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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13 July 2009
Very sorry that Samson is now facing health issues on top of Daisy's. That would really be hard news to take when you are already focused on the health issues of one dog. I guess they all want to be part of Club tripawd.
Yes, glad admin mentioned the bisphosphonates . They sound like a very worthwhile route to follow if you don't do an amputation. I'll add a few things, but with the caveat that my memory is thin on most of this.
You can ask the oncologist about palliative radition to slow the tumour growth and reduce the pain, but they will of course bring that up if it is an option. You can even look into SRS radiation (higher dose but more precise location, reducing side effects) if you have access to a place such as CSU or Florida. SRS is available in very very few (maybe only those two) places. SRS is expensive. To be honest, the quote I obtained from CSU was not at all out of line with what I had spent on chemo or amputation (it was just too late for us to get there). There is information on SRS on this website for a Colorado dog named Timberkins, plus Jerry has done a nice review of the topic. Timberkins had OSA in both front legs (probably both wrists) and was therefore not a candidate for amputation. With bisphosphonates and a periodic treatments of SRS, he lived well for something like 1 or 1&1/2 yrs. Not too shabby. They happened to live close to CSU, so were able to visit for one treatment (a short day visit) every few months.
CSU has a free consulting service on their website. You can contact them and an oncologist will call you one evening. They were great.
I believe Pez was another dog initially said to not be a candidate for amputation due to age and mobility issues. I think he had been given chemo and possibly radiation for a few months. Last winter they considered amputation and I think went ahead on it. Saw his name recently on this site, so you might be more up to date
On the 'bright' side for you, the removal of the leg does not seem to slow the spread of the cancer. That might be why dogs like Pez were able to reconsider the option amputation down the line after they passed through their initial "three month survival" time predicted by their vets or after their legs had fractured (I think that had happened when Pez showed up on this website last year).
The main thing amputation accomplishes is to remove the pain and prevent a fracture, which is the time is forced to decide between amputation or euthanasia. So you need to try to find the best way to accomplish those thing for the limb: through bone repair (hence bisphosphonates ), tumor reduction or control (radiation), and pain relief (radiation, drugs).
As for spread of the cancer, that is where the other ammunition enters in, whether that might be metronomics , regular chemo or supplements.
As suggested by the others, ask the oncologist about amputation. Some dogs with rather severe mobility problems do okay with amputation. Do his hips cause him mobility problems now? If not, he might be fine. If he already has mobility issues, that might be a different story. (According to the vet's interpretation Tazzie's x-rays, he should not have been hobbling around on 4 legs, let alone running and jumping on three or bounding up and down stairs.)
I have read studies that indicated that dogs with tumors in their distal radius (wrist) have an advantage as a statistical point. It is also the most common site for OSA. Being an older dog is a factor that is in Samson's favor, statistically speaking.
It can be confusing to sort through the options. But you do have some options that can help you maintain the quality, and quantity, of Samson's time.
22 August 2008
I have also noted that dogs with tumors farther down the leg (ankle or wrist) seem to do better than those with tumors of the hip or shoulder but this just might be because the lump is easier to see in the lower extremities so the cancer has less time to spread. I have not seen any studies to prove this and I believe our own Jerry's tumor was in the humerus (upper arm bone) and he lived 2 years so there are always exceptions!