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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19 November 2020
My 5 Year Old Female Great Dane has cancer. Right now its just a bump she is showing no signs of pain, loss of apatite, energy. We are in planning stage to remove leg and asking myself the following. Since its in the bone its through out body just not showing any signs (she has tested all clear all organs and other parts of body). Am I removing leg avoid eventual break or slow down cancer spread (again I am led to believe its already throughout body just not activated). I don’t want her to have an accidental break but knowing I am on borrowed time would accept 6 months with leg than 12 months without. She is 150 pounds, lean muscle just very large. I worry she will not take to amputation. I need your advice.
Am I removing leg avoid eventual break or slow down cancer spread (again I am led to believe its already throughout body just not activated). I don’t want her to have an accidental break but knowing I am on borrowed time would accept 6 months with leg than 12 months without. She is 150 pounds, lean muscle just very large. I worry she will not take to amputation. I need your advice.
Hi Stella and family, welcome. Your future posts won’t need to wait for approval so post away.
You ask a great question and of course you are uncertain, it’s a tough situation. Is your dog’s name Stella? How is her health otherwise?
When someone is undecided we always suggest getting a second or even third opinion from an orthopedic specialist. The more information you have the more you can feel good about whatever you decide (and we will support you no matter what that decision is).
What I can tell you is this: the very best ortho vets in the world have told us that size shouldn’t exclude a dog from being a good candidate for amputation surgery, as long as the dog is otherwise healthy and orthopedically in good shape. And even those giant breeds who have undergone a TPLO or other ortho procedure earlier in life can still do well. So don’t let her size be the thing you get hung up on.
Another thing not to focus on is the prognosis: every dog is different. That six months to one year prognosis is a blanket estimate that everyone gets. Those numbers are based on averages but they are not based on your dog’s health. Some dogs do live way longer than anyone guessed they would, others do not. The important thing is to make whatever time they have left as best and pain-free as possible. If you can be ensured that six months on four legs would be pain free, that’s fine, but it can really only happen if she undergoes stereotactic radiation therapy (SRT) to slow down the cancer and minimize the pain. Great Dane Hazel’s storyis a great example of how well SRT can work. Did your vet mention it to you?
There is also a limb salvage option but like SRT, it’s quite expensive and a lot more riskier. If you have the ability to cover the costs it’s worth looking into.
IF SRT or limb salvage isn’t an option, at best you are looking at maybe a month or two of having her on pain medications that do very little to dull the pain of osteosarcoma, and if they do, they don’t last very long. Because even though she’s not showing pain signals now, it’s only a matter of time before she will. Try to imagine what it feels like: dogs are so good at hiding their pain and the pain of a disintegrating bone is the worst kind there is.
So, that basically leaves amputation. It’s not as bad as you can imagine and while the recovery can be rough, it’s not impossible and it’s very temporary. When it’s over, you get your dog back, happier and ready to keep living life. Most dogs do very, very well. Here are some giant breed Tripawd stories as examples. Also check out our Tripawds Quality of Life Survey Results.
I hope this helps. Let us know what specific questions you have, and be sure to check out Jerry’s Required Reading List for more information OK? Keep us posted and stay tuned for feedback from others.