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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12 September 2019
Hi all, I really wish I wasn’t writing this right now. On August 17 my very active miniature schnauzer, Remy, started limping. When it didn’t improve the next day, I took him to the emergency vet. They took an x-ray and the doctor showed me where it looked like part of his femur was eaten away and that she suspected bone cancer. I was beyond shocked. She was going to review with the radiologist. The radiologist didn’t think it was cancer after all. So Remy met with the specialist the next day who did a bone biopsy and took some fluid from his knee. He said the fluid was really gross and likely an infection, so he started him on clindomycin, rimadyl, and gabapentin. A few days later he said the pathology reports said osteosarcoma and recommended amputation. I looked at the report and it said that it wasn’t clear and may need a larger biopsy to confirm, so I went for a second opinion. It then came back that one pathologist said no, it’s just inflammation, and the other said no it has some cells that appear cancerous. (Side note: he was hospitalized for a week in 2016 with what turned out to be a mycoplasma infection and a staph infection in this same knee….with no clue where it came from.) Continuing to be confused, I scheduled him for a CT yesterday to see if it has spread, etc. I should get those results tomorrow but regardless I have been advised to amputate his leg because of how fragile it is. It is so hard to wrap my brain around this diagnosis because ever since about 3 days after he was on antibiotics/pain meds, he has acted great. He wants to play (I don’t let him!) but his attitude has been amazing, which I’m sure gives me a false sense of security. I just don’t know what to do. Remy is my baby and the fact that doctors are saying if it’s osteosarcoma, he may not be here by christmas, is something I cannot fathom. I want to do what is best for him but cutting off his leg when he is acting so normal just hurts my heart. I read the stories of dogs crying out in pain and I don’t know if I can take that. They said it’s rare for a small dog like a schnauzer to have osteosarcoma, which just makes me feel worse. I’d do anything to help him, but am having a tough time with amputation if he only has a month or two left after he recovers. Is it worth that? 😔 Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated. I’ve cried so much lately I am exhausted. I only want what is best for him and wish I knew what that was.
18 October 2009
Hello and welcome, your future posts will not have to wait for approval.
I’m sorry you are dealing with such a confusing stack of information!
When I first joined here years ago we never saw small dogs with OSA but sadly it seems not so uncommon now.
What jumps out at me from your post is that the femur is damaged and no matter what the cause the vets are recommending amputation. Is that right? If that is true then when making the decision on surgery is really now based on whether or not Remy is a good candidate for amputation. Keep in mind that dogs are excellent at hiding their pain, it’s an instinct, so even though he may not be sending overt signs if the bone is damaged it is hurting him.
Another thing to consider- the pain from amputation surgery should be managed by pain meds and is temporary. As the bone continues to deteriorate the pain in his leg will only get worse until pain meds can not manage it. If the bone is now damaged then it could be only a couple months, if that long, that the leg could break and you will have to make a decision under very trying circumstances.
If it is cancer causing the damage then there are treatments you can try if you want. Or you can go a holistic route- it is really whatever is best for you and your family. The important thing is to get rid of the pain. Which cancer there are no guarantees- you might get a few months, you could get years. My Pug Maggie was given 6 to 9 months after her amp for mast cell cancer. She lived almost 4 years and did not pass from mast cell.
Maggie’s cancer was a soft tissue type and did not involve the bone so there was little or no pain for her. It was hard to come to grips with the fact that amputation was the best path forward…it was just a bump on her knee! Without action though her cancer would have spread or the tumor would have ruptured.
You might look though Jerry’s Reading List, lots of info there on what to expect from amputation and recovery.
No matter what path you choose we are here to help.
Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls
25 April 2007
Hi Tara and Remy, I’m sorry you found yourself dealing with this situation, it’s not easy. And as Karen mentioned, we see small dogs with osteosarcoma a lot more often these days.
Yes, when a dog is acting normal otherwise it’s so tough to give the OK to amputate. Remember though, dogs hide their pain soooo well. I didn’t see how much pain our Jerry is until after his leg was gone. When I compared his before surgery and after surgery pictures, I was stunned. He showed pain signals , I just couldn’t see them.
You’ve done all your homework, which is great. If his leg is indeed too fragile to save, then amputation can give him a shot at a much longer, pain-free life with you. The recovery is so temporary compared to the big picture. You are stronger than you think, you can get through it and Remy will go on to be his usual self again. And we will be here with you every step of the way.
Finally, remember that prognoses are just guesses. They don’t put a date stamp on Remy. Nobody knows the future and many, many Tripawds outlive the life expectancy guesses even when they are dealing with cancer. You just never know.
28 July 2019
At the end of the day, you have to do what will let you sleep at night. Some things that also jump out to me is that regardless of the diagnosis it sounds like Remy’s leg is at risk of fracturing. Grover was hiking 5 days before he came up lame. We chose palliative radiation to buy us a little time/pain control to make a decision – He was playing a few days after his diagnosis and fractured his leg.
We are currently 1 day short of 2 months post amputation. The first three weeks were rough (now, Grover is also a 10 year old Great Dane with many orthopedic and neurologic issues … so his recovery was expected to be challenging at best and was more prolonged than most). But the 5 weeks that we have shared since then, for me, have made it all worth it and I would do it again in a heart beat. This morning he went on a 0.8 mile hike and the elevation change was consistent with climbing 11 flights of stairs.
The fear of the unknown and the weight of such a decision was crippling for me. I hope you find a small amount of peace as you are faced with such a hard decision. <3
22 February 2013
As you’ve already seen, from this point forward you are not alone! We all know how tough this part is!! You WILL decide on a path best for Remy and that, believe it or not, will give you some relief!
You’ve already gotten great input and, hopefully, it is helping you keep things chunked down as you consider all options.
I only want to add this. We all know there are no guarantees for anymofnis about our tomorrows. As Jerry said, Remy does NOT have a timeframe stamped on his butt. Will here be here Christmas? Dunno. Will any of us be here Christmas? Dunno! But we do know we can make every day the best day ever for Remu! Everyday will be Christmas Day for Remy everyday he is free from pain.
Statistics dont mean mich around here. And I don’t say that lightly! Every dog is different. And it certainly sounds like your Remy is vibrant and fit and a Warrior! Schnauzers are tough! We have seen time after time dogs blow statistics out of the water! True!! Dogs don’t count days on the calendar. Dogs don’t give a crap about “prognosis ” or statistics. Nope, doesn’t ,Sean a thing to them. Living in the moment, no worries, just getting spoiled and loved…that’s all that matters to them. Living in the now, Be More Dog .
Just know we are all here to support you whatever path you may take. We understand the depth of your love and your commitment to do whatever ks best for Remy. A deciaion out of love is always the right decision. ❤
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!