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Potential amputation on tiny rattie | Presentation and Diagnosis


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Potential amputation on tiny rattie
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Forum Posts: 4
Member Since:
30 March 2018
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30 March 2018 - 9:14 pm
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My teeny tiny rat terrier, Jax, who is all of 6 pounds, has had a rough go of it. When he was just under a year he fell off the couch and broke his front leg. He has a “successful” surgery to repair the damage and have a plate inserted. I’m guessing due to his age the plate turned his paw out a bit and he developed arthritis but overall did just fine getting around and going for walks. 

Fast forward to a a year ago and I came home to find Jax with his other front leg broken. No one was home and we have no idea what happened. The cat had gotten sick all over the house so we are guessing they got In Each other’s way. 

We rushed him to a specialist that day where they splinted him and scheduled his surgery. Within days he had a plate in and was back home. A few days later the plate snapped. This is a whole other issue I’ve contacted the surgeon about… either way they went back in and put in a larger plate and attached it as best they could. Because Jax is such a small dog he has very little bone to work with and the damage caused by the broken plate has left a gap and his bone no longer connects. They tried a bone graph to fill the space but it failed. 

So here we are a year later and he is in constant pain and lives on 2 different pain medications 3x a day. He is either in his crate or being held by my husband or myself. We did get him a cart so he could have some mobility And are working on that. His quality of life totally sucks and the pain is starting to get to him. 

Long story short we’ve been given 3 options:

1. amputate- problem with this is the first leg he injured isn’t capable of holding his weight. It has already gotten worse since he injured the second leg and is deformed. He would have to rely on his cart and back legs. 

2. Remove the new larger plate and cross our fingers that bone growth kicks in with the stress on weight to encourage it. The vet wasn’t giving this a high success rate. 

3. Having donated bone marrow injected into the fracture and hope it takes. Better chance of working than number 2 but still not great and expensive. 

We are seeking 2 additional opinions but from the sounds of it we will just be deciding what facility does the procedure. Frankly I don’t want to keep putting Jax through maybe procedures and we are running out of money. 

I want him to get the most out of whatever time he has left, hopefully another 6 to 8 years. Amputation seems like the best option for this when all factors are considered. I just worry that we might be missing an option or another possibility. 

Thank you for reading. It feels good to get it all out! 

Here and Now

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30 March 2018 - 10:05 pm
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Welcome and best wishes for Jax!

Every dog is different, but the vast majority of small breeds here have recovered quickly and adapted well to life on three legs. And far too many times, we have seen others put dogs through multiple painful expensive surgeries to “save the leg” only to eventually amputate anyway.

While you wait for comments from others, use the Advanced Search above to refine your forum search results with specific phrases, and you’re sure to find lots of helpful feedback. You can also search all blogs here . Or, consider downloading the Tripawds e-books for fast answers to common concerns and feel free to call the toll-free Tripawds Helpline anytime!

Please keep us posted. Your future forum posts will not require moderation.

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31 March 2018 - 10:05 am
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I am so sorry this has happened to your poor pup. Sounds like a very stressful situation at best. I am glad you are getting different opinions, if it were me I would be at loss also. They do not think putting a cast on it will allow it to heal? I understand about the weaker leg that was injured before would be a concern. 

I wish you well, sorry that I cannot offer any useful help.

Jackie and Huckleberryheart


Jackie, David, Mitchell, Andy Oscar, and the coolest feral tripawd kitty Huckleberry

London, UK

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31 March 2018 - 11:34 am
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Hi there, so sorry to hear about all you and poor sweet little Jax have been through. I can see that it certainly isn’t easy to decide what is best to do.

My Meg went through numerous operations in an attempt to save her leg, because we had been told that amputation wasn’t an option for her (because of the condition of her remaining front leg, which has arthritis and elbow dysplasia) In the end, after a huge ordeal and astronomical expense, there was nothing left to try but amputation and, more than two years later, she is doing extremely well.

My advice would be to do as you are doing and seek several expert opinions from board certified orthopaedic specialists. In addition, I would strongly recommend, that you make an appointment with a certified rehabilitation specialist, and ask them for their opinion on the options for Jax. What are the possibilities for strengthening the ‘good’ front leg? Is the cart a custom built model? Can it be adjusted for use post amp? Would they recommend that? Etc Etc.

The reason I would recommend the rehab vet, is that they tend to approach things in a different way, and work with animals over a much longer period, and so their perspective (in addition to the orthopaedic one) can be particularly helpful. 

I do feel for you in this situation, as I know what it is like not to know what’s best to do, and to feel trapped in a seemingly endless cycle of hope and disappointment. We are all of us here for you, so please keep posting and do let us know how you get on with the second opinions. 

Sending you a big hug,

Meg, Clare and Angel Pie xxx

Meg, Mutt, aged around 9, adopted 31/12/2009. Sudden explosive right elbow fracture 06/12 (caused by IOHC), diagnosed with End Stage Arthritis 03/15, Total Elbow Replacement 08/15, problems with healing leading to skin graft & skin flap surgery, Chronic Infection leading to implant breakdown. Became a Tripawd 9th March 2016. 
Lives with Mum, Clare, watched over by Angel Pie and Angel Billie
My life as a MEG-A-STAR 


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31 March 2018 - 9:49 pm
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So glad Clare chimed in.  Imkmow she struggled somlong trying to “fix the unfixable” and being told amputation wasn’t an option for Meg.

After gathering your information and amputation is the route you take, I think you’ll be amazed at how good Jaz feels ro no longer be in pain!!  Certainly his “other” leg is a consideration, but as  Clare has said, a Rehab Specialist can do wonders.  We’ve seen many dogs where a Bet didn’t think a dog would be a good candidate because of arthritis, size, hops, etc.  And then a second opinion thought otherwise.

Amputation is ONE surgery, a two-ish week recovery period (it is major surgery) and that painful leg is gone!  No more crate rest, no more   loooong  extended recovery time, etc.  Even IF his mobility may be compromised some and he many not be able to run a marathon, the pain will be gone! 

After all, he’s probably pretty much been a tripawd off and on over the past year and the “good leg” has held up okay…in between failed surgeries.

Obviously any sirgery has risks and sometimes things don’t go well.  It’s a risk every human takes, whether major or minor surgery.  It’s a risk we all take for our dogs if we are ever confronted with surgery.

Just one more quick “story”.’ A magnificw Great Dane named Atlas had bone cancer.  Amputation was the only “treatment” offered to give him a chance for extended quality time.  In addition to his huge size, he had Wobblers (a mpbility coordination issue) and arthritis, and maybe even hip issues.  Can’t recall all the detzils.  TWO different Vets said amputw would not be an option and they needed to “put Atlas down”.’  The THIRD Vet thought he would do just fine!  Atlas had his amp and he did just fine for almost two years before he had to head to the Bridge.

Please keep us informed and just know, no matter what, we’ll be cheering for Jax!  You are a spectacular advocate for urim and he is clearly a very loved boy!!

Lots of hugs

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!

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1 April 2018 - 9:56 am
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Thank you so much everyone! Jax is my baby and as long as he is happy with a wagging tail that is enough for us. 

To answer a few questions:

Paws120- The leg can no longer be in a cast. From what I understand being in one too long is actually a hinderance and can prevent bone growth because it can become atrophied. 

Megstamum- it sounds like you were in a similar situation with you pup. We have had the remaining leg looked at by two vets in years past and they definitely did not want to do surgery. We have a splint custom made for it but he hates putting it on. The cart is also custom made and they mentioned during the fitting that they could make adjustments should a leg be removed or anything of the sort. I will certainly be looking into a rehabilitation vet. I hadn’t thought of that yet! 

Benny55- you make such a good point about him being a Tripawd off and on already! And I starting to feel like I am clinging to keeping his leg and I don’t want to be selfish. He won’t care what others think about him being a Tripawd! Lol

we will hopefully have made a decision this week after hearing back from the two additional vets and I will keep everyone updated! 

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1 April 2018 - 11:31 am
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I know this is going to be a tough decision for you. I am glad you are getting more opinions, there may be a totally different approach that we have not heard of before. Keeping Jax pain free is the goal here. Beyond that, nobody should care what he looks like as long as he is comfortable and happy!

Keep in touch, we are all routing for you!


Jackie and Huck heart


Jackie, David, Mitchell, Andy Oscar, and the coolest feral tripawd kitty Huckleberry

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