Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat
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13 April 2018
My baby was diagnosed with osteosarcoma 6 weeks ago, and reading stories on this site helped me be confident in my decisions, so i want to share her story.
6 weeks ago, Olive (my 7 year old, 130 lb newfie) started limping on her front right leg. For a couple years she's had arthritis in her front left leg, and also has a partial "ACL" tear in her back right leg, but with glucosamine she's gotten along with few mobility troubles. This new limp on her front leg, though, was different because it was clearly painful for her. I took her into the vet the next day, and x-rays revealed likely osteosarcoma, luckily there were no obvious signs of spreading to her lungs. The gold-standard treatment for this included amputation to relieve the pain, but i was reluctant considering her size and her problems with the other legs. The other options (chemo without amputation, or radiation treatment with chemo) seemed even worse to me because of the low life expectancy. Additionally, the pain medication i got during her initial diagnosis made the symptoms disappear completely, and Olive was moving around better than ever! I knew this was only temporary though, and made a decision to have amputation followed by chemo. I'm so grateful to my wonderful dad for helping me financially with this.
4 weeks ago she had her front right leg amputated. Lab tests confirmed it was osteosarcoma, and i took her home 2 days later. She couldn't stand up by herself when i first brought her home, but luckily i'm a big guy and could carry her with the help of a harness. The next 5 days were very difficult. Despite being on a lot of pain medication, Olive would cry often; applying a cold compress to her incision site seemed to help a lot. After 2 days at home, she was able to stand up and hop around for short distances on her 2 good legs. Her back leg with the ACL tear was completely lame (typically this lameness would go away after walking for a couple minutes, but she couldn't stand for more than 10 seconds). Every time she tried to pee or poo, she would collapse to the ground because she couldn't balance. This was a frustrating time, and i was constantly worried for her. I spent hours with her just sitting on the grass in front of my apartment. It wasn't until 5 days after surgery that she finally went pee and poo, (What a relief!!). Following that pee and poo, things slowly but gradually got better. A few days after this she finally got annoyed with all my attention and went to the other room to be alone!! She is still my Olive =P
3 weeks ago we did her first chemo session. She's had a wonderful appetite and energy since then (she LOVES chicken and parmesan!), and i noticed no side effects from this first chemo. When we were outside on the grass and friends walked by, she would always get up to greet them. Unfortunately, whenever she reached up her head to smell them she would yelp in pain! I found that in her front armpit area there is a very tight tendon or muscle that is painful to the touch.
During the last 2 weeks, we've gone to the dog park about every other day. Every time we go she shows a little more energy. At first we just hopped to the entrance and sat for an hour, then left. Now, though, she gets up 30 different times to find a spot with the best grass. She spends most of the time laying down and eating grass, but whenever a new dog or human comes inside she gets up with no hesitation to hop over and say hello. A few days ago she ran FULL speed after a dog at the park! I was terrified for her (I don't want her to hurt her other front leg!!), but she only ran for 5 seconds before giving up. That's as much as she'd ever run with all 4 legs. She still limps noticeably on her back leg, but this is also improving slowly. She is able to reach her head up higher without feeling pain, but when i touch her armpit she is still very sensitive. I'm anxious for the x-rays in a few days to see if we can figure out what's causing it.
Every few days she starts to exhibit her old habits (just 3 days ago she started rolling onto her back everytime i come home). In a couple days we'll do her next chemo session and take more x-rays. I'm crossing my fingers hoping for the best, but regardless... I feel i've made the right decisions and i'm so glad that things are going well at this moment for my dog. I'm grateful for the stories i've read and the love that is shared on this site. I wish the best for everyone who is going through troubling times with their dogs.
24 September 2009
Welcome and best wishes for Olive! Thank you for sharing these details.
Please keep in mind that walks and free play time at the dog park to not build strength, only stamina. Running around with other dogs will only encourage Olive to tire herself out. Consider consulting with a certified rehab vet/tech for a professional evaluation, treatment recommendations and exercises you can do at home to keep Rayna fit and strong. Visit a CCRP or CCRT and the Tripawds Foundation will even pay for your first visit from the Maggie Moo Fund for Tripawd Rehab! There are also various starter exercises you can do with her, and you'll find many more helpful tips in Loving Life On Three Legs .
While you wait for comments from others, use the Advanced Search above to refine your forum search results with specific phrases, and you're sure to find lots of helpful feedback. You can also search all blogs here . Or, consider downloading the Tripawds e-books for fast answers to common concerns and feel free to call the toll-free Tripawds Helpline anytime!
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Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene
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22 February 2013
Thank you so much for sharing your MAGNIFICENT OLIVE with us!! I was riveted to every word!
Your post will be a tremendous help to anyone facing amputation with a large dog...with a few other leg issues to boot! Yes, larger dogs often go at a slower pace when it comes to mobility, etc
It's delightful to hear Olive's sparkle is coming back😎
It does sound like she may have strained some muscles. Try and give her good massages up and down her whole body....neck...shoulder...spine, etc. As Admin suggested, you may find that some good Rehab is in order, as well as acupuncture.
Would ,LOVE to see some pics of this cuddle bear...adding images . Keep us updated on how she's doing. We'll be cheering for her
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!