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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

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Difficult decisions for 14+ year old husky
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Member Since:
24 July 2010
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24 October 2022 - 8:47 pm
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Hi - My husky Duke is 14+ (exact age unknown - I adopted him 11 years ago). Last year he started limping on his rear right leg and an x-ray found a foreign object in his leg. He had surgery to remove it and it turned out to be a fairly large fragment of a .22 bullet. My vets were hoping that would be the end of his leg issue but last month they did a follow up x-ray and found what appeared to be a fracture. We had to wait several weeks to get in for an orthopedic consultation which finally happened Friday. The surgeon said the bone is disintegrating and thinks it is joint cancer, bone cancer or infection left from the bullet. He is scheduled for a bone biopsy and more x-rays Thursday. But regardless amputation is the only option.

I am concerned about putting him through the amputation. The orthopedic specialists assured me dogs adjust and I know this is true as I went through osteosarcoma/amputation with my first husky as well as a foster dog (who had an old fracture that was never treated) last year. The main difference is they were half his age. 

I am worried about his other health issues ... liver/gall bladder, so he can't take NSAIDS (on Tramadol and Gabapentin for pain), ocassional seizures (presumably due to elevated liver enzymes), arthritis, he is not overweight but has a very large fatty tumor on his right side that him kind of lopsided. I can't pick him up without causing him pain even with a lifting harness. He has began to have some cognitive issues and panic attacks.

All that said some days (like today) he has a really great day and seems so young at heart. Other days he's a grouchy old man and some days I know he's having a lot of pain. He absolutely lives for his walks (senior strolls) even if they are short ones. I know this condition is painful but I don't know if he will handle amputation well at this point. But it also definitely doesn't feel like it's time to let him go right now. I've never been so unsure how to handle a medical situation. Any thoughts or advice would be greatly appreciated. 


Member Since:
22 February 2013
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24 October 2022 - 9:41 pm
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Apologies for the short response,  , but just wanted to throw out a couple of things if it does end up that amputation is not an option.

We hear you loud and clear as far as some of the extra hurdles that are thrown your way as you decide what path to take. It's always a difficult decision, but when there are extra hurdles involved, as well as being a seasoned and vintage fella, it can add another layer of concern. No matter what you decide we are here for you, okay? You are not alone.

I think you'll have a better idea once you speak with the orthopedic surgeon. For whatever it's worth, around here we generally say age is just a number. And it sounds like you're sweet husky is quite vibrant

. We have actually had some senior Huskies who have had amputation and have done very well. I'll come back again and give you the link to one who is a legend around here. I think she was 15 when she had an amputation, Maybe older, and did very well.

In the meantime here are a couple of alternatives for you to add into your research.

  • Radiation therapy

Palliative radiation therapy (RT) is very effective at providing pain relief when amputation is not an option. RT can be applied to the tumor in 2-4 doses depending on the protocol elected. It can provide comfort and improved limb function in 70-80% of treated dogs. Palliative radiation therapy can be given in conjunction with other palliative treatment modalities including bisphosphonates .

  • Bisphosphonates

These drugs decrease bone destruction, which in turn helps control the pain and bone damage caused by the bone tumor. They have been shown to improve cancer-related bone pain in dogs and humans. There are two commonly used bisphosphonates drugs, zoledronate and pamidronate. Treatment is given intravenously as a drip over several minutes to hours depending upon the drug used. This treatment is repeated every 3 to 4 weeks.


  • Stereotactic radiation therapy (SRT)

Another alternative to amputation is a more advanced, highly accurate type of radiation therapy called stereotactic radiation therapy. This type of radiation therapy uses high doses of radiation to the tumor while minimizing damage to surrounding healthy tissues. Chemotherapy is still indicated to prevent or delay


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!

The Rainbow Bridge

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25 April 2007
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24 October 2022 - 10:51 pm
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Hey there! I'm sorry you are dealing with this, what a complicated situation! Did the vets mention any amputation alternatives like the ones Sally listed? Thanks for that Sally!

I think the Husky she is referring to in Calpurnia:

Member Since:
24 July 2010
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27 October 2022 - 10:00 am
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Dukie is at his biopsy now. He scream whined while we waited in the waiting area and I almost took him and just ran away! icon_cry

My other 2 dogs and I are doing yardwork and cleaning out closets to pass the time until we get the call that he's done and ok. 

I will update when we get results. 


Member Since:
22 February 2013
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27 October 2022 - 10:41 am
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This is such a worrisome time waiting for the results is excruciating.  I hope it gives yoj the answers you need to help jave a path forward.  Although  I'm sure the Vets mentioned,  biopsies can be inconclusive. Most dogs do come out of the biopsy  quite painful at first....not all. Of course, your sweet pup has a fracture  on top of everything  else.

Really wish we had crystal  balls so etimes to show us the route to take.  

I guess for now, all you can do is see whwt the results are.  Aprry I don't  have more clarity to offer.  

While the Prtho says he's a good candidate  for amputation  (and that's a pretty good endorsement  from a knowledgeable  professional), what does your regular  Vet say about all the other issues as far as panic attacks, cognitive  issues, ability to mange pain without  liver issues, etc. ?  For the most part, these things seem somewhat  "doable" with some alternative meds, treatment  for panic attacks, dement, etc.

It's so hard as our pets near the sunset of their lives as natural progression of a life well loved and well .loved. 

We are here for you in  anyway we can help amd support anympath you take.


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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