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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

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10 yr rottie needs amputation
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10 March 2013 - 7:33 am
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Just learned that my 10 yr male rottie has osteocarcinoma in the right front leg and he needs amputation.  This dog is my life and I am torn as to what to do and my vet gave me this website.  Buddy (my rott) is my best friend and is always by me when I am at home.  A couple of weeks ago he was limping until last weekend where he wouldn't walk on the leg.  Took him to the vet and he has a tumor with a nondisplaced fracture in the leg.  Bone biopsy did confirm cancer.  Without the surgery vet thinks he has 2 to 3 weeks because of pain, with the surgery maybe a few months as long as it hasn't spread.  As I review this site and read other testimonials, I  have hope but still torn about the decision.  I am a nurse which should make this decision much easier but it doesn't.  I am not worried about the care after the surgery or how he will look I am worried about how he will get around and if he will make it through the surgery.  Again it is a front leg and he weights 108 pounds.  Decision has to be made tomorrow.  Any words of wisdom?


On The Road

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24 September 2009
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10 March 2013 - 8:46 am
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Hi Buddy and family, welcome to Tripawds. Please tell your vet we said "thanks" for sending you here, there's no bigger compliment than to have a vet send clients to us.

Well, OK, my first advice . . . breathe. You are a nurse (and we have others here too!), you can get through this sane and pawsitive. Before you get too overwhelmed, start with Jerry's Required Reading List , and if you care to go into more detail, check out our ebook, Three Legs And a Spare. We answer most questions in these two things but of course we're here for you in all sorts of other ways too, and just to be a place to scream and yell if you want to. We  know how upsetting this is, but as you can see, most dogs do great after surgery.

Take things one step at a time. yes, the prognosis is bad but I can't begin to tell you  how many dogs do live beyond those statistics. Many don't, many do, with and without chemo, you just never know so all you can do is have hope in your heart that Buddy will too.

Buddy is also on the smaller side of the giant dogs so he should do just fine after surgery too, we've had dogs larger than him do great.

I hope this helps. I have to run now but will be back later today to check in with you. Stop by our chat room , we often have people there throughout the day who are wonderful to talk to. Again, welcome, your future posts won't require moderation.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

Member Since:
26 February 2013
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10 March 2013 - 9:22 am
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I faced the same decision with my almost 11 y.o., 85 lb. pittie a couple weeks ago. We were treating him with chemo for lymphoma when we discovered the osteosarcoma in his humerus. He didn't have a fracture but had been essentially unable to use his rf leg for a few weeks. He wasn't a good amputation candidate because of significant arthritis in 2 of his other 3 legs. We even tried radiation to shrink the tumor & a bone-building drug, & after two MORE weeks he was still in just as much pain, even with loads of tramadol & gabapentin.  Kermit is my best friend, my baby, my pillow every night, my guardian. I would do whatever he needed to be comfortable, and if nothing could be done I wouldn't keep him around just for my needs.

As a nurse you know that bone pain is some of the most excruciating pain possible, and when you add in a fracture, the pain must be almost unbearable, but our furry friends power through it as best they can. If that fracture becomes displaced, which can happen so easily, it will be torturous. Please don't put him through his last 2 weeks in that kind of pain.

I couldn't stand seeing Kermit try to tough out every day in pain and since he was otherwise not sick yet there was no way I could euthanize him, so we went for it & amputated the leg 2 weeks ago tomorrow & revised his chemo to treat the bone cancer first. He is doing GREAT!!

Kermit's recovery so far has been unusually smooth, with just a few bumps in the road, and we're going to have to address the arthritis soon, but I have no doubt that he's SOOO much more comfortable.  Even his oncologist, who initially thought he was a poor amputation candidate, was thrilled with his happy demeanor at his one-week checkup & first Adriamycin treatment.

We take nothing for granted; we know that eventually this awful disease will take him from us- maybe in a month, maybe in a year. But after two weeks he's starting to play ball again, he's chasing the cat in the yard, and he's starting to get up & down from the furniture again (without my freaking out that he'll fracture).

Your mileage may vary. But that's my story and I'm grateful every moment that we were able to provide Kermit with the care we have. We're not outta the woods, but I almost have my old, crazy, goofball doggie back and I'm adoring every extra moment I've been given with him.

I suppose all I'm trying to say is that the decision to amputate or not is yours, but whatever you choose, don't choose to let him suffer with a fracture until it becomes too unbearable.

Good luck & goddess bless.

Fort Wayne, IN
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25 January 2013
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10 March 2013 - 10:11 am
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Our almost 10 year old Libby is 5 weeks post amp of the right front leg due to osteosarcoma and continues to amaze us every day!  We had the same reservations you are having.  It helps so much to read, read, read as much as you can in these forums.  Everyone is so helpful and supportive no matter what your decision.  You will not be judged either way.

From our experience, if we had it to do over again, we would make the same decision.  Libby gave us no indication she was ready to leave us.  We started with the amp and just knowing she was no longer in excruciating pain was a great relief to all of us.  We are now treating her with metronomic therapy and a change in her diet as well as supplements.  She is loving life and we will continue to love and enjoy her til she tells us she can't do it any more.  Someone here said something about how we project our human emotions into or onto our dogs and all they know is they don't hurt any more and for most dogs and cats, they adapt very quickly.  Good luck with your decision and know we are here for you.

Liberty (Libby) was diagnosed with OSA on 1-22-13.  Right front amputation on 1-31-13. No IV Chemo. Metronomic Therapy started 2-19-13 along with supplements and some home cooking. Lungs clear until 1-06-14.  She's still her happy, hoppy, bossy self.  Living the dog life to the fullest and a proud Winter Warrior. :) RIP my Libby 4-21-03 to 3-19-14

Member Since:
16 October 2012
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10 March 2013 - 10:28 am
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Sassy is a 125 pound rottie now.  When she had her right rear amputation done due to Osteo she was 138.  she has done extremely well. That was one of our greatest fears was the fracture that is why we chose to amputate.  I couldn't & wouldn't have been able to let her go through that pain.    Osteo is a very painful disease.  Rotties are very stoic and noble they don't show a lot of of pain. 


While I can't tell you what is best for you or your dog I will tell you the best thing I ever did was take that pain away from Sassy.  She adjusted great.  I look back at our recovery while some are hard and others aren't I think hers wasnt as bad as it could have been.   


If it helps any Sassy got up the same day & walked.  My vet didn't know how a dog of her weight would do on 3 legs and she has done super.  Check out our blog & some of the others on here :)


Good luck with your decision.


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."

My heart lives at Rainbow Bridge
Member Since:
28 November 2008
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10 March 2013 - 12:06 pm
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There have been many large dogs here that have done just fine on three legs.  But we all know each dog is different.

Most dogs make it through the surgery just great, but you will find stories here of dogs who did not.  There is no guarantee, it is a chance you have to consciously make. The odds are that the surgery will go well, and the dogs will adjust in about two weeks.

It is an incredibly hard decision to face. Knowing the amputation would remove the pain is what finally made me choose amputation.  Trouble wasn't a wonderful candidate.  She was overweight by about 13 pounds and being a pit bull carried a lot of weight in the front end, and she was to have a right front amputation.

The vet's opinion was to remove the leg, and then address the weight.  By the time she was done with chemo, she had dropped 13 pounds without us really having to do anything different.  About a year later, she began to put on some pounds and we switched her to a home cooked diet that kept her trim.

This is a very personal decision.  So many factors are to be considered, the dog, the cancer, the ongoing treatment, the cost, just to name a few.  What ever you decide, you will be supported here.

Shanna & Spirit Trouble ~ Trouble gained her wings 3/16/2011, a 27 1/2 month cancer survivor, tail wagging. RIP sweetheart, you are my heart and soul.  Run free at Rainbow Bridge.
The November Five - Spirits Max, Cherry, Tika, Trouble & Nova. 11/2008 - 3/2013 An era ends as Queen Nova crossed the Bridge.

New Haven, CT
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27 December 2012
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10 March 2013 - 1:21 pm
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At this point, I'm pretty sure I'm going through my second osteosarcoma diagnosis.  20 years ago, my first family dog was limping (I was the little girl who noticed) and it was cancer.  I was too young to know all the details, but I don't think there was amputation or chemo as options.  Britta's tumor grew and looking back, it was clear she was in immense pain.  She's get up and hobble through the house, panting.  Both of those are signs of pain, bad pain.  The tumor was exploding her bones and she probably had fractures in there, too.  She was medicated, but I think if amputation was an option, we would have done it.  Now with Jackson, and dogs like Britta to help pave the way, we amputated his leg before any tumor caused fractures or too much pain.  We're beyond 2 months out and he's back to normal!  He's practically been himself since about 2 weeks post-amp.  Our recovery was really great and quite smooth.  Even if it wasn't, knowing he's pain free right now, enjoys his walks, fetches whatever you toss him, jumping on beds and couches, wrestling, and riding in cars to see special people....well, you get the picture: we'd amputate again.  Your pup is in pain and the pain will get worse.  I encourage you to remove that pain and enjoy all the time you have with him.  Buddy will recover and will be the star you love and adore!  Promise.  I'm glad you found us, although we all understand that we wish we never met!  Good luck.  Breathe and hug your pal.  Talk it over with Buddy.  He'll understand and feel much better without that darn tumor or fracture slowing him down.  Keep us posted!

~ Katy

ACL tear in right hind leg 12/5/12 and scheduled ACL repair surgery 12/21/12. Pre-op xrays revealed osteosarcoma. Amputation 12/28/12.  Chemo (carboplatin) started Jan 10, 2013 and ended on April 5, for a total of 5 doses. He handled carbo like a champ!  No side effects.  We started metronomic therapy at his third chemo and have been also doing some holistic treatments.  He's a lively, playful 10 year old huskie-boarder collie and a very proud member of the Winter Warriors!  Our love. Our funny little guy!

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2 June 2012
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10 March 2013 - 3:26 pm
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read your story and once again hate hearing this news........i also have a rottie w/osteosarcoma, she is 6 her name is Chance, she is also my just passed 10 months of diagnosis, no amputation, she was in a clinical trial at the  U of I  had radiation to the tumor site and monthly infusions of Zometa{bone rebuilder} my vet also told me she had 3-4 months without the amp.....SHE WAS WRONG! IF I WOULD OF LISTENED TO EVERYONE THAT TOLD ME.....PUT HER DOWN GIVE HER THE EASY WAY OUT DONT LET HER SUFFER, I WOULD OF MISSED THIS JOURNEY WITH MY CHANCE.....Chance swam in the pool all summer. went to the dog park 3x's a week had a over the top Christmas with us....and will be turning 7 next sunday st. patricks day!!!!{ big party planned} she was doing wonderful....THEN they preformed an ultrasound, and by accidenent found a mass on her kidney, a different cancer they tell grew so fast that i hat to make a quick decesion to put her on chemo{oral} that got her so sick she ended up in the hospital with a low white blood count and an infection....however....the 2nd ultrasound showed the masses on her liver and bladder dissapeared...THE CHEMO WORKED. NOW SHE HAD HER SECOND ROUND OF CHEMO AND AM HOPING THAT THE OTHER MASSES DISAPPEAR SO SHE CAN GET BACK INTO THE TRIAL AGAIN, THE zOMETA HELPS HER LEG PAIN...SHE HAS SLOWED DOWN, MOST DAYS SHE REFUSES TO EAT, AND I DID SECOND QUESS MY DECISION AT TIMES.....BUT NOT ANYMORE, THIS DOG KEEPS BOUNCING BACK, I HAVE FAITH THAT SHE IS GOING TO GET THRU THIS, BUT ITS HARD FOR ME TO WATCH HER GO FROM A STOLIC ROTTIE TO JUST LAYING ALL DAY MOST DAYS....HOWEVER, SHE IS HEALING, I WOULD NOT DO ANYTHING DIFFERENT AND I HAVE NO REGRETS I WOULD NOT OF MISSED THIS JOURNEY WITH HER FOR ANYTHING...YOU KNOW YOUR DOG BETTER THAN ANYONE, YOU WILL MAKE THE RIGHT DECISION FOR HIM,,I'LL TELL YOU ROTTIES ARE TUFF...AND MY ROTTIE HAS SUCH A DESIRE TO LIVE THAT I WILL DO ANYTHING TO HELP HER BEAT THIS DISEASE...HOPE ONE DAY THEY CAN FIND A CURE FOR ALL CANCERS, BUT UNTIL THEN JUST HAVE HOPE AND BELIEVE YOUR BOY WILL GET THRU THIS BECAUSE HE WILL.....HE WILL ASTOUND YOU...GOOD LUCK, IT WILL BE OKAY, NOT SURE IF YOU BELIEVE IN GOD...BUT I KNOW THAT IS WHO HAS BEEN KEEPING MY CHANCE IN HIS HEALING GRACES.....SENDING YOU HEALING PRAYERS TO YOU AND YOUR SPECIAL ROTTIE big-grin

Sydney, Australia
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13 September 2011
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10 March 2013 - 3:59 pm
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Magnum was a 9 year old rottie when we amputated her back left leg due to osteosarcoma.  We also did 6 rounds of chemo. I didn't hesitate to do the amputation because I knew it would get rid of the terrible bone pain (and by the time it was diagnosed we only a week or so to make up our minds because her pain was getting bad)


Magnum was a bit lighter than your boy (about 80 pounds before surgery).  She got 8 months (which is less than the stats) but we don't regret anything.  She bounced back from surgery (see below, just a few days later) and after she finished the pain meds a few weeks later (they messed with her head) she was a very happy girl again.  She got around on 3 legs as if she'd always only had 3.  



Since I've been on this site I have seen a couple of dogs who lost their battles within a few weeks due to complications but the vast majority of dogs get through surgery without any problems.  The prognosis after that is anyones guess.  There are no guarantees with cancer. Some people do chemo and still only get a few months, others don't do cancer and beat the odds.  All I can say is that we (that's Magnum and her pack) got to have so much fun and loving in those extra 8 precious months that we were given post amputation.

It's a very personal decision and only you can know what is best for you and your rottie. Look into your heart and do what feels right. We are here for you whatever your decision.


Karen and Spirit Magnum


Magnum: 30th May 2002 to 5th May 2012. Lost her back left leg to osteosarcoma on 5th Sep 2011. Lung mets found on 20th Mar 2012 but it was bone mets in the hip that ended her brave battle. Magnum's motto - "Dream as if you'll live for ever, live as if you'll die today" (James Dean). Loyal, loving, courageous and spirited to the end. My beloved heart dog, see her memoirs from Rainbow Bridge ......

10 March 2013 - 6:15 pm
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Thanks to each of you who posted a response.  First this site is awesome and has given me knowledge to help me make my decision.  As you can tell I have been torn with the decision to amputate or not to amputate. Afterr visiting with my husband we feel we need to give Buddy a chance.  I look at Buddy and he doesn't look or act sick and his eyes are still bright and happy.  This tells me he isn't ready to leave either.  God has given Buddy to me for 10 years to love and take care of and I can't turn my back on him now.  Who knows what the outcome of the surgery will be or how long Buddy will have but I have faith that no matter the outcome, Buddy will know and I will know that I cared and loved him enough back that I gave him a chance. 

Again each of your journeys were helpful to me, knowing that others have gone through this tough decision.  I do believe in GOD and know that he will give me strength through this trial, some of that strength has been directed to me through each of you.  God bless each of you for reading my post and responding to me.  Again, they have all helped me.

I will keep you posted of Buddy's surgery and recovery as well as our journey with this disease.  Buddy and I hope to have a story that we can share with others who face the same situations. 

Surgery should be scheduled some time this week....



On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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10 March 2013 - 9:11 pm
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Please do let us know how things are going, we are here to help however we can OK? Good luck!

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

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28 February 2013
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10 March 2013 - 9:30 pm
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My rottie who is a few days shy of 6 was diagnosed with hystiocytic sarcoma. As a nurse you are probably thinking the post op time is going to be horrible as with people they take forever to get up and moving not the same with dogs. JD weighed just over 100lbs pre op now weighs probably 5lbs less minus the leg and he was up the same day and doing stairs the next day.


Advocate for pain control during and after surgery I was able to take IM Dilaudid home with me and gave one dose to my dog. I think being a nurse and dog rescuer they were comfortable doing that for me.


As well my dog had some rare post op bleeding after a fall from standing have some supplies ready just in case, 4x 4 gauze, soft roll, mepores, hypafix and vet wrap cause you never know and JD and drainage for several days after requiring a few dressing changes.


Follow your heart and you will know what is best for you dog be prepared for him to be sad and lazy for the first while but with the pain meds he will be comfortable.

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2 June 2012
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11 March 2013 - 9:36 am
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to JODIO6  wow,,,,that cancer hystiocytic sarcoma is what the oncologists are saying is the 'second' cancer chance is fighting,,came up on her kidneys, spread like wildfire, liver, bladder and after the chemo the masses on her liver and bladder where gone!!! hate that your baby has this however, this is the first time i ran into another rottie friend has the same me hope!  Linda CHANCES MOM and best friend

11 March 2013 - 6:09 pm
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Update - Buddy is at the vet tonight, surgery in the morning....

Hard to let him go tonight but Buddy couldn't wait to get behind the door to the kennels!  I told him I would be back to pick him up and he would feel so much better.  He acts like nothing is wrong...

Vet thinks he has a good chance and in fact, he doesn't think I will need the harness but I think I am going to get one anyway.  Now I wished I had measured him before going to the vet so I could order it tonight.  We did purchase an elevated feeding bowl tonight so he will have new food bowls when he gets back home. 

Thanks again.  Will keep all posted.

Fort Wayne, IN
Member Since:
25 January 2013
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11 March 2013 - 6:27 pm
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Yay for Buddy!  He will feel so much better.  It's good to get the harness on order but you may not be able to use it until the incision area is more healed.  The day we picked Liberty up we used a suggestion from this site.  We split a canvas shopping bag up the sides to help her walk on the vets slippery floors.  It worked really well.  I think by that evening or the next day, she didn't need it any more.

Get some rest while Buddy is being looked after.  I look forward to more updates!

Liberty (Libby) was diagnosed with OSA on 1-22-13.  Right front amputation on 1-31-13. No IV Chemo. Metronomic Therapy started 2-19-13 along with supplements and some home cooking. Lungs clear until 1-06-14.  She's still her happy, hoppy, bossy self.  Living the dog life to the fullest and a proud Winter Warrior. :) RIP my Libby 4-21-03 to 3-19-14

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