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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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Member Since:
19 May 2018
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16 June 2018 - 8:44 pm
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Spirit  is  my 8,5 yr old female Golden Retriever that I've had since she was 9 weeks old. She is a very confident, loving, athletic girlie.

After a 4 month hiatus from agility competition, we returned to the ring in January.  The last weekend  of January,  she competed and did well, earning a 3rd place among other qualifying runs.  A week later she came out of her kennel at home, completely  non weight bearing on her right rear leg. We saw our surgery  vet who suspected  she had a partial ACL tear. A month of crate rest and NSAID'S were prescribed and followed,

At the return visit, her knee remained stable, but more painful.   I elected to have her seen by a sports medicine ortho vet (in Ga) in the event surgery  was recommended.  He called me during her MRI- he and the radiologists were very concerned by her MRI and thought a bone biopsy was indicated.  The MRI showed multiple areas of osteonecrosis -- both hips, her right knee, a humerus,  thoracic vertebrae. There are no cases in the literature that describe a dog with this condition. The bone biopsy confirmed osteonecrosis. She also had a bone scan which turned up no further findings,  

We went home (La) and were seen by Internal Medicine at LSU  for further workup to try and determine a cause. They also reviewed her MRI and bone biopsy done in Ga.  Abdominal ultrasound and chest xray was clear. On xray, the necrosis of the femoral heads could be seen but her knee looked normal. The supposition was that for whatever reason (Vasculitis or immune mediated ) she had a thromboembolism that showered cutting off the blood flow to bones. She was started on medication to help with blood flow, tested for tick borne diseases and continued on pain medication and acupuncture. Internal medicine wanted a bone pathology specialist at Texas A&M to also evaluate her bone biopsy.

In the meantime, my surgeon at home felt this still  didn't explain her continued lameness. We went back to Ga. The sports medicine vet felt like it was unlikely that he would find anything he could fix with a scope. I felt since we were there and if there was any chance something could be done to make her feel better ,bit was worth a shot .  He scoped  her knee and her hip but both looked fine.

We then saw Integrative Medicine at LSU -- Chinese herbs, laser,and ultrasound to see if we could get her leg less painful and functional.  Also saw Oncologist and discussEd palliative radiation for pain reduction. It was about this time that we received the opinion from Texas A&M.  He concurred that she had osteonecrosis but was concerned that some of the new bone she was forming had cells with the potential to become cancerous. The plan was for close follow up -- -routine  xrays and ultrasounds. The oncologist felt that before starting palliative radiation we should  get a repeat chest and knee xray. If she was going to develop cancer from those cells,  it had been 6 weeks and we should see it.

Xray of knee was suspicious  and a fine needle  aspirate  diagnosed osteosarcoma.  Her chest xray was clear. That was a Monday, saw my Oncologist at home on Tuesday and surgery on Thursday. 

That was May 14.  She came home the next day --wouldn't  let me help her with the sling and  had no issues with mobility.  The plan is Carboplatin,  Zoledronate  and then the vaccine.  Her first chemo was May 30, Carboplatin, and she did well.  She had  Zoledronate on last Wednesday  and she has bee sore ever since. 

It is possible that with feeling good that she did too much. Her iliopsoas  was very sore. I have a 17 month old Golden retriever puppy that she loves  and loves to play with. She could have torqued something.   She seemed better after acupuncture and she had a good massage today . The plan is to limit her activity for a bit.  She has never had any regard for her body so I have to look out for her,

Spirit is my 2nd tripawd. My first was a 15.5 yr old golden mix, Maddie.  She lived 19 months after surgery . No Chemo because of her age, but she did get Pamidronate.


Spirit 8.5 yrs, Tchoup 6 yrs, Maggie, who knows, and Roulez, 17 months

Tripawd Angel Maddie


Member Since:
22 February 2013
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16 June 2018 - 9:49 pm
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This is a fascinating  back srory on Spirit and what led her here!

WOW!  You leftt  no stone unturned in  trying to figure out what was going on!  Geez!  What an ordeal!!

And congratulations  to Spirit for her placing  in the Afility Competition!  I know yoi two jave a very special  vond ro be avle to accomplish  this.

I love that Angel Maddie showed the world seniors can rock on three legs AND blow statistics  out of the water when it comes to this piece of crap disease!

Thank you for sharing  yoir sweet Spirit with us.  She's  clearly a very spexial Soul  with a very special  hooman for her partner.  AND a very spexial Guardian Angel Maddie watching  over her❤


Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!

PS Glad the massages and rest have helped.

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!

Member Since:
16 October 2012
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17 June 2018 - 12:15 pm
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What an amazing story.  Thank you for sharing it with us.  You really left no stone turned.


Michelle & Angel Sassy


Sassy is a proud member of the Winter Warriors. Live long, & strong Winter Warriors.
07/26/2006 - Sassy earned her wings 08/20/2013

05/04/2006 -  Bosch, Sassy's pal, earned his wings 03/29/19  fought cancer for 4 months.

"You aren't doing it TO her, you are doing it FOR her. Give her a chance at life."

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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17 June 2018 - 1:13 pm
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Carrie, thank you so much for sharing her story. What a long road to diagnosis! She is getting some great care too.

I'm sorry that you had to do the Tripawd journey again, also related to cancer. Yikes. But what you learned with Maddie you are now applying to Spirit's care so that she can thrive and do so well on three. Maddie is no doubt very proud of you.

No doubt that she will start to feel better soon thanks to your conscientiousness and love. Did I point you to Maggie's story? She was another agility champ who lost a leg to cancer and went on to thrive and compete in all new dog sports that were perfect for her age and abilities. Check it out, I know you will be inspired!

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

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