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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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12-13 year old with MCT
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Forum Posts: 3
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15 April 2020
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15 April 2020 - 1:00 am
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Has anyone here opted for amputation for recurring mast cell tumors?

Jasper is a 12.5 year old cutie mutt, weighing around 38lbs, with some heart and kidney issues and has been battling MCT the last 16 months. We removed a lymph node a year ago while the primary tumor (grade 2, mitotic index 0) on the same leg went away initially with steroids. After rounds of vinblastine, 6 months after finishing chemo a 2cm tumor has appeared where the lymph node was removed and is really bothering Jasper after the oncologist aspirated it (yep, it’s MCT). It isn’t responding to prednisone or palladia (the primary tumor on the foot retreated again though). The oncologist says removing just the new tumor will buy months as they think it is metastatic throughout the leg (but no evidence in the spleen or other organs) and we should amputate if we want a chance of a cure. However, they can’t guarantee it hasn’t already metastasized given he was on palladia/prednisone at the time of the scans/cytology. The other option was excision and radiation but that was at a cost of $14,000 (for surgery and radiation) and I’m not sure we can afford it.

The surgery is scheduled for today and I’m extremely nervous. Other than that marble sized tumor Jasper is a happy dog who is in good shape, high energy, and loving life. I’m in a Facebook group for MCTs and everyone has said I’m selfish for considering amputation at his age. I feel awful, I love my sweet boy and want to give him the best chance possible without sacrificing happy days.

The surgeon was initially very hesitant to operate given the heart murmur and age, but after speaking to the oncologist he seems to have come around to the idea. We’ve been told Jasper is moderate to low risk for the surgery.

Prayers and healing thoughts, as well as advice, is much appreciated!
The Rainbow Bridge



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15 April 2020 - 10:30 am
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Hi Jasper and family, welcome to our judgement-free community. Your future posts won’t need approval so post away. I’m sorry you had to join us but glad you did, because no matter what treatment anyone pursues, we are here to help every step of the way. Amputation isn’t right for every dog and there are pros and cons no matter the age, but when the decision is thought through with love and concern for quality of life, that’s what counts. 

Good job getting multiple opinions and talking it through with vet experts! Jasper is lucky to have such a good advocate for him. Yes, we have had MANY dogs join us because of mast cell cancer. Unfortunately it’s quite common for the disease to progress to the point where the leg needs to be amputated to give a good quality of life. And most every time the pup bounces back without any issues! And while he’s not a spring chicken, if you believe with your heart that he can bounce back and the vets agree, then once again Jasper is showing us silly humans that age is just a number. Animals are so good at that!

I’m sorry you had to endure the judgement from others on the Facebooger. That’s one reason among many why Tripawds doesn’t have a Facebook group, just a page. The judgement and insensitivity that’s often found on social media is something we do not want to be part of, and you will find nothing but support here, no matter how you decide to pursue treatment with Jasper. Even when someone decides not to amputate, we are here to support them. 

So is your home ready? Do you have traction and a raised feeder? A confined space for Jasper to recuperate in? Be sure to check out Jerry’s Required Reading List and our What to Expect series to prepare yourself. I’m in the Tripawds Chat for most of today and you can always call the Tripawds Helpline too, 844-TRIPAWD.

Good luck today and keep us posted OK?  We are sending all the pawsitivity in the world to Team Jasper!

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



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15 April 2020 - 10:33 am
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Oh I forgot to mention that you should check out these tripawd talk podcast episodes about Mast Cell Cancer:

Tripawds Podcast 79: Learning from Tri-Pug Maggie’s Mast Cell Tumor Amputation

Mast Cell Cancer Basics for Tripawds with Dr. Hohenhaus

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Livermore, CA




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15 April 2020 - 12:31 pm
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Hi and welcome.

I’m Spirit Maggie’s mom from the podcast Jerry linked above.  Maggie lost her rear leg way back in 2006 to a MCT.  She had one MCT removed from her torso about 6 months before her amp and had several cutaneous MCTs show up after her amp.  Due to lymph node involvement discovered after surgery her prognosis was poor- 6 to 9 months with chemo.  She lived almost 4 years and did not pass from mast cell but a second, unrelated cancer.  You can read her story and about her amp and chemo is you are interested, the links are in my signature below.

Maggie was only 7.5 when she had her surgery so age wasn’t an issue for us.  Mag’s little sis Tani also developed many MCTs although hers were all on her torso or flanks.  Tani’s first tumors showed up when she was around 6 and continued to show up on and off until she passed at almost 15 years old.  She did not pass from mast cell either.  We removed some of her tumors with the big margin surgery, then we removed some with a simpler punch surgery- but they kept coming back to I just left them alone. I never did chemo with Tani.

As far as age goes- I always say it’s just a number.  It’s the overall health of the pup that is most important.  Tani had multiple health issues some of which caused mobility problems.  By the time she was 11 there was no way I would have done an amputation if the MCTs moved to her legs.  On the other hand I now have a nearly 14 year old Pug boy who has had  both knees surgically repaired.  Obie is healthy and happy- if I was faced with an amputation decision for him I would certainly consider him a good candidate.

Although I was devastated after Mag’s surgery to find that the mast cell had already spread I came to realize that I had given her a chance with the amputation.  She really beat the odds and that doesn’t always happen.  But if I had chosen not to do the surgery she would have been gone within months.

Keep us posted on how Jasper is doing.

Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls

Tri-pug Maggie survived a 4.5 year mast cell cancer battle only to be lost to oral melanoma.

1999 to 2010

 

              Maggie's Story                  Amputation and Chemo

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23 April 2020 - 6:32 am
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Thank you all for your responses.

We postponed Jasper’s surgery last week to perform more staging and there is mild lymph node involvement but nothing else in the liver or spleen. Our oncologist said that we should consider amputation as palliative, not curative, as the disease may come back after amputation. Of course this is distressing news to hear because we were told a week ago it could be curative. Even with this news, both oncologists urge us to amputate so that the tumor no longer bothers Jasper (it has continued to grow quite quickly recently) and to give us the best shot at more quality time with him.

The surgery is scheduled now for today and I am feeling all sorts of anxiety and regret, I’m almost afraid to let myself hope because I feel so guilty. Jasper is full of life and energy and lots of love and more than anything I don’t want to be the reason for getting rid of that. I just have to trust that the oncologist has given us the best advice and we’re doing the right thing, but I feel entirely helpless.

The surgeon said Jasper will be low to moderate risk (the oncologist said about 10% risk, whereas a normal dog is 1% risk). There will be an anesthesiologist on staff too. They said the surgery will take 1.5 hours.  What should we expect if he makes it to recovery?

Here and Now


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23 April 2020 - 8:44 am
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wanderingspoon said
What should we expect if he makes it to recovery? 

First, lose that if thinking! Keeping a pawsitive frame of mind is most important right now. It’s why we say Be More Dog – and that’s not just some silly saying.

Check the Tripawds News blog for a whole series of posts about What to Expect.

And feeling helpless is normal, just don’t show it around Jasper. Right now he needs you to be a strong balanced pack leader to show hime all will be okay…again, follow his lead. Be More Dog .

Finally, don’t look at this as palliative. It is a new lease on life! Amputation may not get rid of the cancer, but it will get rid of the pain. Best wishes for a speedy recovery! Please keep us posted.

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23 April 2020 - 3:06 pm
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Hi, just wanted you to know that my lab was diagnosed with incurable bone cancer. I also heard that I was doing the amputation for me. Now some of that may be true. I didn’t want to loose my boy. But I did it for both of us. Brownie and I got an additional year together which I will always be grateful. 

Brownie was 10 days before his 12th birthday and did fantastic! And I tell you he may of been happier on three then four, because of all the extra spoiling he got!

Keep is posted and let us know how it goes.

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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23 April 2020 - 3:13 pm
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Watching Brownie in pain before the surgery was the hardest part of all. Here is a dog who eats, wants to play, wants to fetch the ball, but he hurt! So we took hos pain away.

Jasper will.be in our thoughts and prayers….

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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25 April 2020 - 1:23 pm
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Thank you all for your words of wisdom, your advice and prayers.

Jasper is home! He had his operation on Thursday morning and spent two nights at the surgeon’s post surgery. He was very lethargic the first day post-op (vet thinks it’s due to fentanyl) and would not walk at all. Whenever he stood up he wanted to sit right back down again. However, in true Jasper form, he ate every single meal put in front of him.

Day two post op he finally walked! Yay! The vet techs said he did well outside and did not want them to help at all.

However, now he is home in his bed and extremely lethargic and groggy. He just wants to sleep and didn’t acknowledge his fur friend Savannah who came to greet him. We’re just letting him rest for now (the drive home from the vets was 1.5 hours) and will try walking him again in a few hours.

How lethargic are they usually after surgery? He still is on a ton of drugs and a fentanyl patch so I’m hoping that’s what’s contributing. It’s hard seeing him so vulnerable and sleepy, but I hope this temporary sacrifice was worth it. I’m really happy he’s home <3 

New York, NY
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25 April 2020 - 2:18 pm
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Hi Jasper’s human! (What’s your name?) – To answer your question, VERY lethargic.  He is only 2 days out from major surgery and is hopped up on all sorts of drugs, so he is acting exactly as he should be.  While he will undoubtedly improve every day, he should be sleeping/resting for the majority of the time for the next 2 weeks.  Even Griffin, my pup who is a superstar in the recovery world, still sleeps way more than he used to (we are 23 days post-op) because it just takes so much more work to do everything on 3 legs instead of 4.  It is awesome that Jasper is eating and hopefully he’ll take his meds easily.  I look forward to updates on his progress.  Sending hugs from NYC! ~ Stacy

The Rainbow Bridge



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25 April 2020 - 4:16 pm
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I’m really happy that Jasper is home and things went well! And I totally agree with Stacy, he is right where he should be. Until stitches come out, expects lots of resting and mellow behavior. It’s medicinal, and very good for him. Keep activity to a minimum, he will have plenty of time to pawty with his pals when the stitches come out. 

Stay pawsitive, he’s doing great!

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

Support the Tripawds Foundation!

Virginia




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25 April 2020 - 4:55 pm
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WELCOME HOME JASPER!!!!A. Best place on earth, right?

Yes, also ditto everyone.  Jasper is nicely drugged and being zonked out is a good thing. And with the patch on, he is most likely very unaware and certainly  will have trouble finding  his sea legs.

Jist hang in there and, if he seems too drugged. you can check with your Vet about reducing  the meds a bit.  Usually, not always, but usually  the alertness comes back and the legs get more stable as the patch comes off.

Keep us posted!  And, enjoy the rest while you can!  That’s  not a bad thing for either of you!

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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6 May 2020 - 6:40 am
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