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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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Osteosarcoma in Bernese Mountain Dog
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Faith M
3 August 2022 - 10:50 am
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We just got word our BMD very likely has osteosarcoma in his left hind leg.  He\'s 116 pounds and they\'re discussing amputation.  I saw Izzy\'s story and am wondering how this has gone for others in similar situations.  How\'s the quality of life after amputation on a big doggo like this?  Did it extend life much?  rnAny information is helpful.

The Rainbow Bridge

Member Since:
25 April 2007
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3 August 2022 - 5:23 pm
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Hi there to you and your pup. Welcome. Your future posts won't need to wait for approval so post away. What's your dog's name?

I'm sorry for the diagnosis. You're in good company, lots of us here have gone through it. How old/young is your dog? And does your vet think he's a good candidate for surgery?

Generally speaking, even a big guy can do fine on 3. We've had members' dogs here weighing up to 200 pounds. As long as he is otherwise healthy and no serious mobility issues, he should get around well. Many giant breeds have joined us over the years, see these large and giant breed dog stories for examples, and also our Size and Age Matters Forum.

How are you feeling about the situation? And any family members that have a say in it? 

When it comes to osteosarcoma and amputation, the goal is not to extend life but to add quality of life, and most importantly, remove the source of pain. Bone cancer is the most painful cancer there is. Once that leg is gone, and recovery is over, a dog can go on to enjoy life for whatever time he has left. Amputation doesn't get rid of the cancer.  But it makes life better while living with it.

Try not to think so much about the actual prognosis, but about the quality of time within that prognosis. And also, keep in mind that many dogs will outlive their prognosis too. We see it happen quite often. 

If your dog is not a candidate for amputation, or you are just opposed to the idea, that's fine, there are palliative care things you can do like stereotactic radiation therapy (SRT). Outcomes for palliative care with SRT are similar. The only thing is you will need to use extreme care in his daily life, since there is always a fracture risk present. 

Have you seen an oncologist yet? 


Member Since:
22 February 2013
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3 August 2022 - 6:46 pm
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We know it's scary to hear the diagnosis and the word "amputation" .  As you can see from Jerry's reply, this is the best place to find  information, aupport and reassurance.

I'll just add that my chunk of love Happy Hannah, weighed in at a solid 125+ lbs.  She was a rear legger who hopped out of the clinic 25 hours after surgery.  While the surgery recovery itself was no picnic, Sharpe had no issues with mobility  from the get-go.  Now, not all dogs gain their sea legs that quickly, but just letting you mnow that size isn't  necessarily  an issue.

A Great Dane named Jesser just celebrated her tenth birthday and  one year AMPUVERSARY.  170  lbs of sweetness.

As Jerry said. the amputation removes the pain and restores  the quality.   Make no mistake though some dogs do indeed get several years of extended  quality  time, some don't.   But whatever the amount of "time"is, it will be about making everyday the best day ever and living in the now.   Dogs don't  count days on the calendar  and don't have a timeframe stamped anywhere on their butts.

Let us know how we can support you with whatever path you take okay?


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!

Faith M
3 August 2022 - 7:39 pm
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Hi!  Benny is 3y 4mo old.  He was diagnosed with steroid responsive meningitis at 9mo old, broke his leg at 1.5yo, had to have the hardest removed and the leg fixed at 2yo and suddenly started limping on that leg this weekend.  The second opinion is hoping it may be the newer hardware causing the problems and are hesitant to "condemn" him at such a young age.  They'd also like to keep the leg if they can so we've agreed to do a CT scan and bone biopsy to start.  

It's tough to hear this news and with all the other medical situations he's had, it feels a little defeating.  I'm struggling to be the optimistic one in the family and hate seeing him in pain (although we have started him on pain meds).  We will absolutely do amputation if that's what it takes, but I worry about how he'll do with that with the meningitis.  

I'm not sure about oncologists here (Omaha) and know a friend that had to travel to CSU to get treatment for her dog.  At this point we're waiting and wondering and hoping it doesn't turn out to be cancer. 

The Rainbow Bridge

Member Since:
25 April 2007
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4 August 2022 - 9:30 am
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Awww your guy has been through a LOT! I'm so sorry, no wonder you feel the way you do. It sounds like you are working with vet surgeons then? I agree that further diagnostics are a good idea right now since there is a small chance that hardware might be the issue. Let's hope that they can figure it out. 

What does the leg look like as far as the bone integrity? Do they feel there is a chance it can be saved? If so, the bone biopsy is a good idea, especially if osteosarcoma hasn't been confirmed. But keep in mind it's a painful procedure, and he will have a recovery time with that. What kind of pain control is he on? 

As far as oncologists, you're right, I can't find any board certified vet oncologists there. A few clinics emphasize they do offer oncology and work closely with boarded vets in other cities. CSU and K-State are the closest treatment centers with specialists. BUT, Dr. Rachel Venable is boarded and will consult long distance. Here's an article about her:

Remote Pet Cancer Consulting with Dr. Venable

I've never heard of steroid responsive meningitis. What's that  all about? 

P.S. Please consider registering as a member so your future posts won't need approval.

Member Since:
4 August 2022
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4 August 2022 - 9:54 am
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This is so helpful!  And I registered - thank you!

We're currently working with our vet and some well known orthapaedic surgeons.  The surgeons do think the bone/leg can be saved based on X-rays.  We're going for a consult tomorrow.  For pain control he's on gabapentin and codeine, we also have trazadone if he needs it. Super appreciate the referral and will definitely check that out!

Meningitis: SRMA is an auto-immune disease that causes the immune system to basically attack and cause inflammation in the central nervous system.  It presented as severe neck pain shortly after Benny was neutered at a year old.  The steroid manages it well and he's on a very low dose compared to a lot of doggos (he gets 10mg/day).  Because it impacts the spinal cord, Benny can't wear a collar and isn't allowed to do things like play tug of war.  He also can't get vaccinations anymore so we aren't able to kennel him, tend to avoid dog parks (just in case), can't let him swim in lakes or rivers and such.  It's a whole thing.  But, he's been living pretty great and staying happy regardless! 

Member Since:
22 August 2008
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6 August 2022 - 7:40 am
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Have you ever tried taking him off of the steroid?  This disease does typically affect young giant breed dogs but in most cases they can come off of the pred after 6 months.


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