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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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Terrified of making the wrong decision for Brutus
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Member Since:
22 March 2015
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23 March 2015 - 8:46 am
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Brutus is an amazing, loving, and gentle giant which my life revolves around. He is a 125 lb pure breed rottweiler who was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in his rear left leg on 3/18/15 by my local vet. Went to a specialist on 3/19/15 who also believes it to be osteosarcoma. Awaiting results on the biopsy. In the meantime is on tramadol and an anti inflammatory. I noticed he was favoring his leg and it twitching a bit. Couple years ago he had elbow surgery for an arthritic condition which he tremendously benefited from. So when i saw the limp i took him after a couple days of not getting better in fear of possibly knee surgery. God i would be so happy if that would of been the case. He is about 6.5 years old and you would never know he was sick. still playful, loving, and protectful of his mom lol. He even gets between us when i give her a hug. I know with cancer there are no guarantees besides heartache and sleepless nights. I can probably count the hours i have gotten of sleep on one hand in the past week. Not to mention the gut wrenching knot in my stomach.

I don't have kids so Brutus and his brother and sister are my children. I have done so much research the past few days its hard to take it all in. This site is very insightful but as a potential newbie scary as hell also. He has such a personality and joy for life i can imagine letting him go. The hard part is do i ease his pain and wait for the inevitable or head towards amputation and chemo. Its a major surgery even tho dogs are amazing and resilient. Knowing he is in pain is devastating. Amputation is immediate pain relief from the cancer but i would feel terrible putting him thru that at the same time.

He has had both x-rays and cat scans indicating the lungs look clear at the moment. He is a big powerful boy and im worried 1 rear leg will be a huge disadvantage for him. Plus the post op care is scary. I most likely wont leave the house.  Plus he will be shifting more weight to the front as well where he did have an arthritic procedure couple years back. Luckily he has been on joint supplements since then including fish oil and dasuquin. It is hard for me to even function at the moment thinking of the battle he faces.

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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23 March 2015 - 10:39 am
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Hi and welcome. I'm so sorry to hear about Brutus, it's something many of us can relate to here and we totally understand your emotions. You've come to the right place and by doing your research and asking questions, you are off to the best start possible to deal with whatever lay ahead.

It sounds like you've done a lot of reading but if you haven't seen it already, do check out Jerry's Required Reading List and the Tripawds e-books library, which covers a lot of details about what you can expect. Keep in mind that every dog is different and recoveries are never exactly alike, but overall you will more than likely be surprised at how well Brutus does.  What does your vet think about his candidacy as an amputee? Has he gotten the green light to live on 3 legs?

If you decide to proceed with surgery, the biggest thing to remember is that your attitude about the situation will play a big role in how well the recovery goes. Remember that the stronger you are, the more pawsitive attitude you project, the happier Brutus will be. If you believe things will be OK, he will believe in himself too. While a good attitude won't prevent complications (which don't always happen, but can), what it can do is help you get through them with as little emotional turbulence as possible. That in turn will make Brutus happy, relaxed and able to get on with life as he wants to, without being worried about you. It's funny, we worry about them so much, but they worry about us even more!

I hope this helps. Stay tuned for others to chime in soon. Hang tight too, we're having some server issues this week and load times are kinda crazy but we're working on getting that straightened out so don't panic.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

Los Angeles, CA
Member Since:
13 June 2013
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23 March 2015 - 10:59 am
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Hi There,

We've seen several rotties here with osteosarcoma and many good recoveries!!! I lost my girl to a different cancer but I know all too well the fears associated with the amputation and the recovery period. Like Jerry said .. .being a strong pack leader and putting on a positive vibe will help Brutus in his recovery!


I am glad you have found this site and stay close to us.... the collective wisdom here will truly be a lifesaver. And the books - I got them - and they were incredibly helpful!


alison with the spirit of shelby fur-ever in her heart! 

Shelby Lynne; Jack Russell/Shiba Inu mix. Proud member of the April Angels of 2014.

October 15, 2000 to April 8, 2014

Our story: Broke rear leg in June 2013 - non-conclusive results for cancer so leg was plated and pinned. Enlarged spleen in September 2013 and had it removed and was diagnosed with Hemangiosarcoma and started chemotherapy. Became a Tripawd January 8th, 2014 and definitive Hemangiosarcoma diagnosis. Three major surgeries in 7 months and Shelby took them all like a champ only to lose her battle to cancer in her brain. We had 8 amazing extra months together and no regrets. #shelbystrong #loveofmylife

Member Since:
22 March 2015
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23 March 2015 - 11:07 am
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Thanks you guys. Reading everyones experiences and some of the literature on here is why i became a member. Waiting for the surgeon to call me back tomorrow since i have a million more questions for her. Brutus may be starting his recovery battle by weeks end.


Member Since:
22 February 2013
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23 March 2015 - 1:38 pm
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Ohhhh boy, we all get the nightmare you feel like you are stuck in!!!

AND we understand the soul deep.lpve you jave for Brutus!

AND we understand how tough this decision is when your Brutus is so vibrant and so full of life!

My Happy Hannah was a Bull Mastiff chunk of love weighing 125 lbs. I had a "converstion" with her...hes I did! She let me know by her lofe affirming, tail wagging actions that she wanted a chance at a pain free life and wasn't done yet!!

You nave some good news with the good test reports and the fact that Brutus is already somewhat used to three legs!

It IS major surgery and unexpected complications arise. We've seen the heartbreak. Obviously, almost everyone here jas gone through with the
procedure hoping for the best.

One of our Rottweiler heroes here,Sassy lived every day to the fullest....even with "bad hips"....a tiny, teeny,wee bit of "chunkiness" and even when she had mets! Nothing stopped that dog from soaking up the joy and the love!

Recovery was no picnic for Happy Hannah. But once that recovery took place and her sparkle came back brighter than before, our focus was on making the best of every bonus day we were givien!!!! And we had THE most glorious time of loving and spoilong than I could ever imagine even exsisted!!

NO dog jas a time frame stamped on his butt!. Every dog is different! But something that is crucial for all of us on this journey is to remember to Be More Dog !!! Stay in the in the NOW...don't worry about squat!!!

And when you make a decision out of love and when you live in the present with your dog....that's ALWAYS the right decision!!

Sending love and hugs!

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle too!

PS. From this point forward, know that you are not alone, okay??

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!

Martinsburg, WV
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3 June 2014
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24 March 2015 - 1:55 pm
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Welcome Brutus and mom!!!  As you're coming to find out there is a lot of support and knowledge within this community.  There is no "wrong" decision when you're doing it out of love for Brutus.  You've probably seen that when dealing with cancer it's a gamble when it comes to time.  Some furbabies may only get a few months and others get years.  It's what you do with the time that you have that's the most is so often said around here "Be More Dog and live in the moment."

From his avatar pic Brutus is an extremely handsome fella and very noble looking!  My Leland was a 108lb Dobie boy and like you he was my baby.  I can tell you this journey will bond you and Brutus like nothing else.  Your love will grow deeper which is an amazing blessing.

I'll be keeping you and Brutus in my thoughts while you're finding your way. 

And we'd love to see more pictures of Brutus and his siblings!

Sahana and her Angel Leland


November 17, 2009 - June 30, 2014

May you finally be healthy and running free at the Rainbow Bridge. Until we meet again my sweet boy!

Member Since:
5 February 2015
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25 March 2015 - 8:59 pm
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There is always the option of doing palliative radiation to help alleviate his discomfort. This would allow him to keep his leg which may be a better option for him due to his arthritis/elbow issues.

There are some drawbacks to doing radiation as well. You have to be more careful to make sure that he doesn't fracture the leg and potentially keep him maintained on some pain meds(although I've seen several dogs weaned off of all pain meds after radiation). There are medications called bisphosphonates (think Boniva) that can help to prevent further breakdown of the bone making it potentially less prone to breaking.

Member Since:
27 February 2015
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25 March 2015 - 10:13 pm
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I had a similar situation with Borris.  He had a herniated disc in his neck during the summer which affected his front legs. So when we got diagnosis in December, I really believed he would have no chance missing a hind leg and having to rely on his two front legs.  He also is 125lbs, and a tall great dane. We removed the leg on February 17th, and although yes it has been rough at times, we don't regret our decision at all.  It took about 2 weeks after surgery for me to feel comfortable letting him get around the house.  He can be clumsy at times, even when he had 4 legs.  He now jumps off his bed and runs to the door when people arrive, he can run up and down a ramp, he can navigate the 3 stairs to the backyard, however, I am afraid of all the ice and snow back there so we go out front and go for walks...maybe I should call them jogs.  His spirit brings me joy each day.  Today he actually beat my husband to lifting him into the truck and hopped in on his own!  We were shocked!  All I can say is I love him more today than 3 months ago, if that is possible. I admire his courage.

If you are able to arrange to be home for a week, or work from home, do it.  If someone can help you, ask them. I would say that is the biggest hurdle.  The rest is easy peasy! (just excpect some sleep deprivation).

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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25 March 2015 - 10:20 pm
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darlenem said
I had a similar situation with Borris....

Thanks for the feedback Darlene!

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Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

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