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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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Histiocytic sarcoma diagnosis - feeling overwhelmed
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Forum Posts: 41
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11 June 2019 - 6:31 am
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Hi, my post is gong to be a long one I’m afraid, so anyone who takes the time to read it and offer some advice, would be greatly assisting me.

I have 2 Bernese Mountain dogs, one just 4 (Yogi Bear) and one 8.5 yrs (Arthur / Arty).

My emotional rollercoaster journey started back in April. I found a small (tick like) lump on my youngest’s ear. Needless to say, being a bernese owner and having had previous experience of histiocytic sarcoma (HS) before, I got it checked out by our local vet in the UK. They didn’t seem unduly worried, but we opted to have it removed anyway and sent off to the pathology lab. 10 days later we got a devastating call saying it was 80% chance HS. He had only just turned 4.

This happened just before Easter hols, and we opted to get referred, however our local referral centre couldn’t see us for another 10 days, so after Easter we decided to take him further afield to Fitzpatricks referrals who got us in within 24 hours. Knowing HS as we do and how little time you have, we felt this was better. They scanned him and all looked OK internally – no spread they could see. They wanted to get the sample retested using their lab but this could take three weeks because they had to request for it etc . Three long weeks later, I chased up and it seemed our local path lab hadn’t sent it as requested but had done an internal review whereby 8 of the pathologists felt the lump was benign, 1 didn’t, but because of the breed they had gone for a majority vote of HS!. Anyway, we eventually got it sent off but wold have to wait anther 2 weeks.

Meanwhile my older boy had had intermittent lameness for over a year. Started with a split nail and infected nail bed. Had him xrayed back in July last year because i was worried it was going on and the short course of antibiotics they had used didn’t seem to cure it. Xray came back clear. Started a different set of antibiotics for longer – seemed to work. Then came back lame again. Now Arty is tricky because he doesn’t do pain well but also sometimes would present hopping lame but then you watch him outside when he thinks your not looking and he’s putting weight on it. Anyway, this rumbled on – they changed antibiotic which still had some affect but it came back after a number of weeks. Chat to vets and we decide perhaps its oesteoarthirtis as he did show a little calcification in his xray. We managed it with some NSAID occasionally and everything was going well.

Fast forward to the last 5 weeks or so – when all was happening with Yogi, Arty became really lame again and wouldn’t put any weight on front leg. Tried changing his NSAID which worked for a few days, then back to square one. Added in paracetamol but after another 5 days no real change. Opted to have him xrayed again, using the orthopaedic specialist at our local vets who also did a bit more of a physical exam on him – came back with no tumour but signs of bicepital tensynovitis (bicep tendon injury). They gave him a steroid injection into joint and mentioned that he may need another one for it to have any effect. It had no effect so he was referred – this was a week ago last Friday.

On that Friday we took him up, they did a physical exam and said they had felt a slight thickening at his elbow joint, but his history didn’t really tally. We left him up there overnight as they did a CT scan. On the way home we received a call to say that they had found a tumour in his elbow joint which looked nasty – either HS or oesteo sarcoma, but they would call back with pathology later and also the report of the CT body scan they had done upon finding the tumour. Devastating doesn’t describe it really. About half an hour later we get a call from Yogi’s vet saying he was in the clear (so very grateful, but bittersweet) and then another half hour later news that Arty had HS confirmed but it was localised at this point.

Last week we spoke to the Oncologist for Arty and our options weren’t great – nothing is with this disease. Amputation and chemo or nothing. They felt they could’t contain the pain with drugs alone and the other option was euthanasia.

Can’t describe how I feel just now.

We opted for amputation on Friday just gone (1 week after scan – which scares me a bit knowing how fast this disease spreads). Op went ‘according to plan’. We picked him up on Sunday.

The last couple of days have been pretty traumatic. Arty hasn’t eaten a great deal – he wasn’t eating massively before the op. He’s a fussy eater anyway and I guess the pain he was in was pretty awful. We have managed to get some steak, sausages and chicken in him over the last couple of days. He was very whingey (but he is always like this after any anaesthetic). I also think he was suffering from some phantom limb pain as he was very sensitive to anything – even me pulling a loose bit of fur out of him. This in turn is making him pretty anxious.

He had a better night last night – seems more settled and quiet today – he hasn’t eaten anything yet. I am worried he is now really flat – is that the cancer or the op? Logic would say he’s had such a big ordeal but you hear everyone say, he’ll bounce back, he won’t be in pain anymore etc etc, and I’m just so worried because I don’t know whether I’ve put him through something he perhaps can’t deal with and made whatever time he had left, worse. I don’t really know what to expect. All I keep thinking about is had the cancer spread already before the op – even in that one week. That might seem illogical, but my experience tells me otherwise – I saw visible  tumours grow everyday in my last bernese who had it.

I said it was long! So sorry, but just a bit of a mess at the moment. Probably exhausted emotionally as well. Trying to breathe and think logically, but its difficult when your not sure what is driving what and now question your decisions.

Thank you for listening. icon_cry

The Rainbow Bridge



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11 June 2019 - 7:47 am
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Hi Lisa, welcome. Your future posts won’t need approval so post away. We are sorry you had to join us but you are in the right place and we can make your journey easier.

First, you sound like you are exhausted. We totally understand that. And we know what it’s like to let your fears take over. They get in the way of what sounds to me like a normal recovery your boy is having. Keep in mind I’m not a vet, so take that for what it’s worth. But we’ve seen mannnnnny recoveries here and Arty’s sounds normal. As always, talk to your vet about the things you are seeing with him right now, just to make sure you’ve got things covered. But here’s what I see:

Pain medication definitely affects a dog’s appetite. Picky dogs become pickier for sure. But this is only temporary. When he is recovered, he will want to eat as he once did. What are you doing to help boost his appetite right now? Have you done anything to feed him the stinkiest, yummiest, most favourite treats EVER? Check our our Tripawds Nutrition blog posts for appetite booster ideas.

Meanwhile, if he had phantom pain you would know it. It typically presents as a sharp yelp, cry or biting of the stump area. If Arty is having it, let your vet know so they can adjust his medications. Gabapentin is typically given post operatively to avoid phantom leg pains.

As for the cancer taking over….the best thing you can do right now is not focus on that. Odds are it has not. You acted quickly, you advocated for Arty and Yogi spectacularly and now it’s time to focus on recovery, not something that probably hasn’t happened and may not ever. Right now, Arty needs you to be pawsitive, to Be More Dog , to show him that you believe he can go on to live a normal life because he WILL!

Have you seen Jerry’s Required Reading List ? Or the Tripawds e-books library? I encourage you to check them out, we answer many questions there. And whatever ones we do not, or if you just want to vent, please ask away.

I’m glad to hear Arty is more himself today! Don’t forget to celebrate that milestone smiley_clap

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Forum Posts: 41
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11 June 2019 - 9:28 am
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Thank you Jerry – think I need some rational thoughts. I have managed to get him to eat a bit of steak, sausages and chicken over the last couple of days, but he’s a bit flat today and very quiet – which is good, but just looks so sad at the moment. He hasn’t eaten anything today, so I will cook him some steak or homemade burgers.

He was suddenly yelping out yesterday – but seems better today. Only heard an occasional one if he tries to shake. I did speak to the vet finally yesterday and we adjusted it slightly. I talked to them about Gabapentin but they said it wouldn’t help in immediate because of titrating up.

He is very lethargic, but I guess he is exhausted. Has gone for a pee yesterday which was  relief – but not today – but then he can hold it. He was bit incontinent until yesterday evening after he had a proper pee – seems better on the incontinence today. Hasn’t pooped – but I read on one forum this is normal, so less worried and he hasn’t eaten much anyway.

He just seems to have lost all confidence – looks worried when we take him out – he doesn’t really like it. He doesn’t do anaesthetics particularly well anyway – gets quite agrophobic when he’s had one – so I though he might be a little like that, just thought he might be slightly better to day.

I suppose I just want to know what I’m experiencing is within the realms of ‘normal’. You don’t get a lot of what to expect from the vets.

I’ll read the things you suggest.

I am a bit paranoid at the moment – just such a big decision and not wanting to have made his life more crap (but very exhausted after the last 5 weeks of turmoil). 

Virginia




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11 June 2019 - 10:30 am
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Okay, deep breaths….B R E A T H E……B R E A T H E…you have been on a no stop roller coaster ride for the past months.  You have to be exhausted emotionally,  physically and sleep deprived! We understand  like nom others can.

You made the RIGHT decision  for Arty.  You made a decision  out of love and with a focus on giving  him a chance for extended  quality  time!  It is clear Arty still has spunk and was not ready to throw in the towel yet!!  Not sure what the Bet meant about  titration, but GABAPENTIN  is a very good drug for managing  pain and works well with Tramadol.

Yoi are in the roughest  part of recovery.  It is MAJOR surgery,  all while trying not adjust to three legs!  Humans would still be in the hospital  with a morphine  drip!!  Arty is getting  resr and that’s  what he needs now.    Rest, rest, rest, short potty break and more resr!  This is VERY, VERY early in recovery. 

So what pain meds is Arthur on?  Most dogs here come home with Tramadol,  Gabapentin,  Rimadyl and an antibiotic. 

And yes, poop may be delayed  a bit.  The pee and drinking  are more important  though… even if he pees in bed for a few days.   Just leep giving  him anynyummh food he’ll eat…cheeseburgers, cheese pizza, eggs and bacon, stinky  liverwurst…nutrition  can come later.

Many members  saw an upswing  in recovery  once the stitches  were out.  However, it took me three weeks before  could say I did this FOR my Happy Hannah  and not TO her!  

Uoi’ll see Arty’s sparkle  come back slowly  but sure.  Try and stay  strong and confident  and upbeat arpund hom.  He will definitely block up on your energy!! So very important to not show sadness or fear.

And YAY afor Yogi!  So glad everything  is okay with him!  And everything  will be okay for Arthur too!!

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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11 June 2019 - 10:48 am
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Thank you. I’m normally quite logical about these things, but when your in for 24 / 7 its hard.

He’s on Tramodol, paracetamol and Onsior (NSAID). They basically said yesterday that Gabapentin would take  a while to come up to therapeutic dose, so they felt what he was on was better. He is less painful I think today – certainly not so anxious and stressed with it although as i said he is very quiet today – which is probably a good thing.

Trying lots of different things to entice eating. Will just keep trying switching stuff around. I have given up about nutrition at the moment for Arty. They were both on golden paste and mushroom complex, both fed raw.

My husband and I are swapping around tomorrow – so a bit of a break might be good for both of us.

Yes, it is yay for Yogi – feel like we’ve not really had a chance to celebrate his good fortune. He’s had a rough time in his short life already. He has hip dysplasia and epilepsy bless him, but takes everything in his stride.

Good to have some sounding boards for what is normal.

Thank you

The Rainbow Bridge



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11 June 2019 - 4:57 pm
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Of course it’s hard, there’s so much to think about, it’s something we as pet parents never expect to cope with. You are doing a great job. And yes, this is all within the limits of “normal” recoveries, but just keep remembering that all dogs are different. You already talked to your vet, what a great advocate you are! Good job!

If he’s quiet, that can definitely be good, but just watch for other pain signals just in case. Sometimes quiet can also mean pain. 

Yes, Gabapentin does need a bit of time to build up to a maximum tolerated dose for the most therapeutic effect based on the condition it’s being used for, but when it comes to relieving amputation pain after surgery, most vets are using it immediately post operatively here in the States. For most dogs and cats, it works great. The vet protocols are based on the American Animal Hospital Association Pain Management Guidelines, so if Arty has any more sudden yelping episodes I would print them out and show your the guidelines to your vet, then advocate to get him on it.

Let us know what foods get Arty to eat and be sure to rest when your husband takes over the caregiver job this week.

Arty is going to love having his own personal chef!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Support the Tripawds Foundation!

Forum Posts: 41
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12 June 2019 - 9:46 am
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Thank you. 

He varies about eating. Yesterday he ate some dog biscuits, some chicken, a bit of sausage (not a great deal really) and today he’s eaten some cheese – but again not much. Just worry he’s not getting enough. I did look through the tips and have a variety of stuff.

Also trying not to get too focussed on the eating thing. Just offer him stuff now and then. Its just he’s lost quite a lot of weight in the last few weeks as been on various meds for sometime now. He’s drinking well and peeing well now – so that’s good.

I’m hoping once he stops the meds he may feel a bit more like eating – he hasn’t had anymore yelping episodes and actually tried to scratch himself a bit on his favourite bush this morning – so he much be less painful. smiley4

Unfortunately Yogi is rather clumsy and so we have to watch him and I think Arty is conscious of this as well. He doesn’t mean to, but can knock into him if your not careful – especially if one of us has been out and comes home.

Green Bay, WI


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12 June 2019 - 10:52 am
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hi and welcome….just wanted to share another histiocytic “success” story with you…..Tripawd hero Murphy also had this cancer, and went on to live 4+ years after his amp! He was a happy, cheerful boy, always smiling, and a great ambassador for cancer awareness. Today is actually his 2 year angelversary. I had the pleasure and honor of meeting him and his pawrents – who to this day are good friends of mine. Statistics ARE just numbers….good luck as you move forward.

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"

http://nitro.tripawds.com

"Be good, mama loves you".....run free my beautiful Warrior

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12 June 2019 - 11:15 am
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Oh wow, that’s amazing. I so hope he and we get some time together. 

Thank you – knowing that does give me some hope as we go through this. 

Green Bay, WI


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12 June 2019 - 6:37 pm
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Hi again, just wanted to add a little about our own story…my dobe, Nitro, had osteosarcoma and had his right front leg amputated at age 8 1/2 years. He wouldn’t eat for the first 7 days after surgery either – I mean NOTHING! We would shovel yogurt down his throat to get his meds in him. He did finally start to eat. He had a lot of neck pain, and we found a vet who specialized in chiropractic and acupuncture. Made a world of difference! My warrior lived 3+ years after his amp, and his cancer never came back  – he passed due to old age and kidney failure. We also used the Ruffwear harness , by webmaster, and it was a godsend. Recovery can be hard, but for us, it was all worth it. Good luck.

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"

http://nitro.tripawds.com

"Be good, mama loves you".....run free my beautiful Warrior

Michigan
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12 June 2019 - 7:00 pm
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Hi Lisa ~

I’m Murphy’s mom, and Paula told me about your post.  Sorry it took me awhile to get in here, I was at work all day.

Murphy was a retriever mix who had his right front leg removed when he was about 7 years old.  He was originally misdiagnosed and had been limping for about 5 months or so by the time he had his surgery.  They thought we were looking at osteosarcoma, but the biopsy took about 3 weeks to come back and it was histiocytic sarcoma.  The lymph  node they removed near his leg was also  positive, showing that it had probably spread.  We did do 6 doses of CCNU, which Murphy tolerated well.  When he finished, there was a mass found near his left shoulder blade that was suspected to be metastasis – we declined doing further chemo (it would have had to be a different type since it occurred during his treatment).  For awhile we did chest x-rays every few months, watching for lung mets, but they were always clear … so finally we stopped doing them.

Around his 11th birthday, Murphy started having more trouble with pain – so we started seeing a rehab doctor for some chiropractic care.  She also showed us some exercises to increase his core strength.  He passed his 4 year mark, but about 2 months later we lost him – actually, 2 years ago today – to a hemangiosarcoma.  He never had metastasis sp_hearticon2

Murphy’s blog is in my signature.  Feel free to message me smiley4

Donna

Donna, Glenn & Murphy  http://murphyh......pawds.com/

Murphy had his right front leg amputated due to histiocytic sarcoma at 7 years old.  He survived 4 years, 2 months & 1 week, only to be taken by hemangiosarcoma at 11 1/2 years 6/12/17  

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13 June 2019 - 5:36 am
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Thank you Paula and Donna for your replies. It means a lot. 4 years with HS diagnosis is amazing and I’ve not heard of this. My experience of it is less favourable unfortunately, but guess I need to be more optimistic.

Just trying to not let myself get overly concerned about food because I know he can tell, and keep persevering.

He’s been a bit trembly the last couple of days – spoken to vet and we’ve upped his pain meds a bit which seems to have worked. He just seems to have lost all his confidence, buy i guess its very early days yet. Also still not had a poopicon since a tiny bit on Sunday which also might not be helping – but I guess with all the meds and little food, he’s not really going to feel like going much.

I’ll keep you up to date on how we go.

Thanks again – you guys have kept me going the last couple of days.

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13 June 2019 - 8:58 am
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Hello, me again.

Arty thankfully just had a poop for the first time since Sunday (Sunday’s was very small amount)

It was pretty orangey and runny but I am hoping that’s because its been stored up for such a long time and also such a change in diet and meds.

My concern is that the meds say to stop them if they cause runny poop, but I’m thinking he really needs the meds – he’s still a bit trembly and yelping occasionally today and he tolerated them all before – so thinking I should stick and speak to the vet tomorrow.

Also talking to them about laser therapy or acupuncture as a way of helping him with the pain i think he is in, as part of rehab.

Any thoughts on the delightful subject of poopicon would be reassuring.

Thank you

Michigan
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13 June 2019 - 9:10 am
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The first couple of weeks are definitely the hardest to get through, but after that things get a bit easier.  Most of our dogs don’t want to eat, and we all did whatever we could to get them to!  I made rice and poured chicken broth over it for Murphy, then I added chunks of chicken to it.  Sally added ice cream to water to get Happy Hannah to drink more water lol.

Pain medications can cause constipation, plus the decrease in food intake … he’ll go eventually 🙂

And pain medications … always my worst subject.  Murphy came home on Rimadyl (an NSAID), Tramadol (a narcotic) and Gabapentin for nerve pain.  That seems to be the best combination.  Some come home with a Fentanyl pain patch for a couple of days.  Many vets start them off on a lower dose of their medications so that there is room to increase the doses.  Make sure that you are spacing out the medications, not giving them all at the same time – that way there is adequate coverage.  You can also apply an ice pack to the incision, covered with a towel, for about 10-15 minutes a couple of times a day.

Donna

Donna, Glenn & Murphy  http://murphyh......pawds.com/

Murphy had his right front leg amputated due to histiocytic sarcoma at 7 years old.  He survived 4 years, 2 months & 1 week, only to be taken by hemangiosarcoma at 11 1/2 years 6/12/17  

Donna.png

Green Bay, WI


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13 June 2019 - 9:20 am
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Yes, I would definetly stick with the meds…Nitro was on them at least 2 weeks, then started tapering off. He was on Tramadol and Gabapentin, and we continued the Gaba for quite some time after the amp; towards the end, he was also back on this as a way to help with his arthritis pain, as he couldn’t take NSAID’S due to his failing kidneys. I think the laser/acupuncture is a great idea to add in. Once the stitches/staples come out, they seem to feel better too.

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"

http://nitro.tripawds.com

"Be good, mama loves you".....run free my beautiful Warrior

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