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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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Questions- June 8 yr old Boston Terrier Osteoblastic Osteosarcoma in Scapula- Surgery Friday
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6 June 2020
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9 June 2020 - 2:48 pm
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Hello,

Thank you for this site, what a resource.  So many questions…

Our 8yr old Boston Terrier June started with lameness in her shoulder area end of March.  Struggling to get emergency care for the month of April during Covid we were told to rest and watch and treat with anti inflam meds, like previous injuries.  After seeing no improvement and declined use of her front leg use we were finally able to get an X-Ray mid May.  It showed a mass in her shoulder but clear lungs and heart.  They tried to aspirate sample with no luck so we did a bone and muscle biopsy a week in a half ago.  Surgical images of her scapula showed her bone has a huge hole in it, no tumor or mass, but it has deterioration significantly, holding on in one location by 1cm.  Her blood work was mostly normal with every so slight increased liver levers (meds?).  Results arrived 4 days ago with osteoblastic osteosarcoma.

After consulting orthopedic vets at University Of Minnesota it seems like the only way to truly reduce her pain is to take the limp.  This is scheduled for this Friday (three days away).  

It seems that the location is somewhat rare.  Does anyone know if this location produced different results? Some locations I have been told can reduce longevity.

Is it true that if we didn’t see any mets on her lungs 2.5 weeks ago she would likely have at least ~3m of pain free time with our family? Is the average truly 3-6m?  And when it spreads is it truly less painful than her current scapula and leg?  We are trying to prepare and answer our children’s questions.

We do have size on our side and she has been adapting/reducing her use of the leg, even running without at times.  Do you think a handi-harness is necessary given she is 19lbs and we can easily pick her up?  She is a dog that doesn’t like to wear anything including a collar. She historically very able-bodied, lighting fast runner, lean and has major jumps.

Thank you so much for any helpful information you can provide us.  We look forward to helping others as we document our progress.

Sincerely,

The Eggerts

The Rainbow Bridge



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9 June 2020 - 4:18 pm
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Hello and welcome to you and June. I’m sorry you had to join our club but we’re glad you found us so that we can help you as you continue along this path. I hope you don’t mind I moved your post here but since you have a lot of pre-surgery questions this is a good place for them so that future members can learn too. I’ll try to answer all of your questions as best as I can:

It seems that the location is somewhat rare.  Does anyone know if this location produced different results? Some locations I have been told can reduce longevity.

Our Jerry had his osteosarcoma tumor in the scapula. Many other dogs have too. I cannot tell you if there is documented evidence that location matters. I do know that I’ve read in places that the lower down the leg the greater chance of longer term survival, but Jerry’s was in the scapula and he lived two years, with no chemo. Cancer basically does what it wants and you can never predict with 100% accuracy how things will turn out. All you can do is go with the flow, make educated decisions and learn how to Be More Dog .

Is it true that if we didn’t see any mets on her lungs 2.5 weeks ago she would likely have at least ~3m of pain free time with our family? Is the average truly 3-6m? 

There are no guarantees unfortunately. The 3-6 month range is with amputation alone. With chemo and now immunotherapy in many cases, dogs are living longer than ever, sometimes multiple years like Dexter. Some dogs’ journeys follow the average prognosis, many others like our Jerry do not. In our experience watching members go through it here, there are many outliers that defy those numbers. So whatever you do, try not to focus on the numbers and instead focus on the fact that amputation buys quality, pain free time together. Remember, dogs don’t read calendars and they don’t come with an expiration date stamped on their butt. Nobody knows how much time we have, with or without cancer. 

And when it spreads is it truly less painful than her current scapula and leg?  We are trying to prepare and answer our children’s questions.

Absolutely. Bone cancer pain is the worst there is, ask any human who has been through it. 

When thinking about answering your kids’ questions, you may want to read about Stacy and Griffin’s recent experience with young relatives.

We do have size on our side and she has been adapting/reducing her use of the leg, even running without at times.  Do you think a handi-harness is necessary given she is 19lbs and we can easily pick her up?  She is a dog that doesn’t like to wear anything including a collar. She historically very able-bodied, lighting fast runner, lean and has major jumps.

Probably don’t need one, especially if you don’t have stairs inside your home and you can easily pick her up when necessary.

I hope this helps. Ask as many questions as you want to feel comfortable. We are here for you! Be sure to check out Jerry’s Required Reading List for more helpful tips and stay tuned for feedback from others.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Livermore, CA




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10 June 2020 - 12:24 am
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Hello and welcome.

Jerry gave you great answers to the questions you posted, please let us know when you have more questions!

I wanted to chime in on the harness part- I’ve had two small rear amps.  My first was a 17 lb Pug who lost her leg to mast cell cancer.  Maggie also hated ‘wearing’ anything and pre-amp would try and get her harness off.  If you put a tee-shirt on her she wouldn’t move until it came off!  I used her regular harness with her for 3 years post op (I didn’t know about Tripawds until then) and just picked her up when needed.  She had always loved to be picked up so that wasn’t a problem, but I could never really assist her with her regular harness.  I got her a RuffWear Webmaster which I thought was great because I could get her in/out of the truck with just the handle.  Maggie HATED the harness so she didn’t wear it much.

Now I have Elly, a 15 pound Pug mix.  She wears her Webmaster whenever we leave the house and she is fine.  I can also get her in/out of the truck with one hand which is great and help her over obstacles when needed.  Elly does not like to be picked up so the harness works better for her than picking her up.

Since you have a small dog you probably already have steps or stools up to your furniture.  They will be even more important now since jumping down from furniture will put a huge strain on the one remaining front leg.   Maggie needed help up onto the furniture, even with steps, but she would use the steps to get down (or slide down my legs).  Elly gets up and down on her own and almost always uses the stairs or stools.  It took me a while to train her when I got her at 10 months old- she liked to jump up and down on her own. 

Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls

Tri-pug Maggie survived a 4.5 year mast cell cancer battle only to be lost to oral melanoma.

1999 to 2010

 

              Maggie's Story                  Amputation and Chemo

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10 June 2020 - 10:48 am
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Hi Jade!  Admin posted additional information on Griffin’s forum page about helping children understand what’s going on, so be sure to check back over there at some point! ~ Stacy

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10 June 2020 - 9:08 pm
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Thank you for your reply.  It so helpful to get a perspective.  I looked at Griffin’s story and it gives me a really nice framework for presenting it to my kiddos.  Of course they will be home and present for the initial days of recovery and have seen me in tears daily since diagnosis.  We will all work on being resilient and her cheerleader.

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