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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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Worried...7 year-old Rottie Just Diagnosed
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Leicester, England
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19 October 2012
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22 October 2012 - 1:56 pm
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Sorry I haven't been clear. Our vet wants to do a tumour replacement.

More info on his website...
http://www.fitz.....sue-cancer

Rocky isn't a good candidate for amputation because of the arthritis in his other leg. I'm really hoping this works.
I was reading a lot of the Internet last night about chemo, bone cancer, amputation etc. I found an article from a vet saying it was all cruel, that the Vets onlly want to make money and the best thing to do is put the animal out of its misery. Which I totally dis agree with!!

On The Road


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22 October 2012 - 6:47 pm
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Oh oh, we call it "limb sparing" here in the U.S.

Limb sparing is indeed an option for some dogs, and we have seen it work, but please make sure your vet informs you about all of the possible complications. From what I understand, the failure rate for this procedure is still rather high because of the post-op infection risk. A second opinion can cover all of your bases and make you more confident in a major decision like this. If you proceed we'd love to hear how Rocky does, and we'll support you all the way. 

Where did you see that article? I'm curious.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene
tripawds.com | tripawds.org | bemoredog.net | triday.pet

San Diego, CA
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29 October 2010
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22 October 2012 - 7:42 pm
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Gosh, I can't believe a vet would say it's cruel!

Here is a video of our Abby playing at the beach.

feature=plcp

 

I'm pretty sure anyone who watches this would agree that she looks like she's having a fabulous time! She would have missed out on 15 months of fun and love and wonderful days at the beach if we'd just put her out of her misery!

As for the limb spare - I agree that a 2nd opinion might be a good idea. We could have done a limb spare with Abby, but our onc said that, as Jerry mentioned, there is a high failure rate because of infection (he said almost 50%).

Keep us posted! We're pulling for your pup!

Jackie, Angel Abby's mom

Abby: Aug 1, 2009 – Jan 10, 2012. Our beautiful rescue pup lived LARGE with osteosarcoma for 15 months – half her way-too-short life. I think our "halflistic" approach (mixing traditional meds + supplements) helped her thrive. (PM me for details. I'm happy to help.) She had lung mets for over a year. They took her from us in the end, but they cannot take her spirit! She will live forever in our hearts. She loved the beach and giving kisses and going to In-N-Out for a Flying Dutchman. Tripawds blog, and a more detailed blog here. Please also check out my novel, What the Dog Ate. Now also in paperback! Purchase it at Amazon via Tripawds and help support Tripawds!

Leicester, England
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24 October 2012 - 3:00 am
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I found this article from 2009...

http://www.dail.....wners.html

Well getting a second opinion isn't really something we can do. Our first vet said amputation isn't an option and so did the vet we was referred too....so that's two professionals who advised against it. Fitzpatrick advised he's been performing limp sparing operations for 15 years and rockys type of op he's done 12 times. He's told us dogs live on average 11 months which isn't that long but it's giving rocky and us hope of another 11 months together.

All I want is for rocky to get better so I can take him on his walks, he loved going out but with his Tumour at the moment we have been advised not to walk him.

I wish bone cancer had never happened in the first place....like all of u I'm sure.

It's really hard making this decision for rocky, do I want to put him through all this? sad

Leicester, England
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24 October 2012 - 3:03 am
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AngelAbbysMom said

Gosh, I can't believe a vet would say it's cruel!

Here is a video of our Abby playing at the beach.

feature=plcp

 

I'm pretty sure anyone who watches this would agree that she looks like she's having a fabulous time! She would have missed out on 15 months of fun and love and wonderful days at the beach if we'd just put her out of her misery!

As for the limb spare - I agree that a 2nd opinion might be a good idea. We could have done a limb spare with Abby, but our onc said that, as Jerry mentioned, there is a high failure rate because of infection (he said almost 50%).

Keep us posted! We're pulling for your pup!

Jackie, Angel Abby's mom

Love abbys video....it's amazing how she's just playing around like she's got 4 legs! Wow really lovely to see big-grin

On The Road


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24 October 2012 - 7:05 am
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rockytherotti said
Our first vet said amputation isn't an option and so did the vet we was referred too....so that's two professionals who advised against it. 

Oh I'm so sorry I missed that part. Yes, that's two opinions. Dang!

Yep, it's a tough decision, and limb sparing is a rough recovery. Honestly I'm not real sure I would be comfortable with a track record of 12 surgeries, that doesn't seem like enough for my own comfort level for this kind of surgery. I would also ask about the "what ifs"....what if recovery doesn't go as planned and Rocky needs extra procedures and in-office boarding...is that included in the estimate? If you're comfortable with the answers and you like the surgeon, I would ask that surgeon's clinic manager to give you the names of clients whose dogs had successful outcomes with the surgery so you can ask their experience (or ask them to pass your name along to the clients if they won't give their contact info to you).

Also, as another alternative, you may want to ask an oncologist about bisphosponates. This class of drugs has helped many dogs live great lives when amputation isn't feasible. 

"Bisphosphonates: When Amputation Isn't an Option"

"Bisphosphonates Brochure from VCC"

I read the article you referred to. That guy sounds like he needs counseling. Apparently he was a vet for just 7 years and became so embittered with the profession he went on a tirade and blasted the entire profession. Based on the lack of response on the web to his angry editorial and companion, unreadable "book" that he published, he's gone back into his cave.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene
tripawds.com | tripawds.org | bemoredog.net | triday.pet

Sydney, Australia
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13 September 2011
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24 October 2012 - 5:19 pm
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Oh boy.  You are facing such a difficult decision.  I also read the article that you mentioned above but I think the vet misses a really important point - quality of life and the significance of our pets in our lives.   I know each one of us has a different story and at the end of the day only you can decide what is best for Rocky and for you.   All we can do is tell you our stories.

 

On your question, "do you want to put him through this?".........

I had a retired vet friend come with me to the specialist appointment where Magnum was diagnosed with osteosarcoma.  While the specialist was out of the room with Magnum getting the xray to confirm his suspicion I asked my vet friend would it be fair to Magnum to amputate or should we let her go.  His opinion was immediate, that with a 10 to 12 month prognosis and the fact that she still had so much spirit and will to live it was worth doing it IF I had the funds to support it. She was clearly a dog who wanted to live.  For a rottie this is another 10% of their life span.  I figured that it was worth doing it for her (and yes, for me too).  If you have the time, Magnum's blog, particularly, "The Day I became a Tripawd" and "Learning to Live in the now" have a few pics that show how much she was loving life. We packed a lifetime of loving into the 8 extra months that she was given.

 

As you have probably noticed a lot of us here are very wary of limb sparing. From everything I've read it has a long recuperation time and the harsh reality with osteosarcoma is that it has probably already spread elsewhere and the clock is ticking.  You can never know just how much more time you have got. Jerry has given some good suggestions re the questions and referrals you can ask your vet and also about the other option of bisphosponates.

 

You are doing your research, you know Rocky and you know and hopefully trust your vets.  Look into your heart and trust whatever it is telling you.  That way the decision you make will be the right one for you and Rocky.

 

Good luck and lots of hugs.  We are thinking of you and we are here for you whatever you decide.

 

Karen and Spirit Magnum

Magnum: 30th May 2002 to 5th May 2012. Lost her back left leg to osteosarcoma on 5th Sep 2011. Lung mets found on 20th Mar 2012 but it was bone mets in the hip that ended her brave battle. Magnum's motto - "Dream as if you'll live for ever, live as if you'll die today" (James Dean). Loyal, loving, courageous and spirited to the end. My beloved heart dog, see her memoirs from Rainbow Bridge ...... http://princess.....pawds.com/

Leicester, England
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19 October 2012
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25 October 2012 - 1:45 pm
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You are doing your research, you know Rocky and you know and hopefully trust your vets.  Look into your heart and trust whatever it is telling you.  That way the decision you make will be the right one for you

Thank you Karen, I love that last part of ur reply....my heart tells me do it my head tells me it's not fare.
I read magnums blog on here, my gosh I was crying so much. What a beautiful girl she is, her last photos with you were sad. I bear hug rocky, I love his smell the thought of him not being here makes me very sad.

I will keep you updated, at the moment I'm still waiting for my insurance company to confirm they will pay for it all.

Sydney, Australia
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13 September 2011
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25 October 2012 - 9:49 pm
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I love all dogs but it's hard not to have a soft spot for rotties. I loved Magnum's smell too, burying my face in her fur. I still miss her too much.

I hope you can get more quality time with Rocky. Whatever you decide to do just try to live in the moment every single second of the day ("Be More Dog "), cherishing the time you can spend together.

 

Hugs

Karen and Spirit Magnum

Magnum: 30th May 2002 to 5th May 2012. Lost her back left leg to osteosarcoma on 5th Sep 2011. Lung mets found on 20th Mar 2012 but it was bone mets in the hip that ended her brave battle. Magnum's motto - "Dream as if you'll live for ever, live as if you'll die today" (James Dean). Loyal, loving, courageous and spirited to the end. My beloved heart dog, see her memoirs from Rainbow Bridge ...... http://princess.....pawds.com/

wales
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30 October 2012
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11 November 2012 - 3:00 am
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My Fizzle's weighed in at 48kg and she had her back left leg removed and she was walking and returned home in under 24 hours :)  

 

She walked up steps the same day, she continued on in leaps and bounds quite literally 

 

she then had 3 round's of chemo and never once acted ill or looked ill 

 

I'd definitely recommend the amp as the pain in the end seem's to be the deciding factor when it come's to making that awful final decision 

 

don't know if this helps you either way good luck and your in our prayers 

 love zena and Fizz in spirit xox

Baxter
26
13 December 2012 - 5:47 am
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I know the last posts on here were a little while ago but thought I'd share my story for whomever may come across this in the future while facing a similar situation.

I lost my 45kg male (long-haired) Rotti, Baxter, this year to cancer just days before his 9th birthday. He was diagnosed with an advanced case of osteosarcoma (bone cancer) to his right fore leg and upon x-ray it was believed to have not spread to his lungs.  Baxter also had arthritis to all legs and was on medication for these already (PLT) and had been for a good few years. 

We only realised something else was wrong when his right paw had almost doubled in size within a few days and seemed to have a reluctance to put weight on that leg. He must have disguised his pain as the vet said it was ready to shatter.  The vet called me while Baxter was still under anasthetic (while having x-rays) and recommended putting him to sleep due to the pain the cancer would be causing.  I was told that otherwise Baxter only had a couple of weeks at most before he would need to be put to sleep because of the bone shattering.  As Baxter had been fine in himself and still had a good quality of life I asked about amputation and chemo.  He then said this was possible explaining he would find out more for me and would also find out more about chemo.  He also mentioned there would be a referral cost payable to them for Baxter to have chemo.  In the days the vet took to come back to me, Baxter was on meds for the pain but then stopped using his right fore leg altogether but still had his (very healthy) appetite and got around fine. 

The vet got back to me with costs for everything, after which I explained I wanted the amputation done right away but that I needed time to consider the chemo.  This vet then refused to do the amputation saying it was not the right treatment for the dog as due to his large size (he had a very broad chest) he would not manage on three legs and they do not recommend amputation in dogs over 45kg.  He also said due to his large size putting pressure on the remaining leg if the right was to be amputated would cause a fracture in the left fore leg.  I did point out he was quite willing to go along with the amputation when they thought they would be getting the referral fee for the chemo referral and I think this comment is what caused my relationship with this vet (to whom I had paid thousands of pounds over the years) to sour.  He also remarked that should another vet agree to carry out the amputation Baxter would only have a month to live maximum and what with the cost it wasn't worth it and had it been his dog he would have him put to sleep.

Anyway, I then went to another vet having obtained the x-rays from the first vet and was totally upfront about my experience.  They saw firsthand how Baxter was managing on three legs (as he was no longer using the fourth), despite his size, and how lively he was.  I explained it was quality of life I was after and if the bone was going to shatter anyway, I would prefer to remove the pain source and deal with whatever comes after as and when it comes.  The vet quite happily carried out the amputation - he had to stay at the vets overnight as he wasn't showing the progress they wanted to see (he refused to eat or get up).  I explained Baxter was spoilt in that whenever he had undergone anasthetic and come home he would not eat out of his bowl and expected to be handfed 'human food' after being fussed.  After this, the vet tried what I suggested and he got up and went to eat with the other vets in their room and went out to relieve himself - he was allowed to come home and jumped up and 'ran' over as soon as he heard us (though was a bit wobbly as he tried to run).  The medication he brought home with him meant he did not need to continue with the PLT at the same time.  One of the areas hadn't healed as well as it should have and so we booked him back in for further sutures.  On the day he was due to go back to the vet he coughed up some blood and our worst fears that it had spread to his lungs were confirmed when he had the x-rays (70% of his lungs had been affected with what was described as 50p pieces of cancerous cells). The vet gave the option of putting him to sleep rather than proceeding with the sutures but then also said what we would need to look out for as signs of his time to be put to sleep if we didn't want to do it then.  We went ahead with the sutures and brought him home with more pain meds.  He lived for just over a month and a half after his operation. 

We knew Baxter would let us know it was his time to go - we could see it in his eyes as weird as that may seem and he seemed to have aged all of a sudden.  He started to eat a lot less, missed a meal here and there and didn't seem interested in walking, only getting up to move about out of necessity.  Even though the signs the vet mentioned to us were not there (lightened gums indicating he was not getting enough oxygen), we still felt Baxter was telling us he was ready to go.  It was the most heart breaking thing to do but it was best for Baxter.

The operation wasn't about it being cost effective - it really was just about ensuring Baxter's quality of life for as long as he was fit enough to live with that quality.  I did a lot of research when he was first diagnosed and looked at pictures, read stories of other dogs of the same size with amputations late in life and this is what inspired me to go ahead with the amputation option, despite it being a fore leg.  I even saw pictures of Saint Bernards who were managing just fine and this more than convinced me to go ahead and it's something I will never regret.  We also read up about artimisinin, artemix and k9 immunity plus and used these.  We started using them before the cancer was found to have spread to his lungs and although we read they were not very effective once spread to the lungs, we continued to use it in the hope it would at least delay the inevitable in the slightest.  I think we still have some of this leftover if anyone has a use for it.  Baxter managed as normal without his front fore leg, despite being an 'older' dog and having arthritis in his other legs - he certainly didn't seem to miss it.  His personality did change slightly though - I can't say he was dog aggressive but he did give other dogs 'that' stare as if he was spoiling for a fight and would bark at them if they dared to stare back and tried to go to them but after the op, he didn't do this (all this meant is less of a workout for us!).



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13 December 2012 - 2:32 pm
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Thank you for sharing Baxter's experience.  He had a great and loving family from what it sounds like.  He knows he is loved.

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."

On The Road


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13 December 2012 - 3:16 pm
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Baxter and family, thank you for sharing your story here, I'm so glad you did. If you feel like starting a new post in "Coping with Loss" about Baxter, feel free, that way his story won't get lost in this topic about Rocky.

You went through a lot together, and obviously cared deeply for your amazing boy. You are to be commended for going with your instinct and finding a vet who understands that the size of a dog doesn't automatically rule out amputation as an option. I'm just so sorry that Baxter didn't get more time, but glad to hear that you were able to have a good quality of life together for his last few weeks.

My heart goes out to you, I'm so sorry for your loss. Rest assured that by sharing Baxter's story here, his spirit will live on and inspire others to follow their hearts and help their dog as best they can. He will never be forgotten.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene
tripawds.com | tripawds.org | bemoredog.net | triday.pet

Sydney, Australia
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13 September 2011
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13 December 2012 - 6:40 pm
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Thank you so much for sharing your experience.  It will help others.  I'm glad you got to have some extra quality time with Baxter even if it wasn't for long.  A few weeks can still feel like a lifetime's worth of loving when you know that time is running out.  I'm so sorry for your loss.

 

Karen and Spirit Magnum

Magnum: 30th May 2002 to 5th May 2012. Lost her back left leg to osteosarcoma on 5th Sep 2011. Lung mets found on 20th Mar 2012 but it was bone mets in the hip that ended her brave battle. Magnum's motto - "Dream as if you'll live for ever, live as if you'll die today" (James Dean). Loyal, loving, courageous and spirited to the end. My beloved heart dog, see her memoirs from Rainbow Bridge ...... http://princess.....pawds.com/

Leicester, England
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19 October 2012
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14 January 2013 - 2:57 pm
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Hello I'm not sure wether to add a new topic or carry on from this one...anyway rocky had his surgery on the 12th nov 2012....2 months on he's back to his old self!
I'm truley amazed...it's been tough along the way, infections, the chemo but he really is coping brilliantly. Rocky isn't a tripawd....although at first that's what he would have been. He's had major surgery to save his leg, he's had tumour and bone removed and replaced with metal. His bone will grow around the metal and it looks absolutely amazing. He still hobbles a little and for a wile didn't use his leg but now he's feeling a lot better he's bouncing around again :) I'm one very happy mummy. He will have lots of chemo and we are hopeful he will live his full life now

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