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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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Levi - TriPawd to be...
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Member Since:
3 September 2015
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3 September 2015 - 11:23 am
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About 8 weeks ago now, our 7-year-old Boxer, Levi, came up lame during a walk. Was still lame the next day, so we took him in for x-rays. Showed some arthritis in both knees, hip dysplasia in one hip, but then the doc said “I’m afraid that’s not Levi’s biggest problem,” and our hearts sunk.

The doc showed us a lesion on his lower left rear leg that he said looked like bone cancer. We weren’t ready to amputate without knowing more, so we went to another doc (internist), who basically said the same thing. They took a bone biopsy at this second appointment, and we began the long wait for biopsy results.

It was during this time that I found Dr. Dressler and started reading his wonderful book.

Then the results came back – no cancer found on the biopsy. So, yay? Still, the mystery of the lesion remained. We took more x-rays to look for progression of the lesion over 4 weeks’ time. There was some, but not “dramatic” progress. X-Rays were sent to a certified radiologist to read, for another set of eyes. He said it could possibly be a malignant tumor and that there may be a primary tumor elsewhere (apparently sometimes bladder cancer metastasizes to the bone).

So, Levi had an abdominal ultrasound. Again – completely clean.

My wife and I were near stretched to our limit by this point by the constant string of non-answers. I contacted a friend of mine from college who had graduated from UPenn Vet and is now a surgeon in Puerto Rico (she also has Boxers). She called me after reviewing his case and x-rays and said that, if it were her dog, she would amputate the leg. While this obviously wasn’t the answer I had hoped for, I appreciate her honesty, and we’ve scheduled the amputation for a week from tomorrow.


Once the leg is off, they will be able to get a better sample to biopsy (why the first one may have been non-representative, I don’t know; just bad luck I suppose, if that ends up being the case) and hopefully diagnose the tumor so we can plan our next steps.
My friend explained that the lesion had progressed into the neighboring bone between sets of x-rays, and that with every day the chances of a pathologic fracture increase. As she was telling me this, Levi was running around the backyard like a nutcase, and I was envisioning him experiencing such a fracture. If we can spare him the pain of that, I think we definitely should.

It just sucks because he’s pretty much fine. He has never been nearly as lame as he was that first day 8 weeks ago, and while he favors his leg a bit, I’d say he’s at about 80-90% of normal.

I have also read (and my vet friend confirmed that this happens in some cases) that once the primary tumor is removed, any micrometastases that are present (his chest x-rays were clear, for now) can experience a growth spurt. So, while we will take away the chances of a painful pathologic fracture, we may also shorten his life due to the metastatic disease at the same time (especially without subsequent chemotherapy).

It’s an extremely hard decision to go ahead and amputate, but I just can’t see re-biopsying, waiting another 2-3 weeks for results, and perhaps being in the same boat a month from now as we are right now – with a dog that has an unidentified scary lesion on his bone that could lead to a break at any time. We are beyond frustrated, and none of our options seem like “good” options.

The surgery is in 8 days, and my wife and I are terrified.

Here’s Levi: https://instagr…..M4Vu-HMCL/

Levi was diagnosed w/likely osteosarcoma at 7.5 years old in 7/2015 and became a Tripawd on 9/11/15. Loved life until he broke one of his front legs on 2/12/17. As x-rays showed clean bone, we decided to repair the leg. He recovered well, but in June of 2017, started to limp on the same leg. X-Rays showed return of OSA in the front leg. Levi crossed the rainbow bridge on 7/20/17, after over 22 months as a happy Tripawd. 

Livermore, CA




Member Since:
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3 September 2015 - 12:03 pm
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Welcome to Tripawds, your future posts will not have to wait for approval.

I’m sorry you are dealing with lots of ‘not sures’.  This road is hard to travel when you know what you are dealing with, but maybe harder when you are making these big decisions without a definitive diagnosis.

One thing that is in your favor (in a weird way) is that it seems the leg needs to come off no matter what is causing the problem.  I suppose it makes the amputation choice a bit easier even if you aren’t sure of the cancer.

My pug Maggie had a mast cell tumor in her knee, the reason for her amp, and she wasn’t exhibiting any pain symptoms. She was quite a drama queen- she always let me know when something was wrong!  It was very difficult to comprehend that amputation was the only way to solve the problem. But it was the best choice for her, and she far outlived her initial prognosis.

If you haven’t already you might read through Tripawd’s Required Reading List, or download one or more of the eBooks available here.

This site is a family made up of lots of us who have been where you are now.  We each have our own story but we have made the decisions you are faced with and are here to help you on this new journey with Levi.

Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls

 

p.s. pugs take pics like boxers, I have tons of pug butt photos big-grin

Tri-pug Maggie survived a 4.5 year mast cell cancer battle only to be lost to oral melanoma.

1999 to 2010

 

              Maggie's Story                  Amputation and Chemo

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3 September 2015 - 12:07 pm
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Thank you Karen!

 

LOL @ Pug Butts – the picture up there of Levi is actually a video. You can play it if you hover over it and press play (depending on what you’re viewing in, I suppose). I didn’t realize the still of the video was his butt – that’s funny big-grin

Levi was diagnosed w/likely osteosarcoma at 7.5 years old in 7/2015 and became a Tripawd on 9/11/15. Loved life until he broke one of his front legs on 2/12/17. As x-rays showed clean bone, we decided to repair the leg. He recovered well, but in June of 2017, started to limp on the same leg. X-Rays showed return of OSA in the front leg. Levi crossed the rainbow bridge on 7/20/17, after over 22 months as a happy Tripawd. 

Livermore, CA




Member Since:
18 October 2009
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3 September 2015 - 12:26 pm
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doh!  I saw the arrow when I started typing, and the word ‘record’….It’s been a long couple of days around our house way-confused

One of my pugs used to play like that, but they couldn’t toss quite that high.

 

Karen

Tri-pug Maggie survived a 4.5 year mast cell cancer battle only to be lost to oral melanoma.

1999 to 2010

 

              Maggie's Story                  Amputation and Chemo

Virginia




Member Since:
22 February 2013
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3 September 2015 - 12:38 pm
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Heading out to work right now…will come back later and write more.

Just want to assure you this is the best place to be for support and information. Just a reminder, Levi does NOT have a timeframe stamped anywhere on his cute Boxer butt! And he sure doesn’t give a rip about any ole’ statistics! The don’t mean much around here!!

Check this link out for turbo toy…it has two adorable Boxers in it!http://amazon.t…..is-a-ball/

Mich kove…and be back later!

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle 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!

Los Angeles, CA
Member Since:
13 June 2013
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3 September 2015 - 4:24 pm
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Welcome!!! I know all to well the struggles with confusing test results. My girl’s story was similar yet she actually did break a leg. We were able to fix the leg w/plates when we thought no cancer … only to amputate about 6 months later when it became lame. She, in the meantime, developed a mass in her spleen that was removed and that was cancer. Once we took off the leg, we found the same cancer (after 2 biopsies)!!! It wasn’t OSA but hemangiosarcoma and while a part of me wishes I had taken the leg at first, the other part of me knows that I did all that I could with the info the vets gave me. And they encouraged us to keep the leg.

Long story short…. it’s a gamble but like others have said, Levi doesn’t know what’s up. He only knows that it hurts and that he is loved … he’s adorable and I wish you a very healthy recovery!

Alison with Spirit Shelby in her heart (and little jasper too) 

Shelby Lynne; Jack Russell/Shiba Inu mix. Proud member of the April Angels of 2014.

October 15, 2000 to April 8, 2014

Our story: Broke rear leg in June 2013 - non-conclusive results for cancer so leg was plated and pinned. Enlarged spleen in September 2013 and had it removed and was diagnosed with Hemangiosarcoma and started chemotherapy. Became a Tripawd January 8th, 2014 and definitive Hemangiosarcoma diagnosis. Three major surgeries in 7 months and Shelby took them all like a champ only to lose her battle to cancer in her brain. We had 8 amazing extra months together and no regrets. #shelbystrong #loveofmylife

Michigan
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2 April 2013
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3 September 2015 - 5:54 pm
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Hi Derek ~

Murphy had a biopsy done of his tumor that also came back inconclusive.  It was x-ray guided and they were really sure they had gotten a good sample, but they still didn’t get any results.  So then we were at a spot of deciding do we do another biopsy?  Or do we just go ahead with surgery?  Based on his x-rays the tumor was growing and eating away at the bone.  The orthopedic surgeon was surprised that he hadn’t already broken his leg, so we decided not to put him through the painful process of another biopsy and just went ahead with the surgery.  Even after surgery it took over 3 weeks for the pathologist to get results – that was the longest 3 weeks of our lives!  We finally got a diagnosis of histiocytic sarcoma, which is an aggressive bone cancer usually found in the organs (liver or spleen are more common).

As difficult as it all was, we’re glad we did it.  The first couple of weeks were hard for Murphy, and I really struggled with whether or not we had made the right decision.  But it’s been over 2 years now, and Murphy is still healthy and happy and running around like normal!  He chases squirrels, jumps on the furniture, barks at our other dogs (and us!), lays in the sun, loves his belly rubs and sits pretty.  He’s the sweetest boy and I truly think he knows how special he is.

Donna

Donna, Glenn & Murphy 

Murphy had his right front leg amputated due to histiocytic sarcoma at 7 years old. He survived 4 years, 2 months & 1 week, only to be taken by hemangiosarcoma at 11 1/2 years 6/12/17  
Read about Murphy's Life on Three Legs

Donna.png

Member Since:
3 September 2015
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4 September 2015 - 11:19 am
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Thank you all for taking the time to respond. It’s wonderful to hear that Murphy is still doing so well, Donna.

Alison, I’m so sorry you had to go through a surgical repair only to amputate later.

I only worry now that we have waited too long. They were encouraging amputation a couple months ago, but we just couldn’t bring ourselves to do it without knowing more. Fingers crossed that his chest x-rays are still clear, and that leaving the primary (or, what we hope is) tumor in place kept the others at bay like it tends to do, for reasons unknown.

My vet friend recommended http://www.imyu…..ordogs.com. Has anybody tried this? She has had success with it for hemangiosarcoma (Like Shelby had), so we were thinking of starting him on it while we wait for biopsy results.

Levi was diagnosed w/likely osteosarcoma at 7.5 years old in 7/2015 and became a Tripawd on 9/11/15. Loved life until he broke one of his front legs on 2/12/17. As x-rays showed clean bone, we decided to repair the leg. He recovered well, but in June of 2017, started to limp on the same leg. X-Rays showed return of OSA in the front leg. Levi crossed the rainbow bridge on 7/20/17, after over 22 months as a happy Tripawd. 

Virginia




Member Since:
22 February 2013
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4 September 2015 - 11:40 am
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First…YES!! Many have tried the yunity and believe in it! I jave not had first jand experience. Hopefully those who jave will chime in.
For me, I would DEFINITELY k incorporate it! Of course, I’m no vet so check with your vet first.

As far as the “time” thing…almost all of us here had our dogs treated for “this or that” before an actual correct diagnosis was determined. So that’s really not unusual at all! You did what most of us here would have done…and with no negative results either!!

We’re with you, okay?

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle 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!

On The Road


Member Since:
24 September 2009
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4 September 2015 - 12:50 pm
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dogdadderek said
My vet friend recommended http://www.imyu…..ordogs.com. Has anybody tried this?

Ask and ye shall receive . . .

Mushroom Therapy for Canine Hemangiosarcoma

And like Sally said, many others had to wait to decide on amputation for various reasons. Try not to have regret or look back, Levi isn’t that’s for sure. He just wants to feel better.

Keep us posted OK?

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

On The Road


Member Since:
24 September 2009
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4 September 2015 - 12:56 pm
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Regarding

I have also read (and my vet friend confirmed that this happens in some cases) that once the primary tumor is removed, any micrometastases that are present (his chest x-rays were clear, for now) can experience a growth spurt. So, while we will take away the chances of a painful pathologic fracture, we may also shorten his life due to the metastatic disease at the same time (especially without subsequent chemotherapy).

The key phrase is “some cases.” Remember, statistics are just that. Every dog is different. Here’s a discussion about that:

Does Amputation Speed Cancer Metastasis?

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

Green Bay, WI


Member Since:
18 May 2014
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7 September 2015 - 9:20 pm
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Hi Derek and Levi….we also know the agony of waiting for a diagnosis. Our Dobe, Nitro, started his journey around March-ish 2014; he ended up with 4 biopsies that took almost 2 months to complete, without a clear cut answer of what we were dealing with. The fear of knowing it could spontaneously break, and knowing it was SOMETHING, we went ahead with amputation surgery in June 2014. Believe me, we grasped at any straw out there so as not to have to amputate! The first weeks were rough, but we got through them, and today his is almost 15 months post amp and doing great! He runs like a deer and goes up and down stairs like a champ. We also did 6 doses of chemo and he continues today with a low-dose of oral chemo he gets daily. So you see, there was also a big time frame for us from the first inkling of something being wrong to his actual surgery. We weren’t ready to say goodbye, and the surgery was a good decision for us. 

Tripawd people are family, and we will be here every step of the way for you all.

paula and nitro

Nitro 11 1/2  yr old Doberman; right front amp June 2014. Had 6 doses carboplatin, followed by metronomic therapy. Rocked it on 3 legs for over 3 years! My Warrior beat cancer, but couldn't beat old age. He crossed the Bridge peacefully on July 25, 2017, with dignity and on his terms.  Follow his blog entitled "Doberman's journey"

http://nitro.tripawds.com

"Be good, mama loves you".....run free my beautiful Warrior

Member Since:
3 September 2015
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8 September 2015 - 7:39 am
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Thank you for the links, Jerry! Very helpful. We’ll be poring over the must-read links here at TriPawds this week. His surgery is Friday..eek.

 

Thanks for taking the time to respond, Paula & Nitro. We can absolutely understand grasping at any straw, as that’s 100% the boat that we were in. Did it end up being Osteosarcoma?

 

Wonderful to hear that he still runs like a deer and is going strong!

Levi was diagnosed w/likely osteosarcoma at 7.5 years old in 7/2015 and became a Tripawd on 9/11/15. Loved life until he broke one of his front legs on 2/12/17. As x-rays showed clean bone, we decided to repair the leg. He recovered well, but in June of 2017, started to limp on the same leg. X-Rays showed return of OSA in the front leg. Levi crossed the rainbow bridge on 7/20/17, after over 22 months as a happy Tripawd. 

Green Bay, WI


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18 May 2014
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8 September 2015 - 8:59 am
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Hi Derek and Levi….one out of his 4 biopsies came back with “sarcoma, fibrous variety”; when the leg was removed, they sent that off for analysis too. They couldn’t make a definitive diagnosis, so they did special stains. Five weeks after his surgery, they called and said it was osteo. I’m not sure what I believe….in my heart I don’t think it is osteo, but what do I know? I do know he’s here with us, hoppy and happy, and I give thanks for that every day! Good luck this week, try not to stress too much (yeah, right) and know that we will be here for you guys and help you with this journey.

paula and nitro

Nitro 11 1/2  yr old Doberman; right front amp June 2014. Had 6 doses carboplatin, followed by metronomic therapy. Rocked it on 3 legs for over 3 years! My Warrior beat cancer, but couldn't beat old age. He crossed the Bridge peacefully on July 25, 2017, with dignity and on his terms.  Follow his blog entitled "Doberman's journey"

http://nitro.tripawds.com

"Be good, mama loves you".....run free my beautiful Warrior

Member Since:
3 September 2015
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8 September 2015 - 5:22 pm
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Anybody have any house-prep tips for bringing Levi home? I haven’t found anything in the required reading links (though there is plenty of helpful info – some scary, most not – in there).

I thought I remembered something being mentioned about taking an old t-shirt with us when we drop him off and asking the Doctor to wrap him in it. Is this just to save us from the shock of the incision?

Did your dogs get kept overnight at the vet after surgery? Our doc seemed pretty convinced that it would be necessary, but when I talked to the tech a couple days later she didn’t sound as sure. I’m obviously inclined to go with the Doc’s forecast, but I thought I’d ask everyone what their experience was.

Levi was diagnosed w/likely osteosarcoma at 7.5 years old in 7/2015 and became a Tripawd on 9/11/15. Loved life until he broke one of his front legs on 2/12/17. As x-rays showed clean bone, we decided to repair the leg. He recovered well, but in June of 2017, started to limp on the same leg. X-Rays showed return of OSA in the front leg. Levi crossed the rainbow bridge on 7/20/17, after over 22 months as a happy Tripawd. 

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