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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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Recently diagnosed osteosarcoma - 8 year old Newfoundland
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Member Since:
11 September 2016
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19 September 2016 - 12:02 pm
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Hi,

My Newfie, Luna, was diagnosed on September 9th. We are just devastated. She is my first dog and is a therapy dog. There is a clinical trial at the University of Minnesota we are hoping to get in to. We are meeting with the surgeon on Wednesday. I'm really concerned about all these tests and amputation for such a large dog (125 lbs). Our vet said that they wouldn't recommend the stress of amputation without chemotherapy and my husband is in the process of buying a business so we have basically no money and our only hope is this trial. We are 1.5 hours from the U of Mn so it will require a lot of time off from my job, which is flexible, but I'm still concerned particularly because it seems people think I'm crazy for not just letting her go. Thankfully Luna loves people and enjoys going to the vet (treats!), but I'm still concerned with her being gone from us for most of two weeks while she gets the immunotherapy and amputation. I am her protector and it's gotten even more so since she has been sick (she has anxiety with storms and fireworks and is a little clingy in general). The day she was diagnosed I spent a lot of time on this site and felt ok with the amputation, then I dug deeper and got depressed reading about the few big dogs here, particularly the 9 year old Newfie who died. Luna's pain is increasing (I think) based on her difficulty getting comfortable, getting up less often, panting at night, and increased limp so I left a message for the vet today asking if there's anything else we can do now. She's on 100 mg tramadol and 100 mg carprofen 2x/day and isn't drowsy. So, I'm curious to hear what the surgeon has to say on Wednesday. I'd appreciate any advice you all have to offer.

April

Livermore, CA




Member Since:
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19 September 2016 - 1:41 pm
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Hello and welcome, your future posts will not have to wait for approval.

I'm sorry you are dealing with cancer in your girl.

First off- don't listen to those people who say 'you should let her go', or 'it's just a dog'.  Luna is your pup and part of your family.  You are doing the right thing by looking at all your options before deciding what to do. 

And about the Newfie that passed- it is tragic and sad and hard to hear but it does happen in very rare instances.  This is a big surgery with risks but unless Luna has some underlying health issues she will most likely be fine if she has the surgery.

Lots of folks have done amputation without doing chemo for various reasons, chemo does not have to be done after amputation.  It's true that amputation rarely cures the cancer, but it does give quality, pain free time.  Cancer is a crap shoot and so is chemo.  Some have done chemo after the amp the cancer is back immediately.  Some, like my local friend Cemil, had a front amp and did not do chemo and is still hopping more than 7 YEARS later!  Oh, and he weighs 150 lbs.

Based on Luna's weight I think there is room to increase the tramadol.

None of us can tell you what to do. You know Luna and you love her so you are in the best position to choose her path. We will help and support you and Luna no matter what you decide to do.

Karen and Spirit Maggie

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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19 September 2016 - 2:22 pm
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There are lots of big dogs on this site who are doing just fine on 3.   My Otis was 100 pounds, and lived for almost 7 months without any issues relating to being a tripawd.   Unfortunately, a big issue called cancer.  sad 

And, whether to do chemo or not is a personal decision, and not one that you need to make now.   No one can force you into it or make it a condition of the amputation.   Many dogs have gone through the amputation, and not done chemo.   We did chemo, but only got 7 months.   Check into the trial, make a decision on the amputation, and then decide on the chemo later.  Cost, travel time, how Luna reacts to the vet, and how Luna reacts to chemo are all valid considerations.   And even if you do the chemo, you can always stop if Luna does not tolerate it well.   There is just no way to tell what the outcome will be.  The important thing is to make the best decision for your family.  (For what it is worth, for me, the amputation was worth it even if Otis had only lived a couple of months). 

You are not crazy - Luna is a member of your family, and her life is precious. 

Otis - 106 pound lab/Dane mix, lost his right front leg to osteosarcoma on Febuary 9, 2016.  Four rounds of carboplatin completed in April, 2016.  Lung mets August 25, 2016.  Said goodbye too soon on September 4, 2016.   Lost his adopted sister, Tess, suddenly on October 9, 2016. likely due to hemangiosarcoma.  

Wherever they are, they are together.

Michigan
Member Since:
2 April 2013
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19 September 2016 - 2:48 pm
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I'm sorry you're going through this.  It's a really hard journey, and one that many of us have made.  Many large dogs have done great on just 3 legs.  They sometimes take a little longer to figure out how to get up and about, but they eventually get it together. 

The harness that most of us use is the Webmaster Ruffwear harness .  You can find it on the home page under gear.  It has a handle on the top, which comes in handy for lifting in & out of the car, using the stairs, etc.  Check out the Angel Exchange in case there's one available there, sometimes there is one in the size you need.

Is Luna staying at the hospital during recovery?  The first couple of weeks are usually the hardest to get through.

We were lucky in that no one ever said that to us, but I have heard others say the same thing.  I've known many people who have spent thousands of dollars on their pets for other reasons, so this is not so different.  When Murphy had his surgery, he was perfectly healthy aside from that painful leg, so why would we not remove the source of pain and give him a chance at life? 

We'll all be here for you.

Donna

Donna, Glenn & Murphy 

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  
Read about Murphy's Life on Three Legs

Donna.png

Copperas Cove, TX
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12 May 2016
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22 September 2016 - 9:10 am
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Hello there!

You are with people who understand what you are going through!  Cancer Stinks!  But Luna will fight for life.  That is the biggest lesson I have learned through Bandit's amputation and recovery.  Our fur babies live each day to the fullest, so we have to do the same for them.   I was afraid to amputate Bandit, but he has done amazingly well.  Dogs are very adaptive.  We opted to not do Chemo.  Bandit is 4 Months post Amp.  Happy and pain free.  Hang in there!  Deb and Bandit

Member Since:
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22 September 2016 - 11:22 am
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Did you hear back from the surgeon?

By the way, we are also fans of the Ruffwear Webmaster Plus harness.

Otis - 106 pound lab/Dane mix, lost his right front leg to osteosarcoma on Febuary 9, 2016.  Four rounds of carboplatin completed in April, 2016.  Lung mets August 25, 2016.  Said goodbye too soon on September 4, 2016.   Lost his adopted sister, Tess, suddenly on October 9, 2016. likely due to hemangiosarcoma.  

Wherever they are, they are together.

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15 July 2016
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22 September 2016 - 11:23 am
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Hi,

Milo is ~75 pound Australian Labradoodle.  He had his front left leg amputated on July 28.

He got into a clinical trial at Tufts University.  It wasn't easy -- he was only the 3rd dog accepted since the trial opened in December.  He had to have clear lungs (x-rays), clear spleen and liver (ultrasound), fine needle aspiration to prove sarcoma, and proper liver enzymes and urinalysis and all that.  The trial covered $1000 towards the amputation cost, and four rounds of carboplatin chemo for free, and all sorts of accompanying tests and x-rays.  Well.... he got the amputation, and advanced pathology showed he has a unique form of osteosarcoma, and he got booted from the trial.  The pros for our short term acceptance is that we still got the $1000 off on the amputation, and it was all done at Tufts where the level of care is amazing.  Our first meeting with the oncologist also included a recent vet school grad who is doing her residency there, and a vet student.  There were so many interested and caring people involved in his care.  Plus trial dogs are "special" and get special attention and appointments.  While assessing Milo's suitability (left leg cancer, right shoulder recent injury), and then after his amputation when he was hurting, he had an orthopedic check him out, residents, the surgeon, and of course, the oncologist who was calling me at home every few nights -- and it was all "free" as part of the study.  

Then he got booted.  The chemo would no longer be free.  On the bright side, Milo was no longer a control so we could add all sorts of supplements like Artemissin, San Shedan Chuanbe Ye, K9-immunity, etc.  As a study dog, scientific control, we weren't supposed to do that.  Because Milo has a rare form of cancer, and because Milo hasn't handled a number of meds well, we opted NOT to do chemo.  There are stories out there like Jerry's where there was no chemo for the first year (or two?), then metronomic.  I think it was zeusy's blog I read the other day with multiple years, no chemo results.  No chemo can be ok.  Plus, there was the personal, family consideration including money and stress.  I love Milo -- he's the best dog I've ever had -- but he's a dog.  Even if we beat cancer, he has a 12-14 year lifespan.  He just turned 10.  We're buying 2-4 years.  By comparison, my family and our relationships hopefully have another 40 years to go.  As much as I love Milo, my human family has to come first.  The financial stress of chemo, and the emotional stress of chemo (is he nauseated, does he have a fever, what's his WBC, are his poops still toxic, can we make weekend plans, or is it chemo time that week...) wasn't worth it.  Instead, we're loving our 3-legged, happy, healthy Milo for as long as we have him.  Bone cancer hurts, so we got rid of that pain.  I am thrilled with the amputation choice!  Meanwhile, we thought we were choosing one good month over 4 months on a chemo rollercoaster -- today is 8 weeks.  We're winning!   

Good luck getting into the trial.  If nothing else, I hope you get the superstar treatment we did as we were qualifying and did the amputation.  Even if you don't get into the trial, I'd still consider having the amputation done at the university.  And whether you choose chemo or not, no vet can make you.  I encourage you to keep the big picture in mind and find what works best for you and your entire family. 

Peace,

-Jenifer & Milo

Virginia




Member Since:
22 February 2013
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22 September 2016 - 11:56 am
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Jenifer, thanknp you for your honest and heartfelt insight. heart And MILO is winning indeed!!!!!!!!clap

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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21 May 2016
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22 September 2016 - 1:02 pm
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Hi Luna and April 🐾❤️

I am so sorry you find yourself here but we all know what it feels like to deal with something as brutal as cancer and amputation.

My baby girl Eurydice is a huge Great Dane and weighs 150lb (after surgery) and like your lovely self I also wondered how she would recover due to her size🐘 and whether amputation was the right decision.

She had the surgery May 4th, first couple of weeks were quite challenging but since stitches came out everything got better every day. 

I never, ever looked back, her pain was removed instantly and she got her life back and is a happy, happy dog. 

I am away travelling with her at the moment so don't have a lot of time to search for her videos but if you'd like, go to YouTube, there are a number of videos of Eurydice recorded through the last 4 1/2 months all under my name Teresa Heliodoro.

The first video is called Eurydice at the beach and you can see not only how she hops confidently (despite her huge body) but also how happy she is just a short time after surgery. 

She did chemo but others don't so I agree it is no guarantee either way.

What is certain is the need to eliminate her excruciating pain, no doubts there! 

If you would like to have a chat about Eurydice and Luna please send me a private message and I will forward my contact number. 

Have a look at Patchy's posts he is a very large St Bernard and is also doing really well after amputation. 

I am here for you just like all others so please do not hesitate in asking any questions big or small, I know it is so much harder for us pawrents of a gigantic breed to accept drastic surgery but can assure you we all get there in the end and our babies are as happy as before and surprise us at how well they can adapt on 3.

Sending you clouds ☁️☁️☁️☁️ of pawsitive energy and XXL cuddles to sweet Luna 🐾🐾🐾🐾❤️

Eurydice 77kg/170lb Great Dane limping end of April 2016, amputation (right front leg/osteosarcoma) 4 May 2016 6 courses of carboplatin followed by metronomic therapy, lung mets found 30 Nov 2016. 3 courses of doxorubicin, PET scan 26 Jan 2017 showed more mets so stopped chemo. Holistic route April 2017. Lung X-ray 5 May 2017 showed several tennis ball size mets, started cortisone and diuretics. Miss Cow earned her XXL silver wings 12 June 2017, 13 months and 1 week after amputation and 6 1/2 months after lung mets, she was the goofiest dawg ever and is now happily flying from cloud to cloud woof woofing away :-) 

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11 September 2016
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25 September 2016 - 4:11 pm
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Thank you everyone...I've been reluctant to reply because I don't want to accept the news and hadn't conclusively decided what to do. They redid her chest x-ray at the university and turns out it has spread to her lungs. That was not what I was expecting. So she's not eligible for the trial. They offered a few options. First is radiation, which I would do to keep her comfortable but my husband is in the process of buying a business so it's pretty much the worst time ever for something expensive to happen (I absolutely hate to say that). It's also risky since she'd need to be anesthetized each time. Another is amputation to get rid of the pain for her short life expectancy. Although the vet was offering it as an option, she was not highly recommending it because Luna still is bearing a lot of weight on the leg. She interprets that to mean either it doesn't hurt that bad or her other legs can't take up the slack. She is incredibly stoic, not even reacting when the bad leg is examined, so it's hard to tell if something is going on with her other legs or not. The vet said it wouldn't surprise her. The vet said that amputation is often more obvious than it is in her case, as in dogs who are already not using the leg or who are limping worse. Luna is also a little overweight... (I immediately put my other big dog on a diet so this isn't an issue for him one day...for some reason I don't see it in these fluffy dogs). Right now, Luna is pretty cheerful and she still wants to go for our microwalks to sniff around, so with this information from the U and our local vet's reinforcement that she wouldn't recommend amputation for Luna, we added gabapentin to the other pain meds she's on and will see how it goes. They estimated 3 months. So, any end of life advice? She is my first dog...I just can't believe how hard this is. I'm kind of a wreck.

Virginia




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25 September 2016 - 5:13 pm
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Nope, not the news anyone wants to hear.

First of all, feel the hugs of your tripawd family through cyberspace, take some deep breaths and let's look at thi gs from Luna's perspective, because that's really the only one that counts!!

These new xrays mean NOTHING to Luna! Statistics mean NOTHING to Luna!! Luna does not care about days on a calendar and, perhaps most importantly, LUNA DOES NOT HAVE A TIMEFRAME STAMPED ANYWHERE IN HER BUTT!!

A member just joined us who has a dog who was diagnosed with osteo TWO YEARS AGO and is just now going to lirsue aamputation!! Of course I don't have the thread available, but I'll find it!! I'm going to screw up the word, but the dog was given zolendronate (sp??)

THE best advice any of us can offer...and it's not from a medical standpoint.....is to Be More Dog ...LIVE IN THE MOMENT...LET NOTHING ROB YOU OF YOUR TIME TOGETHER!! To worry about what you have not yet "lost", prevents you from enjoying what you DO have now!! And what you do have now is Luna who is still enjoying life and enjoying all the loving and spoiling and yummy "forbidden" food like ice cream and pizza!! Luna is living in the moment and has no w!orries about the tomorrows

Your love for Luna comes shining through. Yiur @ove is soooooooo strong it will carry you through this journey. And we are all right bynyiur side the whole way! You will NEVER be alone, okay?

You know Luna best! You seem to have a good handle in her comfort level. Yes, dogs are stoic, but the assessment of both vets seems to confirm that they believe the pain can be managed for some more extended quality . There are holistic approaches that may be beneficial too. It sounds like the Vets are very thorough and very knowledgeable. You can still get a consult with an Orthopedic Surgeon and a Rehab Specialist to get more input about her ability to handle an amputation just for your own clarity.

Radiation is off the table for so many dogs for exactly the same reasons you have outlined...anesthesia and financial. So you are in good company!

As far as mets in the lungs, many dogs here have gotten great extended quality time! One of our beloved members, Sassy, lived life to the fullest for almost eight miponths with rotten mets!!

In the meantime, we want pictures!!! As Michelle always advises, be sure and take selfie pictures together too!! And take pictures of Luna eating steak and ice cream (low fat of course)!

Now go hug that precious fluffy bundle of love and watch her tail wag!! See that?? See that happy tail wag?? All ks well in Luna's magical world of joy!

Sending you 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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25 September 2016 - 6:23 pm
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First, Jenifer - thank you for your post.  It was honest and heartfelt and I really appreciate that.  

April, being a wreck is completely normal and i'm so sorry for you but also grateful that you found this site.  MySweetTed was diagnosed in March of this year with Osteosarcoma in his front left leg.  It was in his Ulna.  We were referred to a specialty surgeon in order to try to save his leg because it was in an unusual spot - smack in the middle of the ulna vice a joint.  We met with him and he pretty much said that he could remove the ulna and Ted would have 5-10 months based on the "norm" that once it is in the bone it is in the lungs.  He said that it wouldn't hop from one bone to the other and once we removed the ulna we would be good in that leg..... fast forward three months and Ted has a lump in the same leg exactly where the ulna was removed - soft tissue osteosarcoma.  RARE!  but true. So we decided that we would try to make him comfortable and give him an anti-inflammatory drug that is highly recommended because it also has been shown to have cancer fighting properties.  A couple of weeks later his leg is swollen, the tumor is bigger, and he is not using it.  Other than that he was still my sweet Ted and full of life and joy and everything else.  He had no mets in August and his three other legs showed not signs of Osteo. So we decided to do the amputation that we should have done in the first place.  He recovered beautifully from that and I am so thankful about that and the pathology from his lymph node amazingly came back 100% clean.  Our vet didn't recommend chemo and I'm glad for that also!  At this point we are thousands of dollars into this health crisis with TWO major surgeries within a matter of 5 months. I still watch him like a hawk and lately my instincts tell me that there is something going on and I don't want to know but I need to know - I will work on that in the coming weeks.  I have already decided that I won't put him through another surgery or any other invasive type of procedure partially because it is really hard on him and it is also really, really expensive and I feel like I've done everything I can to save him.  I love him so, so much and he has been the best dog I've ever had and I feel bad even writing this - but I just want you to know that your decision is okay, you have to live with it just as the rest of us do.  We are all here for you.

Wanda

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15 July 2016
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25 September 2016 - 6:45 pm
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Hi,

If I were in your shoes, I would look into bisphosphonates, and zolodranate in particular. 

Here is a Clinician Brief, sort of a summary on a research paper. http://www.clin.....teosarcoma. The full paper is named at the bottom if you want the original peer-reviewed article.

Here is another paper on the same drug but tested in humans with osteosarcoma and metastasis in the lungs http://www.ncbi.....MC4848872/

I did lots of other digging, too, but will sort of summarize my take.  Bisphosphonates are most effective if the primary tumor is still there, e.g., no amputation. It may actually have a negative in conjunction with amputation. They help with pain and building some strength around the tumor, but the bone is still around risk of fracture, same as it has been since diagnosis.  The side-effects are few if any.  

Prices have come down so I believe it is in-line or cheaper than chemo.   But that said, I have no idea how affordable "cheaper" is.  It does relieve pain, and it does build bone strength, so it may work for a dog like Luna who is still using the leg and isn't in bad pain.  It held mets at bay for a while in the papers cited.

Peace,

Jenifer & Milo 

Virginia




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25 September 2016 - 6:50 pm
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More great neartfelt insight. Thanks Wanda! Just want to address something we can all relate to..."sensing" there might be something going. In a lot of " or al" circumstances, sometimes that "sensing" ay mean "something" HOWEVER, on this journey we did to get more "false sensing" than before the journey! It's just the nature of thelove subconscious worrying thst we all do in the beginning. As Imoften say, sometimes a hiccup is just a hiccup and a tootie toot is just a poot#0! We can over analyze EVERYTHING so easily in this journey!

There comes a point on this journey where it wouldn't ake a difference what any ole xrsy or tests showed, because we had already drawn a line in the sand as ro what point enough is enough, ESPECIALLY if a dog hates vet trips!

There is NOTHING....NOTHING..NOTHING....to feel bad about!! OMD!! Your love for Ted comes shining through with every word!! This dog is so loved and so spoiled and he knows it!! This tri is all about that and quality! Dogs don't want to go through a bunch of crap to get a few extra days on a calendar! All Ted cares about is being Top Dog in your world..And he is!!

Lots and lots of love to all!

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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25 September 2016 - 6:51 pm
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Oops.... bum links....

The clinician brief about a dog going ~12 months....

http://www.clin.....teosarcoma

National Institutes of Health paper on humans that is amazing...

http://www.ncbi.....MC4848872/

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