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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 year old, 95 pound lab facing amputation.
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Forum Posts: 6
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11 October 2020 - 9:14 am
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Hi all, I’m new here, this seemed like the best place to get real informed advice. I have a chocolate lab, who is the sweetest, bestest boy ever. He was diagnosed with bone cancer last week, and I have to decide whether to amputate his leg or not. Since the diagnosis, he has been put on pain pills, and even with a fractured back leg, he is still running around and playing and having a grand old time. I’m nervous that he won’t adapt well to amputation because of his age and weight, and that it will just ruin the quality of whatever life he has left. At the same time, I’m nervous that the leg is going to get so bad that he can’t do anything he loves doing. I don’t even know how to begin making this decision. I’ve been going back and forth all weekend, and my head feels like it’s going to explode. The vet I took him to (we move around a lot so he hasn’t had one solid vet for a long time) said if it was his dog he would amputate. I’m just so scared and don’t think I’m qualified to make this decision. Any help would be immensely appreciated!

Macey

The Rainbow Bridge



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11 October 2020 - 11:49 am
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Hi Macey, welcome. Your future posts won’t need to wait for approval so post away. What’s your dog’s name? At 10, he’s not a youngster but not old either, many Tripawds have joined us at older ages.

I’m sorry you got the bad news, but yep, you’ve come to the best place for help. Bone cancer sucks but as you can see here, there IS life after a diagnosis. Many of us have been through the whirlwind and understand how overwhelming it feels. What we can tell you is this: the vast majority of dogs do really well after amputation, and go on to have an excellent quality of life on three. 

Osteosarcoma tends to have a grim prognosis, but many dogs outlive it, surprising everyone. The fact is, you don’t know how long you will have with your dog after amputation, but the important thing is that whatever time you have left will be pain-free. Osteosarcoma is the worst type of cancer pain, and it won’t be long until your dog is showing pain signals that the bad leg is really bothering him. Dogs and cats are masters at hiding pain. 

Right now, you really do want to keep his activity to a bare minimum if his leg is fractured: any type of rough play or running could result in a traumatic leg fracture that will cause a terrible, stressful trip to the ER where you’ll be forced to decide on amputation on the spot. So while you wrestle with this decision, try to keep him mellow.

There are no right or wrong decisions, and amputation isn’t right for every dog. But if your vet thinks your dog is a good candidate, and if in your heart you know your dog has the resiliency to bounce back after recovery (typically 2-3 weeks), then it could be a good choice for you guys. Only you can make that decision though. Just know that you need to do it quickly, the pain signals will show up sooner rather than later.

Meanwhile don’t forget to check out Jerry’s Required Reading List and the Tripawds e-books for answers to many questions. And stay tuned for feedback from the community! Keep us posted.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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11 October 2020 - 11:58 am
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His name is Shadow. I’ve spent the last couple hours reading a bunch of stuff on here, and it has been immensely helpful. I think I am going to go ahead with the amputation, now I just have  to find an available vet. The one I took him to originally didn’t have an opening for a few weeks, and I’m not wanting to wait that long. I will be making a bunch of calls tomorrow and trying to get him in as soon as possible. I’m really thankful for this site and all the information I’ve found here. It really has helped calm me down about this process. You guys are amazing. <3

The Rainbow Bridge



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11 October 2020 - 12:03 pm
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Aww that’s so nice to hear! Thank you for the kind words, that means a lot. 

Glad to hear you’re not going to delay surgery, good job!

When thinking about a vet clinic, please consider an AAHA-accredited practice. The link will explain more. If you’d like help searching for one near you, let me know. And if there’s anything we can do to help you and Shadow just bark OK?

I’m in the Tripawds Chat for a bit if you want to hop over.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
Latest Tripawds News
Read my story here.

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Virginia




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11 October 2020 - 3:37 pm
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As you can already see, YOU ARE NOT ALONE!  We’ve all been where you are and are here to help you in anyway we can❤

Good for you for doing uour research and  your strong determination to what is best for Shadow.  Additionally,  Jerry gave you great advice!!

We all know that amp sounds scary….at first.  But once you get through  recovery and see Shadow get to be Shadow again with the fear of breaking his leg (and what if you were home when that happened?  Awful!) and with zerompain, you will be so relieved!  Dogs are so stoic and even though  he’s not “showing pain”, we can almost guarantee that he is hiding it!

We have dogs older than Shadow and even with arthritis  and overweight,  ha dle life in three just fine!!

BROWNIE, a very handsome Choco Lab, was almost twelve and a bit overweight.  He trived for over a year  and had a glorious  extended  bonus time full of spoiling  and loving!!  Nancy, his hooman, will chime in.

Yes, get an appointment  with an ORTH SURGEON asap with a 24/7 fully staffed clinic.  It’s always best to have your pup spend at least the first night, if possible.

As questions arise, don’t hesitate to let us help you navigate through  the recovery part of the journey.   It’s no picnic for a couple of weeks, but with proper pain management Shadow will get through  recovery before you know it! 

Update when you can.

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 October 2020 - 6:07 pm
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Update: Shadow had surgery today. The vet called and said it went well, and he was starting to wake up and lift his head. That’s a good first step. They also took a bone sample to send in and get a definite diagnosis. I’m a little nervous about bringing him home. I’m staying in a house where there are a couple small steps to get into the house. I know the towel trick, but is that going to hurt so soon after surgery? Also any tips on getting him out of the car when we get home? I’ll obviously ask someone to help me lift him to make it as gentle as possible, but if you guys have learned any tricks that might make it easier to lift him without hurting him that would be great. 

The Rainbow Bridge



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17 October 2020 - 2:48 pm
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Oh wow that’s terrific! Surgery’s over, you’ve both taken a great step toward a pain-free future! smiley_clap

It’s normal to be nervous about bringing him home, it really does feel like a huge responsibility and of course it is. But you can do this! 

Our What to Expect articles feature this one that might be very useful right now:

What to Expect: Picking Up Your New Tripawd After Amputation Surgery

Don’t be surprised if he’s woozy and wonky. That’s normal and will subside. As long as his pain management is good (follow the link for tips), he’s on the right track to healing. Most people need to work with their vet to fine-tune the dosage and frequency though, so watch for any side effects like anxiety, pacing and panting.

As for getting into and out of the car, the vet techs should be able to show you the best way to do it. Most dogs will instinctually do exactly what they did before, and try to jump up and into (and out of the vehicle). If you can prevent him from doing that by aiding him with a sling (like the grocery bag sling) that’s ideal. Sometimes you just can’t though, many dogs will try to do it on their own.

The steps at home shouldn’t be too much of an issue. Even most brand new Tripawds can do one or two without a problem. Are they carpeted? If so, they’re really not a problem. If not, you may want to corral him into a small area of the home where’s he’s comfortable, at least for a few days. 

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
Latest Tripawds News
Read my story here.

Support the Tripawds Foundation!

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17 October 2020 - 5:07 pm
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Shadow is home and resting. Though I’m sure he’s still pretty hopped up on his pain meds and what not, he’s happy enough. He’s washing good trail when I talk to him and what not. He’s on quite a lot of pain pills, so I think he’s pretty comfortable. My vet recommended I talk to someone about chemo ASAP, and I was wondering what your guys’ experience was with that. From what I’m seeing it would run 10 grand or more, which isn’t really an option for me. Even if I sold my car I couldn’t get that much, and it looks like it rarely actually works anyways. He’s the best dog in the world and deserves everything I can do, but I don’t know what’s worth it. He’s already 10.

Virginia




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17 October 2020 - 8:35 pm
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Welcome home Shadow!!!  Sounds like he’s nicely  medicated so try and get some rest yourself while you can.

Some here do chemo, some don’t.   There truly is no right or wrong!  Some dogs appear to get extended  quality  time with chemo, some get less than “statistics ” say.  Some appear to get more extended quality time without chemo, and some appear to get less than statistics say.  We call it a crap shoot!  We can site example after example of both scenarios.  Many of us are faced with financial constraints.  You have already done more for Shadow by pursuing  the surgery than some are able to do.  You have taken his pain away and given him a chance at a quality  life. 

So what’s  important, and what matters to Shadow more than anything, is that every single day is filled with love and spoiling and fun and getting to spend quality  time with his favorite hooman in the whole wide world!  Shadow doesn’t  care about days on a calendar  and he cert6 doesn’t  have a timeframe  stamped  anywhere  on his butt!  He has no worries  about the tomorrow, he only lives in the NOW, in the present .  We call that Be More Dog !  Be more Shadow!!

Once the hospital  meds wear off, you may have to tweak his pain meds if he needs more, or even less.  For now rest, rest, rest, short potty breaks, drinking and peeing.  If poop takes a few days and if he’s off food a bit, that’s  normal.

He may not be very mobile for a day or so and may need so e help getting up and going out.  Let us know how he’s doing .

Would love to see pics of. Shadow.  Here’s a link for adding images .

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!

The Rainbow Bridge



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18 October 2020 - 2:59 pm
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I’m so glad he’s home! How is today going? Have you guys been able to get some rest? How’s his pain medication working out?

When it comes to chemo, it’s a very personal decision and there are no right or wrong choices. We opted out for many reasons but that’s not to say we would make the same choice again if we ever had to deal with it. At the very least, if it’s in your budget for one appointment (generally around the $150-$200 or so just to talk) it really pays to know all your options for Shadow, by just having a consult with the oncologist. That way, you can feel confident knowing you made your decision based on the most current information available.

Here are some posts you may find helpful:

https://tripawd…..ernatives/

https://tripawd…..decisions/

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
Latest Tripawds News
Read my story here.

Support the Tripawds Foundation!

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18 October 2020 - 4:47 pm
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Hi, Brownie’s mom here. Brownie was 10 days before his 12th birthday at time of surgery of his front left leg. He also weighed 95 lbs. He stayed at the vet for two days, which was my decision. Since I live alone and him being a big boy, I just wanted to make sure he was ok. I to struggled with amputation but decided Brownie deserved the right to fight. I just wanted to let you k now that he hopped on three for one year and eight days. Now he wasn’t the fasted tripawd, but he surprised me everyday and I have never been so proud! He did everything he did before, just figured out another way to do it. He was getting up on his own his first day home, which would be day three. It did take about three weeks for him to get his personality back. The first two weeks I made sure he took it easy. I would sit on the floor and read to him, and he would do his puzzles. I did say no to chemo, because I did not feel it was right for Brownie. Brownie hated the vet!  The vet gave him two months without chemo, so I decided to make it the best two months of his life. I did not want his final days to be vet visits, blood work, and X-rays. Now I had another dog that did have chemo, and she loved going. So as others said it is a personal decision.

I’m happy to hear Shadow is home. Just treat him like you always have, and let him know he is a good boy, and how much you love him!

You can click on the signature below to see Brownie’s forum and see video of Brownie hoping around and how happy he was! I would love to see pictures of Shadow. It always make me smile to see a choc lab, they are so amazing!

Sending positive thoughts for a speedy recovery.  Please keep us posted.sp_hearticon2

My Beautiful Beloved Brownie was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma on February 26, 2019.  With all odds against him he lived an additional one year and eight days with amputation, love, and prayer.  I was honored to be his mom, and I have never been so proud!  He will live forever in my Heart!

Brownie Bubba Bell

04/01/2007 - 03/05/2020

"March Saint"

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18 October 2020 - 5:02 pm
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By the way, Brownie did have Ozone therapy. The theory is that cancer can survive with oxygen. So they draw blood out of the dogs neck. It does not hurt. They then put the blood in an oxygen chamber then inject it back into the dog. This treatment does not kill the cancer, but they are trying to keep it confined in one area to keep it from spreading. It was about $175.00 per treatment. Brownie also ate a cancer diet, and took several supplements. I do highly recommend the book “The Dog Cancer Survival Guide “. There is tons of information when doing chemo, and when not doing chemo.

Brownie was ok going to a holistic vet because they let me stay with him during treatment. I did talk to an oncologist. With my work schedule at the time he would of had to stay there all day, and he would of hated it, and it would of stressed him out.

To tell You the truth I don’t know if the hollistic treatments, diet, and supplements worked. I really think the reason he made it over a year is because he was so loved, happy, and I just let him be a dog.sp_hearticon2

My Beautiful Beloved Brownie was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma on February 26, 2019.  With all odds against him he lived an additional one year and eight days with amputation, love, and prayer.  I was honored to be his mom, and I have never been so proud!  He will live forever in my Heart!

Brownie Bubba Bell

04/01/2007 - 03/05/2020

"March Saint"

Virginia




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18 October 2020 - 5:05 pm
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Nancy…I’d forgotten some of the therapies Brownie had.  Thanks for sharing.  It’s always good to remember  there are options outside of “the norm”.👍

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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18 October 2020 - 7:07 pm
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Shadow is doing well today. Hopping around pretty well. Sleeping a lot, which is perfect. He seems to be as comfortable as he can be. The first couple of times I took him out he didn’t go to the bathroom, but instead had us run all around the yard. Probably a little more activity than he should have done, but his tail was wagging and he was enjoying trying to eat the fresh snow, and worked really hard for it because of the cone. Now he’s going to the bathroom quickly and ready to go back inside. I think we are both slowly getting the hang of this new life. I will come and upload photos a little later on. Thanks for the input!

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18 October 2020 - 7:36 pm
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Sounds like Shadow is going to do just fine! I wouldn’t expect t anything different for a lab. Especially a choc one!

There is another lab with this community. She is about two, and lost her leg due to I just. She is absolutely amazing! Her link is below.

https://tripawd…..onder-lab/

My Beautiful Beloved Brownie was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma on February 26, 2019.  With all odds against him he lived an additional one year and eight days with amputation, love, and prayer.  I was honored to be his mom, and I have never been so proud!  He will live forever in my Heart!

Brownie Bubba Bell

04/01/2007 - 03/05/2020

"March Saint"

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