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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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Weighing our options
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Forum Posts: 7
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1 April 2015 - 9:13 pm
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This is my first post on here and ‘am a little overwhelmed. We found out today that our 10 year old dog Brick who is a Golden Retriever/Alaskan Malamute cross possibly has Osteosarcoma in his RF leg just above the paw. We had the biopsy performed today and will know the results tomorrow but the oncologist is pretty certain it is cancer in the bone. We are just at a loss of what to do with our options at this point. Amputation and chemo being one, radiation and chemo another, Pallative radiation (this actually isn’t even an option IMO) or bone reconstructive surgery.

He’s a very healthy and active boy up to this point and hard to believe he’s 10 (he can outplay dogs a 1/3 of his age) We know he has a lot of fight in him and is stubborn beyond belief. Is amputation really the best option, I’m trying to tell myself it is but what do I know? I’d like to hear some peoples experiences with the treatments I mentioned above.

Sorry for the long winded post, just want what’s best for our fur baby.crying

Thanks in advance for any insight into this tough decision.

Livermore, CA




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1 April 2015 - 9:33 pm
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Welcome to Tripawds, your future posts will not have to wait for approval.

Of course you are feeling overwhelmed- the cancer diagnosis is tough to deal with.  

Does your vet think Brick is a good candidate for amputation?  How does he do at the vet?- the rad takes lots of treatments I think.  Is the vet local or do you have to travel?  

There are lots of things to consider, but the most important think is what will work best for you and Brick.  Most everyone here who has done amputation will tell you their dogs did fine, but there are a few who have not been able to do an amp. I can’t think of their names right now- maybe another member can.

 

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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1 April 2015 - 9:55 pm
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Hello welcome to our page. Yes these are all options Id say all of us are faced with. In my girls situation she had orthopedic issues in her other legs so I did soooo much research and my concerns were heightened. Long story short (U can check my blog out) I did the amputation. I considered the limb sparing surgery, but the risk of infection somewhat concerned me, although my vet stated that ironically limb sparing had a s higher long term survival rate than amputations..go figure… but also a higher risk of infection and thus still needing an amputation later on. I would suggest asking your vet how many limb sparing hes done?, how many were on your dog breed/size, and how many were successfull, and their survival status, even asking if he could connect you with any prior patients both successes and failures. I can tell you that if your dog is as energetic and healthy as you say and assuming his lungs are clear via xray, they he will adapt to amputation just fine, it will come down to just choice. Now pallative, is just for you to make him comfortable and not attempt to rid his mass/cancer. I looked at my decisions as what am I trying to accomplish?, do I want to “get rid” of the cancer (even though you never ever rid cancer you just survive) or am I just trying to mask it and keep her comfortable. Or am I trying to actually save her life. A leg for a life!! “Curative radiation” can be really invasive and again no guarantee you will contain the mass, thats the goal but I was told not as much research. the odds are their will be visible burns on his leg and I believe its every day for a number of weeks, in hopes of containing it).

ultimately you need to do what your comfortable with in order for you to give the best support to your pup. Even though technically their is no “cure”. I had to ask myself, what am i doing. I am “trying” to cure her.. How? by removing the mass, the mass is in her leg so limb sparing or amputation. You do your part to the best you can and the rest is up to him to fight the rest of the way.

As my vet reminded me, remember they don’t know they are sick!! so what ever you choose keep your head up and cheery, they will feed off of your energy. I caught that with my girl during the days up to surgery, I had so much anxiety and noticed she started reacting off of it. Then I had to snap out of it and give praise and happy and jummpy and not change the way I looked at her or the things I did with her. She never skipped a beat.

Good luck.

prayers to you.

Angel Neka

7/4/2003-4/5/2016

2.5yr 3x cancer warrior survivor

The Rainbow Bridge



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1 April 2015 - 10:35 pm
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Hi and welcome. I’m so sorry you’re in this scary situation. We’ve been through it ourselves and know how overwhelming it is. My best recommendation: breathe, and asses things one step at a time.

It sounds like amputation is an option. If so, that’s great news. Have you looked at Jerry’s Required Reading List or the Tripawds e-books library to get the whole scoop? We’re also here to help with questions so fire away. What I would tell you is that most dogs do fine. Sure there can be complications and there is always a surgery risk, but in general most dogs recover much faster than anyone imagined. They surprise us in so many ways!

We opted for amputation without chemo, and our Jerry lived two amazing great years. It was the best decision for us.

Now if for some reason amputation isn’t an option, it sounds like limb sparing might be a good option too. If the cost and recovery time is something you can deal with (it is more expensive and labor-intensive than amputation), then yep, as Neka’s mom said, statistically if a dog gets an infection after limb sparing, they tend to live longer with the osteo. Limb sparing is pretty cool when a dog is a good candidate and the recovery isn’t an issue. We’ve met dogs who’ve had it done and although they can be a little creaky and stiff when they walk, they still do great. However if it were my dog I wouldn’t this procedure done anywhere but a university, since they tend to have the most experience with the procedure.

Radiation therapy for osteo is palliative, that is it helps ease the pain until the pain gets to be too much. It’s good for dogs who can’t get amputation done for whatever reason, but it’s expensive and like Karen said, requires many vet visits unless you go to a teaching hospital with a Stereotactic Radiation Therapy machine in place.

Try not to let yourself get overwhelmed. Have a heart-to-heart with Brick and ask him what he wants. Putting aside our own preconcieved notions of what an amputated dog is like is hard, but all you need to do is check out our stories and photos and videos to see that to dogs and cats too, life on 3 isn’t nearly as difficult as we imagine it to be. Not even close.

Every situation is different and only you know what’s right for Brick. Whatever you decide we’ll be here to support you.

By the way how did Brick get his name?

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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2 April 2015 - 11:40 am
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brickdog said
This is my first post on here and ‘am a little overwhelmed. We found out today that our 10 year old dog Brick who is a Golden Retriever/Alaskan Malamute cross possibly has Osteosarcoma in his RF leg just above the paw. We had the biopsy performed today and will know the results tomorrow but the oncologist is pretty certain it is cancer in the bone. We are just at a loss of what to do with our options at this point. Amputation and chemo being one, radiation and chemo another, Pallative radiation (this actually isn’t even an option IMO) or bone reconstructive surgery.

He’s a very healthy and active boy up to this point and hard to believe he’s 10 (he can outplay dogs a 1/3 of his age) We know he has a lot of fight in him and is stubborn beyond belief. Is amputation really the best option, I’m trying to tell myself it is but what do I know? I’d like to hear some peoples experiences with the treatments I mentioned above.

Sorry for the long winded post, just want what’s best for our fur baby.crying

Thanks in advance for any insight into this tough decision.

I’m sorry about the cancer dx. It’s scary and overwhelming. I wish you luck as you make these decisions concerning Brick’s care.

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2 April 2015 - 12:42 pm
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He is a suitable candidate for amputation and chemo treatment. Brick is no stranger to surgery, he had both his back cruciate ligaments done around the age of 2 and did extremely well with it.

We are very fortunate to have the top veterinary college in Canada where we live so I know he is in good hands. This is where we were referred to and also where his cruciate surgery was done when he was a pup. There is a surgeon on staff who performs the limb saving surgery so this is also an option.

I hate to see him lose his leg but if it’s in his best interest then I understand. The radiation and chemo doesn’t seem awesome since it will leave his leg weak and the possibility of a future fracture there and spread of cancer. Pallitive is off the table for us. The limb saving one intrigues me but I hate to put him through that if it gets infected or the cancer spreads. He is such a tough dog I’m sure he would be able to handle it but I don’t want him to go through anymore than he has to. If anyone has experience with the limb saving procedure I’d like to hear it (good or bad). I’ll be sure to check out the info that was posted in earlier comments.

Jerry; his name was inspired by Steve Carell’s character “Brick” in Anchorman. I assure you he is the polar opposite intelligence wise….just seemed like a cool/unique name for a very unique dog who just happens to be built like a brick. LOL

Thanks everyone for the support thus far.

Martinsburg, WV
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2 April 2015 - 1:36 pm
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Welcome Brick and family!  I just wanted to say you have come across a wonderful community with a lot of knowledge and folks willing to lend support and advice.  My Leland didn’t have cancer but needed the amputation due to a failed TPLO procedure to fix his knee and an infection that the clinic couldn’t get under control.  So I don’t have any advice regarding chemo, radiation, limb sparing, vs amputation.  I just wanted to say that whatever decision you go with, as long as it’s made out of love for Brick’s quality of life then it’s the right decision.  You know Brick the best and what he can do.

Like Neka’s mom mentioned you need to determine what your “end game” is going to be so to speak and then go down the path that gets you there.  Just know this Tripawd community is here to support you and Brick whatever your decision is!

Sahana and her Angel Leland

Oh and we’d love to see some pictures of your precious Brick.  He sounds like he’s a beautiful BIG boy!

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!

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2 April 2015 - 7:55 pm
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2 April 2015 - 8:06 pm
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Those are just a couple shots of my best bud. He’s such a happy energetic fella. He makes my heart happy every time I see his face. The second pic is him at the wheel of his VW bus that we take him to the dog park in during the summer months. He knows the sound of it and gets pretty excited when it starts up.smiley

Virginia




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2 April 2015 - 11:00 pm
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BRICK!!! I’M LOVING THIS DOG!! Look at that handsome fella in the pics!!! Look at thst big smiles as he’s going to the dog park!!

I know all this is scary and overwhelming. Just remember Brick isn’t worrying avout a thing!! Brick sure doesn’t care about any ole stupid diagnosis! He’s just enjoying living g in the moment soaking up the spoiling and loving!!

Continje to do your research, talk with Brick, you’ll know what to do. It’s good that the vet thinks Brick is a good candidate for amputation. Yes, it is major surgery and recovery is no picnic. But you will be asrounded at how well Brick will do in three legs! His sparkle will come back and you will even forget he is missing a leg!!

Keep us posted….take some deep breaths…look at Brick, watch his tail wag, and know allmis well in Brick’s world!

YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Welcome to the family!!!

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle 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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3 April 2015 - 12:13 am
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Brick is gorgeous!

Martinsburg, WV
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3 April 2015 - 8:24 am
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Brick is a very handsome boy!!!  I love the smile on his face sitting in the driver’s seat of the VW bus!!  This OSA diagnosis hasn’t brought down Brick’s spirit and his happiness comes shining through in his pictures.  You’ll figure out what is best for Brick and you’ll have this great community right by your and Brick’s sides the whole way!!!

Sahana and her Angel Leland

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!

Westminster, MD
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3 April 2015 - 9:17 am
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What a beautiful boy Brick is, and a great name! So sorry you are dealing with the “ugly c”, but you have definitely found the right place. This is the BEST community for knowledge, wisdom, experience, and loving support while going down this unwanted road. My own sweet angel Polly had a different type of cancer, so I don’t really have much advice for your situation. However, I do want to say, this is absolutely a personal decision, and although I was comfortable with the decision to have amp surgery for Polly, you have to weigh all your options and go from there. Most here are and were glad they had amp surgery for their pups and kitties, especially in the case of osteosarcoma, which I have learned from being here, can be extremely painful and the risk of bone breakage is much more a possibility. Our fur-kids get around very well as 3-legged companions, amazingly well actually.

Whatever you decide, it will be the right decision for you and Brick, you must follow your heart and follow Brick’s lead. You also have everyone here for advice and support,

Keep us updated on Brick, and best wishes to you and him….
Bonnie, Angel Polly, and new crew

The Rainbow Bridge



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3 April 2015 - 9:51 am
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Oh my gosh I love how he got his name! Funny movie!

Well it does sound like you’re having all the best docs there take good care of him. Limb sparing isn’t something most people do but there is a member who joined us a while back in Germany who documented the earliest days of recovery. We haven’t heard from him in a while so maybe you want to PM him? They call it “bone sparing” there:

http://tripawds…..eosarcoma/

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Norene, TN
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3 April 2015 - 12:12 pm
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What a beautiful boy! And I love the name Brick.

I know all of this is overwhelming, but you can only eat the elephant one bite at a time. Let me know if you need a recipe.

Also, when you feel like the world’s coming down around you, project yourself to the same time next week, next month, or next year. Where will you be? What will you be doing? One thing’s for sure, you won’t be dealing with the immediate stress you feel right now.

These things worked for me, I hope you find what works for you.

Hugs and kisses for Brick,

pam

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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