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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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Soft Tissue Sarcoma diagnosis today.
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Member Since:
27 February 2019
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27 February 2019 - 12:14 pm
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Hi, My dog Murray (lab/collie/mutt mix) is 11 years old. He has a mass on his lower right hind leg that started out small and moveable which we thought was a lipoma. Over the past few months the mass has increased in size and started to get hard so we had a punch biopsy done and the pathology report came back as Soft Tissue Sarcoma Stage 1. I met with the oncologist today, who was great, and surgical removal of the mass is not a feasible option due to location around ligaments/bone structure etc. Radiographs were taken to rule out metastasis and I am waiting on those results. The oncologist said the mass will eventually get to a size that it will rupture (not life-threatening when it does, but then something will need to be done for sure.) He recommended total limp amputation…..and then my mind exploded. The oncologist was wonderful and explained everything to me. I am still going through a crazy amount of emotions. As my brain starts taking over for my emotions, I realize this would be a great option, but would like to hear some comments from people that have had a pet go through a limb amputation to see how it was for you and your pet. (Another option was radiation, but unfortunately, financially that is not an option for me.) Thank you for your time. Dawn

Livermore, CA




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27 February 2019 - 1:09 pm
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Hello and welcome Dawn and Murray, your future posts will not have to wait for approval.

I’m sorry you are dealing with a cancer diagnosis but you have found the best place for information and support when dealing with amputation.

You might want to look through the Reading List, lots of info there on what to expect with amputation and recovery.

Look around this site- nearly everyone here has been through an amputation- there are forum posts and blogs to look at.

Personally, I’m living with my second rear amp Tripawd.  Elly is a little Pug mix who is now 4 years old, she lost her leg at 7 months old after being hit by a car.  She is healthy and happy and can do pretty much anything a 4 legger can.  I do limit her activity a little since she will spend her entire life on three.  Here is Elly’s Blog.

My first Tripawd was a little Pug named Maggie who lost a rear leg to mast cell cancer.  Her prognosis was 6 to 9 months but she hopped happily along for almost 4 years.  Here is Maggie’s Blog.

The first two weeks post amp can be bumpy as the pup recovers and gets used to their new normal.  There are lots of meds, learning new balance, and the tiredness that most new Tripawds deal with.  Each pup recovers on their own schedule, but in general you see that ‘sparkle’ back in 2 to 3 weeks.

Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls

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

Member Since:
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27 February 2019 - 8:57 pm
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krun15 said
Hello and welcome Dawn and Murray, your future posts will not have to wait for approval.

I’m sorry you are dealing with a cancer diagnosis but you have found the best place for information and support when dealing with amputation.

You might want to look through the Reading List, lots of info there on what to expect with amputation and recovery.

Look around this site- nearly everyone here has been through an amputation- there are forum posts and blogs to look at.

Personally, I’m living with my second rear amp Tripawd.  Elly is a little Pug mix who is now 4 years old, she lost her leg at 7 months old after being hit by a car.  She is healthy and happy and can do pretty much anything a 4 legger can.  I do limit her activity a little since she will spend her entire life on three.  Here is Elly’s Blog.

My first Tripawd was a little Pug named Maggie who lost a rear leg to mast cell cancer.  Her prognosis was 6 to 9 months but she hopped happily along for almost 4 years.  Here is Maggie’s Blog.

The first two weeks post amp can be bumpy as the pup recovers and gets used to their new normal.  There are lots of meds, learning new balance, and the tiredness that most new Tripawds deal with.  Each pup recovers on their own schedule, but in general you see that ‘sparkle’ back in 2 to 3 weeks.

Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls

  1

Hi Karen, Thank you for your reply. I look forward to reading everyone’s stories and doing much more research on our three legged friends. I have good news. The radiologist looked at Murray’s xrays today and there is no metastasis!! After discussing the options with my husband, 2 sons and my mother-in-law (who lives with us and helps take care of our 3 dogs) we have decided to watch the mass and when it does rupture, then go ahead with the amputation. (If the mass starts causing Murray pain or trouble walking, then we will go ahead with the amputation sooner.) That’s all I know right now. It has definitely been a trying day. We live in Ohio. My oldest son is in college in Chicago and it was especially hard to have to tell him this information over the phone. Dawn

Virginia




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27 February 2019 - 9:19 pm
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I love Murray’s avatar  picture and can’t  wait to see more of this good looking fella’!

And that is GREAT NEWS that there is no spread!!!   

You have come up with a goid plan in place now.    There’s  always a sense of relief  when a decision  is made as to how you can move forward. 

And yes, it is so scary to hear the word “amputation”!  You’ve come cone to rhe right place to try and get a grasp of what the amputation  and recovery are like.  Every dog is different and every recovery  is differe.  Generally though, the recovery  from the surgery itself  (and it is major surgery) lasts about two weeks.  Two long, sleep deprived weeks!  Recovery  is no picnic.  Some dogs are able to walk out of the clinic, some need assistance and some take several days to get mobile at all.  

Once recovery is over though, you will be astonished  at how well Murray gets around on three!  Their pain is gone and they can pretty much do anything  they did before. You will realize  you did this FOR your Murray and not TO him!

I went from, “Absolutely not!  I would not do an amputation!  That’s  crazy!”….then to the surgery and recovery where I said “What have I done TO my dog?”…….then to…..”Best decision ever!!!”   I gave my Happy Hannah (125 lb Bull Mastiff) an extended  bonus time of pain free loving and living and spoiling!

Now go enjoy loving up on that sweet boy!!  Keep us posted.

Hugs

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!

Livermore, CA




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27 February 2019 - 9:47 pm
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Hi again,

I realized I didn’t put links in my post to Elly & Maggie’s blogs- they are there now if you wish to read them.

I was in a similar situation when Maggie was diagnosed with mast cell cancer in her knee- she wasn’t in pain but the tumor was growing.  It would have eventually led to an ulceration which is very painful and would probably never heal.  The thing that concerned me though was that the longer the tumor was there the more chance that the cancer would spread.  That thought is what led me to do the amputation as soon as possible.

I’m not sure about STS like Murray has- did the oncologist say there is a greater chance of spread if you leave the tumor for now? 

If not then waiting is probably a good idea.  Cancer is so unpredictable then he could have a lot of time on 4 before the tumor becomes an issue for him.  It also gives you time to do more research and get used to the idea if and when amputation becomes the path forward.

Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls

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

Member Since:
27 February 2019
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1 March 2019 - 8:03 am
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Hi Sally, 

Thank you for responding to my post. When I took Murray to his oncologist appointment, I had not even considered hearing the “amputation” word. I figured they’d just take off the tumor and that was it. Boy was I naive. I am just so thankful that Murry has a wonderful oncologist. He was so nice and so knowledgeable and I am very comfortable with him doing this procedure when the time comes. Right now I have a sock over the mass and taped on each side to prevent him from licking it. He is still using this leg, but because of the location of the mass (down by the ankle area) he is not putting full pressure on it all the time. I guess the time is coming sooner rather than later to do the surgery. I’ll keep everyone posted.

Thanks again,

Dawn (and Murray:) 

Member Since:
27 February 2019
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1 March 2019 - 8:57 am
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Hi Karen,

The oncologist said that with Murray being 11+ and there being no metastasis, this cancer will not kill him, he would die of old age before that. The problem is because of the location of the mass (kind of low on hind leg by ankle area) there is nowhere for it to expand anymore and it will eventually rupture. Right now he does have an ulcer there (we thought it was just because of the recent biopsy area, but the oncologist said this might be the start of it rupturing). Right now I have a sock over it to prevent him from licking the ulcer area and I put neosporin on it too. Last night I removed the sock and the underlying gauze pad had moved and the sock had stuck to his ulcer so it started to bleed. I felt so bad for Murray. I know this can’t be comfortable. I think we are going to have to do this sooner rather than later. My husband is a police officer and he was talking to the department’s K-9 officer (who is extremely knowledgeable of dogs) said they can still do just as great with 3 legs (which sounds like most people are saying on this website as well).

Dawn

Livermore, CA




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1 March 2019 - 4:34 pm
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Dawn,

When the vet told me Maggie would need an amputation I don’t think I had ever seen a three legged dog, I couldn’t imagine how she would cope with something so radical.  And I couldn’t believe that amputation was the solution for a lump in her knee.  After living with a Tripawd for almost 4 years I learned how resilient and adaptable they are. I didn’t think twice about adopting Elly who was already a Tripawd.

I’ve been with Tripawds for close to 10 years and I can only remember a couple of pups not doing well with amputation, and in those cases there seemed to be other health issues that they couldn’t overcome.

Another thing in your favor is that it is a bit easier to lose a back leg as opposed to a front leg.

Have you looked through the videos on this site?  You will see all kinds of dogs (and cats!) living life to the fullest.

Here is a link to the videos in our gallery.

Here is a link to the Tripawds YouTube channel.

Keep us posted.

Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls

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

Member Since:
27 February 2019
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3 March 2019 - 11:15 am
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Hi Karen,

I have been starting to go through some of the videos and have been comforted in how well these pups/cats do. The oncologist said he thought Murray would do very well after examining him and said if Muarry was his dog he wouldn’t hesitate to do the amputation. That being said, in my brain I understand it, but in my heart, it is so hard to just say “Guess what, today is the day I’m going to have your leg cut off.” I’ve figured out a way to wrap Murray’s leg so the gauze and Neosporin stay in place and then the sock overtop of that so I don’t open up the wound again. If I leave it open to air out, Murray constantly licks at it (and I worry about our puppy biting at it and hurting Murray). I’ve been trying to talk to my husband but doesn’t seem like he’s ready to discuss “when” yet. He has a very sensitive heart when it comes to our pets. In the meantime, I’ll keep watching the videos and trying to learn as much as I can.

Dawn

Member Since:
9 July 2018
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8 March 2019 - 1:19 pm
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My dog Kaiserin had a soft tissue sarcoma grade 2, also by her ankle area on her back right leg. Her leg was amputated on August 1 of last year. First off, she is doing absolutely amazing on 3 legs now! She is an 8 year old German shepherd. I thought hearing about  my experience might help with your decisions. We did a punch biopsy and got the diagnosis. Then she had surgery to remove the lump. The margins were not wide enough so we were told it would most likely grow back if we didn’t do radiation. So we did radiation . The statistics given were that it had a 50% chance it would grow back within 3 years and would definitely not grow back within the first year. Well I put her through 7 general anesthetic to do the radiation and it ended up growing back 2 months after the last treatment. They said that was unusual but we were considered a radiation fail. The mass grew really fast the second time and she quickly started limping or not using the leg. The tumour burst open the night before I was going for a surgery consult. I was still hoping they could remove it again and save the leg but the said it was by a ligament plus there was no skin left to close it because it was damaged by radiation. Plus now it was opened up and pouring blood, at risk of infection. So I had to accept amputation was the only choice. It was harder to accept because it wasn’t bone cancer like a lot of amputees seem to have. I couldn’t see why they couldn’t remove it. But, if I could go back now, knowing all that happened, I would have gone straight to the amputation and skipped the surgery and radiation. Her grade 2 tumor has a maybe 10- 20%  lung metastasis risk. I think a grade 1 might have a less risk of only 5-10%. Still, even if it is a low risk, it was still a risk that bothered me.  I did a lung X-ray before surgery and recently and her lungs are fine! Anyway, hope this might help with your situation. She is now 7 months post amputation and doing almost everything she did before. Plus her pain in her foot is gone and there is no more cancer we have to worry could be spreading!

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