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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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Just diagnosed with osteosarcoma
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Member Since:
10 April 2012
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11 April 2012 - 12:21 am
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We've had Bruno, 61 lbs Rottweiler, for 10 years. We don't know his exact age. On monday, 4/9/12, x rays suggest osteosarcoma. He is on joint supplements, two different pain/inflammatory meds. His limp when he walks is not as dramatic probably due to less pain. The cancer is there, but has not weakened his right front leg yet. It is only a matter of time until his leg breaks.

I appreciate everyone's stories. I will call my vet tomorrow because it seems like there is hope with amputation. I know there is an inevitable issue and want to explore options of removing the cancer leg so he can adjust to life with cancer health-fully without all the pain meds. I think amputation is the way for him because he has a lot of life to live and I don't want to live in fear of him doing something to cause his bone to break sooner. A bone breakage, then amputation would be more traumatic than amputation.

I'm not sure if he's a good candidate. We'll see. Thanks for comments and posts.

I'll upload a pix when on computer.

Bruno's mom, Char

knoxville, tn
Member Since:
12 February 2010
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11 April 2012 - 6:56 am
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so sorry to read of bruno's diagnosis.  sounds like you've read up on osa, and have a game plan in mind.  amputation is usually much harder on the human than the dog, it seems.  yes, it's so important to address the leg before it could break, osa is such a painful, PAINFUL disease - our pups are so good at hiding pain and being stoic, so often folks don't realize...

let us know how your journey progresses.  we'd love some pictures, where do you guys live (yes we are a nosy bunch here)...  welcome to our family, even though no one wants to be a member, it's a good place to belong.


charon & spirit gayle

Life is good, so very, very good!!! Gayle enjoyed each and every moment of each and every wonderful day (naps included).  She left this world December 12, 2011 – off on a new adventure.

Love Never Ends


Rock Hill, SC
Member Since:
28 November 2011
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11 April 2012 - 7:22 am
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So sorry to hear about Bruno's diagnosis.  It does sound like you have researched your options, which is wonderful.  The founders of this website always say that knowledge is power and they are completely right.

Zeus had just turned 11 when he was diagnosed with OSA and he did very well adjusting to life on three legs.  We were very fortunate that he did not have any other joint/arthritis problems and he was at a good body weight.  He did strain his back about a week after the amp so he was a bit stiff and uncomfortable and had to stay on pain meds for an extra couple of weeks.  It took about a month after the amp before he got off the pain meds and started returning to 'normal' and probably another two or three weeks before he was completely back to normal. It is a little harder on the older dogs, but they can do just fine!

Good luck and keep us posted!


Zeus was a Husky mix diagnosed with Osteosarcoma at age 11.  A visible lung met and suspicious spot on his liver meant a poor prognosis-six weeks was our vet's best guess. We decided to fight for our boy and his right front leg was amputated on 12/1/11. We did six rounds of chemo, changed his diet and spoiled him completely rotten. We were blessed with 10 great months after diagnosis. Against the odds, the lung met remained a single met and grew very little over those months. A wonderful furbaby with the most gentle spirit, he fought with a strength that we never imagined he possessed. We have no regrets...

Member Since:
17 March 2012
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11 April 2012 - 8:12 am
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I'm so sorry that you've had to join our club. It sounds like you've been doing your research. You're absolutely right that amputation or some other form of removing the cancerous bone will make Bruno's life much happier. If Bruno is not a candidate for amputation, there are sometimes other options like stereotactic radiation or removal of just the cancerous bone (rather than the whole limb). Being a candidate for those options depends on exactly where the cancer is and how big the tumors are.


Seeing a cancer specialist (as opposed to a general vet) might be helpful but I know that it might be harder to find one in some parts of the country than here near Denver.


We're all glad to help by sharing our experiences. Take care.

K, an 8 year old chocolate lab, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma of the radius and ulna on 12/23/11. She had stereotactic radiation to kill the bone tumors, and 3 rounds of carboplatin. On 3/16/12, lung mets were found. We tried several different kinds of chemotherapy to slow the lung mets but none worked. Finally, mets appeared at other sites, including her spine. She earned her angel wings on July 15, 2012. K changed my life, and I'll never forget her. Our/my journey is chronicled at

11 April 2012 - 8:53 am
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Welcome to Tripawds.  I'm sorry you are dealing with OSA- but you have found a very supportive, knowledgeable community here.

No matter what you decide to do for Bruno, we are here to help and support you on this cancer journey.  Cancer sucks, having folks who have been there and can share their experiences helps!

Let us know how the vet call/visit goes.


Karen and the pugapalooza

San Diego, CA
Member Since:
29 October 2010
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11 April 2012 - 9:18 am
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Welcome to you and Bruno. Sounds like you have a plan and that's a start. The Dx can be overwhelming, but the amp is generally the place to start. We've had many older and larger dogs here who were all ok with the amp, so hopefully Bruno is a good candidate. Once you get through the recovery period, he'll begin to amaze and inspire you. Keep us posted! And, yes, we'd love some pics!

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!

Member Since:
1 February 2011
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11 April 2012 - 9:48 am
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So sorry you are finding yourself here.  Cancer, regardless of what type, is an awful thing to face, however the people and pups of Tripawds know that there can be quality of life even with this terrrible diagnosis.  Hopefully, by reading some of their stories, you will gain the courage and knowledge necessary to move forward in your journey.  Keep us posted on Bruno, and welcome to the "family."


Rio's momma, Micki

the Woo

~ ~ Rio ~ ~
Forever in my heart...

April 2000 – January 20, 2012
Diagnosed with Mast Cell Cancer in June 2007. Left rear leg amputated Feb. 8, 2011.
Mets discovered Aug. 31, 2011. Read more of Rio's story here.

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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11 April 2012 - 10:05 am
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Hi Char and Bruno, welcome. We're glad you took the time to share your story.

I'm so sorry about the diagnosis, cancer sucks. But as you can see here, lots of Tripawds who go on to live great lives despite this disease. While amputation isn't right for every dog, for most, it does provide the ability to have a good quality of life for whatever time they have left. And along the way, we are here to help support you in your  journey.

You've done your research and that's terrific! Kudos to you for being such a good advocate. Information is power and the more you know about what to expect, the better off your life will be together. Be sure to review our Required Reading List and our ebook, "Three Legs & a Spare" if you're so inclined. Both will help answer tons of your questions.

We hope that Bruno is a good candidate. Let us know what your vet thinks when you get a chance. 

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

Member Since:
28 March 2011
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11 April 2012 - 5:11 pm
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Sorry about the OSA.  We are going thru treatment with Dozer.  We just got back from CSU Animal Cancer Center.  He got steriotactic radiation therapy for OSA and will start chemo Monday.  I have a blog on this site Dozer's Story to see his radiation pictures. 

Dozer is also a tripawd, not for cancer though.  He had so much pain before the amputation that he didn't feel like doing anything and whimpered.  After amputation, he came home the next day and started playing like a puppy again.  They adapt so quickly.  Like the others above said it is harder on the pawrent than the dog.  I was crushed when I had to make that decision, but would do it again.

Puppy kisses and puppy zen to you, Dozer's mom Renee7979

Sydney, Australia
Member Since:
13 September 2011
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11 April 2012 - 5:20 pm
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So sorry to hear about your Bruno.  It is a terrible diagnosis to hear.  My rottie, Magnum (aka Princess), was 42kg when her back leg was amputated. She was being treated for leg/cruciate ligament strain before the OSA was finally diagnosed (oh for the benefit of hindsight!).  She was in a lot of pain and I suspect did experience a fracture prior to amputation.  I will always be haunted by the pain I saw in her eyes. As soon as I was given the OSA diagnosis I booked her in for the amputation. That was an easy decision for me.  

We admitted Magnum to a specialist hospital where she spent 4 nights after surgery.  They used morphine and an epidural for pain relief during the initial period and then Tramadol after that.  We visited her every day and were amazed at how good the wound looked and how well she was recovering. I think it was worth the extra cost for her to have 24hr veterinary care for that initial period.  I couldn't imagine bringing her home any earlier than we did.

Within 1 month of the operation she was firing on all cylinders again.

Good luck with your decisions and let us know if we can give you any insight from our own experiences. 

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 ......

Member Since:
10 April 2012
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11 April 2012 - 6:17 pm
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Thanks to all for your responses. We live in Spokane, WA and there is WSU campus that can help with chemo.


I spoke with his doctor today and she said we need to take xrays of hips and the ligaments of good front leg to be sure he can support his weight on 3 legs. My doctor is worried about ruining the other 3 legs quicker with the amp. Removing the leg would prevent the cancer from spreading on the flip side.


He has been apart of our family for 10 years and has a lot more life to live. His blood work looks good and is happy on his pain meds. He pounds, like a polar bear on ice, out of excitement. I am worried he will break his bone quicker that way. I have to get him to slow down. He is at home up to 10 hours alone some days. I worry if he breaks his leg while we are at work, he will be in pain until we return.


I am a teacher and will be off school on June 15th. I was hoping to wait to have his amp then, if he qualifies, but sounds like sooner the better...... Princess thanks for suggesting 24 hour care. I will look into that.


Renee7979 I agree about the pain. I have his pain under control with the meds, but I rather him learn how to be a TriPawd then managing pain on a leg that may cause so much trauma when it breaks, especially if we are not home.

Zeuspod I am happy to hear you have a senior too. I hope Bruno's arthritis does not hold him back for an amp.


Etgayle, Krun15, AngelAbbysMom, Riosmom, and Jerry thank you for the warm welcome!


Kbear I will look into a specialist. WSU may have more services that I need to find out about.


I updated my avatar, but do not know how to add pictures.

Member Since:
12 February 2012
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11 April 2012 - 6:25 pm
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Char & Bruno,

We are in Spokane too!  No need to travel all the way down to WSU, many vets in town do amputation and chemo.  Porter sees Dr. Ryan Brown at Indian Trail Animal Clinic - he had his amputation there and goes there every three weeks for his chemotherapy.  We didn't wait to do our amputation, we did it as soon as we could.  Get that cancer out of there as soon as we could.  We also see Dr. Rosemarie Asterino at Acupuncture for People & Pets, a local vet acupuncturist.  She has been providing supportive care during his chemo, and also has been getting us supplements and recommending different foods.  She has SO much experience with cancer dogs (not just osteosarcoma).  She also does a TON of specific treatments for his joints, because that was one of our concerns before amputation.  Porter had the beginnings of arthritis in his remaining front leg, and we didn't want to have him experience extra pain because of having more weight on his remaining limbs.  We also had Dr. Brown x-ray all his other limbs before doing the amputation to make sure that his hips and joints would be able to support his weight minus a leg.  I'd be happy to provide more information if you want it.  Nice to know there are others in town going through this awful thing too!

Sandy & Porter

11 April 2012 - 7:51 pm
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Welcome Char and Bruno! Many Dogs here have had amputations done around Bruno's age and older and most of them do great. My Great Dane Valentina was about 7 1/2 when she had the amputation. I was worried about her size and being able to walk as a Tripawd but she actually did much better than I expected. She did take longer to heal than most other Dogs because of some complications but when she was healed she felt great and she was very happy. And so was I. We had wonderful times together and I was very glad that I did the amputation. Valentina lived for 7 months after her surgery but we had to put her to sleep Feb 3rd. I will be forever grateful for having Valentina in my life and those extra 7 months that I had with her. Hoping so much that you can find a way to slow the cancer so that Bruno can be with you much much longer. Prayers going out for you and your boy!

Angel and Valentina Angel Dane

Member Since:
21 March 2012
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11 April 2012 - 7:57 pm
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Sorry that you find yourself here, but it is a great resource and full of caring dog people that "get it." I have found a lot of comfort and advice here.

We weren't able to amputate due to some weakness in rear legs, (Jack's OSA was in front leg) but do wish that had been an option for us.There is actually a worse club to join and that is the club that can't amputate. It speeds up the battle with the cancer/pain in an unfair way.  Unfortunately we lost our battle with OSA last weekend. 

What I did learn from our unique battle with OSA is that the pain seemed to ramp up dramatically and without notice. We did a biopsy to confirm the OSA, which may have contributed to the dramatic increase in pain. If you do a biopsy, talk seriously with your Vet about whether you really need it and possible complications. Eventually we weren't able to control Jack's pain with oral pain meds. The stuff you have read about the pain is real. I found it was good to know what our next step in pain management would be and have it on hand in case the need for it occurred after office hours. 

I too worried about a broken leg and we did have several scares where we thought Jack had broken his leg prior to his passing. He would scream in pain, and we would rush him to the Vet. His leg never did break, but my heart did many times over. Ask about micro-fractures and if the Vet thinks they might already be present as they are painful and might lead to a break. My husband is a teacher, which gave us some flexibility in care for Jack, but I too was deeply, deeply worried about leaving Jack home alone for fear of a break. Perhaps you have an older relative or friend that can stay with him when you can't.

I also found that getting Jack a ruff wear harness with a handle helped us get him up and mobile when we need to get his weight off the bad leg (many of the dogs on the web banner are wearing them). Depending on Bruno's size- I would be happy to ship you Jack's harness that only had about a month of wear. It would make me feel better to know it was getting used. It is a medium and measurements are on the ruff wear site. 

Also, have your Vet X-ray for lung mets before making any decisions as that can change your options.

Many, many best wishes and warm thoughts as your family and Bruno navigate this disease. 

Las Vegas, Nevada
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14 August 2009
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11 April 2012 - 11:10 pm
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Welcome Bruno and Char!

I'm sorry to hear about Bruno.  It is so scary!  But like everyone has suggested  - if he is a good candidate (no lung mets or the cancer hasn't spread), then I would proceed without this week!  Bone cancer as you can guess is most excruciating pain imaginable.  Just google it in humans, who can scale what their pain is and you'll find out how awful the pain is.  The strongest pain meds can't take away the pain in humans. Remember dogs are stoic and they can't say how painful it is. 

I spoke with his doctor today and she said we need to take xrays of hips and the ligaments of good front leg to be sure he can support his weight on 3 legs. My doctor is worried about ruining the other 3 legs quicker with the amp. Removing the leg would prevent the cancer from spreading on the flip side.

I'm going to sound rude...but you need to seek another vet.  Any vet that suspects bone cancer would not be concerned about ruining the other legs due to an amputation.  A dog with bone cancer is already three legged but in PAIN!  A good vet would be xraying his lungs to ensure the cancer hasn't spread and would be scheduling the amputation immediately.  In addition, if your vet has said the cancer won't spread after the amputation, then they are wrong. Cancer can spread regardless.  The amputation is to elminate pain, not cancer. 


I'm sorry I don't mean to sound rude but it's upsetting when I know how much pain a dog is in with bone cancer and a vet seems to be taking his/her time on the amputation.  My true weakness is a dog suffering in pain. It's about quality of life without pain and it's urgent to do something immediately.  It's a vet's job to make the patient's parents understand this.


I'm really not a rude person......except maybe when it comes to a dog's welfare.  Sorry.


Wishing only the best for Bruno and am sending warm thoughts your way!

Her Retired AvatarComet - 1999 to 2011

She departed us unexpectedly  January 23, 2011 at the age of 12 1/2.

She was born with a deformed front leg and a tripawd all of her life.

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