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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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10 y/o 60 lb samoyed with osteosarcoma, Feeling nervous
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Member Since:
11 January 2022
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14 January 2022 - 10:08 pm
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Crush was diagnosed with osteosarcoma Friday last week, and following a consultation with a specialist it was recommended that we amputate his right front leg. We were advised this would make him as comfortable as possible and extend his life as much as possible. We aren't sure how long though. We know this cancer is aggressive, and he's been in and out of the vets with a limp for about six months. They were suspecting a sprain, and so I don't think they were super serious about digging into it. He did have some X-rays taken in October and they said they were fine, so to just keep limiting his activity and give him metacam if he seemed particularly sore.
About 3 weeks ago it started to get worse, so he went back to the vet. The vet who took a look at him saw the limp (now pretty pronounced) and looked up his x-rays from October to get some context. He said pretty much right away that he needed to take some more x-rays, but to be prepared for the possibility of bone cancer. The new x-rays confirmed this diagnosis and it's much more advanced now.
I'm really sad that we didn't catch it in October, given that it was apparently visible on those scans. But I know these things happen. But my concern is, with an aggressive cancer that's been diagnosed so late, he could begin to suffer again really soon from tumours forming elsewhere. They took some x-rays of his chest and said it looks clear, so they think amputation will give him the best path forward. But I don't have a real prognosis as to how long he will be around. It seems like there's an assumption that it has spread. Even if it hadn't spread when the x-rays were taken last week, he has deteriorated so rapidly since then that I suspect if it hadn't migrated elsewhere a week ago, it will have now. In the last week he's gone from having a moderate limp, to walking three legged, not being able to move the affected leg, shrieking bloody murder if it bumps into anything and struggling to get up and down. I don't think he's sleeping, he seems to be in constant pain. This morning he slipped while I was feeding him and landed on the bad knee. He collapsed and yelped and screeched for a good ten minutes and I couldn't get him to try and stand again for a half hour. He was shaking all over.
He's in so much pain, I'm just so stressed and upset watching him go through this. I know the surgery will be really bad too. How long do dogs usually take to regain any quality of life? Given that he will still likely die of cancer in the future (I don't know how far away that is), do you think it's worth the suffering of an amputation? I'm just so anxious and feel so guilty, I don't want to cause him more pain. Has anyone here had an osteosarcoma case like this where it hadn't spread? And your dog lived a long happy life after? I don't think I'd be struggling with this decision as much if I felt more sure that he'd have lots of time after.
I hope this post made some sense. I'm hoping for some feedback from people who've had similar diagnoses and what the outcomes were.

Here are some pictures of the fluffball, hoping they work properly.

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15 January 2022 - 12:16 pm
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Hi Crush and family, welcome. Your future posts won't need approval so post away.

I'm sorry about the diagnosis. Are you working with an oncologist right now? If so thesequestions to ask your oncologist may help.

I'll try to address your main concerns:

my concern is, with an aggressive cancer that's been diagnosed so late, he could begin to suffer again really soon from tumours forming elsewhere.

Yes, osteosarcoma typically moves to another part of the body, primarily the lungs. It's good that his x-rays are clear. Keep in mind that x-rays won't show microscopic metastasis. If you want to have 100% certainty that it hasn't spread, a CT scan is a good idea. Otherwise, you have a good picture of where his health is right now, but not the exact one. If a CT scan is not an option, that's OK. I'd say the majority of folks go on what x-rays reveal.

 I don't think he's sleeping, he seems to be in constant pain. 

He is, guaranteed. Please ask your vet for some kind of pain control, asap. Bone cancer pain is the most extreme there is, and he needs pain control like Fentanyl to control it for now. 

Your vet probably mentioned this but please keep him as quiet as possible. There is a huge risk of a limb fracture in dogs with osteosarcoma. It's a terrible scene if that leg breaks.

How long do dogs usually take to regain any quality of life? 

All dogs are different. In general bigger dogs take longer to recuperate but they do get there. Check out our Tripawds Quality of Life Survey results to read about pet parents' thoughts after amputation. About 95% of people say they don't regret the decision, even when their dog took longer to recuperate or didn't live up to the prognosis.

Given that he will still likely die of cancer in the future (I don't know how far away that is), do you think it's worth the suffering of an amputation? I

Nobody has a crystal ball. Many dogs will out live the prognosis, many will not. It's a crap shoot and that's true with or without cancer. Amputation takes away that horrible pain. Suffering from bone cancer pain is worse, and the recovery time is not nearly as bad as you might think. Dogs take it in stride. With the bad leg gone, they move on. Most people see a huge difference in their dog's personality after amputation, as in they are happier and more themselves. It can take a few weeks to get there, but it happens. I can say for sure I saw a difference in our Jerry's personality after his amputation for osteosarcoma, for the better. And he lived two years post-op, without chemo. So you just never know.

 Has anyone here had an osteosarcoma case like this where it hadn't spread? And your dog lived a long happy life after?

Yes, there are those cases. Long term survivors aren't as uncommon as they used to be, thanks to advances in immunotherapy treatments. Dexter lived eight years post-op! Not every dog will be as fortunate, but we do see it occasionally. 

As for dogs living a happy life after, yes, things work out like that more often than not. Just look around Tripawd Tuesday stories and you'll find all sorts of great examples.

I hope this helps! Be sure to check out Jerry's Required Reading List and our What to Expect articles for some more tips and information OK? And stay tuned for feedback from others. Keep us posted.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene
tripawds.com | tripawds.org | bemoredog.net | triday.pet

On The Road


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15 January 2022 - 12:17 pm
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Oh and sorry your picture didn't show up. This is how adding images to the Forums works.

  • Upload pics to a photo sharing site like imgur.com or your own Tripawds blog (https://tripawd...../supporter). Pictures and video have to be hosted (live) somewhere other than in the forums.
  • Once the photo is uploaded somewhere, right click and copy the Image URL or just copy the image if you’re on a phone
  • Return to your Tripawds Forum post and paste the image URL (or the image itself) in your post. It should automatically appear.

If you’d like help figuring out the process let me know.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene
tripawds.com | tripawds.org | bemoredog.net | triday.pet

Member Since:
11 January 2022
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15 January 2022 - 1:41 pm
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Thanks for the insight. At this point we're going to go ahead with the amputation, I think I just needed some reassurance from others who've experienced the same, given that this feels like such an advanced case. I'll see if I can get some questions to the oncologist Monday to get more specific information though. So far my vet has been the one corresponding with him so I haven't been able to ask direct questions.
A few hours before I posted this, the vet did put on a fentanyl patch (the gavapentin just didn't seem to be doing anything) and I'm happy to say that it seems to have kicked in and he seems so much more relaxed today. He's resting comfortably and doesn't seem so stressed. I feel calmer now that he is calmer.
Thanks for taking the time to respond, it really helps.
Here's a second try with the pictures.

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On The Road


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15 January 2022 - 3:16 pm
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Oh I'm so glad you were able to get pain control for him. Whew! That will take a lot of weight off your shoulders for now. He is a GORGEOUS doggie. What a beautiful location. Are you in BC?

The oncologist should have some good information for you on Monday. 

You are so welcome. I'm in the Tripawds Chat for a bit if you want to talk.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene
tripawds.com | tripawds.org | bemoredog.net | triday.pet

Virginia




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22 February 2013
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15 January 2022 - 8:50 pm
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So glad you were able to fet reassurances from Jerry and are prepared to move forward to get rid of that bum leg!!!!

And often dogs are treated off and on for a couple of months for s "sprain" or "arthritis " only to find out osteo was the culprit.   So just know this type of "delay" in the actual prognosis does indeed happen.

The important  thing now is to get Crush's quality  back so he can start living life to the fullest again.

Dogs don't  count days on the calendar  and they certainly  don't  have a timeframe  stamped  anywhere on their butts.  THE most important  lesson of this journey  is to stay fully present in the NOW and not waste anytime worrying about the tomorrows.  Crush  just flows effortlessly  from one moment to the next.  Make every moment the best moment evvvver and that is how you defeat  that piece of crap disease.   

We are here to help you navigate  through recovery.  Crush has already shown he's able to master his three legged gait.  He'll just need some recovery  time from the surgery and he'll soon be back to his Happy self in no time!  It does seem like he needs surgery  scheduled  asap because  he is so painful  and st risk for fracture.  Glad the patch is helping.

I loooove the pictures of Crush.  A stunningly  handsome fella'.  And yes, you live in a beautiful  area.

You are not alone and we are all here cheering for Crush!

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!

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16 January 2022 - 9:25 am
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Thanks, I do feel better about moving forward after reading some of other people's experiences and having a chat with Jerry. Glad to know you also think it's a good idea.
His surgery will be on Tuesday, the vet couldn't do it any sooner.. So just a couple more days with that leg and then it can go. He's doing much better now with proper pain management though, I think he'll manage until then.
I'm still a bit scared about how he'll be post-op, but we will get through it. I've ordered a ton of rugs for the upstairs of the house so he will have paths to get around without slipping. And some of the toe grips I found on this site. I also got a sling for helping him outside after the operation, and set up a pen for him near the door with a bed in it so he can't move around too much post op and won't have far to go when he needs to pee. I'm hoping I've prepared enough. I think next week is going to be pretty difficult.

Virginia




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22 February 2013
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16 January 2022 - 10:47 am
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Excellent  job of preparation! 👍

Just one little suggestion....make sure his bed is more on the firm side as opposed to too squishy.  The firmer ones give him more stability when trying to stand. 

Continue  to keep your  energy upbeat and confident  and that will help Crush know ever this A-ok👌

He'll be spending  the first night at the Vet's and will have good hospital meds to keep him comfortable.   When you do go pick him up, don't  even bother looking at the incision  or drawing attention to it  Just look into his druggy, tell him he's a good boy and he's going home!!!

We're  right by your side and, remember, recovery doesn't  last furever.....a couple of weeks and done!

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!

On The Road


Member Since:
24 September 2009
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16 January 2022 - 12:57 pm
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You are set! That's great work getting everything together. Now, keep focused on the big picture and get your mind ready. Recovery may not be as awful as you think, and either way when it's over, Crush is going to show you he's even more amazing than you ever knew. Stay pawsitive!

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene
tripawds.com | tripawds.org | bemoredog.net | triday.pet

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