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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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Path report back - it's osteosarcoma
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Member Since:
11 February 2009
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24 February 2009 - 6:48 pm
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Thanks Heidilyn (that's the prettiest name!) - after now talking to three vets I respect I may opt for no chemo - all three said "if this was my dog I would not do chemo." And two out of the three said "you'll have as much luck with < insert alternative treatment > as with chemotherapy" and none of these are holistic vets (or oncologists, who I'm sure would be gung ho for chemo...)

  Leaning towards neoplasene treatments and diet instead. Haven't re-xrayed his lungs and won't for a few weeks but I have been doing exhaustive reading and have come to the conclusion there are no guarantees and there is no clear path to take. Which is maddening, because I'm not the type to dither about making a decision!

I'm reading of dogs who succumb within six months despite various chemo regimes, and dogs who do great for up to a year. I'm reading of dogs who have similar outcomes with zero treatment, and with various alterative treatments. It's so confusing and overwhelming, you're so right!

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16 February 2008
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24 February 2009 - 7:37 pm
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What a handsome looking boy! 

Carina, surely there are a lot of treatment options.  But none can offer any guarantee.  Remember that there is no wrong decision.  Just go with your gut feeling of what you think is best for Cooper, and what you are most comfortable with.


On The Road

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24 September 2009
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24 February 2009 - 8:30 pm
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Carina said:

I'm reading of dogs who succumb within six months despite various chemo regimes, and dogs who do great for up to a year. I'm reading of dogs who have similar outcomes with zero treatment, and with various alterative treatments. It's so confusing and overwhelming, you're so right!

It IS overwhelming! I know, my pawrents felt the same way. What they had to do was look into their hearts, and my eyes, and do what felt right for all of us. At the time, it was to forgo chemo and focus on my diet and quality of life. Sixteen months later, they opted for metronomics chemo. Their choices reflected the situations in our lives at the time.

And right, there are no guarantees in this, but if you think about it, there are no guarantees in life, either, right? We all make choices based on the best information we have at hand, and what feels right in our hearts, without regrets. That's all anyone can do, and it's the best way to live life as far as I'm concerned.

The clear path, is to listen to your head and your heart. The answer lies somewhere in the middle.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

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11 February 2009
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25 February 2009 - 1:05 am
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Here's part of what is influencing my decision. I spent time looking for a very well bred pup from solid working and champion lines (the long coat is a recessive gene and can happen in the most carefully considered litters; since I didn't care about conformation showing or breeding, just working ability, good structure and temperament, I didn't care and think it's cool.) He came from a very ethical breeding, parents and forebears all health tested up the wazoo, proven workng dogs, show champions blah blah, and what happens - at a year old I find he has dysplastic elbows. Oh well, this can also happen in the most careful of breedings…but I've had Rottweilers for 23 years and most have been shelter/poorly bred dogs and none were dysplastic. I have another Rottweiler here - she's a shelter dog but about the same age. Dumb as a box of rocks with a temperament more like a Golden Retriever than a Rottweiler, but she doesn't have dysplasia or cancer…

I went to a raw diet from the start because Dr Oglivie at Colorado State had just come out with his paper on grains feeding cancer etc, and Rottweiler people were jumping on this. I'd just lost an almost-ten year old Rottweiler to osteo and was open to anything possible to lower the chance of cancer. So he's been raw fed his whole life, and I have to say has been an amazingly well conditioned and healthy dog up until last fall. I'm also not a big believer in supplements, but he's been on joint support sups, fish oil and vit E his whole life as well on the premise that it can't hurt/may help. Now I was told that he'd be arthritic by three because of his bad elbows, but he wasn't and in fact went on to become an agility champion with many titles and never a day's limping until last fall, so maybe some of what I did helped.

I delayed neutering because there are several large studies strongly suggesting that early neutering (before growth plates close, in a dog this size about 14-16 months old) significantly increases the chance of osteosarcoma, as well as many studies indicating generally higher risk of a variety of orthopedic problems. Actually I was told not only by his breeder but by two orthopedic vets to delay neutering, for the above reasons.

I went to minimal vaccines for several reasons; one was the theory they can over stimulate the immune system and “wake up” cancer cells.

In short, I did what I could with the best of my knowledge, and responsibly, to decrease the chance of cancer and what happens - the dog gets diagnosed with fatal cancer at barely eight years old. At an earlier age than then the previous early-neutered, kibble-fed, vaccinated every year Rottweiler. I realise that you can't make any determinations on a sample size of just one dog, but I'm in a bit of a snit I guess!

Also he's had one expensive and difficult unsuccessful surgery on this same leg/elbow back in October, (I knew there was a good chance the surgery wouldn't work but he was limping because of some loose bone fragments in the elbow and something needed to be done) - was incipient cancer missed then? I don't know. A subsequent needle biopsy in early January came back negative for cancer cells. It wasn't until February 9 that the cancer diagnosis was made and by that time it was really obvious, so the leg was amputated and here I am.

I've tried to make as many right decisions for him (and my other dogs) as I could, I've relied on vets' advice and diagnostics through this whole process and been led down the wrong path more than once. In fact back in October I asked about the possibility of amputation for the bad elbow and was steered towards surgery instead. Too big, too old, already some arthritis in the other elbow, etc. And in every decision I've made I have gotten at least two opinions from specialists before proceeding.

So yeah, I have lost a bit of faith and wondering how many more thousands of dollars I should keep shelling out for iffy advice, surgery or procedures, or how much more reliance I should give to the results of highly funded studies! And no, it's not about the money, it's about what's right for my dog. Had I amputated back in October I might now have a cancer free, healed up, tripawd Rottweiler.

Small rant over. It's occured to me that I might be in the "anger" phase of the five stages of death, (by proxy)!

I should say that I probably wouldn't have done anything differently, I think I made good decisions based on advice of experts etc. Also I am NOT blaming any of my vets or the veterinary community…but realise more than ever that medicine is a terribly inexact science at times, certainly when it comes to cancer.

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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25 February 2009 - 3:53 pm
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We are sending lots of hugs your way, because we know you need them right now. It's so hard...we can do everything right, yet still can't guarantee the cards the universe will deal us, good or bad. All we can do is move forward and go with your instinct about what's you feel is right for you both.

My Mom felt the same way during the first few months after my DX. She went from blaming herself to blaming the pet food industry to blaming the doctor that missed my cancer for several weeks. Finally though, she looked into my eyes and realised; it just doesn't matter. All that mattered is the love I needed to heal and be happy again, so she dragged herself out of the hole she was in, and started taking baby steps with me into the moment at hand. Today is all we have.

You certainly have a lot of knowledge under your belt and know how to raise a puppy in a great environment. Take that knowledge and share it with others, so that hopefully some other pup will be dealt a good hand by the stars, and won't have to go through what you and Cooper are experiencing. 

Many hugs...

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

Member Since:
11 February 2009
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25 February 2009 - 8:39 pm
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Thanks...well it occured to me when I re-read that just now I was probably sounding a bit bratty and whiny and "why my dog." I'm sure pretty much everyone on these forums has gone through just the same feelings, nothing special about me and my dog!

And you are right - none of that stuff matters.

Cooper is back to his bossy self tonight with the other dogs which is sort of nice to see. My female Rottweiler Daphne has been copping a bit of a sly attitude with him being compromised and doing some half-assed challenging, which he's ignored because she's not really serious (and I'm not letting her get away with stuff like body blocking him) and tonight he let out a marvellous growl which made her jump backwards into her crate and look very nervous LOL.

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