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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

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12-13 year old Rotweiler with Osteosarcoma in rear leg
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Forum Posts: 4
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20 June 2016 - 2:35 pm
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Hello,

My sweet Isabella (we call her Isa) was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma about 1 1/2 months ago in her rear hind leg.  It has enlarged to size of a grapefruit where her ankle would be and has started to breakthrough the skin with oozing sores on it now.  We are managing with pain medications but know we need to make a decision quickly on what to do.  We don’t have tons of money so chemo is completely out for us.  Both an oncologist and our regular vet have both said the only other options are to amputate or to put her down.

We are a house divided and struggling with making the decision either way.  Amputation is still a steep price to pay but more within our reach.  However, Isa is about 12-13 years old and at our last vet visit we did an Xray to see if it had spread (which it has not) and she has signs of arthritis developed all through her spine and ribs more than what most other dogs have had.  Our vet seemed a little concerned and said there is a 50/50 chance it will go positive or the other way.

I’m not sure the amputation is worth it with her age, where my husband is deadest he thinks she would be fine.  I know this decision is completely ours to make but any input or advice would be much appreciated.  We love our girl so much and really want to do what is best overall. 

Thanks,
Lisa

The Rainbow Bridge



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20 June 2016 - 3:30 pm
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Hi Lisa,

I’m glad you posted here. It was nice chatting with you today. I hope the resources I gave you help find assistance, and that you can all come to a decision that’s best for Isa. I know this is a tough situation, my heart goes out to you. We’ll be here for you no matter what you decide OK?

P.S. Here’s a post about fixing your Avatar. We’d love to see Isa’s photo!

http://tripawds…..my-avatar/

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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20 June 2016 - 3:37 pm
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I have updated my avatar with Isa’s photo. 

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20 June 2016 - 3:47 pm
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What a cutie!  My Otis has mild arthritis in his hips.  Our family vet was more in favor of limb sparing surgery, but the surgeon felt that Otis was a good candidate for amputation.  Have you spoken with anyone other than your family vet?  Getting a specialist opinion might help.  For us, Otis’ leg was broken, so it was amputate or put him to sleep.  He does have some bad days when he overdoes it, and we don’t take very long walks, or even walk every day, but otherwise, he is doing well.  It just wasn’t time to put him down.  It is a really hard decision, and the statistics on osteo aren’t encouraging, but the amputation does remove the pain and improve quality of life for whatever time is left.  We will all be thinking about you.

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.

Virginia




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20 June 2016 - 5:21 pm
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So sorry you find yourself here. This stupid piece of crap disease akes us deal with really hard “forced choices”. I know speaking with Rene (Jerry) and researching the I fo she gave you has been very helpful.

What’s Isa’s attitude normally like (before the painful leg)? And BTW, her avatar shows a beautiful and vibrant happy girl! Is she showing visible outward signs of arthritis or just from the xrays? Overall health good? And that’s great that the xrays were clear of mets.

We’ve all learned here that age truly is just a number! Some dogs that come to mind who got extended pain free time who were all 13’or older…Sam (he had arthritis), Franklin, Shooter, Sarah (15), just to name a few. You MUST keep in mind though that there are NO guarantees regardless!! Some dogs, regardless of age, aren’t ablt to handle the surgery itself. It’s rare but it does happen!

We can tell you that many senior dogs who were already showing symptons of arthritis prior to surgery had handles three legs just fine. Do you have access to an Orthopedic Surgeon or even a Rehab Specialist who could give you more insight? Sure, sometimes a dog may need help for awhile with a harness, or maybe they aren’t interested in running a marathon. There are certainly an array. of meds she can take for her arthritis that are lroven effective. But one thing they are all interested in is being pain free and being spoiled and loved and cuddled and getti g tummy rubs and ear scratches…And maybe a scoop of ice cream every now and then too!

We all learn from our dogs very quickly around here…it’s not days on a calendar that matter….it’s making everyday count without worrying about the tomorrows. Dogs live in the NOW and could care less about statistics and “diagnosis”. You and yiur husband know Isa best.

I know when my Happy Hannah was diagnosed and my regular vet threw out the word “amputation”, I was startled by the suggestion a dnd said absolutely not! Long story short, the pain meds were starting to jave to be increased. She held her leg up ine day rather than was “just” limping. I made the appointment for the surgery…I cancelled it….I rescheduled…all this was before I fou d this site! She had the amputation. Six days later I joined this site in a panic because I thought I had made a HORRIBLE decision!”Her recovery was rough for a few weeks. This team pulled me through with sulport and information. Her sparkle started coming back bigger and brighter than before! I could finally say I did this FOR her and not TO her!! BEST DECISION EVER!

For me, it basically came down to what I would “second guess” the most…not doing the surgery, letting her go without taking the risk of the surgery turning out badly……..or, doing the surgery and maybe it didn’t turn out very well…but at least I tried, I gave it a shot. For me…and this was just me….I knew I had to try and, obviously, I’m grateful I did!

Every sscenario is different. Every scenario has its own set of challenges…senior, bad hips, overweight, arthritis, other health issues, and, of course, finances. AMPUTATION IS NOT FOR EVERYONE. THERE ARE NO RIGHT OR WRONG DECISIONS!! Every decision we make here is out of LOVE’and that is always the “right” decision!!

Have a “conversation ” with Isa. Let her tell you what she thinks!

We’re all here for you. Yiu are not alone no matter what! Please keep us posted. We care. Besides, we’ve already fallen in love with your beautiful Isa! 🙂

Lots of love

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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21 June 2016 - 7:57 am
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otisandtess said
What a cutie!  My Otis has mild arthritis in his hips.  Our family vet was more in favor of limb sparing surgery, but the surgeon felt that Otis was a good candidate for amputation.  Have you spoken with anyone other than your family vet?  Getting a specialist opinion might help.  For us, Otis’ leg was broken, so it was amputate or put him to sleep.  He does have some bad days when he overdoes it, and we don’t take very long walks, or even walk every day, but otherwise, he is doing well.  It just wasn’t time to put him down.  It is a really hard decision, and the statistics on osteo aren’t encouraging, but the amputation does remove the pain and improve quality of life for whatever time is left.  We will all be thinking about you.  

Thank you for your post.  We have seen a specialist who said she was a candidate for amputation along with our vet. They have told us there is a 50/50 chance it goes great or the other way.  We are also seeing another vet today to get a 3rd opinion and hopefully different pricing for amputation. The most difficult decision for us is because of our financial situation.  The surgery is a very big commitment for us and weighing the pros vs the cons is not making it easy.

Minneapolis, MN
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21 June 2016 - 8:03 am
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It is a hard decision and the financial impact surely is part of it – we all know that.  

Have you looked at Care Credit if you opt for surgery?  Ask if it is accepted and think about applying – the 6 month no interest option can make the $ a little more manageable if you qualify.

Best thoughts for you and Isa at this difficult time.

Editing to add that I don’t know if the mention of Care Credit is an issue from a forum rule stance – Admins if it is out of bounds (being a product and all) I apologize.  

Lisa, Minneapolis

On October 27, 2016, nearly 6 months after amputation, and 18 months since his cancer likely started, we lost Pofi to a recurrence of Soft Tissue Sarcoma in his spine quite suddenly.  His canine sister also succumbed to cancer on March 1, 2019 - we lavished her with our love in the interim, but life was never quite the same without her only real canine friend. Cliff kitty had to leave us, too, suddenly, in August 2019. Lucia kitty grieved all these losses, but helped us welcome two new Lurchers into our home and our lives, Shae and Barley.

Blog: Pofi, Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumor Amputation

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21 June 2016 - 8:14 am
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Yes stupid disease indeed.  It is breaking our hearts.  We are seeing another vet today who can amputate to see if pricing could be less and to get another opinion.  We have spent so much on pain medication, doctor visits  and have to make a decision soon.  She is in a lot of pain from the mass. 

Isa before was just like her photo, happy go lucky, energetic, sweet loving and affectionate.  She showed a few signs of arthritis but mostly had good days.  She would sometimes be stiff and need to take her time but most of the other times she was just fine and didn’t seem to bother her too much. 

I think she would be fine if she made it through the surgery and recovery.  She is already pretty much a tripawd since she can’t put much pressure on the other leg.  It’s just the question of how much longer after that does she have? What if she passes soon after this?  It’s a very big financial commitment for us that unfortunately looms over our situation and it’s just not fair.  (Not that life is fair just makes it very difficult for us because we want to give our pets everything)

Thank you for your kind words and encouragement you have no idea how much this helps us. We are still praying over what is best for us and will keep you posted.

The Rainbow Bridge



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21 June 2016 - 4:03 pm
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hester said
Editing to add that I don’t know if the mention of Care Credit is an issue from a forum rule stance – Admins if it is out of bounds (being a product and all) I apologize.    

Oh gosh of course you can mention it, but thanks for asking, and it was a good idea to mention it. My only issue with Care Credit is that if a borrower misses one payment, just one, the interest rates goes through the roof to like 20%. So you just have to be sooooo careful with it.

I had referred Lisa to Tripawds list of Financial Resources info as well when she was in the chat. It’s good to know all the options.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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The Rainbow Bridge



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21 June 2016 - 4:10 pm
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lc16 said
Yes stupid disease indeed.  It is breaking our hearts.  We are seeing another vet today who can amputate to see if pricing could be less and to get another opinion.

Another idea: did you ask about taking her home the same night after surgery? It’s not ideal and you won’t get much sleep, but when money is tight it’s a legitimate option.

It’s just the question of how much longer after that does she have? What if she passes soon after this? 

That’s the million dollar question whether you’re dealing with cancer or not. We never know how long we have. With or without cancer, dogs don’t have an “expiration” date, nobody does. If there’s one great lesson we learn with cancer is that it teaches us to make every day count, and be the best it can be.

I won’t lie: there have been members here with dogs and cats who pass away too soon after surgery, some even just weeks. It happens, and it’s terrible, the entire community reels when this happens. But even afterward, almost all of the folks whom this happened to, came back to tell us that they didn’t regret it (I can only think of 2 or 3 since 2006 who said they wouldn’t do it again). Most people are very grateful to have bonus, pain-free time with their animals.

This isn’t to say that you should move forward with amputation. We can’t decide that for you. Whatever you decide, we’ll support you OK?

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

Support the Tripawds Foundation!

Norene, TN
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27 June 2016 - 10:27 am
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Howdy and welcome!

I’m late to this discussion and I don’t know what Isa’s status is today, but I wanted to add perspective from someone who lost their fur-baby within days (11) after surgery.

Coulda-shoulda-woulda is the name of the game that cancer plays. As far as Harmony was concerned, I’ve decided to stay in the grey area of decision making. Why? Because I know today, that no matter what decision I made, it was the right one. When I start to question my decisions, I remind myself cancer wants us to be miserable. It’s one of the few diseases that affects the entire family and/or community whether it is a physical manifestation or not.

Yes, we lost Harmony way too soon, but we’re not talking about Harmony, we’re talking about Isa. And every fur-baby is different as every cancer is different. Don’t sell yourself (or Isa) short. They are amazing creatures with amazing advocates.

xoxo

pam

Harmony became a Tripawd on 10/21/14 (MCT). She left us way too soon on 11/1/14.

"We miss you so much; our love, our heart, our Harmony."

- Pam, Ron and Melody, Meesha, Doublestuff and Mariah Carey



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29 June 2016 - 11:12 am
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Hi Lisa and Isa heart

I just read your thread and would like to say I do not regret my decision of amputating my great dane’s front leg.

We have been blessed that she has been as good as gold and is now more than 2 months after amputation.

The thing with Isa is she is in pain and osteosarcoma is very, very painful…

She is now avoiding the use of that leg (therefore “training” for life on 3 legs) it is also a back leg, much easier for dogs to adapt than if it was a front leg.

Of course, financial considerations are terribly important but if you decide to go ahead don’t think of how long she will be with you, just enjoy every day and cuddle her to bits so she wants to live longer and longer.

Our dogs’ will to live is paramount when fighting cancer, I am told by our oncologist.

Wish you all the best and send big cuddles to your gorgeous girlheart

Eurydice 77kg/170lb Great Dane limping end of April 2016, amputation (right front leg/osteosarcoma) 4 May 2016 6 courses of carboplatin followed by metronomic therapy, lung mets found 30 Nov 2016. 3 courses of doxorubicin, PET scan 26 Jan 2017 showed more mets so stopped chemo. Holistic route April 2017. Lung X-ray 5 May 2017 showed several tennis ball size mets, started cortisone and diuretics. Miss Cow earned her XXL silver wings 12 June 2017, 13 months and 1 week after amputation and 6 1/2 months after lung mets, she was the goofiest dawg ever and is now happily flying from cloud to cloud woof woofing away :-) 

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