TRIPAWDS: Home to 24487 Members and 2169 Blogs.

Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

Tripawds is your home 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.


Join The Tripawds Community

Learn how to help three legged dogs and cats in the forums below. Browse and search as a guest or register for free and get full member benefits:

Instant post approval.

Private messages to members.

Subscribe to favorite topics.

Live Chat and much more!

Please consider registering
Forum Scope


Forum Options

Minimum search word length is 3 characters - maximum search word length is 84 characters
Register Lost password?
sp_Feed sp_PrintTopic sp_TopicIcon-c
Should I amputate 13 Year Old Lab?
sp_NewTopic Add Topic

Member Since:
26 October 2023
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
27 October 2023 - 5:09 am
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_EditHistory sp_QuotePost

Hello, my recently turned 13 year old dog Bella has a mass on her back left leg. Bella is a 65lbs chocolate lab. Based on the X-ray, the vet believes it is fibrosarcoma. The original review of the chest X-ray showed normal aging, after a second look they see a mass in her lung. Without a biopsy they can not give me further diagnosis. I am told that fibrosarcoma can spread but typically does not. Amputating is still an option and I am having trouble making the decision because of Bella’s age and I am not 100% certain she will be able adapt. 

Since developing the mass - When walking, Bella is still putting weight on her back left leg but you can tell it is painful. While standing still, especially when eating, she has the back left leg lifted and seems comfortable enough balancing on 3 legs. Her back right leg has arthritis and some loss in muscle. I have tried to hold her bad leg up and see how she walks on the other 3, she is able to take steps.

Bella is past her time playing fetch, even though she would like to. Our walks have gotten slower. She still has her strong will, personality and appetite. I want to do what is fair to her.  The unknown of her quality of life after amputation is what I am stuck on with making a decision. 

The Rainbow Bridge

Member Since:
25 April 2007
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
27 October 2023 - 1:17 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_QuotePost

Hi Alex, welcome. Your future posts won't need to wait for approval so post away. 

I'm sorry you and Bella are faced with this tough decision. It's a hard one and even harder when there's a senior dog involved. A couple of questions:

I'm curious, what did your vet say about amputation and her being a candidate? 

Also, has an oncologist looked at her case? If not, I would want an opinion from an expert like that.

One option that doesn't get mentioned a lot, because it's not commonly done in the US (but is in many other countries), is electrochemotherapy . This may be an option for her if you can travel to a vet who does it. See the link for more details. But basically it's a way of shrinking (sometimes eliminating) the tumor, preserving the leg, and giving a dog a good chance at a good quality of life. This treatment is deal for soft tissue sarcomas.

As for older dogs adapting to amputation, generally if a dog is in otherwise good health, they usually do fine on three legs. Even dogs with a touch of arthritis can do well so I wouldn't worry too much about that. But it's good to get clearance from an orthopedic-focused vet who can give you a better idea of her candidacy, because all dogs are different. See our Senior Dogs blogs, and also our Size and Age Matters forum topic.

I hope this helps! Stay tuned for feedback from others and please keep us posted.

Member Since:
26 October 2023
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
27 October 2023 - 2:20 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_QuotePost

Her vet is saying it’s an option for us and would help with her pain. But with her age and mobility there is no saying how her mobility will be after an amputating. 
An oncologist/radiologist has looked at her case and said that we would have options but none of them would be curative. The mass is affecting the bone not just the soft tissue. I have a consultation schedule for November 7th, but with the progression of the tumor, time is not on our side. 
Thank you for your response. I will look into the options you mentioned.

The Rainbow Bridge

Member Since:
25 April 2007
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
27 October 2023 - 6:25 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_QuotePost

Ok so it sounds like there's a good chance she would do OK afterward, that's a plus.

Glad you've had a specialist look at her situation. In many situations where amputation is recommended, it's not always curative so that's not unusual. What did they say about the lung mass? 


Member Since:
22 February 2013
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
27 October 2023 - 8:11 pm
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_QuotePost

Senior Labs with a frosty it melt my heart. I’m assuming Belle had some a”frosty” mixed in her chocolate muzzle 

As Jerry mentioned, generally age is not an issue, nor is some arthritis. 
It sounds like Bella is enjoying  her “mature”years and has no desire to run around like a crazy youngster.  So being more of a couch potato 🥔 can help in healing should you decide on amputation.

It does seem that her leg is painful if she holds it up or if she is limping.  Did the  Vet put her on pain meds like Gabapentin?

Yes, one of the main reasons for amputation is to remove the pain and to hopefully give extended quality pain free time for more spoiling and snuggling and treats.  

It used to be that if lung Mets showed up amputation wasn’t recommended.  That way of thinking had now changed for the most part because eliminating the pain with amputation. No one knows how much time any of us have.  We all just want it to be quality time.

Your decision istas clear cut as some because of the Mets.  As Jerry mentioned, get an opinion from the Onco.  Size of Mets, location, number, etc can mean different outcomes, prognosis, etc

Yes, do discuss other options should amputation not Ethel best course for Bella.  One option is steractic radiation (sp).

You clearly love your sweet Bellaand Will ale a decision out of love….and that’s always a right decision.  We are here to support you in anyway we can, 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!

Forum Timezone: America/Denver
Most Users Ever Online: 946
Currently Online:
Guest(s) 83
Currently Browsing this Page:
1 Guest(s)
Member Stats:
Guest Posters: 1277
Members: 18080
Moderators: 6
Admins: 3
Forum Stats:
Groups: 4
Forums: 24
Topics: 18721
Posts: 257737
Administrators: admin, jerry, Tripawds
Tripawds is brought to you by Tripawds.