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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Greetings all, we’re facing the same decision that a lot of you all have made already…
Gretta is a 12 year old Rotty, diagnosed with a spindle cell Cancer surrounding her left front elbow. The tumor is roughly the size of a softball, and growing exponentially. We’ve consulted with our surgeon yesterday, and we were given the options that you all have faced: amputation, or natural progression.
Our greatest hurdle, is that Gretta is now right at the average life span of a Rotty, at 12 years. A tough decision for us indeed. Gretta is in good shape, not great. She’s NOT overweight at all, she’s 83 pounds, I’d call her slender. She is *not* however, in great physical shape. She’s definately not an athelete. X-rays yesterday show that her chest in in good condition, with no detectable mets (rare with Spindle Cell).
It looks as if we are leaning towards having the proceedure done, but we are struck with her age…
I suppose we’d like to hear from folks that have made this decision for their dogs that also were at or older than the average life span for their breed.
This is a very emotional time for us… we’re going in to this decision in hopes of extending her life as pain and trouble free as possible, we’d hate to introduce *any* suffering at all for her starting now.
Genie was diagnosed with osteosarcoma at the age of 12, she was a medium-size dog, then 68 LBs. She had the amputation surgery on her right front leg to primarily get rid of the pain. I opted not to give her chemo. For 7.5 months as a tripawd, she had been doing great until her final week when the cancer started attacking her spine aggressively and unexpectedly.
There are a lot of other stories you can find in Jerry’s site about senior tripawds. The recent super tripawd story we have learned is Barkley, a 17 years old doberman, who had surgery 3.5 years ago.
That said, every case is very different.
As far as I understand, spindle cell cancer though is malignant, it ususally is not as aggressive as osteosarcoma.
Have the vet mentioned any prognosis for different treatment options for Gretta’s spindle cell cancer?
Hope that if you ended up deciding to have the amputation done, that the vet can get a clean and clear margin out of it.
All the best.
25 April 2007
Thanks Dr. Jessie! As always, your advice is spot-on.
We hear from people with senior dogs all the time, and in almost every case, the senior dog got along just fine on three legs. Some dogs were more sedentary than others before their amp. Some, like Sami, are basically stay-at-home companion dogs. Others, like Calpurnia, are athletes. It sounds like Greta is also a great candidate.
We understand your heartache, cancer is such a nasty thing to have happen to our furry friends. But know that amputation is a great option that can help slow down the cancer considerably, and give you extra pain free, quality time with your beloved family member. The key words are "pain free." And whether it’s two months or two years, we like to say that it’s all about quality, not quantity.
Keep us posted and let us know how things turn out. We wish you and Greta the best.
My wife and I have come to the conclusion that we will go ahead with the amputation for Gretta, and will call the surgeon tomorrow with this decision. Both my wife and I feel so much better about this procedure, having seen the photos, the videos, and the personal accounts from all of you who have participated and supported others on this site. Thank you, for bringing us the courage and strength to make this very difficult decision.
No doubt, this will be much more painful for us to go through emotionally, than for her to go through the discomforts of recovery… I just pray that there are no complications… I don’t think I’d ever be able to forgive myself if this decision turns out to create *more* pain and suffering than before…
I hear everyone discuss *pain free* as a result of the proceedure, and this sticks with me, because in Gretta’s case, she’s in no detectable amounts of pain at all, at the moment. The spindle cell mass is not in her bone, it is surrounding it. It’s a huge disfigurment, but it is not causing her any great amount of pain or even discomfort that we can detect… *yet*. She simply gets around with a softball sized blob stuck to her elbow. Going through this proceedure will introduce the pain of recovery (granted, that’s only temporary) and the risk of complications… then there’s the risk of stress on her hind lings, adding pressure to her sensitive hips. She already bunny hops her hind legs up the stairs, I’m guessing that she will have to rely on her hind legs operating independantly from each other much more so while climbing stairs than before… anyone have experience with front amputation stair climbing patterns, both before and after their proceedures? How about stair decent patterns?
…and to answer Genie’s question, our Vet did not so much offer a measurable prognosis, (or I don’t remember a specific amount of time, I was reeling with diagnosis shock…) he *did* however state that the mass is growing exponentially, logarithmically, and there will be a time, a short amount of time, before the mass will completely incapacitate her. Spindle cell is not as aggressive as os, nor will it likely metastasis elsewhere, but it *is* malignent, and it never recedes. The proceedure in effect, closes the door and prevents the spread to vital areas.
My wife and I have concluded a common sense prognosis of about six months to complications, if we chose the natural progression route. Hope this helps…
Here is a link to one of the threads related to "stairs". Jerry has also a video clip showing how well he manages.
Again, every story is different, Jerry and a lot of other tripawds have no problems whatsover using stairs; whereas Genie would not even want to try unless I helped her going up with a harness (let alone coming down).
I suppose Gretta has already been taking supplements for joints? If not, start her asap on Glucosamine, MSM, Vit C … etc. Otherwise, try increase gradually the daily dosage to as much as her poundage can handle.
All the best!
hi grettas dad
ember is a 10 yo greyhound. she will be 11 in december. she is right about the average age for lifespan…maybe a wee bit on the low side. she had her left front leg amputated due to osteo a week ago today. even though she is 10, i went with the amputation because up until now, she has never been sick and is a very strong dog. the xrays showed no mets into the lungs. with amputation and chemo, im told that she and i can have 12-18 months of QUALITY TIME together. we have a few chapters left to write 🙂
this was day 2 (after surgery) …
this is ember walking on day 6 (after surgery)…
25 April 2008
Ember looks great, she is making the transition well. The videos are a nice way to document her recovery…. Yes, she does have a pretty face! Thanks for sharing… Hugs to Ember
Kim & Angel Buster
"Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened."
Hi, Gretta and Ember's people: We are facing the same thing as Ember. Our grey, Trevor, is 10 this Feb. and was diagnosed with bone cancer in his front left leg in the shoulder yesterday. He is fawn too – looks a lot like Ember! In tmperment and phsyical condition sounds like Gretta. So we are trying to make the treatment decision this weekend. My question is simple. How are Gretta and Ember doing now, Jan. 31, 2009?
My question is simple. How are Gretta and Ember doing now, Jan. 31, 2009?
Hi Peg, Welcome to the forums! I am sorry about Trevor’s dx. Sadly, Ember has gone to the bridge on January 14, 2009.
Please tell us more about Trevor! People here are more than happy to share with you their experiences. Hope that you will have more info to help with the decision-making process!