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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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We just learned that our dog Kara has bone cancer
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Forum Posts: 1
Member Since:
27 September 2014
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27 September 2014 - 12:19 pm
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I registered last night for a few reasons.  Our 7 year old German Shepherd Kara was diagnosed this week with bone cancer and I found your site while doing research as to what our options might be.  It’s been a massive help and resource already and I wish I could thank each of you personally for sharing your stories and experiences.  I’ve looked at other sites as well, but many of them refer me back here as the best resource.

Kara began favoring her left front leg a few weeks ago.  She had occasionally done that in the past and she’s very active.  So we assumed it was something that would eventually heal as it has in the past.  She showed no signs of any discomfort or pain at all.  Even when I would press on the shoulder or leg.  But, eventually when it didn’t improve we took her for x-rays.  Wednesday of this week she saw an oncologist and they confirmed the diagnosis.  Although they are running a further test to rule out a rare sort of bacterial infection.  Her lungs seem to still be clear.  We’ve started her on pain medications, and except for not putting much weight on the left leg you’d not suspect anything was amiss.

Now that I’m more aware however, I do notice a few behaviors that are a little different.  She will still follow me to some of the rooms of the house, but she may lay down when she gets there.  She’s not willing to jump up onto the bed to be petted, while she has always done that in the past given the slightest excuse.

As I’m typing this she’s wandering around me, wagging her tail and occasionally barking at people or cars who pass by the front windows.  She’s still bossing her brother Alex around once in a while too (he was here first, but she took right over as the boss by the time she was 6 months old.  He has a very sweet and laid back personality, while Kara is a bit more high-strung…they are both rescues from the German Shepherd Rescue of Orange County.)

We’ve discussed the diagnosis with a second doctor (my sons girlfriend works for a vet who looked at the X-rays for us) and we  are weighing the various options.  The finances (of course) are a concern that we have to account for, as well as her quality of life.  Before Kara joined our family we spent about 7k combined on Morgan who suffered from an emergency case of bloat and required emergency surgery, and Madison who we lost to pancreatic cancer; so we’ve been down this type of road before.  Morgan stayed with us for almost two more years after his surgery, Madison only stayed about six months after Morgan was gone.

Kara on the other hand has been my girl her whole life, while Alex would follow my wife everywhere, Kara would stay by me.  One of her favorite spots has been under my desk curled up against my feet.  So, the past few days I’ve hardly been able to work or accomplish much.  Each time I think I’m okay and have it all under control, I’ll suddenly end up a wreck for an hour or so.  I lost my mom to cancer when I was 19 (she was diagnosed when I was 14), so I’ve seen the horrible progression firsthand and from all I have read about this, know that there’s not some magic wand that can be waved to alter it’s course.

But, today except for the small limp she’s not in any apparent pain or discomfort, so I’m thankful for that right now.  I know that her life is lived much more in the moment than mine.  So she doesn’t have to share the sadness that I’m feeling about the road ahead of us.

We’re likely to have the amputation, but haven’t scheduled it yet as we await those additional tests.  So, I guess I don’t really have any specific questions to ask at this moment…I just needed to write this all out today.  

Thank you again for all of the information and advice you’ve shared here.  It’s helped me to better understand what’s ahead and given me examples to study as we begin to make the decisions that we have to make.  I’ll try to update this thread when I have more information or when we’ve made the first round of choices of what to do next.



These are a couple older pictures of Kara (and Alex) that I put in Flickr years ago, in them she’s about five months old:


Kara & Alex

KaraImage Enlarger

Alex_&_KaraImage Enlarger

(I’m not sure if they linked properly, so I’ve placed the links here as well)

Livermore, CA

Forum Posts: 3969
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18 October 2009
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27 September 2014 - 1:30 pm
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Welcome to Tripawds Jon and Kara, your future posts will not have to wait for approval.

I’m sorry you had to find us to to cancer, this is a club no one wants to have to join. My little pug had mast cell cancer, not OSA, but I know the devastation of the diagnosis.

Since you’ve been looking around I hope you have found Jerry’s Required Reading List as well as the different e-Books offered here.

If you think of any questions as you make your decisions be sure and come here and ask.  With all our members and their different experiences someone usually has an answer for you.  And we are all here to provide any support you need, we have been there and we can help.

Please keep us posted as you navigate your options.


Karen and Spirit Maggie

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: 393
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15 December 2012
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27 September 2014 - 7:59 pm
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It is really awful when we find out our animals have cancer and it sounds like you and your wife have had your fair share of problems with your dogs. And very sorry about your Mom. I think I could have put some kids through college with what I’ve spent on my dogs. But I guess that is the commitment we give when we love animals. My 5 year old Weimaraner got bone cancer. Unfortunately she only made it 4 months but I do not regret having her leg amputated because it took her out of pain and with the time we had left we hiked, went on horse rides, went boating, just had a good time. If you haven’t read Jerry’s story that will really inspire you especially since he was a German Shepherd. Sounds you have a good plan in place, keep tuned in with us and send pictures.


The Rainbow Bridge

Forum Posts: 28041
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25 April 2007
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27 September 2014 - 8:03 pm
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Jon, Kara and Alex,

I’m so sorry you found yourself in this scary place. Many of us have felt that way and we totally understand your emotions, it’s not an easy time. First, know that you are in a GREAT place for care. Which OC vets are you working with? We have quite a few members in the area so if you want to talk to someone I know of at least two in Tustin who would be willing to chat about their osteo experience with Max.

Your situation sounds so much like the way our Jerry’s played out. An on-again-off-again limp for far too long with a very athletic, rugged dog, which we and his vet attributed to arthritis. He too became clingy and not wiling to do his usual antics. It wasn’t until the limp got so bad we knew it had to be something else, and sadly it was osteo. We didn’t know what terrible pain he was in until much later when we did side by side comparison photos and could easily see how relieved he was after his leg was off. Later we would learn that the pain of osteo is unbearable and dogs will do whatever they can to hide it. Here’s what else we learned:

Animals are far more resilient than we ever give them credit for. They are stronger and tougher than we could ever imagine. When something like this happens, not only do you get a whole new respect for their abilities to just live life and move on from such an event, but we also learn how to appreciate every single day and live it to the fullest.

We also discovered that prognoses are just a guess….osteo stats are depressing and upsetting but the reality is that those numbers are just that, which Kara is not, she is her own dog with her own unique story and DNA and nothing can predict how she will do. Amputation isn’t right for every dog, but…most dogs do great, some have struggles, some sadly will not live up to the prognoses with our without chemo, but in the end, we never know how much time we have together on this earth, with or without cancer. Nearly every Tripawds member has reported in our quality of life survey that they didn’t regret the decision.

I need to run now but I just want you to know that we are here for you, whatever you decide. Give that Kara and Alex smooches from us, they sure are beauties.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Oakland, CA
Forum Posts: 688
Member Since:
20 December 2008
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28 September 2014 - 8:31 pm
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Jon and Kara,

Welcome to the Tripawds Nation. We have 3 rear leg amp GSDs, also all rescues. None of them have had cancer but my first GSD died of hemangiosarcoma so I too know how devastating a cancer diagnosis is. Jerry is right, you can read all you want about diagnoses and prognoses on the internet and hear stats from your vet but the truth is, Kara is Kara and her story will play out in a way unique to her beautiful self. For Kara its all about quality of life in the here and now. She hurts now. Amputation will remove that pain. What will the surgery mean in terms of her life expectancy? That will remain a mystery until you walk that path with Kara. We have had tripawds go down just a few short weeks after surgery and others that have lived happily for years and everything in between. No matter what happens our beloved dogs (and cats) meet each day with grace, joy, and courage, and teach us such amazing lessons! Whatever you decide this community is here for you and please don’t hesitate to ask questions and lean on us for moral support as you go through this difficult time.
Martha and the Oaktown Pack

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Regulator of the Oaktown Pack, Sheriff of the Oaktown Pawsse, Founding member and President of the Tripawd Girldogs With 2 Names ROCK Club, and ... Tripawd Girldog Extraordinaire!

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Martinsburg, WV
Forum Posts: 923
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3 June 2014
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29 September 2014 - 2:21 pm
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Hi Jon and sweet Kara,

I’m so sorry to hear about Kara’s bone cancer diagnosis.  I don’t have specific experience with bone cancer…my Leland needed his left hind leg amputated after a failed TPLO procedure to fix his knee and an infection set in.  I did want to let you know that this community is a wonderful resource for parents starting this journey and that you will receive a lot of support from members.

Please keep us updated on your journey with Kara through this trying time.

Sending Kara and her family a hug.

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!

Forum Posts: 354
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29 September 2014 - 4:30 pm
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Jon and Kara,

I know you are very confused and torn at present, but you found a great resource to write your thoughts, fears and questions.  Sounds like you have done all your homework. It is not an easy decision and money is a factor. We are here. If you find specific questions that you haven’t seen posted about, throw it out there. I don’t how they do it but everyone rallies and is able to find you what you need.  Give Kara lots of love and treat her as normal as possible. Keep us posted.


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