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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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6 Year Old Rottie Facing Amputation
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Member Since:
8 October 2020
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8 October 2020 - 12:53 pm
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Hi! I'll get straight to the point. Koda is our 6 year old male Rottweiler who weighs 113 lbs. On October 6th, we were at the vet for a limp and found a bone lesion on his back left leg. The vet explained it could be a variety of things, but it is concerning. Most concerning diagnosis would be osteosarcoma. On October 7th, we did a biopsy of the bone to see if it is osteosarcoma. Here it is, October 8th, waiting for a phone call to either confirm that is it osteosarcoma or give us good news. He is currently on pain meds so he is not in pain. 

The vet has said the best option, if it is osteosarcoma, is to amputate his back leg. So that is what we will do if its his best chance because we still want some years with our fur baby! I need some reassurance that amputating his back leg will not affect his quality of life. I know there will be a recovery time and time to get used to 3 legs, but will he still run and play? Will the weight be too much for his other leg to support? What if it is osteosarcoma and it has metastasized but we just can't see that on x-rays. After amputation, the cancer can be metastasized other places and come back with more aggression and then what? 

I don't want to put my baby Koda through amputation if it has microscopically metastasized and going to be worse for him. 

Please help and give all the information you can! sp_hearticon2

Kristen (Koda's Hooman)

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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8 October 2020 - 6:10 pm
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Hi Kristen and Koda, welcome! You've joined the club nopawdy wants to be part of, but we will be with you every step of the way to help you on whatever path you choose.

First, know that anyone who has been through the osteosarcoma diagnosis has felt what you are feeling, myself included. But once we saw how well animals can do on three legs, we knew it was possible to give our pet a great quality of life. And it's true! Check out the latest Tripawds Quality of Life Survey Results for some insight on member's feelings about coping with amputation.

Also, be sure to take a look at Jerry's Required Reading List for some important articles, and also our Tripawds e-books if you haven't already. 

It's ironic that amputation gets rid of osteosarcoma pain, but it really does. There are other methods that some people choose to pursue, like limb salvage or palliative radiation therapy, did your oncologist mention them to you?

 I know there will be a recovery time and time to get used to 3 legs, but will he still run and play?

Yes, absolutely! It will be a new normal of modified activity, but there's no reason why Koda wouldn't be able to enjoy his life.

Sadly, many Tripawd Rotties of all ages and sizes have joined us through the years, and I can't think of one who didn't bounce back from surgery and enjoy quality time with their humans. Some beat the odds and went on to live longer than predicted, some did not, but in almost every instance their human has reported no regrets, they were just glad they got to spend that time with their pain-free Tripawd.

Will the weight be too much for his other leg to support?

No, as long as you keep him slim (or help him lose extra weight if he needs to). Keeping a Tripawd slim is the #1 thing we can do to ensure quality of life.

 What if it is osteosarcoma and it has metastasized but we just can’t see that on x-rays. After amputation, the cancer can be metastasized other places and come back with more aggression and then what? 

If you want total peace of mind, you can pursue a CT scan, which will pick up micrometastasis. Either way, osteosarcoma eventually does metastasize but there are plenty of things you can to do help slow the progression and keep him happy. Don't jump ahead to there yet, since many dogs get lots of time before that ever happens. Focus on the here and now (we call it learning how to Be More Dog ) and you can't go wrong!

Meanwhile, I'll let others chime in with their own experiences. Please ask whatever questions you'd like, your future posts won't need approval. 

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

Member Since:
10 April 2020
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10 October 2020 - 5:25 pm
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    Kristen, look up Zivas posts under treatment and recovery. She is my seven year old Rotty. She weighs about 80lbs now but we've been watching her weight closer now that she is a tripawd. Her cancer was her front right leg and she went through amputation about six months ago and I can tell you this!! It has not slowed her down one bit. She does not know she only has three legs, she does not know she has cancer. All she knows is how to be the best dog she can and she is awesome. 

    Her pain is gone with the amputation and we have opted to go with an all natural treatment and so far so good! No signs of metastasizing and she runs and plays with the other three dogs almost as fast as she used to. She thinks she's still as fats though. 

Stay strong and positive and your fur baby will be just the same only on three!!

Member Since:
16 October 2012
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10 October 2020 - 7:06 pm
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Hello, Sorry you have to join the club no one wants to with cancer.  My Sassy was 6 and amputated her right rear due to Osteoscaroma.  She did really well.  She was 128 pounds when she was amputated.  Lost about 5-10 pounds after amputation.  Check out our blog.  You will have to go clear back to the beginning as I have updated her blog with my others.  She did 4 rounds of chemo and on the 5th we found out the cancer spread.  We did metronomics .  Sassy survived 7 3/4 months with mets in her lungs.  A total of 10 months or almost 10. 

Would I amputate and do chemo again yes.  I have also had an almost 13 year old Rottie that had cancer and we did not amputate him.  He had arthritis in his back and in his front feet.  Had he not had that I might have considered it.  So I have been both sides of the coin.

Michelle & Angels Sassy, Bosch and Baby Simba

Ps link to blog is in our signature line


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."

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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10 October 2020 - 7:43 pm
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steveh said
    Kristen, look up Zivas posts under treatment and recovery.

Better yet, just click on Steve's profile link. See "Topics Started" for every discussion he kicked off about Ziva.

The same is true for Michelle's profile. She is our Helpline Host on Sundays if you want to speak with her! Call 844-TRIPAWD.

Thanks for chiming in Steve & Michelle!

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |


Member Since:
22 February 2013
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10 October 2020 - 8:36 pm
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Can only ditto what everyone  has said so well.  Really glad our Rottie members chimed in.  

Your sweet Koda doesn't  have a timeframe stamped anywhere on that adorable Rottie butt of hers.  He doesn't  count days on a calendar.

All that, matters to Kpda is  that he is pain free and can love each day to the fullest with joy.  Just make every moment the best moment t ever, love in the NOW, Be More Dog , and you and Koda will be just fine!

Stay connected here and we will help you navigate thru recovery.   Ot's no picnic for a couple pf weeks, but as Michelle and Steveh  both said, it's well worth it.  During recovery  it's important  to remember  uou are doing this FOR Koda, and not TO him!


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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