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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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Sampson, 10yo golden with tentative osteo diagnosis
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Forum Posts: 6
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15 September 2018 - 7:09 pm
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First of all, I have known Sampson since before he was born, and he came out in my hand, so to say we are bonded is an understatement. He’s turning 11 next month, but he’s still my big baby boy. He had been limping on & off, we had gone to regular Vet & physical therapy to no avail. Last month X-rays were done, and they were clear. Still no answers. The limp got worse so we were sent to a specialist on Tues sept 11. These X-rays (1 month from the first X-rays) showed a lytic lesion on the long bone in his arm, at the shoulder joint. It had not crossed the joint, and they gave a preliminary diagnosis of it likely being osteosarcoma. A couple other sarcomas were mentioned, but they don’t seem likely. X-rays of his lungs showed no visible metastases. A bone biopsy was done but we are still waiting on results so we can schedule the amputation. I want to save my boy. The thought of losing him terrifies me. The last 2 years have been rough with my female husky- she had insulinoma. 2 surgeries & so far, she is still kicking ass, but there were rough spots…all that to say, this was the last thing I expected. He’s never had a health issue, but does have some arthritis. His back legs aren’t as strong as they used to be, so I am absolutely terrified (I know, I’m using that word A LOT) that he will have trouble recovering. Then I read about some dogs only living another 4 months after amputation & chemo, and I hate to think about putting him through all that if the outcome is so bleak…I am a mess, and no one to really talk to. I need advice. I love my Sampson so much. I know this is super rambly, sorry for that…

The Rainbow Bridge



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15 September 2018 - 7:14 pm
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Oh my gosh you found lots of people to talk to here! In fact I’m in the Tripawds Chat room for a bit if you want to talk. Back in a sec to comment….

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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The Rainbow Bridge



Forum Posts: 26570
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15 September 2018 - 7:23 pm
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Sampson & family, welcome. I’m sorry you came to the place nopawdy wants to join, but we are glad you did. We felt exactly the same way you did when our Jerry was diagnosed. It’s an honor to be here for you.

First, you are doing a great job being a good advocate for him. If only a month has gone by from the first signs of a limp to the potential diagnosis, then that’s really good. Many of us took far longer to be in your shoes. So that’s really going to work in his favor! It sounds like you have a fantastic vet team on his side.

Yes, the diagnosis is scary and terrifying. We understand totally. Especially when it comes to a senior dog. But as long as your vets think he is a good candidate for life on three legs, that’s really a great sign that he can do well. We’ve had members here older than 11, and really when it comes to dogs, age is just a number. It’s all about their spirit and whether or not their human believes they can bounce back from the recovery. Which, by the way, isn’t as bad as we make it out to be. Oh sure it is for people, but for animals? They are generally themselves again in about 2-3 weeks, without any of the emotional baggage that humans have when faced with the same situation. It’s quite likely you will be amazed by how well he does, and your bond will grow even stronger than you imagined.

In the meantime I encourage  you to check out our Size and Age Matters forum to see how senior dogs on three legs cope. Also, Jerry’s Required Reading List and Three Legs and a Spare are all excellent resources if I do say so myself 😉

Finally, keep this in mind. Around here we like to say “Be More Dog .” Here’s what that means: as you know, animals live in the moment. They don’t hold regrets about the past, or fret about the future. All that matters is the here and now. And it’s a great lesson for humans to learn! What I’m getting at is that whether Sampson thrives for four months or four years after the diagnosis and amputation if you proceed, all that matters is how you spent every moment you had together. If it was the best you could make it, being present and in the moment, then that’s all that he cares about. Animals don’t keep calendars. Only we have that burden of “time.” One more thing: the vast majority of members here will tell you that whether their animal survived three months or three years or more after amputation, they are glad they did it so that the time they had left together was pain-free and quality time. 

I hope this helps. Please keep us posted. We will support you no matter what you decide.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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15 September 2018 - 8:01 pm
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Thank you. This is so hard. I know you have all been through it…I’m just having a really hard time accepting this. Sam is my soul dog. I guess I should have mentioned too, that he’s 90 lbs…I am under the impression that once he comes home, he is not supposed to do stairs at first, and should be carried down. I’m on the thin side with zero upper body strength. I have never been able to lift him…I’m so afraid of failing him. He’s just the sweetest boy, not terribly confident though, so I’m worried about that too. 

And Jerry- sorry I missed you on chat! I’m still getting used to navigating this site on my iPhone! 

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15 September 2018 - 8:35 pm
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have you considered cyberknife..  3 consec days of powerful raditation.. whose goal is to replace amputation.. that is what i did to good effect..

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16 September 2018 - 7:42 am
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I’ve not heard of that & it hasn’t been mentioned to me by anyone…is it pricier than most? I looked it up; doesn’t seem to be offered many places.

How old is your dog, is he/she still cancer free?

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16 September 2018 - 11:08 am
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simon is 6.  He is cancer free with a big but..   95% of osteo dogs will have cancer spread to the lungs before 2 years… Simon is clear since chemo and cyberknife in february…  Prognosis probably not good.,, I treat him like a  healthy dog,,, I also hit him with everything…   low carb diet,,,, thc and cbd…. armor up and turkey tail…  4 marvels herb..  etc..  Cyberknife is costly.  price varies…  8k probable minimum.  My rad onco vet says that cyberknife and new lasers still in test phase will or should eventually replace amputations. When I had to choose between amp and cyberknife…the benefit of amputation was so similar to cyberknife..  so I went for it and am pleased with my decision..  .  Best to find a provider that is skilled…  it is only 3 days consec of cyberknife. so a trip somewhere is not the end of the world..  

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16 September 2018 - 11:18 am
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I am sorry you are going through this. 

I thought I would chime in to offer some hope.  Our golden had his amputation approximately 7 months after he initially started showing symptoms of cancer.  He was initially misdiagnosed which is why his amputation was delayed.  So based on statistics, he had already exceeded his life expectancy by the time he had the amputation. 

Following his amputation we opted not to proceed with chemo.  The closest oncologist is a 10 hour drive, and 20 hour round trips every few weeks was not feasible.  Wendel is now 13 months post-amputation, and it is only in the last week that we have had any concerns about his quality of life.  We were also lucky because Wendel did not have any difficulties while recovering from the amputation.  In fact we had trouble limiting his activity.  And as a typical golden, he did not ever miss a meal (he ate his entire supper just hours after his amputation. 

You might also be surprised how quickly Sam learns to navigate stairs.  You should not have to pick him up, you can use a towel or a sheet as a sling and just support him as he travels up and down stairs. 

I hope this helps.  This is such a difficult time. 

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16 September 2018 - 12:11 pm
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wendel17 said
I am sorry you are going through this. 

I thought I would chime in to offer some hope.  Our golden had his amputation approximately 7 months after he initially started showing symptoms of cancer.  He was initially misdiagnosed which is why his amputation was delayed.  So based on statistics, he had already exceeded his life expectancy by the time he had the amputation. 

Following his amputation we opted not to proceed with chemo.  The closest oncologist is a 10 hour drive, and 20 hour round trips every few weeks was not feasible.  Wendel is now 13 months post-amputation, and it is only in the last week that we have had any concerns about his quality of life.  We were also lucky because Wendel did not have any difficulties while recovering from the amputation.  In fact we had trouble limiting his activity.  And as a typical golden, he did not ever miss a meal (he ate his entire supper just hours after his amputation. 

You might also be surprised how quickly Sam learns to navigate stairs.  You should not have to pick him up, you can use a towel or a sheet as a sling and just support him as he travels up and down stairs. 

I hope this helps.  This is such a difficult time.   

Wow, from everything I’ve read/been told regarding amputation without chemo, Wendel is beating the odds! That’s wonderful. How old is Wendel? 

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16 September 2018 - 12:20 pm
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luke4275 said
simon is 6.  He is cancer free with a big but..   95% of osteo dogs will have cancer spread to the lungs before 2 years… Simon is clear since chemo and cyberknife in february…  Prognosis probably not good.,, I treat him like a  healthy dog,,, I also hit him with everything…   low carb diet,,,, thc and cbd…. armor up and turkey tail…  4 marvels herb..  etc..  Cyberknife is costly.  price varies…  8k probable minimum.  My rad onco vet says that cyberknife and new lasers still in test phase will or should eventually replace amputations. When I had to choose between amp and cyberknife…the benefit of amputation was so similar to cyberknife..  so I went for it and am pleased with my decision..  .  Best to find a provider that is skilled…  it is only 3 days consec of cyberknife. so a trip somewhere is not the end of the world..    

I will definitely ask the oncologist about it, I’m hoping to hear from them tomorrow. I’m so sorry- Simon is so young! I’m sure this is even harder to swallow when it happens to a young dog 🙁

i had started Sam on a keto diet along with his sister (my insulinoma dog) along with several mushroom supplemts, turmeric, boswellia, and CBD. Unfortunately I’m in TN with no access to CBD with THC. I’m trying to figure out how to get that for him…

My insulinoma dog also had a very poor prognosis, as insulinlmas almost always come back within a year (if not sooner). It came back once, she had a second surgery, and so far there are no signs of metastasis, and she’s doing great. She was diagnosed 2.5 years ago, and second surgery was over a year ago. I can only hope the supplements I used for her have the same effect on him. One of them actually has scientific studies that back up the claims, so I’m trying to stay optimistic. It’s such a punch in the gut though…

im also looking into the vaccine for him, but he can only have it if amputation & chemo are done first. He’s older, so I’m trying to weigh what will be best for him. I’d love for him to be able to keep his leg, pain free…hopefully will know more tomorrow, waiting is the worst! 

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16 September 2018 - 12:32 pm
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Wendel is 2 years old.  And I do not think he is the exception to the rule as far as beating he odds…many dogs on this site have had tremendous outcomes with lots of extended time!

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16 September 2018 - 12:34 pm
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I should also mention that like you we have known Wendel since before he was born.  His mom belongs to our good friends, and we were able to see him hours after he was born and many times before he came home with us.  Having a soul dog is amazing!

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16 September 2018 - 3:46 pm
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wendel17 said
I should also mention that like you we have known Wendel since before he was born.  His mom belongs to our good friends, and we were able to see him hours after he was born and many times before he came home with us.  Having a soul dog is amazing!  

Omg. He’s only 2?? He was such a baby when diagnosed! That’s so unfair. He’s just beautiful. 

Its such a unique experience to know them the second they’re born! I hope that you have more time with him- you mentioned it’s only been recently that you’ve had concerns about quality of life, so I hope something more can be done for him. Cancer is the worst regardless, but I find it particularly unsettling when a young dog is affected by it 🙁 

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16 September 2018 - 7:15 pm
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if thc is wanted… there is a company called kingsharvest that says they ship to the 50 states… very reputable I am told..  see their site

Virginia




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17 September 2018 - 4:15 pm
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Just catching  up on your adorable  Sampson and your tough Warrior  Husky.  Sending  pawsitive  energy  to both!

As you can see from all the support, YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!!   We understand  like no others can.  It’s  a kick in the gut and quite scary…..at first.  Then you do research and you realize  your Sampson  is ready to get on with living  life to the fullest and you will do whatever  it takes to make that happen!!

You will also learned that statistics  don’t  mean much around here and NO dog has a timeframe  stamp3d kn their butts!! Look at Sampson’s butt.  Do you see anything stamped on there??? Nope, didn’t  think so.

Now, of course he has your name stamped on his heart, as you do his. ❤❤ That’s  another whole story!

My Happy Hannah, a 125lb Bull Mastiff was a rear legger.  Should go down stairs,  but never mastered going up.   Front leggers have an easier time going UP than the do down. And some dogs master steps just fine AFTER recovery. 

You can check into harnesses in our gear shop that may help.  

Just keep things chunked down for now.  You can decide  on whether  to proceed chemo, etc  later.

Keep us updated  and ask any questions anytime!

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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