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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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Brand new to OS and very scared
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MiasMom
1
20 February 2009 - 11:26 am
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My 14-year-old terrier mix, Mia, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma on Wednesday (2/18/09). I brought her into the vet because I noticed she was limping. She showed no other signs of distress-no weight loss, lack of appetite anything–so to say I was surprised at her diagnosis is a gross understatement. The vets say I caught it early and later today I am going to the University of Minnesota to talk to a surgeon about my options. I am single and Mia is my whole life. While I don't want money to rule my decision, it certainly is a factor.

I am very, very scared and can't stop crying. I don't know what the right thing to do is. Most of my friends and family have subtly implied that I should accept her fate and put her down instead of amputating. It's hurt now or later.

Heidi

Northern Indiana
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20 February 2009 - 11:54 am
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I think it is important that you take her to the appointment and hear all the options. As mentioned in another posting, Care Credit is a possibility. It would hopefully allow you to consider your options without money being the deciding factor. It is tough, I know.

I am so sorry to hear about Mia and the pain you are both going through,

Ginny

Grateful for every moment we had with Paris…..no regrets!

Honoring her life by opening our hearts & home to Addy!

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20 February 2009 - 11:57 am
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Heidi

So sorry to hear of your news.  Hope you find comfort here on this forum as I have.  My dog Chewbacca is just three days post op.  You are at a good place to get info to help you decide what is best for you and Mia.  Please keep us posted on her and what the vet recommends.  And take care of you too.

Heidilyn

The Rainbow Bridge



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20 February 2009 - 12:08 pm
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Heidi, welcome to our community here, we are so glad you found us and hope we can be of some help as you walk this path with Mia.

All of us understand the shock of the diagnosis, and the sometimes lack of support that people who haven't been in this situation might have. That's the reason we started Tripawds, to show the world that even for a fourteen year old dog, amputation is the best option to get rid of the horrible pain and extend their quality of life.

We've had lots of senior dogs here on the website. Look up Sami (she'll be 15!) or the recent video of MaxC. So oftentimes if a senior dog is overall healthy and not overweight, they do great as Tripawds.

The best place to start finding information is to check out our Top 10 questions thread in the forums, and peruse our blog and videos for proof that it's better to hop on three legs than limp on four.

We all understand about the money situation, that's one of the hardest parts for humans to cope with. Whatever you decide to do though, remember that there are no “right” answers. Everyone's situation is different, and nobody will condemn you or judge you if you decide not to go forward with amputation or chemo. Sometimes this just isn't possible for everyone's situation. Mia knows how much you love her, and knows you're doing all you can to help her through this. For now, as you work though this, just give her lots of love and be with her, that's all any dog really wants.

Much love and hugs to you,

Rene, Jim & Spirit Dog Jerry

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Forum Posts: 132
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20 February 2009 - 12:08 pm
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Heidi…everyone here understands how you are feeling right now. I got my dog's diagnosis a week ago Monday (the second dog I've had with bone cancer) and was suddenly overwhelmed with decisions and information. Luckily most peole in my life are “dog people” and not a single person suggested I put him down – he's not ready to go – and everyone understood. I made the decision to amputate within about 30 seconds of hearing the diagnosis, though. That said every dog and every situation is different…my decision was right for me and my dog, is all.

FWIW – I think many understand the financial aspect too; there's help available. Care Credit comes to mind: http://www.care…..redit.com/

…but you have a lot of options. Always get a second opinion too, IMO if you need to “price shop” that's fine. I did. I got a very high estimate from MSU ($4,000) and simply could not afford it, not within the time frame of a few days. I know a highly regarded orthopedic surgeon who did the same procedure for about a quarter of the cost; I was able to afford that and will now be able to pay for future treatment without undue hardship or having to borrow.

It's scary indeed and I was basically a sodden mess for the first day or two. But my dog didn't need sympathy and he didn't need me weeping all over the place! He needed what he needed and so far I feel very comfortable with my decision. And most importantly, I think Cooper is too. 🙂

And I love Mia's pink nose!

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20 February 2009 - 3:35 pm
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Hi Heidi, 

 Our Marley is 12 1/2 and just had her left hind leg amputated on Feb 9th. Here it is less than two weeks later and she’s hopping all around the house on her own – no more sling! In fact, she was ready to hop around by herself only a few days after surgery, but we were just extra careful… It is amazing how they adapt! We decided that her age could not be a factor in making our decision on whether to amputate. It's all about quality time and relieving them of the pain! If you've caught it early, that is so great!! 

Wishing you the best. 
Holly and Marley

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17 December 2008
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20 February 2009 - 4:06 pm
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Hi, Heidi

We take Max to the University of Wisconsin. He is a 1 1/2 yr old Lab andhad his left hind leg removed in Dec. He is doing great with being a Tripawd and also his chemo!

After we decided to amputate, our surgeon and oncologist told us about studies they were doing that we could have Max take part in, and the hospital compensated financially for that. We entered Max into a pain study and it knocked 500.00 off of our bill. He had an anestheseologist with him for the first 24 hours after his surgery! Might be something that you would want to ask about when you get to that point. 

We are wishing you the best of luck and please keep us posted!

Paula and Max

Paula and Spirit Max

Northern CA
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20 February 2009 - 8:06 pm
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Heidi,

Welcome to you and Mia. I am so sorry you are going through this- it is very scary. But with the support of everyone here I think you'll  find lots of comfort and support – I know I sure have.

Wrigley is a fews days short of 2 months post amp. Although we didn't have the old age factor – we had the young age factor in that younger dogs tend to have a very aggressive form of osteosarcoma- and prognosis is not always favorable. Today, after 2 rounds of chemo already, we found that is pretty much true in that the chemo we have done has not kept the  cancer from spreading to the lungs. So we are faced with the sooner may come sooner than the later.

But even given all that,  I  would not have changed our path at all. The amputation has given us 2 more months already with Wrigley. Two months to really enjoy her without the pain of the cancer. She is the same old dog she was before she started limping back in Nov now that we have removed the leg/the pain.  Today, even with the sad news,  we still have the time with our dog we love so much. And we humans are the only ones sad- Wrigley is not sad at all- she is so full of life. We just got back from her favorite thing to do – swim in the river. I will now have these memories forever.

I had so many people tell me why don't you just put her down- I even had one of the vets at our regular practice tell me “I'm not a fan of front leg amputation”  as Wrigley is standing there on three legs – but to all of them who say why don't you just put her down- I say- Because we had the choice not to.

You need to do what you feel is right for you and for Mia. And as it  has been said her many times- there is no right answer. If finances are part of the picture, maybe you do the amputation, but not the chemo. Hopefully you can get the carecredit- I am not familiar with it- we just keep putting off things we had saved for to pay for Wrigley, but is certainly worth a try.

Please know we are all here to support you in whatever decision you choose- it is a very difficult one. But in the end whatever you choose will be the best for you.

Hang in there-

Seanne and Wrigley

Seanne and Angel Wrigley

My heart lives at Rainbow Bridge
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20 February 2009 - 8:35 pm
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Heidi,

Your story could almost be my story.  I took Trouble in expecting to be told she was getting older and arthritis was starting to bother her and instead was told she had Osteosarcoma.  I had the life sucked out of me.  The only difference between your story and mine is the timeframe.  Trouble was diagnosed on Monday evening, on Tuesday evening we had a second option, on Wednesday morning I dropped her off for surgery.  From Monday evening until Wednesday morning, the tears would not stop flowing.  There was no sobbing, just near constant weeping. You will get past this point.  You will first come to terms with the hand you and Mia have been dealt.  You will do research, which you already are doing or you wouldn't be here.  You will get another opinion.  And you will make the decision that is right for the two of you.

Once that decision is made, a weight will be lifted from your shoulders. This is a wonderful source for information and for support. These great folks have all been where you are and will be here for you when you need them.

Good luck to you and Mia on your journey. Live each day to the fullest and see it as a blessing you have been given to be with Mia.

Shanna & Spirit Trouble ~ Trouble gained her wings 3/16/2011, a 27 1/2 month cancer survivor, tail wagging. RIP sweetheart, you are my heart and soul.  Run free at Rainbow Bridge.
The November Five - Spirits Max, Cherry, Tika, Trouble & Nova. 11/2008 - 3/2013 An era ends as Queen Nova crossed the Bridge.

MiasMom
10
21 February 2009 - 12:08 pm
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Thanks to all for your kind words and support. I–once again–found myself in tears reading through all your replies.

The vets at the University of Minnesota were unbelievably patient and wonderful. They gave me several options and believe amputation is a good idea. I did go ahead and have a bone biopsy done on Mia. Having read several threads I know there's some controversy on whether this is a good idea, being that it is an extremely painful procedure to put a dog through. I just want to have all the information I can get before I make the decision to amputate.

Mia is home with me now and pretty sedated. Her leg is very, very swollen and I have a call in to the vet as to whether to bring her in.

Again, thank you for your kind words.

Heidi

Northern CA
Forum Posts: 314
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23 December 2008
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21 February 2009 - 12:35 pm
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Hang in there Heidi- follow your heart and you will know what to do. For now just love Mia -enjoy her- that's all she needs right now.

We are all here for you- we've all been where you are now.

Seanne and Wrigley

Seanne and Angel Wrigley

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22 February 2009 - 9:28 pm
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Heidi and Mia – just another person letting you know that we are thinking of you guys as you go through this difficult decision making process. I hope Mia is feeling better after the biopsy.

Love and prayers and please do keep us posted.

Heather and Zeus

Heather and Spirit Zeus - Our life changing journey…from the earth to the heavens…one day at a time…always together

MiasMom
13
23 February 2009 - 11:25 am
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Mia had a bone biopsy on Friday at the University of MN. On Saturday (2/21/09) her leg was extremely swollen and when her condition seemed to worsen on Sunday I took her to the U's emergency clinic on Sunday (2/22). The doctor immediately did a radiograph and found that Mia's leg was broken. The vet suggested I leave her at the clinic so that she could get stronger pain meds. The vet also did a chest x-ray and found that Mia's lungs were clear but she did have a suspicious mass down toward her abdomen, near her spleen.

They will do an ultrasound on Mia's abdomen today (2/23). The doctor doesn't have a good feeling about it. I am under the impression that if the mass is cancerous, they will suggest I euthanize her. I was just getting to the point where I felt good about my decicion to amputate and now this.

Physically, I am at work today, but my head and heart are elsewhere. My only comfort is knowing that Mia is in good hands.

Heidi

Northern Indiana
Forum Posts: 356
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15 January 2009
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23 February 2009 - 12:06 pm
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I am thinking of you during this tough time.  I am sorry to hear the abnormal report on the X-ray, this is such an awful disease! Hang in there for the ultrasound report. I am glad she is in good hands and they are managing her pain.

Take care as you face the results and the decisions that you will make about your Mia.

Gineej & Paris

Grateful for every moment we had with Paris…..no regrets!

Honoring her life by opening our hearts & home to Addy!

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23 February 2009 - 1:18 pm
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I know it's not much, but we are with you in spirit hoping that the results from the ultrasound come back negative. Please keep us posted – we are all thinking about you.

Love and prayers,

Heather and Zeus

Heather and Spirit Zeus - Our life changing journey…from the earth to the heavens…one day at a time…always together

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