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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On 10/10/17, my beautiful 11 year old doberman showed a nodule in her lung after being diagnosed with osteosarcoma in her front left leg. I decided against amputation and proceeded to get palliative radiation, chemo and bisphosphonates to strengthen the bone. Has anyone else taken this path and then decided to get amputation? I was so sure that palliative pain management was the way to go– rimadyl and tramadol– but now I am confused. I can do more radiation, but will ultimately end up back where I am now with a dog in chronic pain.
My hesitation is that her time may be limited and to put her through surgery feels wrong unless I know it will extend her life. Has anyone lost their dog to this procedure? Anyone explored all other options and then amputated to great results? Any thoughts are most appreciated.
18 October 2009
Hello and welcome, your future posts will not have to wait for approval.
We have had some members who have either tried limb sparing surgery first, or radiation and then gone to amputation. Here are search results on Limb Sparing. Here are forum search results for radiation + osteosarcoma. Maybe not exact matches for your situation but you might find something useful there.
We have had pups here who have had amputations with lung mets. What is the status of the lung nodule? Has it increased in size or number? I would think that would be a major consideration on doing an amputation now.
And out of curiosity- why did you decide against amputation originally? No judgement here- I’m wondering if there was some sort of pre-exisiting condition (like arthritis) that factored into your decision and might impact it now. Does your vet think she is a good candidate for amputation?
I was so sure that palliative pain management was the way to go– rimadyl and tramadol– but now I am confused.
What are you confused about? How can we help?
There is risk with any surgery and we have had some pups pass during or right after amputation surgery- but those are rare cases.
Karen and The Spirit Pug Girls
thank you Karen!!
no one is weighing in on what the right plan would be for her– no ‘crystal ball’ to predict what will happen. I initially felt amp seemed too much for an older dog who has beat melanoma twice, and has been through a lot as a rescued albino doberman.
that said, I am very happy that she has done 4 rounds of chemo and her energy is strong, she eats heartily, eager to play until she realizes the physical limitations of her body.
so 4.5 months of being pretty active and happy which was not how I predicted it would go….I expected a decline and here she is solid as ever making me think amp is possible. As a New Yorker, I hesitated to take on the recovery for amp, but everything is shifting so sites like these are so helpful in speaking with fellow dog owners, thank you!
17 November 2016
I am so sorry your sweet girl is dealing with this. My boy Zato, who had osteosarcoma, did palliative radiation and bisphosphonates initially and ended up having his leg amputated several months later. He had no sign of lung metastasis at the time and his leg was about to fracture, plus the pain was back. In Zato’s case, it was the right decision. He lived 6 & 1/2 months after that, and they were great days until the very end. I would do it again in a heartbeat.
I guess the thing to try and figure out is the rate of progression of the nodule. There are many dogs who live many months with lung tumors. Unfortunately, once Zato’s appeared, they grew quickly. But it sounds like that may not be the case with your girl. My thoughts are to see how much the nodule has progressed and go from there. You can do more radiation, but that bone is continuing to weaken and is going to fracture at some point. Every outcome is different – some don’t make it out of surgery, or don’t live long afterwards, but many live good quality time as tripawds. It is impossible to know how she will do, but whatever decision you make is the right one, because it is done out of love.
We’re hoping for the best for you!
Tracy & Warrior Angel Zatoichi 💓
Zato was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in October 2016. He triumphed through radiation and amputation with dignity and grace. After living a life of love and happiness, Zato earned his angel wings on February 19, 2018. Read his story here.
18 May 2014
Hi, as you have probably guessed by my screen name, I am (was) also the mom of dobe. Nitro was diagnosed with OSA at age 8 1/2, he had his right front leg amputated, did 6 rounds of chemo (carboplatin) and a brief few months of metronomic therapy (daily, oral chemo pills). He lived for over 3 years after the amp, and passed of old age, not cancer. Like the others, I’d find out if the lung nodule changed/grew/multiplied. If the answer to any of that is “yes”, you may want to rethink the amp. You know your dog best, go with your intuition. Amputation for us was the best decision, and we don’t regret it for a second. It is major surgery, and Nitro had a rough recovery the first couple of weeks, but came through it like a champ. He was 11 1/2 years old when he passed – as you know, that is pretty old for a dobie. That yours is 11 and an albino dobe, is amazing. I guess I really didn’t answer any of your questions here, but my advice is, listen to your heart, gather all the info you can. Good luck, keep us posted.
Paula and Warrior Angel Nitro
Nitro 11 1/2 yr old Doberman; right front amp June 2014. Had 6 doses carboplatin, followed by metronomic therapy. Rocked it on 3 legs for over 3 years! My Warrior beat cancer, but couldn't beat old age. He crossed the Bridge peacefully on July 25, 2017, with dignity and on his terms. Follow his blog entitled "Doberman's journey"
"Be good, mama loves you".....run free my beautiful Warrior
11 January 2018
Just wanted to say that my Gus (a 70 lb couch potato) has osteosarcoma. He was diagnosed on 12/29 and after several difficult weeks of vet appts and evaluations we decided to amputate. Surgery was on 1/22. I won’t lie – the first two weeks were pretty rough, tho in some ways harder on me than on him, I think. I stayed home with him that whole time (I work from home so that was easy to arrange). On week 3, he started to rebound – more energy, less pain, weaned off narcotics. Week 4 he exploded with energy and he’s doing great as a Tripawd. I wouldn’t have amputated if his lungs weren’t clear but they were … I decided against chemo.
If you need to chat about the surgery side of things / post op recovery, I’m happy to help – but everyone on this site has great info to share.
Good luck. Gus and I are rooting for you!