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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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Seeking help with amputation decision for our senior
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Forum Posts: 2
Member Since:
22 May 2020
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22 May 2020 - 6:14 am
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Our beautiful Brownie is a 14-year old rescue lab, hound, Rhodesian mix. Last year she developed a tumor on her right front leg. We’ve had it surgically removed twice, plus radiation and chemo, but it keeps coming back (only 3 months after each surgery). We’ve been told our choices are amputation or end-of-life. We are struggling with the decision as she is an older dog, and has also had ACL surgery on her left hind leg. The doctor says she is a good candidate for amputation nonetheless. Through it all her puppy-like demeanor and behavior have never changed – she is (so far) unbothered by the tumor, loves to go for walks, and still jumps around when she gets excited. Basically she loves life. What do we do?

The Rainbow Bridge

Forum Posts: 27271
Member Since:
25 April 2007
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22 May 2020 - 8:27 am
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Hi Brownie and family, welcome. We are so sorry you found yourself here but are so glad you arrived and shared your story. Brownie has been through a lot and she sounds like a real fighter and has a lot of spunk, which is awesome.

I can’t blame you for debating whether or not amputation is right for her, it’s a hard decision made even harder when a dog is as mature as she is. What I can tell you is that many dogs in her age bracket and size have done well on three legs, and while there will probably be ups and downs during recovery, chances are good that she will do fine and go on to have a happy life with you. If you want to make the decision knowing you have covered all your bases, it would be helpful to get a second or even third opinion from a board certified orthopedic surgeon if you haven’t already. 

Also, I’m guessing that your vet has not discussed electrochemotherapy or intralesional chemotherapy with you? If not, I would look into it to see if it’s an option for the type of tumor she has. These two ways of treating tumors are commonly done in other countries but not here, not yet anyways. These processes have given many Tripawds a great quality of life when amputation wasn’t an option. For more information please check out the links above and let us know what you decide to do. We will support you no matter what path you take.

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Livermore, CA

Forum Posts: 3850
Member Since:
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22 May 2020 - 9:52 am
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Hello and welcome.

What kind of cancer are you dealing with?

To me age is just a number- the more important thing is how healthy a dog is and how much zest for life remains.

I had a Pug girl named Tani who had mobility issues most all of her life.  If I had to make an amp decision for her I would have said no when she was around 10 or 11.  I have a Pug boy now named Obie who has had both his knees repaired and is almost 14 years old.  If I had to make a decision for him I would certainly consider it.

It sounds from your description that Brownie still has some living to do.  Before choosing surgery I would want to know if the amp would be considered curative or if more treatment would be needed.  And if treatment is needed would that diminish her life quality?

We often see here that the more ‘mature’ pups take a little longer getting their sea legs after surgery and recovery might be more in the three to four week time frame (as opposed to two to three weeks).

What ever you decide to do we are here to help.  Dealing with cancer sucks no matter if you you have 2, 3 or 4 legs, having a support team who has been there can help.

Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls

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

Forum Posts: 2
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22 May 2020
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23 May 2020 - 1:23 pm
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Thank you both so much, for your recommendations and also your kind words of support. We are going to ask our vet oncologist about all of these recommendations, and also the question about any follow-up treatment required, when we see her next week. 

We’ll check in again but for now, thanks so much! 

Dave, Barb, & Brownie sp_hearticon2


Forum Posts: 19152
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22 February 2013
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23 May 2020 - 8:37 pm
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Can only say ditto to replies from Karen and Jerry. 

Obviously making a decision  when a senior with is involved  can add another dimension of concern.  You’re  doing a good job by having  her evaluated  by your Vet.  Has an Orthopedic Surgeon evaluated  her?  Of course, should you decide on surgery, a thorough work up will be done and that can alao serve as a tool for more clarity  on how to proceed.

It’s  very clear that you love your pup.  Any decision made out of love will always be the right decision. 


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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