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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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New to Osteosarcoma - Recent Diagnosis
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Forum Posts: 10
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14 January 2009 - 10:37 am
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Yes, once again, it's true.  The preliminary Xrays prove it.  Quite Overwhelming. Hrere are two Emails I sent to a recently found friend who has just gone through the same thing…  Any advice, tips, therapy!  would go quite well now.  Our nearly 3 year old Blue Dane is at the University of Guelph right now being full yexamined to find the extend of the cancer. 

Msg#1 

Hi Sue,

I just did my first search for “Great Dane Amputation” and came across your story. We are going through the same thing right now. We actually left the dog at the Ontario Vet Clinic (Guelph University) For Chest X-rays, Bone Scan and CT scan. They are conducting a study about where or not CT scan helps pick up metastasis better then Xrays and assured us there would be no cost to this staging process since it is a clinic trial. Also to help fight Isteosarcoma in humans. As your probably already aware of this process. If everything is clear then it's up to us to make a decision. She is not quite 3 yet, and diagnosed just before Xmas. Sorry if my story jumps around a bit, it's still quite overwhelming. We first thought that sacrificing a limb to prolong life would be a decision of greed, just to spend a few months more with her and have her adjust to a new lifestyle in that short time. After reading your wonderful blog, it seem s they can adapt quite well. The only issue we have is that she must go up and down stairs to get in and out of the house and thought that might be a great problem…. Can Nova do stairs? Our baby girl Alexis was also diagnosed in the same spot, left leg. So much to say/ask, yet at a real writters block… Thanks for your time and especially documenting your story.

Trevor

Msg#2

Thanks so much for writing back. As I'm sure your aware it's very overwhelming and emotions run high. If you don't mind lending an ear, it's more comforting telling someone who has been down this road before… It all started one night in Early December we were out in the back yard with the dog and suddenly she began whimpering and limpng towards us. We didn't see what happened, thinking she may have slipped on the ice under the snow, so we brought her inside. We immediately noticed swelling at the first joint. We brought her into the vet and they agreed it was probably swollen from a slip and asked us to continue monitoring it at home… We got our pup from a breeder/vet. She assured us she wanted to know every little detail there was with her dogs as they grew up. We decided to email her (She has since moved to Nova Scotia) and sent pictures. The email to follow was heartbreaking…. She advised us that is was very unlikely a sprain and VERY concerned it was Osteosarcoma. We took the dog back to the vet, they did Xrays and determined it was infact Bone Cancer. Because the University is the leader in this type of treatment/cancer, we elected to bring her there yesterday.

Once there, they were great, making us feel like our dog was the only one that mattered….The examined the Xrays and determined it was infact a type on cancer/sarcoma. We lucked out on the study for costs purposes, but if in fact it shows up clear (Xrays and Bone Scan) then will know better what our options can be. I'm reading everything I can. One owner was given 3 months, and the dog lived 2 years. I hope for a miracle and am very optimistic. I'm not quite ready to let my best friend go yet. Its already too quiet without her around here today. It is a 3 hour drive to Guelph for us, so they reassured us they would give her the best care and let us leave her there, since the Xrays and CT scan we booked on different days. They are not wasting time and say they could amputate as soon as next week, I believe at a cost of around 3 to 4 thousand if I remember right… They threw so many figures and options at us, at the time, it all didnt seem to matter when our dog Alexis is sitting there staring at us, like she knows….. I think the hardest part is not being able to ask the dog for advice as silly as that may seem….

Anyway, the University said they would call us several times a day, with updates on the dog and test results. Again, thanks so much for sharing your story, it's exactly what I was looking for. A story of a dog that could cope after loosing a limb. I see many dogs without limbs, but at 130 lbs thought it could be a struggle.

I am on the Tripawd webiste now.. So much to see and look at, this may take awhile!

I will let you know how it goes.

Trevor

This saves me time in explainning a little about it, typing isn't my greatest quality.  All the stories i read are so similar, so I'm sure it's nothing you haven't heard of before.  Thanks so much for reading this, any info, tips, therapy!, advice will help in everyway.

Thanks

Trevor

Port Hope, Ont.


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14 January 2009 - 10:55 am
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All I can add is that my dog Tazzie is a 180 # Mastiff and she has done quite well on 3 legs (she lost her right front in August).  She is much peppier again now that the chemo is finished.  We have not allowed her to do the large flights of stairs going up to the deck or to the upper level of our home but she does the few stairs to get outside very well and she can hop up in the van with the use of the RuffWear harness.

I don't think she will be able to do her 2 mile walks anymore but she still goes to the park when the weather is nice and hops around (with lots of rest stops).  I think that Danes should do better with this since they aren't as heavily muscled as a Mastiff.

Good luck!

Pam and Tazzie

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14 January 2009 - 12:48 pm
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Thanks so much for the Post 🙂  The College just called and the X-rays came back clear.  Off to the CT Scan this afternoon, then the bone scan tomorrow, hope all goes well.

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14 January 2009 - 12:59 pm
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Hi trevor – so much to write!!! One thing that comes to mind as I read your post is when I was making my decision with Zeus…we received diagnosis on Thursday April 3rd…and I know I don't have to go through the heartbreak of that news and all the emotions afterward while you are struggling to get information and make a decision. It was the Sunday afterward and I was laying on the bed with Zeus telling him what was going on, though I knew he knew already…and told him what the options were. I told him I didn't know what to do about the amputation and didn't know if he wanted to go through that…I asked him what he wanted me to do. He LITERALLY jumped off the bed, grabbed his favorite today and whipped it around, chased his tail in circles, ran to the window and barked and then stopped all this and looked at me with such intense eyes, all I could say (through the tears) was, “OK, we will go through this together”. We amputated on that Wednesday the 9th and never, ever have I had one regret about the money or the time or the energy spent on saving his life…a life that has given sooooo much to me

The first night home after surgery was very, very difficult…we can chat more about that later, but other than that he has handled everything in stride and with such strength and courage – I have learned so many lessons from him – he has given me so many priceless gifts. He does everything he used to do except go for hour long walks…we go on 20 minute intervals now and usually on Mondays he is pooped from the weekend (when he gets extra exercise) and doesn't feel like doing much but napping on the couch.

Zeus is a golden retriever – age 10 (going on 11 in March) and was 75 pounds pre-amputation. He's about 65 pounds now and we keep him more trim than we used to simply because of the loss of the leg. There are many large breed dogs on this site that seem to have handled it well…listen to your gut and you may even try asking her what she thinks – you may be surprised.

Please keep us posted – you don't have to go through this alone.

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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14 January 2009 - 1:19 pm
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Thank you very much!  There is so much to say.  I felt selfish removing a dog's limb because I wanted to spend more time with her, but on the other hand, maybe she wants to spend more time with me.  She still so young, runs around in the field like crazy. Hard to believe there was even an issue, although the Deramaxx helped quite a bit since diagnosis.

I think the hardest part is that they can't speak for themselves, but if I put myself in her shoes, I do believe I would want to spend as much time in this world as possible if I was as spoiled as she is!!  We love her.  I'm hoping for a miracle, that it goes into remission for many years!!!  She does have youth on her side for recovery, so if everything turns out alright and amputation is the road we choose…  Like everyone else here, you hope it's for the best.

The Rainbow Bridge



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14 January 2009 - 2:13 pm
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Thanks for joining the discussion DaneDad Trevor! We're glad you found us through DaneMom Sue.Wink

We hope you find the forums helpful. At least you won't feel alone here. Be sure to check out our answers to the top ten canine cancer dog amputation questions. I lived upstairs at the time of my surgery and my people found the Ruff Wear harness helpful.

Please know you are doing the right thing. Just prepare for the worst and hope for the best. You're big girl will most likely surprise you! Here's a photo we recently received of Nova, 8 weeks post-op. See … life on three legs ain't so bad!

Nova three Legged Great Dane in snowImage Enlarger

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Linden, MI
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14 January 2009 - 2:50 pm
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Hi Trevor!

I am so glad Alexis' chest x-rays were clear. Please keep us posted on the other results.  I am so glad you came to Tripawds, like I said, you will find many, many friends here who can offer much needed advice and support. I have spent hundreds of hours on this site, Spirit Jerry, Rene and Jim have created such a gem here. I don't know how I would have made it through without this resource.

Your picture of her that you emailed me was lovely (she is a beautiful blue Dane, tall and lanky like NovaWink).

Please continue to email me with any questions and updates!

Your Friends 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!

Richmond, VA
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14 January 2009 - 9:38 pm
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 I felt selfish removing a dog's limb because I wanted to spend more time with her, but on the other hand, maybe she wants to spend more time with me.  She still so young, runs around in the field like crazy. Hard to believe there was even an issue, although the Deramaxx helped quite a bit since diagnosis.


We experienced the exact same emotion…the exact same but came to realize that the amputation was for Carter and not for us.  We actually had the power to make the pain go away.  With that in mind, how could we not proceed.   It was interesting this morning, however, when he was off the pain medicine because the diet restrictions pre-surgery.  Over the past week and a half(we just received the diagnosis on Jan 3) we watched Carter and thought that the pain was nothing now that he was on pain killers – that it really wasnt that bad.  He had also just run down the river banks on Monday and swam in the freezing river (i know, i know but he couldnt help it and we were not about to rob him of the joy) and tromped around amazingly.  But today, not on the medicine for just one overnight, he was so uncomfortable, having a hard time just standing…the pain killers had actually been masking the true hurt.  The removal of the limb takes away the hurt…for good.  It is a difficult, personal decision but a decision to amputate is not for you…it is for her.

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15 January 2009 - 3:37 pm
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It's a very difficult decision, my mind changes direction minute by minute by minute.  Alexis' bone scan was today, this morning actually, haven't heard from the University yet, still waiting for their phone call.  If she's no longer radioactive we can thankfully bring her home tomorrow, it's been pretty quiet around here…..

Linden, MI
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15 January 2009 - 3:47 pm
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Great to see you back, Trevor! I've been wondering all day about how Alexis was doing. I know the wait is excrutiating and it is a brutally difficult decision. Please keep us posted. I will keep Alexis in my thoughts and prayers.

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!

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15 January 2009 - 4:04 pm
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Out of topic, but I've been trying to get myself a cute little pic beside my name too and it won't work 🙁

Linden, MI
Forum Posts: 458
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15 January 2009 - 4:09 pm
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Go here:

how to add avatar profile photo

I had trouble with that too and had to have Rene add it for me.

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!

The Rainbow Bridge



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15 January 2009 - 4:33 pm
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DaneDad said:

…been trying to get myself a cute little pic beside my name


Follow the directions Dane Mom linked to, and if you still have trouble send us a photo. We can resize the image for you and send it back. To add it to your profile we would need to reset your password though.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Forum Posts: 10
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17 January 2009 - 3:50 pm
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Alexis came back home yesterday, very happy to say the least.  I think being away in that environment is stressful to her. he never sleeps in the car, always needs to have her head up looking out the window.  She didnt stay awake long duting the ride home, crashed in the back seat.  once home she ran around the house to everyroom, I guess to check it out make sure nothing had changed… Made it to her crate and spun up all the nice blankets we had washed and placed in there so tidy. I was fun to watch. Ate like a horse too, liek she didnt before!  I slept with her last night, not something I usually do when I have to work the next day….  I usually end up getting pushed outta the bed by those long legs of hers.  It was a special occasion, so I figured why not, she cuddled last night like never before… usually when you get too close she'll let you know!!    Now we are waiting on the test results, should be early this week.  All seems fine and clear, but the radiologist will confirm his findings.  The Dr. mentioned something about having their nuerologist look and the exrays they took of her neck vertabrae.. Apparently it's a common issue that they sometimes seem to be more fused together then most and thatwhat causes the dogs body to sway when it walks???  Ever heard of this???  I guess it would be harder to keep a steady balance on three legs is what she was getting at.  Anyway, I'm sure we will find out more as we go.  I thought a biopsy might have been a good idea, although there's only a 5% chance it isnt what is it… but to be thats a heck of a lot better then 0%.  Everyone lives with hope right?  They told us on average she would live a great life 12-16 months after amputation.  Any feedback on that statistric?  I know it could be 3 months or 2 years probably, but still wanna know as much as I can.

At work, so can't say too much more, other then so glad to have her whip of a wagging tail back in the house again!

Linden, MI
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17 January 2009 - 4:09 pm
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Such great news to hear that Alexis is home again, and you have lots of snuggle time together.

If it were me, I would skip the biopsy. We wasted a lot of time with Nova's biopsy, the vets were 99% sure it was osteo, but I opted for the biopsy and waited over a week for the results. Who knows if her cancer had spread microscopically during that time? And the sample came back inconclusive, no evidence of cancer. Yet when they sent the whole leg to Colorado after the amp, it was confirmed that it was indeed bone cancer. 

I do not understand the bone fusion stuff you are mentioning, does Alexis have problems with that right now? 

One thing that was repeated to me over and over, by my regular vet, and the cancer specialists (it was soooooo hard to hear) was “The quicker you get the leg off, the sooner the cancer stops spreading.” (or at least the source of the cancer is taken away) And, the sooner that the dog is pain-free. I know it's such a hard decision, I had a really rough time when I was faced with the decision when suddenly I just looked at Nova and I knew it was the only way to give her the best chance I could.

Please continue to 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!

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