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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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MastiffMom
1
4 February 2009 - 10:00 am
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Hi,

First thing I'd like to say thank you soooo much for this site, it was a wonderful resource in helping us make the decisions we did.

We have a 6 yr. old English Mastiff, named Pony. He was diagnosed with arthritis about a year ago and was placed on supplements. I also want to say that Pony usually looses weight in the summer, due to the heat. we live in South Louisiana, & he gains it back in the winter.We noticed that he was not gaining the weight back as usual. We figured it was ok as he weighs 195 & due to him getting older, and being a bit less active & still being at a healthy weight it wasn't a big concern for us or our vet.

We noticed a small lump that appeared on his front right leg around last Tuesday. I took him to the vets on Friday and was expecting to be told that the arthritis was acting up, as he was walking on the leg & letting me touch it, it really did not seem to be a bother to him.

 Our vet comes back with X-rays showing a tumor that had already started to eat into his bone. He had Osteosarcoma. My heart dropped & a million things went thru my head, how could I not know, why did I not bring him in sooner,that he was in such pain & still was an gentle angle to our 2 kids, where do we go from here? Our vet sat me down & said that his chanches were not good,due to the aggressive nature of this cancer. Our options were;

1. If chest x-rays came back clear to amputate the leg,his front right or

2. If x-rays showed the cancer in his lungs to put him down.

His chest x-rays came back clear & we sched. a tentative date for amputation for Monday morning. I brought him home & had 3 sleepless nights. Our main concern was that he would not be able to support himself on 3 legs due to his size. Our vet said that this was also a concern of his & offered no guarantees but felt that he would do fine. Everyone I spoke to felt that I should have him put down. At first I had to deal with if I was doing the right thing for him, & not myself by wanting to keep him here. However I know my dog and we truly felt that if he was able to get around on 3 legs that he had a lot of good quality life left to live.He still fetches & plays, enjoys his walks & car rides.

 The challenge now was to convience myself that he would be ok on 3 legs. After spending all night Friday reading this website & comming across I believe it's Tazzie's ( I hope I have the name correct) story & also another 3 legged mastiff on the web we knew we had made the right decision.

 I took him in Monday morning and was an absolute nervous wreck all day. I wouldn't leave the waiting room, I couldn't my baby was in there. He came thru surgery just fine, although they said they would not stop me if I wanted to see him, due to my state of mind, they recommended that I wait until the following day. I fully trust our vet, which has been my parents vet & now mine, so I decided to go home. After another sleepness night, we picked him up yesterday afternoon. I will say that although I've seen pictures on this site & read the stories I was still very surprised at seeing my baby.

We were told that he was handling his pain very well and last night, our first night home, was not to bad.He did get sick around 4:00 this morning but  he is mostly sleeping & seems to being handling the pain fairly well. We are experiencing some trouble with the steps leading out the back of our house. My husband has been packing him up & down them for potty breaks, but he's a bit unsure of how much longer his back will hold out. We ordered the Ruffwear harness last week & are awaiting it's arrival. He was trying to walk around a bit this morning, but gets tired very easy. We are looking into changing his diet & adding the K-9 immunity pills. Any advice on when this would be a suitable time to do so? He is currenlty on Taste of the Wild dry food, fish oil & gluecosimine supplements. I will be discussing his diet with our vet but wanted to be armed with any additional info.

Sorry I know I just threw out 20 questions but I'm still trying to wrap my head around everything. Thanks so much !


Edmonton
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16 February 2008
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4 February 2009 - 11:03 am
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Hi MastiffMom, you definitely made a good decision! Even though it didn't seem bothering Pony, he probably was already enduring some degree of pain.  They don't “show” any signs until the pain is absolutely unbearable. 

He is a very big boy, it does add toll to your husband's back to carry him in and out.  While waiting for the harness' arrival, try wrap a bath towel under his chest as a sling.  You don't necessarily need to lift his front totally off the ground, just a slight lift already can share some of his weight.  Or better yet, cut both sides off from a canvas shopping bag so you can lift him with the handles.

A lot of the members are giving their tripawds K9 Immunity , they will for sure share with you their experiences.

I am not familiar with Taste of the Wild dog food.  Just did a quick lookup on their website, it looks like the products are of good quality, but I can't find the percentage of carbs.  Cancer dogs' diet should be high protein, no grains, low carbs (if feeding carbs, they's better be with low-glycemix index to avoid sudden spike of blood glucose and subsequently spike of insulin; which cancer cells love this environment). 

If your time permits, explore the option of homemade (cooked is fine, raw is preferred) natural whole food.  Nothing is better than home prepared food for a cancer patient.  Imagine us having TV dinner every meal, yikes!

Varieties of raw veggies are great for them, celeries, carrots (moderate), especially cruciferous, e.g. broccoli, cauliflower.  For veggies, it is better to juice them, then mix the pulp back with the juices.  The reason is that dogs' digestive systems cannot breakdown plant cellulose.  Juicing the veggies helps the breaking down process, and hence the nutrients can be absorbed and be used.  Chopping and dicing won't do the job.  They will come out the other end as is.

Check out Jerry's health tips about his healthy diet.  Is he coming home today?  Wish him have a speedy recovery.

Hugs!

P.S. if you register as a member, your posts will be viewable instantly and will not need to wait for approval!

Here and Now


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4 February 2009 - 11:15 am
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MastiffMom said:

… thank you soooo much for this site, it was a wonderful resource in helping us make the decisions we did.


No … thank you! That means a lot to us since it is exactly why we maintain this site. Bless you for taking such good care of your little Pony.

I would make any drastic changes to Pony's diet until he's off the meds and regains some of his strengths, but your vet or TazzieDog (Pam is also a vet) may have better advice. Stay tuned for our new and improved complete cancer diet post, coming soon to the blog!

Once pony is off the pain meds, he should be able to manage on the stairs better. A large towel under the belly may help as a sling until then.

Thanks again for sharing, stories like this with regular updates are what make this site as helpful as it is. Best wishes for a speedy, complete recovery.


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4 February 2009 - 3:43 pm
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I am so glad that you have given Pony a chance!  I figured that I had to at least see how Tazzie would do, although I had never seen a Mastiff tripawd myself. I find that most dogs are very resilient and do quite well.

Tazzie is a little over 5 months post-op and just yesterday she had spring fever and ran around the yard so fast that it was hard to tell that she is 3-legged.  She does still tire easily, and I don't think that we can expect our Mastiffs to have the endurance that other breeds might as tripawds, but we still take her to the park to hop around a little and she can do short walks around the block.  Tazzie also had both of her knees repaired (ACL injuries) in the past so I am careful not to let her do too much.

She can do stairs okay but we do not let her do the long flight up to the deck because I am afraid that she will lose her balance on the way down, but other big dogs on this site do stairs just fine.  I do use the harness when we take her out in the van or to the vet clinic.

Please send us a photo!!!

Pam and Tazzie

MastiffMom
5
4 February 2009 - 4:13 pm
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Genie, we tired to use a towel but with the pain meds he is on and his weight it wasn't working to good for us. The idea to use the canvas shopping bag sounds like it might work better, thanks for the suggestion!

Also I have tried to register, twice in fact and it's not letting me. It's possibly a filter at my work, I will try later to night from home.

MastiffMom
6
4 February 2009 - 4:27 pm
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tazziedog said:

…I figured that I had to at least see how Tazzie would do, although I had never seen a Mastiff tripawd myself.

Please send us a photo!!!


Tazzie, that is exactly how we felt. Pony is 6 years young & so far he seems to be adjusting ok.

In our search for the decision the amputate I also came across another 3 legged mastiff, you can do a google search for

Taytuh the maneatting mastiff  , no worries it site is friendly despite the name :)

I will soon, once again thank you so much for sharing you'r story!

Here and Now


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4 February 2009 - 4:38 pm
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MastiffMom said:

Also I have tried to register, twice in fact and it's not letting me.


Please let us know what kind of error you get with a new topic in the Tech Support forum. The only reason for “not being allowed” to register would be if an existing member already had the same user name. But certain firewall settings may indeed cause issues. Sorry for the trouble.

My heart lives at Rainbow Bridge
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4 February 2009 - 6:25 pm
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I'm sure Pony appreciates the chance you gave him at a longer pain free life.  Another item we tried for support was a man's long sleeve shirt.  Lay it flat, double the bottom up to meet the neck, use that part as the sling and use the arms to hold and lift.  I had problems making it work for me because the shirt was too long for the dog, but I suspect with Pony it may work out just fine.

Shanna & Spirit Trouble ~ Trouble gained her wings 3/16/2011, a 27 1/2 month cancer survivor, tail wagging. RIP sweetheart, you are my heart and soul.  Run free at Rainbow Bridge.
The November Five - Spirits Max, Cherry, Tika, Trouble & Nova. 11/2008 - 3/2013 An era ends as Queen Nova crossed the Bridge.

Forum Posts: 262
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4 February 2009 - 9:55 pm
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Mastiffmom and Pony

I had a tripawds bullmastiff Titan. He did great on 3 legs. I did use the towel to help Titan he was 118lbs after amputation. I had some physical diffculties as well due to his size. I would try to be on the side of his missing leg to help him walk at first. Then when he would poop I would try to lean more on his back leg on his tripawd side (he had a front leg amputated). Titan got on very quickly to the balance. Are you doing chemo? Titan had adrio and carbo. I think Tazzie just had carbo. I think if we did it all again we would just do carbo. Adrio can also do something with bone marrow. Is that right Pam?? Anyone I know Pony can do it. Alot of people thought because of Titans size we should just put him down. If you have a good attitude and energy that will help Pony absorb that. I felt Titan had a great attitude and always encouraged him. Can't wait to see pics and update

Heidi

Livermore CA
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4 February 2009 - 11:54 pm
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Hello MastiffMom

My Cemil is an Anatolian Shepherd, 156# before his surgery, and his size has been a problem for me too.  He's about a week and a half after surgery, and the fatigue is still there.  The first 2 days at home, he was full of energy and I didn't think it would be too bad.  Then he went to the vet to have his drain removed and the extra activity knocked him down.  He's been down for the last 3 days.  Thank you Pam–it sounds like this is normal for the big guys.  I just wasn't expecting it.

My sister, an occupational therapist, had a good tip for using the canvas bag (or the sling) with handles.  She said, put the handles in the crook of your arm and lift with your body instead of holding them in your hand and lifting with your arm.  It's easier on *you*.  We have dogs tall enough to make that work !

Cemil and mom Mary, Mujde and Radzi….appreciating and enjoying Today

Cemil's blog


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5 February 2009 - 2:22 am
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Heidi,

The Adriamycin that Titan was on can be harder on the bone marrow but the main risk to these big guys is to their heart muscle.  I did a heart enzyme test on Tazzie and her results were high normal so even though her echo (heart ultrasound) was normal after much research I decided on carboplatin alone for her.  Titan obviously had a highly malignant tumor type (much like Butch) so even the combo couldn't help him.

I think it is great that you continue to be a forum member after your loss of  Titan.  It is good to hear from you!

Pam and Tazzie

MastiffMom
12
5 February 2009 - 5:24 pm
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admin said:


Please let us know what kind of error you get with a new topic


It's telling me I have an incorrect password, but have yet to set one.

MastiffMom
13
5 February 2009 - 5:42 pm
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Titan said:

Are you doing chemo? 

If you have a good attitude and energy that will help Pony absorb that. I felt Titan had a great attitude and always encouraged him. Can't wait to see pics and update


Heidi,

  we choose not to do chemo. We truly did not not how the amputation was going to affect him & did not want to put him thru any more then neccessary. He has been getting a ton of encouragement & you are right they can sense it. I feel it's been a big help in his recovery. I will try to post an update soon. I am stilll learning my way around the site.

Shanna,

Thanks for the tip about the mens shirt. We tried the canvas bag last night, as suggested by Genie & it worked pretty well.

Here and Now


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5 February 2009 - 6:18 pm
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MastiffMom said:

It's telling me I have an incorrect password, but have yet to set one.


You set your username and password when you registered as “MastiffMom”, which we just confirmed you have done. We have reset your password and emailed it to the address used to register. If you have further trouble, please use the Tech Support forum. Sorry for the inconvenience. Thanks!

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6 February 2009 - 11:01 pm
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Mastiffmom

I think Pony will do fine. It's frustrating since each dogs case is different and the cancer seems to affect them differently. We got the ruffwear harness for Titan it worked well. I trained him on a dogramp to get in and out of my tahoe so it was an extra security to have for both of us. Can't wait to see pics.

Pam it has been hard but I know Titan and I found this wonderful place, people and tripawds for a reason.

Thanks

Heidi

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