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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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Age & Amputation
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Forum Posts: 10
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2 December 2010 - 6:05 am
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1st time user, not sure what im doing….

I need some help ?  advice ??

I have a 13yr old dog, who at 8 was diagnosed with haemagiosarcoma (cancer in the blood).  we were given a 5% chance that she would live even with a transfusion. After a transfusion, which she came through really well, we were advised that she would have 6 to 18 months and have to take a chemo tablet every second day.  Well, we are 5yrs and 3 months down the track (exceptional, i say) but she has now developed what looks like cancer in the top of the thigh bone.  They could not get a definative result with the biopsy, and i am reluctant to repeat it with another general anesthetic.  Im now torn on what to do.  The choices are:  Do nothing, manage the pain for as long as we have quality of life and then euthanaise; Get another biopsy ($1000+), which may or may not point us in the direction of which cancer she has and therefore able to decide what chemo or radiation drugs to use; or there is a 5% chance that it is a different type of cancer that may respond well? to a different chemo drug.  Or at present i have done some research and am giving here vitamin b17 and have just ordered vitamin b15 and megazyme forte which i believe has a good result with cancer.  Or the option the vets seem to be pushing is to amputate the leg.  Amputation was not an option for me as i believed the dog was too old and it woudl be traumatic for her to have to learn to do it all on 3 legs and rehab etc etc

If anyone can provide another point of view or advice i would appreciate it, as this dog is my little girl, i have had her longer than both my children and i love her to bits (as you all do).  She is a happy and healthy dog otherwise, who still has a spark in her eyes, a cheeky smile and still loves to go wandering down the paddock.

Help ????

Here and Now


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2 December 2010 - 11:33 am
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Welcome and thanks for joining! Sorry to hear about Poppy. (Assuming that is your dog's name.)

If she is otherwise fit, trim and healthy, age should not be a factor when considering amutation! We have had plenty of senior dogs share their success stories here. Sami was a 14 year old lab with osteosarcoma, and Calpurnia is a 15 year old sled dog going on three years sincer her amputation.

Poppy is certainly a miracle dog to have survived so long with hemangiosarcoma! We wish you the best in her continued care. We don't have experience with the vitamin treatments you mention, but many members have found immune boosting supplements like K9 Immunity and Power Mushrooms to be very beneficial.

Please keep us posted!

FYI: You'll find lots of recovery tips in Jerry's Required Reading List, and even more tips and fast answers to the most common amputation questions in the new Tripawds e-book, Three Legs and a Spare.

My heart lives at Rainbow Bridge
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2 December 2010 - 11:40 am
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If she is otherwise healthy, and apparently she is, amputation should not be a huge adjustment for her.  Recovery time is about 2 weeks and it can be pretty rocky, but those with will, determination, and loving support overall do well.

Trouble just turned 12 in September and celebrated her 2 year ampuversary last week.  She is on Rimadyl for arthritis, and gets a glucosamine supplement, but still gets around pretty well for an old girl.

The choice is a personal one, and no one choice is best for everyone.  You know her better than anyone.  Make the choice with her best interest at heart.  You and she will adapt to whatever is handed you.

I would never have believed I would have made the choice to amputate, but I had even more fear of the other options.  Keeping her comfortable for as long as possible poses the risk of a broken bone and a limited estimated lifespan.  She's already taught you about estimated life spans, you take them with a grain of salt.  There is no timestamp on any of their butts, there is no way of knowing how long they have.  You just have to go on what you believe.

Shanna & Spirit Trouble ~ Trouble gained her wings 3/16/2011, a 27 1/2 month cancer survivor, tail wagging. RIP sweetheart, you are my heart and soul.  Run free at Rainbow Bridge.
The November Five - Spirits Max, Cherry, Tika, Trouble & Nova. 11/2008 - 3/2013 An era ends as Queen Nova crossed the Bridge.

The Rainbow Bridge



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2 December 2010 - 11:58 am
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Wow, Poppy is amazing! Five years with hemangio is practically unheard of, she is a true miracle girl.

While I would never tell anyone they should proceed with amputation, what I can offer is this: we have had lots of senior dogs do well on three legs. Although every dog responds differently (some take longer than others to recover, some have more side effects, some less), most dogs do well.

With the way Poppy has beaten the odds, she sounds like a true warrior princess who knows how to shine even when faced with adversity. What are the vets' assessment of her candidacy for amputation?

Are doctors talking about doing a bone biopsy? If so, keep in mind that a bone biopsy is a very painful procedure, and there will be a recovery time. So if you think you're leaning toward amputation and chemotherapy, get the biopsy after the leg is removed. That way Poppy isn't dealing with two recovery periods.

Bone cancer is a very painful condition when amptuation isn't an option, and while palliative care (painkillers) are an option, you need to consider what her quality of life will be if she is on heavy medications. How does she react to drugs? If you are leaning toward this option, you may want to investigate bisphosponates, which are a good way to go for dogs who aren't amputation candidates.

We have not heard anything specifically about the B vitamins for cancer therapy, and there is nothing in the Dog Cancer Survival Guide either (one of our most trusted references for cancer care), but we would love for you to point us toward the information you found.

Thank you so much for joining us here. Try checking back in the Chat room, we are typically there in the mid afternoons evenings, California time.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Las Vegas, Nevada
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2 December 2010 - 12:45 pm
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Welcome Poppy,

 

I'm so very sorry to hear that your having to deal with cancer AGAIN!   I've been through hemangio.  Miracle indeed!  From the looks of your avatar, your girl must have some german shep in her.  Hemangio is common in them. 

 

Like Jerry said, skip the biopsy if you are leaning toward amputation.  It really isn't necessary and it's painful for them.  And if you aren't leaning toward amputation, then there is no point. 

 

As far as amputation, you have do what your heart tells you to do.  It's a hard call considering her age and her history but you know your baby and your heart will lead you to the right answer.  If your heart tells you it is not time to let go, then just proceed to the next step of amputation and take one day at a time.  If your vet seems to think it is okay, then soldier forward.  We'll help you in any way we can!

 

Whatever you decide it will be the right choice.  Decisions made out of love can never be wrong.

Warm wishes,

Comet's mom 

Her Retired AvatarComet - 1999 to 2011

She departed us unexpectedly  January 23, 2011 at the age of 12 1/2.

She was born with a deformed front leg and a tripawd all of her life.

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2 December 2010 - 7:06 pm
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Wow guys, thank you all for your replys and kind words, i was certainly feeling alone in my decision making.  Im going to meet with the vet tomorrow and have a chat about amputation because it was not an option i was considering before.  Im watching poppy hop around on 3 legs tho and she seems awkward now and maybe a bit tired, so im wondering if amputating the leg will just make it more difficult for her because at least at the moment it is there for a bit of support.  Most of the dogs weight is toward the back tho, wont she have problems ??  especially getting up ??

thanks again,

will keep you posted.

And yes , Poppy “Poppet” is my sweet girls name…

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2 December 2010 - 7:14 pm
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Sorry guys, forgot to add.  The information on Vitamin B17 i just got by googling on the web.  It is found in apricot kernals and there is a hospital in mexico that does therapeudic treatments and swears ?? by it.  Anyway, i thought anything was worth a try at this stage.  Im also purchasing Vitamin B15 and megazyme forte, which i was told would help.  Open to any suggestion that may help poppy.  We dont have these items in australia and i am having to buy and ship them from america.  thx

Here and Now


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2 December 2010 - 7:59 pm
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poppy said:

Most of the dogs weight is toward the back tho…

Actually, dogs carry 70% of their weight up front, so dogs losing a front leg usually have a more difficult time during recovery. But all dogs are different, and we discovered that Wyatt took longer to build up strength in his remaining rear leg than Jerry did in his front.

Although it may seem like Poppet is using that leg, when she does, it is extremely painful, and it will only get worse. We are by no means advocating for amputation, only what you think is best for your sweet girl. But as Jerry's vet told us… she's already getting around on three legs.

Good luck in the decisions you face.

Northeastern PA
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2 December 2010 - 8:25 pm
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Hi – Zack was just diagnosed and had his amputation about 3 months ago (I can't believe its been that long!) and will be 14 yrs old in less than 2 weeks. He is slightly overweight for his size (although thinner than he had been about 2 years ago), but adapted extremely well to having only 3 legs.  He was standing as soon as we brought him home the day after his surgery, and his remaining rear leg has only gotten stronger since then.

He does 1-3 stairs with no problem, but we don't let him go up the regular stairs unattended.  He does the 'hopping' up mostly by himself, but we try to keep our hands near his butt to keep him balanced from side to side (since he has always 'run' – even on 4 legs….he doesn't know how to actually walk on stairs.)  We also help him up onto the couch and bed.  I'm sure he could learn to do it himself, but with his age, we don't want him putting undue stress on his back leg – it's just not worth the risk for us.

Good luck with your decision.

Zack, King of Dogs, 1996 to 2010

Zack lived a full 14 years, even to the end.

The joy and memories he provided us will last a lifetime.

Surviving him is his sister, Izzy, a 12-year-old boxer mix quadpawd.
And the latest addition, Zula, an 11-month-old pit bull mix tripawd.

The Rainbow Bridge



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2 December 2010 - 8:43 pm
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poppy said:

The information on Vitamin B17 i just got by googling on the web. 

Thanks, I was curious because I hadn't heard of it. I just located this article about B17, also known as Amygdalin. This Wikipedia article about Amygdalin gives a detailed history about the studies performed on it.

There are so many options out there for treating cancer. Some are proven, some are iffy, some are outright rip offs. Remember to always use care when deciding what to try, and always talk it over with your vet first OK?

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



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2 December 2010 - 8:45 pm
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Oh, here is a good article we wrote in our Nutrition blog that you may be interested in:

Supplements; How to Spot Bargains Versus Rip Offs

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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6 December 2010 - 5:19 am
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Hi Everyone,

Gee, Zack looks just like my Poppy, you would think they were related….

My head is so full of what i should do and what i should not, and how much money it is all going to cost, and how much i love my dog.  I tell you, its doing my head in.  Spoke with my vet and she is now not leaning towards amputation but would like to get the 2nd biopsy at $1200+ so we know what we are dealing with as they did not get a good biopsy the 1st time and the xrays and little bit they did get out of the 1st biopsy were not 100% consistant with osteosarcoma…… (just when i had got my head around amputation)  Speaking with her Hubby tonite (another vet) he suggests that even with the bio there is an 80% chance we will still have to remove the leg (and the dog is in some form of pain now) and spend a heap of money on chemo anyway.  I hate to see my dog in pain, i hate to cut off her leg and i know my family will hate spending another $5000 on a dog that my or may not live beyond the next 3 months. (i have a,lready spent $6000 on her since august 2005, with transfusion, medical care & chemo) Its the million dollar dog !!!!  She has started licking the paw of the “useless” leg and now has a nail bed infection.  Must have known she was off to the vet tonite, i had to chase her down to get her in the car and then she stood up in the car the whole way, as if to say “look mum theres nothing wrong with me, we dont have to go to the vet”, probably thought i wasnt going to bring her home.  The vet seems more worried about how i will cope with the amputation, he said the dog is healthy and will adapt and be fine. They will xray her lungs before removing the leg and will get a biopsy on the leg once its removed to see what we are dealing with (and this will be cheaper ??), but more importantly Poppy will be pain free, except for the amputation site, which will heal.  Sorry im rambling on, just need to get this out and there in no-one at home who is really sympathetic to my cause.  they dont understand that when she looks up to me for comfort or guidance, or for a lick or nudge, with those big brown eyes,  i cannot just switch her lights off, she is still 100% aware and bursting at the seams to go for a walkies with me, we just walk (hop) a lot slower now and stop to smell the roses.  Looking at amputation later this week at this stage. I hope im doing the right thing for her. Thanks guys for your site and being there.  All information and advice read.  Karen & Poppet.  crying

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6 December 2010 - 11:17 am
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poppy said:

All information and advice read.

You'll find lots of recovery tips in Jerry's Required Reading List, and even more tips and fast answers to the most common amputation questions in the new Tripawds e-book, Three Legs and a Spare.

Good luck with the decisions your facing. There are no wrong choices, just do what you believe is best for Poppy – and yourself – and have No Regrets! But for what it's worth, we have seen far too many people put their dogs through multiple painful expensive biopsy surgeries only to proceed with amputation anyway.

The Rainbow Bridge



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6 December 2010 - 11:55 am
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Karen, we totally understand. All of us want to do right by our dawgs, and it's hard to know what the answers are sometimes. I hope that this week gives you the extra time you need to feel better about whatever you decide to do for Poppet.

Have some good talks with her, look into her eyes and ask her what she wants. I'll bet she'll give you the answer.

Hugs coming your way…keep us posted.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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My heart lives at Rainbow Bridge
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6 December 2010 - 12:19 pm
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Don't forget, Karen, the vet's job is to put all the info out there for you.  It is the only way you can make an informed decision.  Our vet called after he had administered the anestheic prior to amputation to give us one last chance to do a biopsy in case we had changed our minds.  Looking at x-rays they were 90% sure we were looking at osetosarcoma.  We saw no reason to postpone the inevitable and put Trouble through the pain of a biopsy.

They did do a biopsy of the leg after it was amputated, along with chest x-rays as you mentioned so we would know for sure what we were dealing with and what stage it was.

I would do as Jerry suggested – talk to Poppet and see what the two of you come up with.  Once the agony of the decision making is out of the way, the tenson starts to lessen.

Shanna & Spirit Trouble ~ Trouble gained her wings 3/16/2011, a 27 1/2 month cancer survivor, tail wagging. RIP sweetheart, you are my heart and soul.  Run free at Rainbow Bridge.
The November Five - Spirits Max, Cherry, Tika, Trouble & Nova. 11/2008 - 3/2013 An era ends as Queen Nova crossed the Bridge.

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