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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

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I Fear the End for Tigerlilly
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Member Since:
17 January 2019
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4 September 2020 - 9:14 am
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I have been using this site for information about Tripawds since my 12-year old German Shepard/Husky/Pit mix was diagnosed with osteosarcoma two years ago. This is my first time posting. I see all the beautiful survivors and angels out there, and I want to share Tigerlilly's story.

Lilly is my first dog. I've had her since I was 15. She was the cutest 8-week old puppy with bright yellow eyes. I've had this dog through the hardest times of my life (teenage years, college, awful breakups, transitioning into adulthood), but she's also been with me through some of the best. She's been my support animal and I love her more than anything.

In August of 2018, I noticed she was favoring her back left leg. Assuming it was probably just arthritis or some other ailment typical of a dog getting older, I took her to the vet without a second thought. When the vet returned with Lilly's X-rays and told me she has what looks to be bone cancer, the floor dropped out from under me.

"Cancer?" I thought. "How is this possible? This is the goodest dog in the world. That can't be right."

A second opinion confirmed the same. It was on to treatment options.

My partner and I decided Lilly would undergo an amputation of the left back leg, but opted out of chemo, relying on gabapentin and tramadol to maintain her pain levels. The first couple nights after she returned from the operation were rough, and I feared I had made a horrible decision. But exactly two weeks after, we had our Lilly back! She was running around the yard, getting up and down stairs no problem, and enjoyed walks at the park.

She was originally given 4-6 months to live with the course of action we had taken, but we had no concerns about her health until exactly one year after her amputation.

In August 2019, she began favoring her front right leg (opposite the amputated one). We took her in to her usual vet and another X-ray revealed a suspicious mass, highly likely to be osteosarcoma. The news was devastating, but I felt better prepared. We had gotten a whole extra year of life from Lilly, and I felt so blessed despite the news. This didn't keep me from crying my heart out, but I figured it was time to get start thinking about her mortality once again.

We took Lilly to a oncology specialist who confirmed the osteosarcoma, and gave us treatment options. She didn't have another leg to give up, so we opted for continued prescription treatment and a chemo drug injection once a month to help slow the growth and potentially repair the damaged bone. 

Lilly was originally given about 4 weeks to live at this point. We ended up taking Lilly to chemo every month for 7 months until the pandemic hit and we moved from Cincinnati to Louisville. 

It has been another year since her second diagnosis and she has been living her best life. She's well-known in the community for being the sweet old dog with three legs. She loves to sit in the front of the house with us and beg for pets from neighbors through the fence. She's happiest when she's with her people and it pains me to ever have to leave because every moment with her around is so precious.

In just the last month, around her 12th birthday, I've noticed a significant decline in her health and energy levels. Our walks together have gotten shorter and shorter and she seems to only have one leg she trusts to put her weight on. She's begun coughing at night (which I fear is cancer metastasized to her lungs), but the vet says she is breathing normally with no signs of inflammation. Worst of all, she's whines frequently and cannot seem to get comfortable.

I'm mentally trying to prepare myself to make the call to an at-home euthanasia vet, but of course just the thought breaks my heart.

As I mentioned before, I love this dog more than anything, so seeing this stupid cancer take over her body while I can do nothing to save her has been gut-wrenching torture. Just like all the hero dogs I see here on Tripawds, she deserves so much better. 

Thank you so much for reading!

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TLDR; My 12-year amputee doggo has had cancer for two years and it seems she is nearing the end of her fight.

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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4 September 2020 - 1:04 pm
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WOW, Tigerlilly is such a survivor! There is a reason why she has survived osteosarcoma twice now, and while I can't tell you what it is exactly, I have no doubt that her work here isn't done yet. What a story you two have. It takes a very special person to have a dog at such a young age and care for her into both of your adult-years. You're a rock star!smiley10

I'm sorry she's not feeling well. When you took her to the vet, did they do x-rays? The only way to know if she has lung mets is to do them. At that point, you do have a few treatment options to slow the mets down and keep her comfortable.

Also, you may want to have her examined by a canine rehab therapist if you haven't already. Her symptoms could also be pain signals from the last few years of getting around on three legs, which isn't uncommon for a Tripawd, especially a front-leg amputee. That would sure be the best case scenario over lung mets.

I'm sorry the photos didn't work. Here are instructions for adding images to the forums.

  1. Upload pics to a photo sharing site like or your own Tripawds blog!
  2. Right click and copy the Image URL or just copy the image if you’re on a phone
  3. Return to your Tripawds Forum post and paste the image URL (or the image itself) in your post. It should automatically appear.

If you’d like help figuring out the process let me know. We can't wait to see your sweet pup. 

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

Member Since:
4 April 2019
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4 September 2020 - 9:21 pm
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What an amazing story. Two years is amazing, but I know no matter how much time we have with them it is never enough.

Brownie was also diagnosed with OST, and we also said no to chemo. The vet gave him two months with amputation only. So like you I decided to make it the best two months of his life! Brownie lived an additional one year and eight days. Brownie passed right before his 13th birthday.

Ditto to What Jerri said. Brownie taught me some thing very important. He taught me to just embrace each day, and to be thankful for each day.

Tigerlilly is very fortune to have you, and you both are blessed to have each other for so many years. Tigerlilly is still with you, so focus on that.

Sending positive thoughts that she gets to feeling better soon!

My Beautiful Beloved Brownie was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma on February 26, 2019.  With all odds against him he lived an additional one year and eight days with amputation, love, and prayer.  I was honored to be his mom, and I have never been so proud!  He will live forever in my Heart!

Brownie Bubba Bell

04/01/2007 - 03/05/2020

"March Saint"

Member Since:
17 January 2019
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5 September 2020 - 11:49 am
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Thank you so much for your kind words. Brownie sounds like a champion! I am definitely thankful for every moment I have with Tigerlilly, and plan to spend this long weekend by her side, as I am being confronted with the fact that it may be my last.

Dogs are such amazing creatures. What a blessing to the human race.

Member Since:
17 January 2019
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5 September 2020 - 11:56 am
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Hello Jerry, 

Thank you for your reply. I will try what you suggested and add photos of Lilly through links.

When I took her to the vet, I was expecting X-rays, but when I explained the situation the vet told me that we could do X-rays just to know. If they were to find anything, however, there wasn't anything left to do. Our biggest concern at this point is pain management as we don't want to put Lilly through any more surgeries.

I have not considered a canine rehab therapist. I was given info about canine acupuncture, but haven't explored that option yet. It seems as though I may still have some options left to explore. Thank you for the advice!

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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5 September 2020 - 3:25 pm
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When I took her to the vet, I was expecting X-rays, but when I explained the situation the vet told me that we could do X-rays just to know. If they were to find anything, however, there wasn’t anything left to do. Our biggest concern at this point is pain management as we don’t want to put Lilly through any more surgeries.

I have not considered a canine rehab therapist. 

Hmmm. Well, yep, x-rays will tell you whether or not lung mets are happening. IF they are, which I hope they're not, you do have options to manage the symptoms and keep her happy. I'm sorry you weren't given that information. For example, there are non-invasive palliative care remedies to minimize the coughing. Or, if you want to pursue medical treatments, such as a clinical trial for a drug to slow down mets, those things are available to you as well by talking to an oncologist if you're up to it.

There are no right or wrong choices, and nobody here will judge you for the path that you take. Every situation is so different! We will support you no matter what. But as someone who has dealt with lung mets in my own dog, I feel it's important to let you know that even dogs with lung mets can enjoy quality of life for a while longer by managing the symptoms. How long those palliative treatments will last is anyone's guess, it really teaches us to live in the Now. 

Here are some links you may want to check out:


Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |


Member Since:
22 February 2013
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6 September 2020 - 6:29 pm
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I am absolutely awe of this incredible MIRACULOUS "mature" gal!  WOW!!  She really is a Warrior Tripawd!!

You clearly have Tiger Lily's well being at the forefront  of every decision  you make.  And c every decision  uou are making is one out of love and that's  always the right decision!

I do understand  the Vet's thought process.  Basically,  would knowing a dog with a second osteosarcoma  sarcoma in a remaining leg with probable  mets who has already "beaten" cancer for two years, change anything?  Would you do anything different?  Where is your line in the sand so to speak?

Now, as Jerry said, their are still palliative  options  you can pursue for comfort.  And comfort often extends quality, and quality  often translates into more good time for loving and spoiling!!

Cough medicines are often helpful.  Prednisone  is often helpful.  And as Jerry said, maybe acupuncture, etc.  DEFINITELY some pain meds, moreso for the remaining  osteo leg.

It just astounds me that she has osteo in her remaining  leg  for a year and, up until recently, has been thriving!!    Just blows my mind!!   What were her chemo injections, Carboplatin?

I k ow you have a lot to process.  The most impressive  thing is to not waste o e sec letting this piece of crap disease  interfere  with your time together!  Cont to make glorious memories  as you and TigerLily  stay in the now making every moment count♥️

Lots of love

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie 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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