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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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TPLO 8/31- OSC diagnosis 10/20- r front decision time! Help!
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Forum Posts: 106
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21 October 2016 - 11:52 am
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 Hello! I just love this site, found it last night. What a blessing. My beloved Rosie was diagnosed with right front leg osteosarcoma yesterday.  She had right rear TPLO on 831. She’s been limping on her right front since February, which is how we ended up at the orthopedic surgeon. X-rays in May  showed slight arthritis and right front legs, spine and tight rear leg. She totally tore her CCL in August. Anyway it’s all about quality of life, not quantity. I’m trying to decide whether I’m doing this for Rosie  or for me. She is in so much pain, but she won’t eat much and just lays around and stares at me all day. The amputation is scheduled for Wednesday, and I don’t know if I should go through with it.  My fear is that the cancer is more widespread than we know and although the surgeon says recovery is a lot quicker than TPLO, and she’s already only using three legs, that by the end of the month or mid-November she should be right as rain.  Anyone else have this happen to their paw kid?   It’s interesting though, I just found out on Monday that I’m getting an unexpected tax return that will cover the entire cost of the surgery, so that is a blessing. I just don’t want to hurt her anymore, and I’m wondering what the right thing is. I’ve read a lot of your stories and appreciate you sharing. I would love to hear from people and see what they think. Thanks in advance for your kindness and caring. 

The Rainbow Bridge

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21 October 2016 - 12:06 pm
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Hi Rosie and family, welcome. Your future posts won’t need approval so post away.

I’m so sorry to hear she was diagnosed. We are so familiar with your struggle to decide whether or not proceed. Many of us here have been in your shoes and understand completely. What helped us to move forward was to talk to others and really understand how dogs and cats view life on three legs. We hope this helps you too.

As you can see, the pain of a bone tumor is terrible. By the time a dog shows symptoms (they do all they can to avoid it), it’s pretty bad. Is she on any pain medication right now? 

Here’s something else that we realized: all our dogs want is to feel better. They don’t care if they get 3 more months or 3 more years, they only live in today and all Rosie knows is that she hurts right now. Odds are, when you take that leg off, she will be feeling SO much better even through the recovery. Amputation surgery recovery is generally much less painful than a tumor. Much of our expeirence is shared here in Jerry’s Required Reading List . I encourage you to check it out. And stay tuned, others will chime in too OK?

Oh, and I know I would take that unexpected refund as a sign from the Universe. …

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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21 October 2016 - 12:35 pm
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You and the ADORABLE Rosie jave certainly had yiur ha ds/laws full recently!!

I know you must be emotionally and physically exhausted, as well as stressed beyond words! We understand like no others can!

Take some deep breaths and know tnat you are not alone, okay?

One thought process that may help is, should you go forward with amputation, you will k kw you tried…You left no stone unturned. You have to ALWAYS keep in mind that NO surgery is without risks…even when all indications are that there would be no issues. It does sound like your Bet thinks Rosie is a good candidate. Has she been assessed by an ORTHOPEDIC SURGEON? Yiur vet will do chest xrays before surgery to make sure they are clear.

Anytime we give our dogs a chance at extended quality time pain free for more loving and spoiling and tummy rubs and cheeseburgers and sunbathing it’s for them AND for us too! A win/win for everybody is a good thing!!

Izzy, a tripawd, is now gping tnrpugh TPLO recovery on her remaining three legs. She’s doing amazing.

Murphy had hip urgery six weeks after his front leg amp. He had great extended quality time.

So,all and all Rosie is ahead of the game!!

Is Rosie in some pain meds now? If. not, have the Vet give you Tramadol kr Gabapentin.

Just wanted to pop in quickly and offer love and support! Whatever decision you make out of love is 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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21 October 2016 - 1:16 pm
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Actually, Murphy had a total hip replacement after a rear leg amp due to being hit by a car. He had had three hip dislocations with reduction surgeries to correct them before the THR.

Daisy is another Tripawd who had cruciate surgery after becoming a Tripawd, although if I remember correctly, she didn’t have a TPLO.

Kathi and the Turbotail April Angel…and the Labradork

Murphy is a five year old Lab/Chessie cross. He was hit by a car on 10/29/12 and became a Tripawd on 11/24/12. On 2/5/13, he had a total hip replacement on his remaining back leg. He has absolutely no idea that he has only three legs!

UPDATE: Murphy lived his life to the fullest, right up until an aggressive bone lesion took him across the Rainbow Bridge on April 9, 2015 and he gained his membership in the April Angels. Run free, my love. You deserve it!

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21 October 2016 - 1:52 pm
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Thanks so much.  Yes the unexpected windfall is a sign for sure. So much for my tropical vacation.  

Yes, we saw the same orthopedic surgeon who did her TPLO today.  He was ready to cancel his other morning surgeries and do the amputation today.  We live in Seattle and they come highly recommended!  Our general vet has her back on neurontin, Rymadyl and Tramadol.  At least she will eat and wag today.  

Ive made arrangements with my work to take 3 more weeks to work from home.  Thank goodness I can do that.  

Surgery is wednesday.  The surgeon showed me the X-rays today compared to the May 11, 2016 films.  She had nice bone structure and straight lines in May with just a hint of elbow arthritis.   The film from yesterday looks like cotton balls from elbow to shoulder.  A lot of change in 5 months!!!

 Our story is a little bit sad, not that they all aren’t. My 22-year-old daughter was bedbound with Lyme disease for several years, and we bought Rosie for her as a companion/service dog for her 16th birthday.

 My daughter is devastated, especially after telling her today that the amputation will not cure Rosie, and that she will die from this cancer, most likely within a year. We are no strangers to cancer and dying. Her father, my husband was diagnosed  with stomach cancer four years ago this month. He died eight weeks later. My other golden, Braden is a miracle dog. He was diagnosed with lymphoma shortly after my husband died. Of course we did chemo  and he is three+ years out when the length of time was supposed to be no more than two years at best. 

I will read everything on Jerrys list.  Thanks again.  

Rosie and Braden’s Mama. 

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21 October 2016 - 2:44 pm
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If your vet thinks she is a good candidate for the amputation, I would recommend it.  The recovery is intense for 2 weeks, but much easier than for cruciate repair.  I had two dogs – one had the tightrope procedure and the other a front leg amputation due to osteo.  We only had seven months with Otis after his amputation, but they were a high quality seven months, and I have no regrets.

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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21 October 2016 - 4:28 pm
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Hello Rosie and family!!  We went through the exact same thing you are going through 3 months ago!  Our 8 year old doberman (Bentley) was diagnosed with osteo on his front right leg also.  His amputation was Aug 1st. We have absolutely no regrets! Within 2 weeks of surgery he was out chasing squirrels in the yard and totally pain free.  We know our time may be limited so we are enjoying every day with him and he is doing great!  i will always remember the two statements our vet made that made our decision much easier-1- bone cancer is one of the most painful cancers out there, remove the leg, remove that pain. 2- Our furbabies are not attached to their limbs like we are. ( who cares if i only have 3 legs!! lol) They also adapt much faster and easier than we humans do. So no, I have absolutely NO regrets!  I hope this helps.  Karen & Bentley <3

Bentley is our eight year old Doberman, diagnosed 7/13/16 with osteosarcoma tumor on right front leg, became a tripawd on 8/1/2016. His recovery was amazing, he was rockin it on 3! Bentley lost his fight to this nasty cancer when it metastisized into his spine, we had to let him go 11/13/16 exactly 4 months after first diagnosis. He was the perfect best friend, i'll miss him forever. :(

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21 October 2016 - 6:04 pm
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Thanks Karen and Bentley. Rosebud (Rosie) already functions pretty good on three legs since she can’t use the cancerous leg.  So happy that Bentley is chasing squirrels!  

I’m pretty sure that’s what we will do.  I want Rosie chasing balls and swimming after ducks as long as she can. Those things and peanut butter are what makes her happiest.  That is beside sleeping on my head in my bed.  😊

I am exhausted both physically and emotionally, but am sure I will rally. Hopefully Rosie will too after she’s out of pain!!!

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21 October 2016 - 6:07 pm
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otisandtess said
If your vet thinks she is a good candidate for the amputation, I would recommend it.  The recovery is intense for 2 weeks, but much easier than for cruciate repair.  I had two dogs – one had the tightrope procedure and the other a front leg amputation due to osteo.  We only had seven months with Otis after his amputation, but they were a high quality seven months, and I have no regrets.  

I’m so sorry you lost your sweet Otis after only 7 months.  Vet thinks she will have a rapid rebound after the initial recovery.   Appreciate you sharing.  

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21 October 2016 - 7:38 pm
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oh my gosh.  When is Rosie’s surgery?  Good luck to you.  She will feel so much better once that bad leg is gone.  Mysweetted and I are thinking of you…


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21 October 2016 - 8:27 pm
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mysweetted said
oh my gosh.  When is Rosie’s surgery?  Good luck to you.  She will feel so much better once that bad leg is gone.  Mysweetted and I are thinking of you…


Thanks for reaching out.  Surgery is Wednesday.   Come home Thursday or Friday.  Good timing.  Long weekend to get through the first part of recovery.  I just have this feeling though that the surgery is going to be too much and that the extra stress will hasten her passing. I am praying that she will make it through recovery and back to running/hopping with her pack again.  The TPLO was only 7 weeks ago, and because of the OSC she hasn’t progressed as well as expected despite RT and water treadmill.  The surgeon said that the amputation will probably be a good thing in helping her build up rear leg strength.  

London, UK

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22 October 2016 - 5:36 am
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Hi Rosie’s Mum and Rosie,

I’m sorry you find yourself in this situation, and just wanted to offer my support. I agree with what the others have said and am really pleased you have made the decision to go ahead with the surgery and get rid of that painful leg.

I just have this feeling though that the surgery is going to be too much and that the extra stress will hasten her passing.

I understand this feeling, of course, but I suspect that you may be surprised at how well Rosie copes with the surgery, and how much easier and less stressful recovery is than after TPLO. My Meg had multiple surgeries, including a total elbow replacement and heaven knows what else before the decision was finally made to remove her right front leg (she has serious problems with her remaining front leg, so this was a far from straightforward decision). Every situation is different, of course, but in our case we were blessed with a remarkably straightforward recovery after amputation, much much easier on Meg and on me than after her previous ops. Like Rosie, Meg had been largely three legged for some considerable time before her amputation, so she was already well adapted physically to life on three and I’m sure this made the adjustment easier.

In terms of time, you clearly need nobody to tell you that statistics are statistics and mean very little when it comes to the individual. The crucial thing is that however long you have, you are able to enjoy quality pain free time together and cherish every moment, whether this be for months or years, and there really is no way of knowing. I have a friend with a Rottweiler cross who lost her rear left leg to Osteo at the age of seven. She later had cruciate surgery on her remaining rear leg, and has just celebrated her fifteenth birthday. Other people are much less lucky in terms of the amount of time they have, but I’ve never come across anyone who regretted their decision to amputate, because whatever quality time you have is just so precious.

Sending warmest wishes to you and Rosie,

Meg and Clare (and Elsie Pie) xxx

Meg, Mutt, aged around 12, adopted 31/12/2009. Sudden explosive right elbow fracture 06/12 (caused by IOHC), diagnosed with End Stage Arthritis 03/15, Total Elbow Replacement 08/15, problems with healing leading to skin graft & skin flap surgery, Chronic Infection leading to implant breakdown. Became a Tripawd 9th March 2016. 
Lives with Mum, Clare, watched over by Angel Pie and Angel Billie
My life as a MEG-A-STAR 

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22 October 2016 - 6:14 am
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Hi Rosie and family ❤️🐶

My girl Eurydice is 5 and lost her right front leg to osteo almost 6 months ago.

Recovery was no picnic (she weighed 77kg before amputation) but as soon as stitches came out I could see her being her old self a little more every day and now she rocks on 3 legs ! 

I would do it all over again even if the average prognosis was only 10-12 months. 

Nobody knows how long one’s dog or cat has in reality, statistics are worth what they are worth.

And whilst all of us are hopeful our babies will kick statistics in the ass 🐶👞💨💨💨💨💨 all we have is today so we have to make each day count 👍🏼 

If you want to see our happy my girl is we are recording our current trip on Anything Goes Forum under Eurydice’s travels in Europe 5 months after amputation, I hope it will put a smile in both yours and Rosie’s faces ☺️🐶💕

You can both do this and we are all by your side to guide you as best we can.

Sending you much love and cuddles to your sweetie ❤️❤️❤️😘🐾

Eurydice 77kg/170lb Great Dane limping end of April 2016, amputation (right front leg/osteosarcoma) 4 May 2016 6 courses of carboplatin followed by metronomic therapy, lung mets found 30 Nov 2016. 3 courses of doxorubicin, PET scan 26 Jan 2017 showed more mets so stopped chemo. Holistic route April 2017. Lung X-ray 5 May 2017 showed several tennis ball size mets, started cortisone and diuretics. Miss Cow earned her XXL silver wings 12 June 2017, 13 months and 1 week after amputation and 6 1/2 months after lung mets, she was the goofiest dawg ever and is now happily flying from cloud to cloud woof woofing away :-) 

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22 October 2016 - 9:56 am
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 Thank you everybody for your support and sharing your story and your encouragement! Well we are going to do surgery in four days.  

I have today and tomorrow basically to get her ready and get my space ready. Actually she’s totally ready, I just need to figure everything out.

I am fortunate in that I can work from home for the next three weeks. I only have to go in the office 1 day a week and have a friend who loves Rosie and Braden like they were his. He has agreed to be a caretaker on the days I have to go to work.

My employer has been very gracious with the other surgery and now this, it will be three months of working from home. I believe their patiece is at an end. I have to work, I am a widow and a one income household, so even though they’ve given me a few more weeks by December I am going to have to be back in the groove  which means two days a week I will need to be gone for 10 hours or more.

I think I can deal with the surgery and recovery. But I am concerned about the days I have to be gone for most of the day.  Will Rosie be OK with her and her brother all alone? Will she be able to get in and out of her dog door?

We live in the Pacific Northwest so I can’t leave her outside on the days I have to be gone because it’s too cold and wet.  I’ve read this site and trying to get as much information as I can, but I really haven’t seen a lot of information about life after recovery and day to day living.

Would anyone be willing to share their story? Were you able to go back to work ?   What’s your dog OK left home alone?

I am getting a bunch of yoga mats today or tomorrow and a raised feeding bowl. I do have a help ‘me up harness  but I am wondering if I need something else to have when she gets home  so that I can get her in and out to do her business. The harness that I do have it’s been great to get her in the car and help stabilize her outdoors. It doesn’t appear though that it will work for a tripawd. If you could point me to some links or share your experience  it would be helpful.

I just need to say it is so heartwarming, and so helpful to read your stories and hear your experiences. Without them, I don’t know that I would’ve had the courage to go through with the amputation. 

With Love- Rosie, Braden and pack Mama Kellye

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22 October 2016 - 11:01 am
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Hi Kellye!

I just wanted to chime in on the day to day stuff. I was lucky that I was at the end of my own medical leave when Clyde had his surgery and so was home at first. But I did have to leave him alone for a few hours here and there for my own doctor’s appointments, etc. I went back to work full time about two weeks after his surgery. Clyde has two doggy pack mates – a big guy and a little guy. What worked for me is an X-pen set up in my living room. I have hardwood floors so bought him a nice firm bed (which he now hates, I think he associates it with his recovery), set him up with an elevated water bowl and towels on the ground where the bed didn’t reach. He’s crate trained, but didn’t fit in there with his cone. I always put his cone on him when he was alone, but took it off and just had him in a t-shirt while I was around. That way when I wasn’t around, I knew that he was confined to a safe space.

When I went back to work, even though his stitches were out, I still kept him in the X-pen for the first few days. Mainly because I thought he might trip over his doggy siblings/get bumped and knocked over while learning how to hop. I didn’t have anyone checking on him when I went back to work – his recovery was really good, no issues with his wound, and so that worked for us.  I think it sounds like you have a good set up – you’ll be home during the most critical recovery period and have someone to help on the day or two you have to go in while Rosie’s stitches are still in.

I don’t know what your flooring is like, but if you have slippery surfaces (tile, hardwood, etc.) you’ll want to get carpet runners, yoga mats or whatever provide traction for Rosie (you may have already been through that with her other surgery). I used yoga mats and just set up pathways of mats throughout my house. Clyde learned really quickly to use the paths to get around.

Best wishes to you and Rosie (and Braden) smiley

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