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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My sweet 10 yr old Black Lab, Lava was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in her left front leg on Friday October 4th.
I’m wondering if I should get a second opinion as our primary vet is not an oncologist. He said he is 90% sure it’s osteosarcoma and would be surprised if it wasn’t.
She had x rays done and vet said there isn’t a noticeable spread in the rest of her body, and waiting to hear back about the blood test to make sure she is otherwise healthy. The blood test I was told will not verify cancer.
I just want to be really sure it is cancer before I go ahead with amputation!
Has anyone done a biopsy or something beforehand to know it’s 100% cancer???
Has anyone had their pet misdiagnosed based on just x rays?
18 October 2009
Hello and welcome, your future posts will not have to wait for approval.
Hi again Bria- we talked on the helpline on Monday. I’m glad you have posted here.
As we talked about on Monday I would highly recommend a visit with an oncologist so you know all your options.
I’ll leave it to others with direct experience with OSA to share their experiences- again I shared my thoughts when we talked.
Again- I’m really glad you decided to post!
Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls
26 January 2017
I’m sorry you’re here, but glad you found us.
Lava’s diagnosis is similar to Rocky’s. X-rays initially showed the osteosarcoma. I questioned whether we needed to have a biopsy done, but Rocky’s vet strongly advised getting it. His point was he wanted to know exactly what he was dealing with, on the off chance it was something more easily treatable. And ultimately I decided to have the biopsy done, because I wanted to make sure amputation was necessary.
I’ve been told biopsies aren’t always conclusive. Rocky’s did come back positive for osteosarcoma. And, at least in Rocky’s case, the recovery from the biopsy was actually harder than the recovery from the amputation. But, like his vet, I was at least glad to know for sure what we were dealing with.
Hope this helps. Best of luck to you and Lava.
David and Rocky (and Baxter now too!)
Rocky had his right front leg amputated on Valentine's Day 2017 after being diagnosed with osteosarcoma.
He joined the September Saints on September 3, 2017.
He is the toughest, bravest, sweetest and best friend I'll ever know.
22 February 2013
Love the name “Lava” for a handsome black Lab. Can’t wait to see pictures. Here’s a link for adding images .
Glad you were able to speak with Karen. She is an invaluable resource for us all.
We kmow it’s really rough hearing the diagnosis and then planning a path forward. It’s good news that his other reports were clear!
My Happy Hannah’s Vet was the one who did her xrays snd, based on years of experience, recognized that it was osteo. As Rocky’s dad said, biopsies are very often inconclusive and often very painful. My Vet referred her to an Oncologist and Radiologist for confirmation.
I don’t know “statistically ” here how many do biopsies and how many don’t for osteo. I do know that the scenario plays out with some conclusive, some not. Some with very painful recoveries, some. not.
In my case, I was confident with just the xrays veing reviewed by the professionals expert in their field.
As far as I can recall in my years on the site, I am not aware of any amputation that took place that did not need to be done. In ALL cases, a painful leg had to be removed to improve quality of life. On rare ocassions rhe actual “diagnosis may have changed, i.e, a different type of cancer may have been identified. In one case it seems that an infection had veen discovered and amputation would have veen required anyway. Once the leg is amputated that is sent off for a pathology report to iden7 rhe type, course of treatment, etc
There are NO right or wrong answers on this! Some do biopsy, some don’t. . See if your Vet can refer you to an Oncol/Radiologist and then maybe you can make a decion you are more comfortable with.
Stay connected and let us know how we can help support you,mo,at? And remember, Lava isn’t worried about a thing!😎
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!
19 July 2019
Just from my own experience, if I could go back I would have opted to amputate and send the leg for pathology vs the 2 biopsies (a fine needle aspiration and a surgical biopsy) we did do that both came back inconclusive as far as exactly what type of cancer he had.
For my pup it just caused more pain and delayed the ultimately needed treatment of amputation.
That said, I can absolutely understand your hesitation and I know how you feel. My pup is fairly young and was initially diagnosed with a soft tissue injury so the cancer diagnosis was very shocking to us. I felt I needed to know everything to make the best decision possible for him.
Hello and welcome. So sorry you find yourself here but we hope to make it easier for you and Lava (great name!).
What @shepherdgirl87 says is exactly what most people who have done bone biopsies before hand say: if the leg needed to come off anyways, they would have waited.
Did your primary do a fine needle aspirate on the tumor? That biopsy is the first one to be done and isn’t nearly as painful as the bone biopsy core sample that requires a surgical procedure.
Anytime you are dealing with cancer, if at all possible we recommend consulting with a veterinary oncologist specialist. If your vet didn’t recommend one, please let us know where you live (you can PM me if you’d like) and we will help you find one. Primary care vets often diagnose cancer and handle amputations and such, but an oncologist can give you the whole platter of treatments currently available. Even if you go back to your primary vet for surgery and opt out of chemotherapy, you can rest easier knowing you investigated all your treatment options.
Hope this helps!
Thank you everyone for your responses!
Shoutout to Karen for taking the time to help me over the phone! Very much appreciated.
Lavas blood test came back heathy, just an elevation in liver values…. vet said it’s normal to see in dogs her age. Any advice on treating her liver holistically?
Vet gave me prednisone and tramadol at the time of diagnosis for osteosarcoma. However, she is not limping and doesn’t seem to be in pain. I think that is why I’m so hesitant to amputate. I backed off the steroid because I read it suppresses the immune system and that seems contradictory.
Vet referred me to a specialist who also was “suspicious” of potential osteosarcoma from her X-ray.
After hearing your responses and research, I think we will wait to do the biopsy after amp.
So, going forward with amputation on Monday. I need advice to prepare!!!. 🙏🏻😢💔
27 July 2014
Sorry to hear your dog needs an amputation. It’s always a shocking treatment especially when our pet does not seem to be in pain. They sure know how to fool us, don’t they? Perhaps Lava’s pain is being managed by the medication given by the vet.
Many times vets will prescribed an anti-inflammatory before the surgery. Please check with your vet as to the medication and dosage needed before the surgery on Monday and if you need to stop the medication the night before. If you are opposed to the prednisone then you can ask for another antiinflammatory if needed.
Your vet sounds good being proactive with the pain meds. You could find out about the medication and dosage after the amputation and prepare a schedule for yourself.
Kerren and Tripawd Kitty Mona
25 April 2007
going forward with amputation on Monday. I need advice to prepare!!!
Best wishes for a speedy recovery!
Don’t miss the many Tripawds News blog posts about what to expect, and the tips for preparing ome, or the Top 10 Questions to Ask Before Amputation Surgery for Dogs and Cats.
Hi. So sorry you are going thru this. Brownie is my 12.5 year old choc lab. He also was diagnosed with OST bone cancer I front right leg. His vet said they could Do a biopsy but there was a chance they could break the bone, so I decided to just amputate. I did pay to have more test done before surgery. Blood work and such do to him being a senior.
Best wishes for what ever route you decide to take.
21 October 2019
I hope everything went well with the surgery and that your dog is adjusting well! For future people reading this blog – definitely get a second opinion. Based on the xrays our vet said it was cancer and to get a biopsy. The surgeon (who is great) said it was cancer, and you don’t need a biopsy, we’re that sure. We got a fine needle one anyway, it’s not always conclusive, but it came back as osteosarcoma. Had the amputation done. They did the “real” post-surgery biopsy and now they think it was an aneurysmal cyst. I will be thrilled if he doesn’t have cancer but now they don’t know what to make of him treatment wise, and I can’t even think about if we could have spared his leg. So yes. Second opinion.
They did the “real” post-surgery biopsy and now they think it was an aneurysmal cyst.
Wow, that’s just such a shock, I’m sorry you guys are dealing with an inconclusive diagnosis. It’s a tough situation for sure, we all want answers and sometimes when medicine can’t give them it’s frustrating. We’ve only had a handful of members here through the years where the tumor wasn’t cancer, which is of course reason to celebrate, but still, I get it.
Thank you for sharing Buddy’s story and offering your insight, it’s much appreciated. Please feel free to start a new topic elsewhere so we can help you guys, or just celebrate your amazing pup. We would love to learn more.