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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First things first.
What a wonderful community this is. I stumbled on to this site when I was looking for more information about amputation surgery, even a receptionist at the Oncologist’s office mentioned this site and how helpful this community is. She was right. The only sense of calm I have found in the last month has been from reading all the stories everyone has shared about their experiences. Good and the bad, I feel at least a little more prepared for the road ahead. So here’s my story:
My 10 year old Lab/Newfie, Forrest, has been with me since I was 19 years old when I rescued him from the Human Society. He was a stray they found on the side of the road, I can’t even imagine how ANYONE could let him go, he is BY FAR the BEST dog I have ever had. He thinks I saved him, but really, he saved me. Forrest has been a generally mellow guy all of his life, aside from feeding time…then he jumps higher than I even knew he could (he is 106 lbs so the air he catches is im-press-ive). He has never had any major health problems. Ever. But one Monday night we go to sleep and everything is fine, then that Tuesday morning he’s limping out of nowhere. The next day his leg swelled up three times the size. After much poking and prodding (multiple trips to the vet) they finally figure out that he has a Mast Cell Tumor on his left hind leg and its reeeaallllyyy attached. Connected to the joint – attached. Surgery was basically off the table, there is no way they can get the entire tumor. So what was I left with? Amputation. It’s the one solution that could possibly rid him of cancer entirely. After all the tests to make sure it hasn’t spread (it hasn’t – as far as all the tests are showing) I set his appointment for this Friday (tomorrow Nov. 18 2016). This has been the worst emotional rollercoaster I have ever been on, or ever care to be on again. And I’m still struggling with if Im making the right decision. I keep thinking he is going to be “mad at me” – as silly as that sounds. Or I keep freaking out about the surgery itself, he’s a healthy dog, but I keep playing the “what-if this happens during surgery” questions in my head. Did anyone else feel that way? Am I an extra crazy dog-mom? Or is this pit in my stomach the normal feeling. I’m trying to remind myself that this is probably going to be harder on me emotionally, than it will be on him in the long run…but man, this is hard. I will be with him all weekend and my mother (who loves him probably more than she loves me) will be staying with him all week long (Nov 21-25th). Are those 9 days enough for me to be able to go back to work that next Monday? I’d check on him during my lunch hour. I know that every dog is different, but I don’t have anyone to come and watch him after next week so I am hoping that someone might be able to ease my mind a little.
Sorry for the long winded post. What a crazy time this has been.
Hugs to everyone who has had to endure this.
Welcome Taylor and Forrest, your future posts will not have to wait for approval.
I’m sorry cancer has brought you here- this is the best place to be when dealing with cancer and amputation.
Everything you are feeling is pretty normal around here- doubt, fear, anxiety…welcome to the club! The cancer journey is not for the feint of heart.
My little pug Maggie lost her left rear leg to a MCT. I don’t want to scare you but I thought Maggie’s amputation was curative. The oncologist was a little surprised but after surgery a large amount of mast cells were found in the lymph node removed with her leg. Mag did chemo and lived almost 4 years after surgery, she did not pass from mast cell cancer.
The first couple of weeks after surgery can be full of ups and downs- don’t get discouraged if Forrest isn’t himself for awhile. I was SURE I had made a big mistake by choosing surgery for Maggie, it was 6 weeks before her sparkle came back- waaaay longer than most pups here. In hindsight it made sense since she was a stubborn little thing that hated any change to her routine.
Let me know if I can help in any way. You have found a great community with lots of experience and support to share.
Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls
The fear that removing his leg possibly wont be curative is what fills my head with the biggest doubts. If it pops up somewhere else, did I take his leg for no reason? I know in my heart this is what has to be done – if only that made it easier! Thank you for responding. I appreciate the support.
25 April 2007
If it pops up somewhere else, did I take his leg for no reason?
Just remember, while amputation may not get rid of the cancer, it does get rid of the pain! It’s all about quality of life now, not quantity. Our best advice is to Be More Dog .
Thank you for the kind comments about this community! Who/where is your oncologist?
The oncologist I took Forr to is Veterinary Cancer & Surgery Specialists in Milwaukie, Oregon – right outside of Portland. I can’t say enough great things about that place and how they treated me and Forrest. Forrest got so much loves (and treats!) from every staff member there it was heartwarming to see, I have never been to a more welcoming vets office. Anyone in Oregon I would highly recommend them. Dr. Freeman helped Forrest and she was awesome. She was very patient with me while I was having my psychopath-worrying-break downs. lol.
2 April 2013
The first 2-3 weeks are the hardest – definitely a roller coaster of emotions! I wondered a few times whether we had done the right thing or not. You want to make sure the you keep up on his pain medications – don’t give them all at the same time, space them out so that he gets something every few hours for adequate coverage. Murphy came home on Tramadol, Rimadyl & Gabapentin. You can also apply an ice pack covered in a towel to the incision a couple of times a day for 10-15 minutes. If you have wood or tile floors, you’ll want to get carpet runners or yoga mats for traction .
I you need anything or have any questions at all, we’ll be here for you!
Part of why I thought I had made a mistake by choosing amputation was finding out the cancer had already spread after the amp. I was thinking I had taken her leg for nothing.
What I finally realized: I gave her a chance. If I had known the cancer was in the lymph node prior to the surgery I would not have done it. If I had not done the amp the tumor would have ruptured causing a very painful wound that would never heal. It also would have spread. I don’t know how long she would have lived without surgery but she never would have made the almost 4 years we had.
Most importantly- I learned to Be More Dog (still working on this). Live in the moment like our pups do, appreciate each day, don’t look too far ahead. I spent the first 6 months after surgery kicking myself for doing the surgery. Meanwhile Maggie was living her stubborn pug life, happy as could be. I was waiting for her to die and she was only looking for her next meal, trip to the park and a lap before bedtime.
You don’t know how much time you will get with Forrest (actually true without cancer!) but you are giving him a chance. You know what will happen if you do nothing.
Karen and The Spirit Pug Girls
Karen, thank you for that, all of that is exactly what I need to hear. I’ll post an update tomorrow, is it weird that I get to pick him up the same day? I drop him off tomorrow morning then get to pick him up in the evening. Seems so odd to me, It seems a lot of the stories I’ve read the puppers stay a couple days, or AT LEAST 24 hours to be monitored.
14 February 2016
We will be thinking of you and Forrest today. And remember, with the amputation, you are getting rid of the pain now and preventing a crisis now since clearly he cannot go on as is. He will love you for that, even if the cancer returns later. I only got 7 months with my Otis, but it was totally worth it!
Otis - 106 pound lab/Dane mix, lost his right front leg to osteosarcoma on Febuary 9, 2016. Four rounds of carboplatin completed in April, 2016. Lung mets August 25, 2016. Said goodbye too soon on September 4, 2016. Lost his adopted sister, Tess, suddenly on October 9, 2016. likely due to hemangiosarcoma.
Wherever they are, they are together.
22 February 2013
Just catching up and want to add my love and support.
Yes, most dogs stay overnight IF it’s a 24 hr properly staffed clinjc. IF that’s the case,I woukd request at least one night.
It certainty is doable if you need to bring your pup home. Just make sure the pain is properly handled, you have clear written directions and you have the Surgeon’s pho e number!
STAY CONNECTED!! We are here for you!
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!
Most pups do stay at least one night at the vet but if your vet is not staffed 24 hours then it is better to bring him home.
Several people here have brought their dogs home the day of surgery, just know that many dogs are very vocal and really out of it while the surgery meds work their way out. I would also want to have a phone number or at least know where the closest emergency vet is located. Most likely you won’t need help but for peace of mind.
Let us know how the surgery goes.
Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls
Thank you everyone for your knowledge and support! I dropped him off this morning and totally thought I was going to be able to keep it together. But of course I broke down when Forrest and I went into the room to talk to the surgeon. More strangers have seen me cry in the last month than anyone has seen me cry in all of my 27 years of life, lol. He seemed scared, but he was probably picking up on my anxiousness/sadness causing him to feel uneasy, I’m hoping I have a better hold of that when I pick him up. Still waiting to hear from the vet but its only been 3 hours since I dropped him off. Will post again after I hear from the vet. 🙂
15 December 2015
Just wanting to offer you and Forrest some support. Stay connected. We’re here for you!
Meg and Clare (and Elsie Pie) xxx
Meg, Mutt, aged around 11, adopted 31/12/2009. Sudden explosive right elbow fracture 06/12 (caused by IOHC), diagnosed with End Stage Arthritis 03/15, Total Elbow Replacement 08/15, problems with healing leading to skin graft & skin flap surgery, Chronic Infection leading to implant breakdown. Became a Tripawd 9th March 2016. Lives with Mum, Clare, watched over by Angel Pie and Angel Billie My life as a MEG-A-STAR
25 April 2007
It’s difficult for us to keep our emotions in at a time like this, who can blame you? Not us!
Hang in there, we’re sending all our love and waiting for an update.
On the bright side Forrest is getting some powerful drugs, so even if he was a little scared he won’t remember a thing!
You might want to look at some post op pictures before you pick Forrest up so you are prepared. Go to The Gallery Here and scroll down to the Surgery and Treatment Pics.
Know that Forrest didn’t lose any of his heart or soul, just that painful leg. Look in his eyes and watch his tail wag!
Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls