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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

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Almost 4 year old great dane with osteosarcoma
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Bridgeport, MI
Member Since:
19 March 2012
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19 March 2012 - 5:05 pm
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Hi everyone, I am new to this site and so scared. My great dane, Tesa was just diagnosed with osteosarcoma. The specialist wants to amputate her rear leg from the knee down. I also have 2 other dogs including another great dane. I am scared that with the other 2 dogs that it will be hard on her or she will lose all hope because of not being able to play. Can someone that has been in my place give me some advice. My Tesa is all legs and she is my baby girl crying Thank you

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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19 March 2012 - 5:25 pm
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We're sorry to hear about Tesa, but glad you found us! You will find plenty of success stories about amazing Tripawd Great Danes by searching these forums and the blogs.

Don't miss Nova's blog. She is a blind three legged Great Dane who has been cancer free for more than three years now!

PS: Your future forum posts will not require moderation.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

Rock Hill, SC
Member Since:
28 November 2011
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19 March 2012 - 5:58 pm
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Hi Tesa and family.  I am so sorry you and your girl have to go through this, but you have found a great resource in this website.  There are many members on this site that have multi-dog families, several with Danes, and I am sure they will chime in shortly.  I think you would be amazed at how well dogs adjust to losing a leg and return to a very active, playful life.  In fact I have seen two posts recently where the members said their tripawd is actually faster than the four leg dogs.  Of course, if you decide to proceed with amputation, you should be careful to keep Tesa calm and still until she's fully healed.  But, after that, they are pretty much back to normal.  I can tell you that I would not hesitate to allow Zeus to interact with other dogs as he gets around great (for a "senior" dog winker).

I know this diagnosis is overwhelming, but I promise you it is manageable.  Every person has to decide what is right for their family - emotionally, financially, etc.  Some choose amputation, some choose palliative care.  Some do chemo, some don't.  Only you know your specific circumstances and what you can handle, but you obviously care about your girl and I'm sure you will make the decision that is right for you.

Good luck to you!


Zeus was a Husky mix diagnosed with Osteosarcoma at age 11.  A visible lung met and suspicious spot on his liver meant a poor prognosis-six weeks was our vet's best guess. We decided to fight for our boy and his right front leg was amputated on 12/1/11. We did six rounds of chemo, changed his diet and spoiled him completely rotten. We were blessed with 10 great months after diagnosis. Against the odds, the lung met remained a single met and grew very little over those months. A wonderful furbaby with the most gentle spirit, he fought with a strength that we never imagined he possessed. We have no regrets...

On The Road

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24 September 2009
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19 March 2012 - 6:17 pm
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JM, we're so sorry we missed you in the chat. Next time be sure to type something so we know your there OK? 

I know this is tough, and an osteo diagnosis is the pits. But don't give up hope and stay pawsitive, and you can both get through the hardest parts faster than you ever thought pawsible.

When I was diagnosed with osteo, it was a three-legged Great Dane named Moose who inspired my Mom and Dad to go through with the amputation. They figured if Moose could do it, I could too. And I did! For two amazing more years! And so many other dogs have too. Sadly, while not every pup will beat the odds, many will. You just have to remain hopeful and do your best to walk this journey with all the love you can. It sounds like you and Tesa will have no problem with that.

I encourage you to check out our Required Reading List, which will answer a ton of your questions, and our ebook, "Three Legs & a Spare". Both of these materials offer lots of information that can help alleviate your concerns. And for anything else you have on your mind, the amazing pawrents of Tripawds are here to help.

Hope you don't mind but I moved your post to this topic because it's where all the big Tripawd dawgs come to play. That way, future parents of giant breed pups can hear Tesa's story and become inspired like I know they will! 

Hugs coming your way. We're here to help.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

Bridgeport, MI
Member Since:
19 March 2012
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19 March 2012 - 6:50 pm
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Thank you. I am trying to learn the site so please forgive me if I miss a post. I am not sure how to answer back, but think I found it.

Las Vegas, Nevada
Member Since:
14 August 2009
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19 March 2012 - 9:03 pm
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I'm so sorry you find yourself here with us.  It's so very scary!  I hope this all works out for Tesa!


I have a question, why would the vet only amputate the knee down?  That is never done that I know of and I've been here a very long time!  We have a vet that pops in here every so often (tazziedog) and she can tell you reasons to not do half a leg and if memory serves me, it's because it doesn't heal properly.  I have no medical experience, but I would sure ask the vet abou that and opt to have the entire leg removed.  We have had dogs have half amps because of being hit by a car and everyone that I remember had to redo the surgery and take the entire leg.


As far as playing....HA!  Put your mind to rest!  I had a tripawd for 12 years!  Playing was no problem!  Once Tesa gets her footing and her sea-three legs - she'll be playing like a puppy!   Promise.laughing


Keep us posted!

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.

Bridgeport, MI
Member Since:
19 March 2012
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19 March 2012 - 9:11 pm
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I have been told by 2 vets that they wouldn't even do the surgery because she was too tall. This vet said from the knee down because it is only in the head of the tibia and fibula at this time and that if we only take from the knee down she will have that stub to help her push up and go to the bathroom. I just found out today that amputation is my only option and I am still doing research and scared to death!!

Calgary, AB
Member Since:
29 January 2010
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19 March 2012 - 9:33 pm
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Glad you found us, although admittedly not under the best of circumstances. The cancer diagnosis is SO scary and hard to hear. Hang in there. We have had a number of Dane Tripawds, including Nova, as Admin said, who has kicked cancer in the butt for 3 years now!! She is a front amp and maybe it is harder being a rear amp for some things but overall I wouldn't let that be a deciding factor for me. We've heard of other Vets who have said that the dog was too big, too heavy, too old, too tall, too rambunctious, etc but many of those owners opted for amputation anyway and had tremendous results. You know your dog best and if you make decisions based on knowledge and your heart you will never go wrong. Please keep us posted.

We are here for you.


Tai – 9 yr old lab. Diagnosed Osteosarcoma Dec 18/09. Front right leg amputated Dec 21/09. Started chemo Jan 7/10. Lung mets discovered Sept 16/10. Valiant to the end on Oct 26/10 when cancer reappeared in a leg and we made the decision to set her free. Forever in my heart where not even cancer can take her from me.

Member Since:
18 January 2012
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19 March 2012 - 9:55 pm
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Vets are so afraid of our Giant furbabies!  When Baby, my 155lb English Mastiff, was diagnosed my surgeon tried to convince me to 'let her go'.  Luckily, our regular vet encouraged us and we had her right rear leg amputated.  She's doing well.  She's not running around as soon as some smaller, lighter, younger dogs, but she's so happy to cuddle and play and be with us.  She squats just fine and when she doesn't feel like squatting she pees standing up like horses do.  The primary goal is to make sure to get rid of the cancer and the pain.  My personal opinion is - don't let the vet skimp for the sake of a squat unless they are absolutely sure they are getting it all!

Toby - Baby's Landseer Newfie 'brother' was a little confused when we kept him away from her at first.  He sniffed the stump and seemed to figure out that he needed to leave her alone.  Just yesterday, Baby was back to squirming around and taking toys away from Toby... so playtime is back!  During recovery they'll miss the play and some days may seem sad, but remember - it's recovery!  Tesa will regain her strength and figure out what kind of play works for her. 

Best of luck with this very difficult decision.

We'll be sending lots of pawsetive thoughts your way!

Hugs and Wags

Judy and Baby

San Diego, CA
Member Since:
29 October 2010
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19 March 2012 - 10:54 pm
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Welcome to you and Tesa. I know how overwhelming and scary all this is. As others mentioned, we've had many great danes and other giant breeds on the site do very well as Tripawds.

I don't have much to add to the advice others have given, but just wanted to say welcome to the site, and I hope you get some help. If you do decide not to do the amp, you might want to look into radiation for palliative care. You could also look into artemisinin .

Hang in there! Kepp us posted.
Jackie, Angel Abby's mom

Abby: Aug 1, 2009 – Jan 10, 2012. Our beautiful rescue pup lived LARGE with osteosarcoma for 15 months – half her way-too-short life. I think our "halflistic" approach (mixing traditional meds + supplements) helped her thrive. (PM me for details. I'm happy to help.) She had lung mets for over a year. They took her from us in the end, but they cannot take her spirit! She will live forever in our hearts. She loved the beach and giving kisses and going to In-N-Out for a Flying Dutchman. Tripawds blog, and a more detailed blog here. Please also check out my novel, What the Dog Ate. Now also in paperback! Purchase it at Amazon via Tripawds and help support Tripawds!

Bridgeport, MI
Member Since:
19 March 2012
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20 March 2012 - 5:54 am
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Thank you all it has been a very scary thought and decision. Tesa has had 2 biopsy that have came back that there was not enought to diagnose by but the xrays have been very clear. The specialist said we only had 2 options: one being do another biopsy where Tesa has to be put under and take a chunk of bone out which could possibly not come back answers or two is just to amputate and send the whole leg in for a biopsy. It just has been so frustraing to put her through all these tests. Since last week she still does her full hard runs around the house when let outside but when she comes in she only uses that back leg as a toe touch, moreless and doesn't weight bear on it so I am thinking she will be okay to handle the surgery. Since we haven't gotten a biopsy report yet the specialists do not and don't seem willing to do radiation.

20 March 2012 - 8:32 am
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Welcome, sorry you are dealing with all of this.

My tripawd was a little pug so can't help with the tall issues.  She was a rear amp and got on fine for almost 4 years.

The amp at the knee sounds odd to me too- I would think it would lead to trouble if Tesa pushes off of it too much- I haven't really heard of that type of surgery here.  Tripug Maggie had a mast cell tumor in her knee, her amp was close to the hip, but left a bit of the femur.  The 'stub' was wrapped with muscle to protect it.  The surgeon told me that cutting the femur was preferable then dis-articulating the joint at the hip, and that leaving too much of a stub would be problematic later if she tried to use it.

Good luck with getting all this sorted out, I know how overwhelming it all can be.  I don't think I heard much of what the vet said after she said amputation was the best option for Maggie's cancer.   Focus on doing the best thing you can for Tesa and it will come out all right.

Let us know what you decide.


Karen and the pugapalooza

Member Since:
22 August 2008
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20 March 2012 - 9:15 am
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If the cancer is in the tibia then it is okay for your vet to amputate at mid-femur but I would still leave as small a stub as possible (they should leave just enough muscle to make a pad).  My Tazzie was a tall Mastiff and she had 2 prior ACL (knee) surgeries but she did fine without a forelimb and at the time we had a 150# French Mastiff and a 65# Pitbull.  We did confine Tazzie in a gated room while she healed and I kept her in the hospital for 3 or 4 days post-op.  Ask your vet about gabapentin for nerve pain (I recommend starting 1 day prior to surgery).


20 March 2012 - 12:12 pm
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Oh I was so sorry to read your post about Tesa today. I know exactly how scared and worried you are. You are in the perfect place to help ease your fears and help you through this every step of the way. My Great Dane Valentina had OS also. She had it in her front left leg and she had her entire leg amputated. I took a while to decide whether to do the amputation or not. At first I decided not to do it and to manage her pain with meds. The meds worked great at first and I was able to take her for walks and everything but about 5 weeks later it was clear that the meds were no longer working. My vet said my only options were to do the amputation or put her to sleep. She was normal and healthy in every other way and I felt it was wrong not to try and give her a chance as a Tripawd. I wish I had done the amputation much sooner. My vet was hesitant about her size and her being able to get around after the amp because she was very big and tall. But Valentina was a very strong Dog and I just knew she could do it! She had her amputation on July 5th 2011. She made it through the surgery just fine and she was kept at the hospital for about 5 days. They wanted to make sure she was able to walk good enough for me to handle her at home since she was 150lbs and I am 110lbs. When she came home things were hard at first. Valentina did have some complications but they were eventually resolved. But it did take her longer to recover from the surgery than most other Dogs. After she was finally healed things were Wonderful!!! I had my Valentina back!! She was not in pain and we spent so much time together. We became closer than I ever thought possible. I was so happy that I chose the amputation. Valentina made it 7 months after her surgery but we had to put her to sleep on Feb. 3rd. It was a very hard thing to do. I loved her so much. But i was so grateful for the extra time that I had with her because of the amputation. If I hadn't done that I would have had to put her to sleep back in July. I know it is very scary to think of the amputation but Dogs actually do very well with it after the initial struggles and it gives them some extra time that they wouldn't have had and without pain. I am praying for strength for you as you decide which path to take and we are all here for you whatever you decide to do. Feel free to personal message me with any questions that you have. Just click on the little square that says PM in it in the top right corner of your post and you can send me a message any time. I will check everyday to see how Tesa is doing. I want to help you in any way I can. So sorry you have to go through this. But with the support you will find on Tripawds you will get through it just fine. Looking forward to hearing more about Tesa. I know she must be absolutely wonderful!!! All Great Danes are!!!! Great Danes=Great Love!!!!

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15 March 2011
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20 March 2012 - 12:27 pm
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I'm so sorry you are dealing with this -- it is definitely scary and worisome!  Our Bernese Mountain Dog was diagnosed with OS when he was 4 - and he had a younger brother that is to be kind - extremely high energy - rare for a BMD.  Sam was 118 pounds when he had his front leg amputated - we were so worried about how he woudl handle and how Macklin would react but it was all for nothing.  Sam handled amp beautifully - he climbed stairs, dug in the and and swam - and could still give Macklin a good thumpin' when he got out of line.  Please know our thoughts are with you! xo Sue 

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