would really help put your mind at ease.
Please don’t worry about Bonnie being hurt by your other dogs. Dogs have an intiution about these things, when a family member’s health is compromised. Since they’re already used to Bonnie being around, I’ll bet they’ll give her some space until she gets stronger. So far on Tripawds, we haven’t heard of one case where another pack member has injured a dog in recovery. If anything, the injuries do happen when the new Tripawd is playing too hard with other dogs, so you will have something of a challenge there when it comes to keeping Bonnie calm for a while so she can heal.
Regarding the Evo, we do think it’s the best food out there, other than a completely raw meat BARF diet. Don’t let the high protein in Evo scare you; dogs bodies are designed to thrive on it. They aren’t made to deal with grains; that is a filler that we don’t really need, especiallly when coping with cancer. I’m going on 10 years old, and Evo has done wonders for me. Please read our Health Tips page for more information.
Keep in mind that oncologists aren’t thrilled about raw food / meat based diets for dogs undergoing treatment. They feel that dogs with compromised immune systems shouldn’t be exposed to raw meat with potential contamination. But we haven’t heard of a single case here on Tripawds, of a dog getting sick from raw meat. If you’re not ready for a big diet switch alike that though (which is a gradual process, not all at once), then Evo is the way to go.
Yes, senior dogs don’t need a ton of protein, but the best thing about Evo is that it is so filling that you only need to feed dogs a small portion of it at feeding time, compared to other foods with fillers.
Where are you located? What clinic will you be going to? Please let us know how it goes today, we will be thinking of you.
Yes, be strong, and always remember there is hope for Bonnie to lead a wonderful life on three legs. Keep us posted, we’ll be thinking of you.
Thank you Jerry. We spoke with Metropolitan Veterinary Associates this morning. They are a practice of vets from U of Penn in Trooper PA. They have specialists for all sorts of problems, osteo, cancer, skin, internists, etc. We have an appointment for noon tomorrow. That was the soonest and believe me we begged to get in ASAP. We live in West Chester PA, so the trip to the specialist will be about 45 minutes. There is another practice in Frazer PA that is Veterinary Referral Service, but we could not get in there till later.
Bonnie is doing fine on pain meds right now and you would not know there was any problem if you did not see the swelling on her leg. Action cannot happen fast enough as far as we all are concerned here.
Thanks for all the suggestions on food. I will gradually phase out the California Natural out of their food and replace it with all EVO. I started picking it out this morning since I had already mixed them both. I bought another bag of EVO and am increasing it gradually. I do not want Bonnie to have an upset stomach going into this, so am trying to be careful.
We really appreciate everyone’s support. I figure nothing will happen tomorrow other than xrays and tests to be sure where we stand. We will keep you all posted. Keep us in your thoughts and prayers.
Chris & Bonnie,
You’re definitely in great hands with vets from the U of Penn. Please let us know what happens at your appointment. We are thinking pawsitive thoughts for you both.
Okay, the roller coaster ride begins! I knew when we went that nothing serious was going to happen today because we had not been told to deny food.
We got there and Bonnie and I were both on pins and needles. Lori Cabell is the bone specialist and both of our males have been to her for ACL reconstruction. She looked at the xrays we brought, walked Bonnie around, and felt all her bone construction. She is a bit confused. The xray makes it look like Bonnie should be limping, holding her paw up, and in pain. Bonnie is not doing any of that. I thought the pain pills were just doing a great job, but Lori says that, given the way the xray looks, Bonnie should not be as content as she is and actually running around so easily. Lori wants us to come in early tomorrow, not eat past midnight, and give only a half dose of insulin in the morning. She will then do more in-depth xrays of everything and then put Bonnie under to do a biopsy of quite a few sites to see where we are. So….I am somewhere in between heaven and h—.
Thanks for all your support. Believe me, and I told Lori this, I would have been insane without your site. You are all my angels and I can’t thank you enough just for being there. Lori says not to get my hopes up and I am trying not to. This may not be osteosarcoma, but it could still be some other form of cancer. We will pray for the best and prepare for the worst. Either way, I am grateful for the digital hugs and prayers we have gotten from all of you.
Chris, thanks for the update. It sounds like Lori is an awesome vet who will be very thorough in determining a diagnosis. Any vet that can admit they don’t know what’s going on is a great vet in our book. There aren’t many of them out there unfortunately!
I definitely limped and held my paw up before surgery. Look at my left front paw, and see the way my ears are back? This picture makes my mom very sad, it was taken a few days before my amp.
Well, hang on, it’s a roller coaster that’s for sure. But with things moving so quickly, you’ll hopefully have a diagnosis by the end of the week. It’s comforting to have something to call it, whether it’s cancer (we hope not) or what, to know what you’re dealing with and move forward.
You are so sweet, thanks for the kind words and spreading the news about Tripawds to Lori. We are praying for you too, and sending many good thoughts your way. Let us know how things go tomorrow.
Jerry, I certainly will. I have also promised Lori to bring the web address. You may gain quite a few more readers!
You are quite a handsome dog! I will have to keep Bonnie from looking at this. She is quite a flirt and would definitely put on the charm for you.
Thanks again – for everything
Chris & Bonnie
We are home from the vet and recuperating now. We had a multiple biopsies and another series of xrays. Now the wait begins. The results of the biopsies and additional bacterial/fungal culture will not be back until next week. Bonnie is schedule to have the stitches removed on the 21st and we should have all the results by then. Dr. Cabell again stressed that it was very uncommon for there to be so little pain/lameness associated with such a large lesion. At this point she is on Tramadol and Metacam for pain and inflammation. She ate dinner well but is just sleeping it off right now. The leg is wrapped in a bandage to cover the incision for the biopsies so she is learning to manage that also.
All the doctors that I have spoken with have your website now and all have expressed gratitude and interest.
We will take in one day at a time and hope for the best. Thanks to all, we will keep you updated.
Wow, multiple biopsies! Poor baby, I hope it didn’t hurt too much.
We will be thinking of you and hoping for the best. Thanks so much for spreading the word about Tripawds.
Good luck over the next few days. Keep us posted.
Well, the results are back and it is osteosarcoma. The vet still is in the air though because Bonnie shows no indication of pain. Dr Cabell actually had to squeeze her bone hard to make her wince at all. So I have an appointment with another specialist on Friday to try to determine where to go from here. All the lung xrays showed nothing but that does not help much since we know it is probably there just microscopic at this point. I will wait to see what happens Friday, but do not think they are going to jump to take the leg until she is in pain.
I will keep you all posted.