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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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Dakota's Story 1-10-09
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10 January 2009 - 5:23 pm
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Dakota, Right, GSD Before Angiosarcoma Amputation Surgery

My name is Mickey and I have a two year old GSD named Dakota who was diagnosed with angiosarcoma involving his right front leg in September with a four to eight month prognosis. Amputation was discussed at the time but it was felt that this would not change the prognosis. An attempt at resection with primary closure resulted in recurrence of the tumor and we now endure difficult and painfull dressing changes with increasing frequency. Between dressing changes Dakota remains a loving and very happy friend. We now feel , with probable secondary infection in the enlarging wound, our only option is to proceed with an amputation as chest x-rays remain normal and there remains no obvious evidence of metastasis.

The amputation is scheduled for Wednesday 1/14/09 but we are anxious regarding how a 110 pound dog will manage with a fore leg amputation and such a limited prognosis. Is it fair to put him through this trauma? Any advice or support you could offer would be most appreciated.


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10 January 2009 - 5:34 pm
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Sorry to hear about your dog.  Do you mean hemangiosarcoma (HSA)?  Is it involving bone or just the skin/soft tissues?  If it is HSA I would schedule an ultrasound of his heart and abdomen before amputation.  The primary location of the tumor is often the liver or spleen or even the heart (especially common in GSD and Goldens).

If the ultrasounds are clear and he is otherwise in good health then I would proceed with amputation and follow up with chemo (Adriamycin every 2 weeks for 5 treatments).  If he is still okay then you can consider metronomic chemotherapy .

HSA is a very aggressive disease much like osteosarcoma but I have seen dogs live 8-12 months after surgery if chemo is given.  Without chemo it could be 2-6 months.  You might want to consult with an oncologist after the ultrasounds if your vet is not comfortable with chemo.

Pam and Tazzie

The Rainbow Bridge



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11 January 2009 - 3:04 am
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Mickey, we are so glad that you made it to the Forums, hope everything is working well for you now.

We are so sorry about Dakota. As you can see, Pam, our resident vet, has awesome advice.

As far as how large dogs handle amputation . . . well, all you have to do is check out our Giant Breeds Gallery to see how fabulously big dogs get around on three legs. Whether front or rear leg amputees, these dogs live fantastic, enriching lives as Tripawds. In fact, Pam's dog Tazzie is a giant breed, and are numerous ones here in the Forums. Just do a search for Giant Breed Dogs.

We know how hard it is to wonder if what you are doing for Dakota is fair, or if you are only doing it for your own sake. Lots of Tripawd pawrents battle that dilemma when first faced with it. But once you see how well Giant Breeds can get around after surgery, there is no question of fairness. If giving Dakota  extra time on eath with you, pain free and enjoying life isn't fair, then I don't know what is. If she is in pain now, then the amputation will be a huge help and assist her with getting out of pain and getting on with life.

And, as you can see here, dogs don't have issues with being tripawds, it's the humans that do. We just go on and live life day to day, enjoying every second like we always have, three legs or not. We do not measure time either, so whether Dakota gets an extra two months or two years, all that matters is that those moments were filled with love, play and happiness.

Good luck next week. Please keep us posted and let us know what you decide to do OK? If you want to chat before then, we are here for you.

Best wishes,

Spirit Dog Jerry, Rene & Jim

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Linden, MI
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11 January 2009 - 10:12 am
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Mickey and Dakota,

So sorry to hear about Dakota's diagnosis. My Great Dane Nova was 125-lbs before amputation (108 now) two months ago and she couldn't be doing better. Giant breeds CAN do this and get around great. The first week or two after the surgery can be trying, but I am so glad we took that route with Nova.

If you are curious about the details about surgery and recovery, check out Nova's blog at http://www.trip…..ogspot.com. I have documented everything from Nova's diagnosis, surgery, and recovery and now she is totally back to her old self.

Please keep us posted!

Sue and Nova

Dane Mom Sue at nova.tripawds.com and Mom to Beautiful Great Dane Queen Nova, a Blind Tripawd, who kicked cancer's butt from 11/08-03/13. The Queen is Spirit Nova now, but her legacy lives on here at Tripawds!

Here and Now


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23 January 2009 - 6:09 pm
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Three legged Sherpherd Dakota after amputation surgery

Thanks for sending the photos Mickey! Dakota is looking pretty happy to be out of pain there.

Best wishes for a speedy full recovery!

Here and Now


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17 February 2009 - 5:11 pm
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Five weeks post-op and looking pretty good there Dakota! Who needs that extra leg? Laugh

Three legged Sherpherd Dakota after amputation surgery

 Three legged Sherpherd Dakota after amputation surgery

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