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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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Suspected Osteosarcoma. So much information and don't know what to do with it.
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29 March 2016 - 2:30 pm
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Hello everyone,

Three weeks ago, 3/10/16, I brought Bella, my black lab mix to the vet for a limp. X-ray’s showed findings consistent with bone neoplasm. My vet didn’t really give me much information then and I outright refused amputation or chemo thinking “I would never do that to her.” This past Sunday, someone shot off fireworks, and Bella hurt her leg even worse (possible fracture?) and her limp is significantly worse now. Fast forward and to make a long story short, I was referred to a doggie oncologist (I didn’t know they existed), and met with him today.

There is a small possibility of a fungal infection, so we did the blood test to rule that out. I’ve decided, that with the information I have been given, to not do the biopsy, as regardless of what type of cancer it is, amputations seems to be the best treatment to get rid of the pain. The blood results should come back by Monday, so I have nearly a week to think about treatment.

I’m very worried about amputation, however, reading the forums here has given me more information. I have attempted to discuss the possibility of amputation this morning with my family but since they were not at the vet appointment they do not have all the information and are against it. In the end it is my decision, however, I would love to have their support, but more importantly I want to do what’s best for Bella. I would love as much information on amputation recovery for myself, and to be able to explain to the family.

It seems, by the bit of reading I have done here, that people have made the decision to amputate fairly quickly after diagnosis. It has been nearly 3 weeks since Bella’s diagnosis, and I am wondering if this has any affect to the outcome of amputation. With the potential for osteosarcoma and knowing how rapidly it can metastasize, is it worth it still to amputate?

I am so thankful to run into this website as I am so overwhelmed by all the information that I have been given recently. And thank you in advance to anyone with advice. 

xx,

Andi and Bella

The Rainbow Bridge



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29 March 2016 - 2:47 pm
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Andi & Bella welcome, your future posts won’t need approval so post away.

Fear not, most of us have walked in your shoes and pawsteps, and we can completely relate. We too didn’t know dogs even GOT cancer when our Jerry was diagnosed. We had a huge learning curve but Jerry taught us how to Be More Dog and cope like he does: living every day to the fullest and not letting things get him down. It was a remarkable experience and taught us that even cancer has lessons that can change our lives in a good way.

So, to begin, go ahead and start at the Tripawds Start Page. We know there’s a ton of information here and don’t want you to feel overwhelmed. That’s a good place to begin. Then, check out Jerry’s Required Reading List and if amputation is definitely on the horizon, the Tripawds e-books can help get you ready.

You really did catch it quickly. Many times the diagnosis gets dragged out much longer, months even. So don’t feel like you are losing out in any way, it sounds like you’re taking all the right steps to help Bella feel better and decide on your options. Amputation isn’t always right for every dog but if your vet agrees she’s a good candidate, there’s no reason why she can’t be happy on three legs. As you’ve experienced, many people are initially opposed to it (we were) but once they come here and see how dogs really do, their preconceived  notions usually go out the window.

If you want to talk, our Tripawds Helpline is also there for you OK?

Stay tuned for more great insight from others. We’re glad you posted.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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29 March 2016 - 2:56 pm
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We made the decision quickly, but it was because there was really no choice.   Our lab/Dane mix Otis had broken his wrist.   He could not come home, and was on heavy pain meds.  But obviously, he had the cancer before we even knew it, so I don’t think the 3 weeks will make any particular difference – many of us just didn’t know 3 weeks earlier.  If a chest x-ray shows clear lungs, and there is nothing to suggest that Bella won’t do well as a tripawd, then I wouldn’t worry about it.   (Not like you don’t have enough to worry about as it is!).  I also had struggled with whether it was “worth it” to amputate – I did not realize how quickly dogs recover from the amputation (I was comparing it to our other lab’s cruciate repair surgery).   It also helped me to put it into “dog years.”   If Otis’ life can be extended by 8 – 12 months of quality time, and you consider that a people year is about 7 dog years, it was worth it.   Actually, the first sunny day, when Otis and his sister were sleeping in the sun, I knew that it was the right decision for us.  There are lots of blogs and forums on this site that detail those first two weeks post-amputation, with lots of hints and suggestions to make it work for your family and Bella, and many of us now on the chemo journey, so stay in touch.

Otis - 106 pound lab/Dane mix, lost his right front leg to osteosarcoma on Febuary 9, 2016.  Four rounds of carboplatin completed in April, 2016.  Lung mets August 25, 2016.  Said goodbye too soon on September 4, 2016.   Lost his adopted sister, Tess, suddenly on October 9, 2016. likely due to hemangiosarcoma.  

Wherever they are, they are together.

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29 March 2016 - 3:16 pm
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otisandtess said
We made the decision quickly, but it was because there was really no choice.   Our lab/Dane mix Otis had broken his wrist.   He could not come home, and was on heavy pain meds.  But obviously, he had the cancer before we even knew it, so I don’t think the 3 weeks will make any particular difference – many of us just didn’t know 3 weeks earlier.  If a chest x-ray shows clear lungs, and there is nothing to suggest that Bella won’t do well as a tripawd, then I wouldn’t worry about it.   (Not like you don’t have enough to worry about as it is!).  I also had struggled with whether it was “worth it” to amputate – I did not realize how quickly dogs recover from the amputation (I was comparing it to our other lab’s cruciate repair surgery).   It also helped me to put it into “dog years.”   If Otis’ life can be extended by 8 – 12 months of quality time, and you consider that a people year is about 7 dog years, it was worth it.   Actually, the first sunny day, when Otis and his sister were sleeping in the sun, I knew that it was the right decision for us.  There are lots of blogs and forums on this site that detail those first two weeks post-amputation, with lots of hints and suggestions to make it work for your family and Bella, and many of us now on the chemo journey, so stay in touch.

wuggy311 said
Hello everyone,

Three weeks ago, 3/10/16, I brought Bella, my black lab mix to the vet for a limp. X-ray’s showed findings consistent with bone neoplasm. My vet didn’t really give me much information then and I outright refused amputation or chemo thinking “I would never do that to her.” This past Sunday, someone shot off fireworks, and Bella hurt her leg even worse (possible fracture?) and her limp is significantly worse now. Fast forward and to make a long story short, I was referred to a doggie oncologist (I didn’t know they existed), and met with him today.

There is a small possibility of a fungal infection, so we did the blood test to rule that out. I’ve decided, that with the information I have been given, to not do the biopsy, as regardless of what type of cancer it is, amputations seems to be the best treatment to get rid of the pain. The blood results should come back by Monday, so I have nearly a week to think about treatment.

I’m very worried about amputation, however, reading the forums here has given me more information. I have attempted to discuss the possibility of amputation this morning with my family but since they were not at the vet appointment they do not have all the information and are against it. In the end it is my decision, however, I would love to have their support, but more importantly I want to do what’s best for Bella. I would love as much information on amputation recovery for myself, and to be able to explain to the family.

It seems, by the bit of reading I have done here, that people have made the decision to amputate fairly quickly after diagnosis. It has been nearly 3 weeks since Bella’s diagnosis, and I am wondering if this has any affect to the outcome of amputation. With the potential for osteosarcoma and knowing how rapidly it can metastasize, is it worth it still to amputate?

I am so thankful to run into this website as I am so overwhelmed by all the information that I have been given recently. And thank you in advance to anyone with advice. 

xx,

Andi and Bella

Hi Andi and Bella,  yes thinking of amputating your dogs leg is a horrible heart wrenching decision. My Zeus had surgery in Feb. and I was totally concern how he would do since he is vey large and this was a front limb. I think most of my family besides those closest to Zeus thought I was absolutely crazy to do this. But 5 weeks later my loving companion is thriving as a tripawd. Sure he still is adjusting but he is back to his old self. He initiates play time. Demands his peanut butter and continues to melt my heart.  Only you know what is best for Bella and the decision you make will be right whatever it may be.  Please let me know if there are any other questions I can help with. I am new to this forum but it has really helped me cope. Also search you tube videos on tripawds you can see how happy they still are.  Take care and good luck. Theresa and Zeus

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29 March 2016 - 3:23 pm
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Thanks everyone! The positivity on this site is amazing and also very helpful in moving forward with a decision!



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29 March 2016 - 6:30 pm
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Welcome to the club no one really wants to join but you came to the right place.  This place was literally a life saver for me.  Without my “family” here I don’t know what I would have done.  Osteoscaroma is a very painful disease.  We “can’t” cure it but we remove that pain from them.  Chemo is a personal option.  I chose to do it to give Sassy the best chance at survival. 

That being said there are many dogs who do not do chemo that do it naturally or not even at all.  We all go on a slightly different treatment plan but that is what we are here for to help out the best we can. 

The first few weeks of recovery are the hardest.  Knowing the pain med dosage can be hard but phone calls to your vet help and that is what they are there for.  I adjusted Sassy’s the first few days.  After a couple of weeks you will start to see that spark come back.

I will say this do I regret amputation no I do not.  If God forbid I ever had to do it over again I wouldn’t hesitate to do it

hugs

Michelle & Angel Sassy

sassymichelle-sm.jpg

Sassy is a proud member of the Winter Warriors. Live long, & strong Winter Warriors.
sassysugarbear.tripawds.com
07/26/2006 - Sassy earned her wings 08/20/2013

05/04/2006 -  Bosch, Sassy's pal, earned his wings 03/29/19  fought cancer for 4 months.

"You aren't doing it TO her, you are doing it FOR her. Give her a chance at life."

Virginia




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29 March 2016 - 6:53 pm
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Hey Andi and Bella! How ’bout this support, pretty great, huh? As yiu can see, you are not alone! As yiu can see, your experience, your feelings, reaction of friends and family, are all pretty “normal” around here!

.any dings here, including my beloved Happy Hannah, were treat off and on a few months for arthritis or a sprain, pulled muscle, etc. Rimadyl would clear it up…and then not.

When happy Hannah was finally diagnosed” and my Vet kinda’ through out amputation as an “option”, I said absolutely not!! No way I would amputate the rear leg of my 125 lb Bull Mastiff! I wouldn’t “put her through that”. I was certain she wouldn’t be able to walk! Besides, she’s wasn’t limping “that badly”. Of course, if a dog limps, it hurts!

The vet had me go talk to a surgeon and Onco. Still wasn’t convinced. Pain meds were doing okay…until they weren’t. Fairly quickly I realized I would have ro let my vibrant, full of @ife, joyful and happy girl “go” if I didn’t proceed.

I scheduled the surger appointment. I cancelled it. I rescheduled and fainnaly proceeded. I also mentioned it to a friend or two. The response was basically shock that I would do that TO my dog. Just like you, I learned very quickly that they had not been in on the consultations, they had not done the research. The decision was mine…mine and Happy Hannah’s.

All this was before I joined Tripawds and had their support and knowledge. My first post here as a member was a Day Six of recovery. “Help! I fear I’ve made a horrible decision! This community threw me a lifeline of love and knowledge and I never let go!

Recovery was rough. My Happy Hannah adjusted to walking on three legs instantly! The surgery itself was hard on her though. It took abojt three weeks before I coukd say I had done this FOR my beloved Happy Hannah and not TO her!!Her sparkle came back bigger and brighter than ever!! We had THE most gloriously happy extended time of over one year and two months chock full of lovi g and spoiling and tummy rubs and treats and sunbathi g and snuggling and cuddling!!

You will.learn very quickly, as we all have on this journey, to love in the mome t, to say in the lresent, to let NOTHING rob you of your time with Bella! She is not worrying about a thing! She doesn’t give a rip aout a “diagnosis” or days on the cal. She sure doesn’t jave a timeframe stamped on her butt anywhere either!!

You will make a decision for Bella out of love, and that is always the right decision!!

Sending you lots of love and clarity!

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!

Michigan
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29 March 2016 - 9:10 pm
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Murphy had originally started limping in October 2012.  Through misdiagnosis and difficulty getting to the specialist, then waiting for biopsy results, it was April 2013 before he had his surgery – over 5 months from the time he started limping!  His lungs were clear, but the lymph node they removed at the time of surgery was positive.  He ended up being diagnosed with histiocytic sarcoma, which is highly aggressive, and normally found in the organs or skin, and his prognosis was 12-18 months.  Next week it will be 3 years since his surgery, and he’s still hopping around and doing very well. 

Each person has to make their own decision.  You know Bella better that anyone else.  But dogs generally do very well.  It sounds as though your vet thinks that she’s a good candidate for surgery.  Some people do chemo, some do not, that’s also an individual decision.

Recovery is usually the hardest part to get through.  The first 2 weeks or so is a roller coaster of emotions – trying to keep up on the pain medications, getting her to eat, helping her outside, and making adjustments, but it gets easier.  And we’ll be here to help.

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

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29 March 2016 - 9:15 pm
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Thanks again everyone! Your responses have been a big help. 

Did any of you opt out of a bone biopsy before proceeding with the amputation route? 

I know the chances of osteosarcoma is about 80% of bone cancers, but does knowing really matter?

After discussions with family, the idea of – If it is osteosarcoma, then the cancer will just come back, and she may just end up in pain anyway. 

I was also told by my vet that most dogs recover to “almost normal” within two to three weeks. Is this what most of you have experienced?

Thanks again. Your information is most valuable and appreciated.

xx

Virginia




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29 March 2016 - 10:14 pm
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Mixed bag as far as the biopsy. I did NOT do that with Happy Hannah. Others will jabe to chime in who did. I can tell you that many who DID proceed with the biopsy said they would NOT do it again. It can be a painful surgery a d can have complications. Of course, I’m not a vet and not giving vey advice.

Once the leg is removed then they can get all the diagnostic info thet need.

We always tell .embers to try not and comlare” recovery time because every dog is differe t. Some recover faster than two weeks, some take longer.

No dog has a timeframe on their butt.

Geez…I’m having connection/computer issues. Will come back with more feedback in a few minutes…hopefullu!

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!

Maryland
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30 March 2016 - 4:13 am
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We did do a bone biopsy (not just an aspirate) because Ellie’s OSA diagnosis happened during what was going to be a TPLO for a torn cruciate.  When the surgeon found “soft bone”, he took a sample and closed her back up. I think all his experience was telling him that this was most likely OSA, but we waited for the biopsy results before proceeding w/ amputation (about 10 days later).

For us, the waiting for the biopsy meant the difference between going w/ our first reaction (there is no way she could manage as a tripawd and we needed to say goodbye) and figuring out that we needed to give her a chance. I’m really really glad we had that time to digest the diagnosis and think about what it meant. But it also meant two procedures which was not ideal. Ellie had a really rough post-amp recovery. Was it because of the double procedures? We don’t really know. 

Most experiences I’ve read of here w/ biopsies don’t result in a definitive diagnosis which just makes it all the much harder. If Ellie’s x-rays had been more definitive we’d probably have gone w/ the vet’s instinct that this was OSA. 

Between the cruciate tear and her amputation was probably 3 weeks too. I don’t think that delay is at all unusual so please don’t beat yourself up about it. The thing about OSA is the pain relief that amputation gives. Even if you were to do nothing else, taking off the diseased leg will let your pup live out her days w/o the terrible pain of OSA. And even when the recovery is rough (like ours), you’ll be amazed at just how well she’ll probably adjust to three legs. 

Denise, Bill and Angel Ellie.

Active 10+ Pyr mix suddenly came up lame with ACL tear in left rear leg. Scheduled for a TPLO but final pre-op x-rays indicated a small suspicious area, possibly OSA, which could have caused the ACL tear. Surgeon opened the knee for TPLO but found soft bone. Biopsy came back positive for OSA. Became a Tripawd 9/18/14. Carbo6 with Cerenia and Fluids. Pain free and living in the moment. Crossed the Bridge on 7/12/15 after probable spread of cancer to her cervical spine. A whole lifetime of memories squeezed into 10 months. Here's her story: Eloise

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30 March 2016 - 4:13 am
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We did not do a biopsy.  His leg was already broken and the bone so degraded it would not heal, even if it had not been cancer.  Even had it not been cancer, we would have ended up in the same place, and I couldn’t see keeping him in so much pain while we waited for results.  I had also already had 4 vets, a radiologist and a surgeon look at the X-ray, and they were all pretty certain that it was osteosarcoma.  Not sure, however, what I would have done in less urgent circumstances.  In terms of recovery time, the first two weeks are hard.  The staples come out about day 10, and generally you can start weaning off the pain meds then.  By week 3, Otis was jumping onto the sofa.  At the end of week 4 we started short walks.  Somewhere in there, he stood on hind legs to steal cat food off the counter.  You definitely start to feel good about your decision once the pain meds are out of their system and you start seeing your dog being your dog again.  So, not sure there is a perfect point where you say “recovered,” but for us, it was in that 2 – 3 week range.

Otis - 106 pound lab/Dane mix, lost his right front leg to osteosarcoma on Febuary 9, 2016.  Four rounds of carboplatin completed in April, 2016.  Lung mets August 25, 2016.  Said goodbye too soon on September 4, 2016.   Lost his adopted sister, Tess, suddenly on October 9, 2016. likely due to hemangiosarcoma.  

Wherever they are, they are together.

Norene, TN
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30 March 2016 - 8:17 am
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Howdy and welcome!

Ain’t these folks great!?

I don’t have ANY experience with osteosarcoma, but the recovery from amputation and the emotional rollercoaster is still the same.

So, first off, don’t beat yourself up. Secondly, make a plan. You’ll be surprised how much better you’ll feel once you have a plan to focus on. Thirdly, always remember, any decision(s) made with love is the correct decision.

Now grab that devil b@st@rd by the horns and show him who’s the boss.

pam

ps – puppy smooches for your beautiful Bella!

Harmony became a Tripawd on 10/21/14 (MCT). She left us way too soon on 11/1/14.

"We miss you so much; our love, our heart, our Harmony."

- Pam, Ron and Melody, Meesha, Doublestuff and Mariah Carey

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30 March 2016 - 8:58 am
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We also didn’t do the biopsy. The vets were pretty sure it was osteosarcoma and like Otis, it didn’t really matter, the leg had a tumor (it wasn’t broken but still causing a limp) and regardless of what it was exactly, it had to come off. Quincy and Otis are on similar tracks and everything noted above about the timing and recovery reflects our experience too. It seems hard and overwhelming but if you choose to do it, once you get your mind around it and make it through the first week or so you will be amazed at the adjustment she makes. Good luck!

Livermore, CA




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30 March 2016 - 9:20 am
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My pug Maggie did not have a bone cancer, she had mast cell cancer.  For us a needle aspirate was enough to diagnose and the location of the tumor left amputation as the only real choice.

I think your surgeon gave you great information when he said most recover to almost normal in 2 to 3 weeks.  I would say that’s about average. When the sutures/staples come out there seems to be a turning point and that is usually 10 to 14 days.  As Sally said all dogs heal and deal at their own pace.  My Maggie was a stubborn little thing and she took longer than average to get her sparkle back.  I really thought I had made a mistake by choosing amputation.  No medical complications and she was able to hop on her own the day of surgery (small dog, rear amp), just a stubborn pug who hated changes to her routine.

And yes, odds are that the cancer will come back some time after the amputation.  What you are GIVING Bella is a chance at quality, pain free time with you.  When you start down this cancer path you don’t know how much time you have.  You learn to treasure each day and not think too far ahead.  We have many stories here of pups who blew away the odds and statistics, some are not so lucky.

Maggie was given 6 to 9 months after her amputation because of lymph node involvement (very bad in mast cell cancer).  Back then if I had known that before her surgery  I may not have gone ahead, and based on the tumor size and growth rate she would probably only lived a few more months.  Maggie lived almost 4 years after her amp and did not pass from mast cell cancer.

No matter what path you chose to take we will help and support you and Bella.

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

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