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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

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Recently diagnosed osteosarcoma - 8 year old Newfoundland
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Virginia




Member Since:
22 February 2013
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25 September 2016 - 6:55 pm
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JENNIFER! That was rhe word I was trying to spell! The zolodr...etc...You da bomb!! Great advice and links!!

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!

Michigan
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25 September 2016 - 7:07 pm
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Well, when Murphy was diagnosed, he had been limping already for a few months.  He was taking pain medications and weight-bearing on the affected leg.  When the orthopedic specialist examined him, he really stretched out that leg, pulled, bent, felt every part of the leg.  Murphy never once made a sound - he laid there and allowed him to do everything he wanted.  And then he did the x-rays and saw the tumor.  That day he had a biopsy (which came back inconclusive).  A month later we repeated the x-rays and you could see where the tumor was actually eating away at the bone, there was a part of it missing!  But Murphy was still walking on that leg.  It was just a matter of time before the bone would have broken.  So - how much pain does your vet need Luna to be in before he considers it painful?  To me. that is a ridiculous statement (I really hope I don't hurt your feelings saying that, but that's how I feel).  Your dog has to be in horrible pain before it's enough??  Bone cancer is very painful, and dogs are stoic because in the wild it's dangerous to show that they are vulnerable. 

What does the orthopedic doctor say?

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

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25 September 2016 - 7:09 pm
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Thanks Sally.  I appreciate your post as well.  In my case, I've been 100% right from day one on my instincts with Ted, from the day that I chose him at the rescue to every single step of this recent journey (and most of my life's journey) - my instincts have been spot on....but I've always seemed to let someone else second guess what I know in my heart.  I don't doubt that there are many here that are worried and have "senses" that turn out fortunately not to be right....I'm just saying you should trust yourself (whether you are over reacting or not) and don't let anyone make you feel guilty about the hard decisions you make.  This is a great place for support whatever your decision is.  Just trying to be supportive...

Virginia




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25 September 2016 - 7:35 pm
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ABSOLUTELY WANDA!! You nailed it! Your connection with Ted is, indeed, a Soul deep one and you two are clearly tuned into each other!!heart

You've clearly had a "heart connection" from the day you chose him, and he chose you. We say it soooo much around here to absolutely trust your instincts...that inner voice...especially when someone has a history like you do with Tedheart

I think I did a pretty pee pee poor job of trying to say try not to worry and I hope Ted continues to remain "challenge free" for a very long time to come!

Your support, your invaluable first hand Information and great insight are so appreciated! heart

Love! And extra treats for Ted tonight from me, okay?

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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26 September 2016 - 2:59 pm
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goodmilo said

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 

  

Very interesting...the University vet mentioned bisphosphonates in conjunction with radiation, but I will check about that being a standalone treatment as well. Thanks!

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26 September 2016 - 3:05 pm
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midnighter94 said
Well, when Murphy was diagnosed, he had been limping already for a few months.  He was taking pain medications and weight-bearing on the affected leg.  When the orthopedic specialist examined him, he really stretched out that leg, pulled, bent, felt every part of the leg.  Murphy never once made a sound - he laid there and allowed him to do everything he wanted.  And then he did the x-rays and saw the tumor.  That day he had a biopsy (which came back inconclusive).  A month later we repeated the x-rays and you could see where the tumor was actually eating away at the bone, there was a part of it missing!  But Murphy was still walking on that leg.  It was just a matter of time before the bone would have broken.  So - how much pain does your vet need Luna to be in before he considers it painful?  To me. that is a ridiculous statement (I really hope I don't hurt your feelings saying that, but that's how I feel).  Your dog has to be in horrible pain before it's enough??  Bone cancer is very painful, and dogs are stoic because in the wild it's dangerous to show that they are vulnerable. 

What does the orthopedic doctor say?

Donna  

Hi Donna, thanks for your experience. This has been really tough because I was on the side of "this has to hurt so terribly, let's make it stop" and my husband was more like "how do we know that?" It was the orthopedic surgeon who said either it's not "too" painful or her other legs can't take it. I wish I knew. With two vets telling me or at least implying that amputation isn't the best choice, what am I to do? I see her use that leg all the time...is it because the medications are helping? I just wish she could tell me.

April

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26 September 2016 - 3:09 pm
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benny55 said
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!  

Sally, thank you thank you thank you. I love that phrase "she doesn't have a timstamp on her butt!" Luna is very much enjoying some extra treats and love. She wags her tail even more lately (probably because we are showering her with affection). I should have explained that the university vet was an orthopedic surgeon intern and I met with her attending too. As someone else here said, it is wonderful to have the resources of a university nearby.

April & Luna

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26 September 2016 - 3:16 pm
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mysweetted said
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  

Wanda, wow, what a story. Ted is lucky to have you. Thank you so much for the note.

April

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1 October 2016 - 3:14 pm
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Hi

I'm new to all of this. week 3 of a tripawd baby. Cant tell you how upset I am to hear your story. I'm also in a position where I don't have the choice of chemo. I'm going down the road of chinese herbal therapy. There is a fantastic topic on this site. Ahh, can't find it at the moment. Please have a look for it. Not going to get this right either _ Artimessinsin. ?  There has been some great achievements in the US, with dogs and cats, here in the UK a huge cancer body, Marie Curie are doing human research. Being very successful.  

Hope where hope lives.

Fiona

On The Road


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1 October 2016 - 4:57 pm
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fiona224 said
There is a fantastic topic on this site. Ahh, can't find it at the moment.

You're so kind to mention the post. Thanks! There are two in the Tripawds Nutrition blog :

Artemisinin FAQs for Dog and Cat Cancer

and also

What’s All This Talk About Artemisinin?

You'll also find more discussions in the "Eating Healthy" forum.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene
tripawds.com | tripawds.org | bemoredog.net | triday.pet

Kansas City
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9 September 2016
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1 October 2016 - 7:54 pm
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April,

Fair warning, I expect this to be a long reply 😉

I'm new to the forum, my Daisy had her amputation a week ago.  I am not, however, new to Newfies.  They are my "heart dog", and while I was giving Daisy some attention less than an hour ago, I began to wonder what I would do if my Newf ever was in this situation with her being so big.

Before I get to answering that question, let me tell you that we have not done chemo.  Our issue was different--Daisy had a sarcoma, not bone cancer.  But I didn't even get the sarcoma graded.  I just wanted it off, and things happened where we had to take it off when her lump got infected.  My vet has not raised an eyebrow over the fact I completely ignored his initial option of amputation and chemo and listened to half.  LOL.  He hasn't even asked.  It's your choice whether to do it, nobody else's.  On the same note, "still using her leg".  My vet did mention that Daisy was still using her leg and she'd have a bit more difficult time adapting, but that she'd figure it out.  She hasn't shown any more trouble than what I expected after reading this forum for the last month.  I have moments of concern, and she's sore, but I'd say she's no different than any other amputee.

My Newf is six, and in great health, thankfully.  Were Luna's hips were giving her trouble prior to the cancer discovery?  This would be my main concern with a Newf -- more often than I like to hear, they struggle with hip dysplasia or arthritis.  If her hips were bad, then understand amputation is going to put some strain on them and quite possibly you may encounter the morning when she cannot get up.  If her hips are clear, I personally wouldn't hesitate to amputate.  I can either take a chance and try it, or I can do nothing and know what is going to happen.  And I've been down that road.  Osteosarcoma in a Lab, never really even given options, and that turned into a painful mess for the dog.  And for us.  Think also of the numerous dogs that suffer an accident and have to have emergency amputation.  They were still using their legs up until the accident.

Opting to do nothing, however, is a choice as well.  It's a viable choice, particularly if it's spread.  As someone said earlier, there is only so much we can do, and we all have a line in the sand when the road has become too long or difficult.  Comfort is the main thing to consider.  You have to be mentally prepared that day may come sooner than you want it to.  In the above-mentioned Labrador, he had about 8 months.  Then the last month was rapid decline.  Swelling.  Ruptures.  Hindsight twenty-twenty, I would have put him down when the swelling became really obvious because at that point, I don't think (had we even been presented with the option) amputation would have given him more time.

You know your dog better than *anyone*.  You know what Luna can handle mentally, physically, and emotionally.  Luna will never hate you for any decision you make.  She will never pass judgement on you.  What Luna wants is to see you stress-free and safe.  She wants her dinner, her pets, her treats, and her water.  She cannot know why you may be upset, and she doesn't want to make you upset.  The cold reality is you cannot cure her cancer.  You can, however, make decisions that make however much time her body grants her full of happy days.  Don't judge yourself, don't berate yourself, for any decision you make. 

FYI, check out CareCredit if you are looking for alternate means of financing options.  Talk to your vet too.  Sometimes they'll surprise you by letting you make payments.

Kansas City
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9 September 2016
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1 October 2016 - 8:30 pm
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I wanted to say a little more, actually.  Sorry for my long-windedness.  You asked about "end of days" care...

I agonized for a good week over what to do with Daisy.  There could not have been a worse time, financially, for something like this to hit.  In the end, I realized I simply could not put her down, and that's what my options were at that point.  Amputate or euthanize.  The only other time I remember being in such mental stress about an animal was with my horse. I had moved heaven and earth as a teenager to convince my parents to buy him for me, I'd owned him for 20 years.  And he had a bone break in his foot.  The equine surgeon knows me well and told me initially, "If he were 7 or 8...maybe..."  My horse was 28.  The surgeon had given me bad reports before, and I was always very stoic.  When he said "7 or 8..." I lost it on him.  Full-on bawling.  To the point he started doing more tests and evals, and finally stepped back and said, "I am going through everything I can possibly think of to help him out, but I cannot find a single option that would not be inhumane.  I'd have to take off 3/4 of his foot."  So there it was... terminal.  Not only that, but on that particular day he wasn't sore.  I would have to put this horse down, who still had fight in his eyes, with no real visible justification for doing so.  And we started talking options there... ultimately, it wasn't something I could do that day.  I took him back home and filled my regular vet in on what the diagnosis was, and I put off doing anything a few more days.  I waited until his sun-naps got a bit longer, and he had more trouble getting up.  At that point I called my regular vet and set a date a couple days out.  The next few days, we spent more time with him than usual.  We scrapped his diet in favor of anything he wanted to eat.  I gave him a big ole' pain shot and broke all the rules of owning a horse, because really, he had days. On the morning of, we groomed him--one of his favorite things--brought him out an entire bag of carrots and fed it all to him.  Took pictures.  And then we said goodbye quietly and peacefully.

My point in sharing this... you are in control of the quality of time you have not the quantity.  There's no need to agonize or second-guess whether you've made the "right" decision.  If your heart is in the right place, you have done no wrong.  And if you're really on the end of days path, then make the most of it.  Do everything Luna loves the most.  Be vigilant in the changes and be aware so you can have her happiest memories intact, not the most painful.  Talk with your vet and work out a plan for that inevitable day.  Will your vet come to your house, or will you need to take her in?  Those sorts of things.  Then once you have the details figured out, just live every day to the most. Will it hurt when the time comes?  Of course.  And that's okay too.  But when you reflect you'll be doing so on happy days, not bad.

Virginia




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1 October 2016 - 11:17 pm
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Claire, your heartfelt and insightful post is so full of compassion and wisdom. Thank you very much for sharingheart

Love

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!

Minneapolis, MN
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2 October 2016 - 12:45 pm
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Hi, I am sorry I am late to this conversation and sorry your consult at U of MN ruled out the trial and revealed lung mets.

We are also being treated at U of MN so if you want to chat some more on services there, feel free to PM me. (Pofi has a different cancer, but metastasis to lungs is a concern for him, too)

You have gotten great advice - forgive me if I repeat anything.  The amputation is ultimately about about quality of Luna's life - removing the pain.  Yes, if there were not metastasis already, it would also be hoped that could be avoided or at least delayed, but that is all an odds game.

So you consulted with onco at U of MN, but did you also see an ortho surgeon?  I have to say I think the surgery for Pofi (a complex one due to size, type and location of his tumor) was executed beautifully and the post surgical care was top notch.  Points to understand: he was already not using the leg at all (for a few weeks prior to surgery), so that was an advantage, but he is also a large dog (not Newfie and Saint sized, but Malamute or large Greyhound sized) and he just turned 12 (!) and has done very well without the leg.  At once his fur grew back, people often ask me if he was born without it as he manages so well.  They are stunned to hear how recent the amp was.

That being said, this is so individual to the dog and the family - no single option is right for all dogs and their families.  We are here for you however you decide it is best to proceed with Luna.  

Did you discuss Palladia or other oral chemo to try to slow advancement of mets?  (Pofi is taking Palladia and Cyclophosphamide to try to prevent onset of mets, or slow down if they are there and still to small to detect)

Sending you a lot of love. And gentle pats on the head to the very beautiful Luna.

heart

Lisa, Minneapolis

On October 27, 2016, nearly 6 months after amputation, and 18 months since his cancer likely started, we lost Pofi to a recurrence of Soft Tissue Sarcoma in his spine quite suddenly.  His canine sister also succumbed to cancer on March 1, 2019 - we lavished her with our love in the interim, but life was never quite the same without her only real canine friend. Cliff kitty had to leave us, too, suddenly, in August 2019. Lucia kitty grieved all these losses, but helped us welcome two new Lurchers into our home and our lives, Shae and Barley.

Blog: Pofi, Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumor Amputation

Minneapolis, MN
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2 October 2016 - 12:50 pm
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Also, FYI, U of MN does take CareCredit....

To quote Warren Zevon when he made a last public appearance on the Letterman show and was asked what advice he had from his position at the near end of a terminal cancer diagnosis, "Enjoy every sandwich."  Enjoy every moment you have with Luna, every treat she delights in, every stroke she relishes the feel of.  

Lisa, Minneapolis

On October 27, 2016, nearly 6 months after amputation, and 18 months since his cancer likely started, we lost Pofi to a recurrence of Soft Tissue Sarcoma in his spine quite suddenly.  His canine sister also succumbed to cancer on March 1, 2019 - we lavished her with our love in the interim, but life was never quite the same without her only real canine friend. Cliff kitty had to leave us, too, suddenly, in August 2019. Lucia kitty grieved all these losses, but helped us welcome two new Lurchers into our home and our lives, Shae and Barley.

Blog: Pofi, Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumor Amputation

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