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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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11.5yr old Labrador - front left limb amputation
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Scotch89
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26 August 2021 - 6:47 am
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Hi all,

My pup has just been diagnosed with osteosarcoma. Our vet has suggested amputation as over 80% of the bone is affected, as well as chemo.

I am keen to go ahead and get started with treatment, but my wife wants more information before we go ahead. Mainly she has concerns as to whether it’s “worth it” due to her age.

She’s been fit her whole life (no fat labs here!), walking over 5km every day. She has no arthritis or bone/hip issues, and other than eating everything that would fit in her mouth as a puppy - she’s been perfectly healthy her whole life. I know the survival rates aren’t great for this, but I’d love to hear some stories of people who’ve had senior, larger breed dogs undergo amputations and/or chemo, and how they handled/didn’t handle it.

My main concern for her quality of life. I want to do the right thing for her. Thankyou for any advice 

The Rainbow Bridge



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26 August 2021 - 10:46 am
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Hi and welcome! I'm sorry to hear about the diagnosis, it comes as such a shock.

When it comes to amputation the best vets in the world have told us that if a dog is otherwise healthy and fit, they would be a candidate for surgery regardless of age. We have had many senior dogs do very well on 3, and when I'm at my desk I'll come back and share those stories (many are in this forum topic too).

Until then I encourage your wife to visit us and check out https://tripawd......com/start for some good places to begin.

I will be back in a couple hours, stay tuned for feedback from others!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Virginia




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26 August 2021 - 12:02 pm
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Your Lab sounds like a delightful  fella with lots of personality and spunk!    What's his name?

You have come to the mright place for information, support and understanding.   No, it's not easy hearing the news, but good for you andnyour wife doing your research. 

And yes, we've had many seniors (many older than your pup) do very well with amputation.  As we often say arpund here  "age is just a number" and it's so true.  The fitness and attitude  of the dog are what matters.  And based on uour post, your pup is very fit!

One thing you can do to give your wife reassurance  is have him assess by an Orthopedic  Surgeon  if you haven't  already done so.  If there are  any underlying issues that would com him bei a tripawd candidate,  it'll show up.  And even of he does have arthritis,  as some ofmour seniors do, that doe eliminate  him as a candidate. 

Check out our thread Size and Age Matter.      https://tripawd.....e-matters/    for some more stories  about "older" pups. One fella comes to mind named Sam.  I believe at the time of amp he was fifteen  and had pretty bad arthritis.   His spunky attitude  and zest for life is the main reason  his hoomans proceeded with the amputation.   The pup had a God extended pain free   quality time for more loving and spoiling  and advetures.

Another sweet  Lab comes to mind named Brownie.  I think at the time of his surgery he was 11 or 12..  He thrived as a tripawd  and lived life to the fullest for over a year.'   I'lll contact her Mom to offer her input.

The important  thing with amputation  is the pain os removed and qua is restored.  It sounds like your pup may be at risk  for fracture  at this point, so try and make him take it easy  until uoj decide on the path forward. 

No dog has a timeframe stamped on their butts.  We've had some pups live four, five years.  Obviously  some may get far less "time".  Dogs do count day son a calendar...they just want to enjoy the bliss of now, live in the present and soak up all the spoiling and loving they can get from their hoomans.  

Recovery  is no picnic for the first two weeks-ish.  Good pain management   is crucial.  Most dogs spend  the first night or two at an overnight staffed clinic.  Many amaze  their hoomans by walking out on their own....some need assistance.  Drinking and pee are imp, but pooping and eating may be off for a few days.  Although  being a Lab, eating may not be a problem.

Oh, and check out Three Legs and a Spare .

Stay connected and let us know as questions arise, okay?

Hugs

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie!

PS. Just want to add that my "fluffy" 125 lb Bull Mastiff was 8 1/2..  Kind of considered  "older" for a large dog.  I truly agonized  over the decision  to amputate .  Even cance the first scheduled  sur because I was soooo scared (this was before I found Tripawds).  She WALKED out after a night at the clinic and, alth recovery was rough,  she adjusted  to her gait quite rapidly.   Truly was the best decision  FOR her!  She thrived  pain free happily and embraced each day with so much joy.  She did four rounds of Carboplatin and had zero side effects.  It's truly  a personal decision  whether you  go that route or not.  No right or wrong.  For now just keep things chunked down and decide on amputation. 

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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26 August 2021 - 1:00 pm
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Hey I'm back now, and see that Sally has given you such excellent info! I x2 everything she says and just want to add this link that goes to several Tripawds News blog stories about senior Tripawds:

https://tripawd.....nior-dogs/

Also, have your wife check out our Tripawds Quality of Life Survey results. You'll see that the majority of folks who answered our survey say that they would choose amputation again, even when their dog didn't live up to the expected prognosis. Most people say that because they were able to enjoy quality, pain-free time with their dog, it was worth the emotional and physical and financial cost of surgery. Now, that's not to say that everything is guaranteed to go perfectly. Complications can happen of course. But when you see the spark come back in your dog, and see they are living life with a terrible bone tumor eating away their leg bone, it's clear why amputation is the route most people take.

If you choose palliative care, or you're thinking about it,consider Hazel's story. Either way we will support you in your decision. Keep us posted!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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27 August 2021 - 5:03 am
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Hi, Brownie's mom here. I understand how you feel. My Brownie was three weeks before his 12th birthday when he was diagnosed. I true struggled with the decision. My thought was he is just too old to go thru this surgery. But after several nightts of doing research I found this site. I knew if other seniors could do it so could Brownie. I also realized this wasn't my decision to make, it was Brownie's  So we went thru with amputation of front left leg. He stayed at the vet for two days. He was getting up on his own and hopping his first day home. All dogs are different but he breezed through recovery. It did take about three weeks for him to get his mojo back but it came back bigger then ever! Now Brownie wasn't the fastest Tripawd, but heck, he wasn't that fast on four. He was more of a sniffer and investigator.

As Sally said Brownie lived an additional year and he was happy. I know a year doesn't seem long but it gave us time to have some quality time together and for me to spoil him rotten. Brownie has been gone now for over a year and I still miss him and I always will 

Brownie was also always very heathly so the diagnose was quite a shock.

You know your dog better then anyone and will make the right decision. You can click on the signature below and see video of Brownie.

FYI, I found out that pain meds only work for so long.

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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27 August 2021 - 5:30 am
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Here is a little clip of Brownie. You can see he is happy! Would live to see pics of your girl.  Labs Rock!

https://youtube.....ture=share

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"

The Rainbow Bridge



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27 August 2021 - 10:01 am
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Thanks for your super helpful feedback Nancy! We always enjoy reminiscing about Brownie, what a rock star!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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27 August 2021 - 6:48 pm
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I replied very early this morning and did not quite have all my thoughts. Lol 

I just wanted to add what I learned from this experience. First of all Brownie was my world as I am sure your girl is to you.when Brownie was diagnosed he still had a sparkle in his eye. He still wanted to play but he hurt. He was not ready to go to the bridge. So I decided to let Brownie make the decision. We would go through with amputation and if he wasn't happy we would say goodbye. Well, he surprised me everyday! He was even using the doggie door his first week home. It was a funny looking site bit he did it!

The way I look at it if we as humans lost a leg or an arm our pets would not give up on us. They would be right by our side cheering us on.  So shouldn't we give them the right to fight? Stand by their side and cheer them on!.  They wouldn't give up on us, so we shouldn't give up on them because of some crap disease. 

Some days will be hard but in the long run so worth it. And the first hop they make you will have such a feeling of pride and joy.i It's the best feeling in the world❤️.

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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27 August 2021 - 9:18 pm
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Good feedback Nancy.   And yes, seeing the video of sweet Brownie  "talking to you"..so much fun to watch 👍

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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