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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Hi, I have an 8 year old Rottweiler who was just diag. with histiocytic sarcoma in his left upper leg, at first they thought could just take the tumor but it extends a little to the elbow, so they want to do a full left leg amputation. he has all staging ultrasound was clear, chest xrays were clear, bloodwork clear. they found I lymph node in his chest close to the tumor that did come back positive. they still feel like amputation and 6 rounds of chemo gives him the best shot. but of course they cant tell me how long I would have some dogs go 6 months some 1/2 years! all depends on the tumor which this type of cancer is aggressive.
At first I was ready to schedule surgery right then, but then I am thinking is this what is best for HIM and I;m being selfish because I DO not want to let him go. we have an intense strong bond always have and really want to do what’s right for him. right now he is on presisone with makes him happy and he moving and tramadol. other option is just pain management until the cancer spreads and its time. I want as long with him as I can have.
any advise on this would be great, my head is like a twisted ball of yarn right now! anyone have the chemo afterword? how well they do with it? I also have a 2 1/2 yr old rottie wondering if they would be ok together, they have been so far but don’t know with brody having lot a leg would change things? how well do they really do with front leg amputations? my breeder also brought up they bare 60 percent of weight on front legs so she said down the line his ACL could go because of it! I need to make a desicion quickly. so any help advise would be greatly appreciated! is 8 for a Rottweiler to old for all of this???
Hi Brad, welcome. I wanted to get your post approved so others can chime in, because I’m on my phone now. I will be back later but for now please check out Jerry’s Required Reading List, which will answer many of your questions.
We have had quite a few members join because of histiocytic sarcoma, see this link for a few examples:
Back in a bit!
16 October 2012
Welcome to the club no one wants to join. I am not real familiar with this type of cancer. I know of several dogs who had it one being Murphy. He survived 4 years plus with this type of Cancer. They did chemo with him. Hopefully Donna will chime in (Murphy’s Mom).
Here is the link to Murphy’s blog. https://murphyh…..pawds.com/
Keep us informed
Michelle & Angel Sassy
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."
I’m Murphy’s mom, Donna.
Murphy was 7 when he was diagnosed. He was originally misdiagnosed, so he actually had been in pain & limping on & off for almost 5 months by the time he had his surgery. He had his right front leg amputated and we weren’t sure at that point even what type of cancer we were dealing with (we were under the assumption that it was osteosarcoma, since the biopsy had been inconclusive). It took a couple of weeks to get the final diagnosis. The lymph node they removed was also positive. Yes, Murphy had 6 doses of CCNU – it’s an oral chemo. He did really well with it. He also had to take a daily dose of denamarin to protect his liver while he was undergoing chemo. He had a CBC the day of chemo, and then again a week later (our regular vet did the 2nd one, since it’s a 1.5 hour drive out to Michigan State, where he had his treatment). Murphy might have been a little nauseous the day he got it, but it also was a long day for him, too. It was never enough that he needed medication for.
We were told that “if we were lucky,” we might get 12-18 months with him. So we watched & we waited. We did some follow-up x-rays – and they were clear. And we waited. And more x-rays were clear. And time kept going on, somehow. We didn’t do all of the supplements that some people do, but we did change him to a grain-free diet. I don’t know why we got lucky, but we did.
We did lose Murphy last year, at 11 1/2 yrs old, over 4 years after his surgery, but it had nothing to do with his cancer. He actually developed a hemangiosarcoma. He lived a good life! He ran the fence when dogs were in the park behind our yard, he chased squirrels, he jumped on the couch, he begged for food, he walked and raised money and awareness for canine cancer. He showed many people that dogs can have a good life on 3 legs!
Our other 2 dogs actually did very well when Murphy had his surgery. They seemed to know to give him space, we never kept them separated. He also did great when our grandchildren came over You would think that he would want to go hide away from them, but he never did, he laid in the middle of the floor and taught them about resilience, too.
22 February 2013
You have come to the right place for support , information and understanding. We understand your head being like a “twisted ball of yarn”! We all have wrestled with the same questions and agonized over what is best for our dogs and cats.
And trying to do whatever we can to have our dogs and cats with is as long as possivle, is NOT selfish …it’s called love❤
In order to unravel that tangled ball of yarn in your head, let’s keep things chunked down for now. Chemo can be decided on later. It sounds like your immediate need is to just focus on whether to proceed with amputation.
As far as “age”, it truly is “just a number”. It sounds like your pup is healthy and fit, other than that bum leg.
As far as a “potential” for an ACL, sire, tjat “coild” happen, but that can happen with four leggers too! And it does!! Has Brody been seen by an Orthopedic Surgeon? They can evaluate him to give you the assurance that Brody is a good candidate and will do just fine as a tripawd.
We have many Rotties in our tripawd family who have managed three legs with no problem. Yes, the front legs carry mpre weight than the rear legs, but that does NOT translate as reason NOT to amputate. It merely means you want to avoid any jumping down hard out of cars, or off sofas, or flying high to catch a frisbee and pounding down hard on the remaining front leg, etc.
There are lots of exercises that can be done to help strengthen core muscles, to help maintain a proper gait, etc.
Statistics don’t mean much around here. No one knows how much time anyone has. What we DO know is Brody does NOT have timeframe stamped anywhere on his butt . We also know Brody does NOT count days on a calendar. Time means nothing to him. All that matters to Brody is being with you and living in the NOW. He has no worries about tomorrow or about anything!
Brody and his dog pal will do just fine. His Buddy won’t even notice if he has three legs or four! Now, that’s not to say that, during recovery, Brody should be romping around with him! Moat dog pals recognize that their buddies need their space. Brody needs quiet recovery time. Recovery is NO picnic! It’s MAJOR surgery. It requires pain meds. It requires time to get his sea legs.
I want to be sure that you know we will be here to support you whether you do the surgery or not, okay?? There is no right or wrong. You will make a decision out of love and that’s the best any of us can do.
For me, one of the deciding factors, was I felt like I HAD to give my Happy Hannah (125 lb Bull Mastiff, 8 1/2 yrs) a chance . I needed to know I tried. I had to give her whatever time she would be here on earth without pain, but rather with quality, pain free time to love life to the fullest .
Take deep breaths, get centered and have a “conversation” woth Brody . What do you think Body would want?
Stay connected and let is know how we can help. You are not alone, okay?
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!
Thank you SO much for all the info and the drug to protect his liver from chemo, if I decide to go ahead with the amputation as they want to do 6 rounds of chemo after. It’s so hard to decide whats best for HIM.. he was evaluated by an orthro surgeon she was the one who said it had to be a full amputation since the tumor extends a little to the elbow. the oncologist at first they could just remove the tumor. he had one enlarged lymph node close to the tumor that did come back positive. the oncologist and surgeon seem to think this gives him the best shot, but also said this is an very aggressive cancer. she has seen some go only 6 months and some 1 -2 years. but 4! that’s amazing and gives me hope. it’s just such a hard call to make I love this boy more than anything, with my nasty divorce it’s hard to come up with the almost 10K it will cost when all is said and done but I don’t care about that, just really want him to be happy with a good quality of life…
thank you agin so much!
thank you so much for all the info and understanding AND LETTING ME KNOW I’M NOT ALONE, since my husband left I am the only one to make this very hard decision, he has seen an othro and they said he was a good candidate fr the surgery but like I told donna, they said they worse case they saw was only 6 months and the longest was 1-2 years.. and wow a 125 LB Mastiff! I have a very good friend who has one they are beautiful dogs. it’s just so hard to know what the right answer is,, sometimes don’t we wish they can actually talk to us and tell us what is best LOL. I a actually waitng for the vet to call today as I had a few more questions. it’s so hard knowing what is BEST fro HIM and not doing things because I don’t want t let him go. I want him happy with a good quality of life..ugh this is the worst part of becoming so bonded to our babies. they really are family, he is such an amazing boy…
Thank you so much it means so much to have info from people who have been there as well as not feeling very alone with all this.
I apologize that I left the link out of Jerry’s Required Reading List. Do check it out, you’ll find that lots of your pre and post-amputation concerns are addressed there.
Something to keep in mind is that there are no right or wrong choices here. Do what’s in your gut, that’s the best answer of all. Whatever you decide, know that we will support you no matter what.
Here’s another great survivor story for this kind of cancer: Barney B from Houston. He lived an amazingly long time (6+ years) and lived to his normal life expectancy. You never know!
As people we tend to focus so much on prognosis and numbers, but our animals do not. All they want is to feel good each and every day they are with us. If you can take comfort in knowing that most dogs do really, really well after amputation, and that everything else after recovery is icing on the cake, you can feel better about deciding to amputate. That’s a personal call, not everyone is that confident about their own dog’s ability to bounce back, and that’s OK too. We all must do what’s in the best interest of our dog or cat, and it sounds like you are on the right track for doing that for your pup.
Oh one more link for you, full of questions to ask your oncologist :
Where are you located? Is there a teaching hospital near you that might be cheaper? And don’t forget that you can apply through the Tripawds foundation for assistance. Murphy’s surgery was about $2600, but he was only about 50lbs, so a little smaller. I think his chemo was around $350 each treatment (give or take).
21 April 2017
My Riley is nearly at 18 months post amputation, and she had histiocytic synovial cell sarcoma. They told us if we were lucky we might get another year together. The oncologist is thrilled with her condition, and tells us to keep doing whatever we’re doing. Riley turned fourteen yesterday, so was a pretty senior dog when this all started, but she is doing very well. Her last ultrasound found no evidence of cancer. Riley had five rounds of chemo (CCNU) in addition to the amputation. I have her on a variety of supplements, too.
Riley the ROCK STAR! Congrats my friend, I love reading about how you beat the odds. Be sure to send your story for Tripawd Tuesday, we would love to add you to the growing list of histiocytic sarcoma survivors!