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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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English Mastiff Bone Cancer
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Forum Posts: 10
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12 May 2019
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12 May 2019 - 4:26 pm
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We just learned that our 10 1/2 English Mastiff has Osteosarcoma in her front left leg.  She has always been a healthy girl, on the smaller side for a Mastiff at around 105lbs – very lean and muscular.  I did not expect this diagnosis and thought maybe it was arthritis or age.  We are heartbroken and sick – feeling very overwhelmed with what the right decision for her is.  I want the cancer out of her body and to give her the best chance at a longer quality of life but I just am struggling with how she would do as a large breed with 3 legs, especially when her front shoulder and body is very muscular and she carriers most of her weight on her front.  The vet did X-Rays and an Ultrasound and there was no sign that it has spread, but I feel pressure to have to make this decision quickly as I understand it is very aggressive and highly metastatic.  Anyone who has been through this with a large breed dog or Mastiff – whatever your decision was, if you are willing to share your experience, it would be greatly appreciated. And if you did decide to amputate – what was the adjustment after surgey, pain your dog was in and would you say you would do it all over again? Did you explore any natural remedies, CBD oil, etc? 

The Rainbow Bridge



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12 May 2019 - 7:23 pm
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Hello and welcome! I hope you don’t mind I moved your post here but this is an especially good place to discuss life on three legs for giant breed dogs like yours. What’s her name?  One of the first giant breed Tripawds we ever met was Tazzie, and her mom is Dr. Pam, our Fairy Vet Mother in Ask a Vet. I’m guessing she will see your post here and chime in so hang tight.

It’s definitely a scary thing to think of your big ol’ gal as a Tripawd. But rest assured, we’ve had many Mastiffs here who have done great on three legs. It sounds like she is fit and healthy and your vets think she is a good candidate for amputation? If so that is wonderful! Yeah, it’s not what anyone wants but when you’re dealing with osteosarcoma it’s wise to move quickly. The pain is horrific and dogs are so good at hiding it.

From our experience, giant breed dogs need a bit more time to recuperate but once they do, look out! Just check out Thurston’s One Year Ampuversary Celebration

I encourage you to check out all of our Tripawds News blog posts about Mastiffs, and some Tripawds member blogs about Mastifs. Oh and also Jerry’s Required Reading List , as well as our Tripawds e-books if you haven’t already. These will help you understand what good pain management after amputation looks like, as well as things you can do to help your girl feel good again.

And if you did decide to amputate – what was the adjustment after surgey, pain your dog was in and would you say you would do it all over again? Did you explore any natural remedies, CBD oil, etc? 

You may want to check out our Tripawds Quality of Life Survey to answer some of these questions you have too. In short, only a very small number of people responded and said they wouldn’t do it again (the same numbers are reflected in another veterinary study about amputees, so it’s safe to say that the majority of pet parents who have faced this would definitely do it again.

And ask as many questions as you’d like, we are here to help!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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13 May 2019 - 8:07 am
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My Mastiff Tazzie was younger (6 yrs) but bigger (180 pounds or so)  when she lost her RF leg to cancer. Ten is old for a giant dog but if your dog’s heart looked good on the chest xrays and her blood work is normal then I would move forward since bone cancer is very painful.  How are her hips?  If she walks well and has good muscle mass then she is a good candidate for amputation.

I kept Tazzie in the hospital for a few days after surgery to get her strength up but that was mostly because I was working anyway.  Once she was home she hopped around pretty well although I never did let her use the deck stairs; they are pretty steep and I was worried she would fall forward when going down.  She managed the few steps that she needed to get outside just fine.  We did chemo with carboplatin and other than some minor diarrhea and anorexia for a few days after each treatment she did well.  She lived about 15 months before the cancer came back in her spine and we were very happy to have that extra time with her!

Pam

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13 May 2019 - 1:43 pm
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LOVE you Dr. Pam, thanks for the reply!

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15 May 2019 - 8:57 am
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Hi Jerry,

Thank you SO much.  Her name is Nialla.  We are really struggling with this decision – more so because she is 10 1/2, if she was younger I think this to us would be a no brainer.  

I will read through all of the other references you have referred to.  I also did read Tazzie’s story and watched the video on You Tube.  Made my heart smile.  

I’m sure we are going to have more questions shortly.  I have to organize them at this point I have read so much, even the forum responses on this site (this site is great BTW!) and many, many notes and comments.

The Xrays and Ultrasounds according to the Oncologist say that it hasn’t spread but every day we don’t make a decision I worry if that is going to change so I’m feeling rushed to make a decision – but amputation at 10 1/2 is a big decision.  Her blood levels all seemed ok and she is a very lean Mastiff and has always been healthy.  Again I go back to 10 1/2 and the risk of the anesthesia and her recovery.  I also worry about risk of fracture and pain for her if we go the SRS and Chemo route with Biophosphates which is the alternative we are considering.

Kim

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15 May 2019 - 9:01 am
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tazziedog said
My Mastiff Tazzie was younger (6 yrs) but bigger (180 pounds or so)  when she lost her RF leg to cancer. Ten is old for a giant dog but if your dog’s heart looked good on the chest xrays and her blood work is normal then I would move forward since bone cancer is very painful.  How are her hips?  If she walks well and has good muscle mass then she is a good candidate for amputation.

I kept Tazzie in the hospital for a few days after surgery to get her strength up but that was mostly because I was working anyway.  Once she was home she hopped around pretty well although I never did let her use the deck stairs; they are pretty steep and I was worried she would fall forward when going down.  She managed the few steps that she needed to get outside just fine.  We did chemo with carboplatin and other than some minor diarrhea and anorexia for a few days after each treatment she did well.  She lived about 15 months before the cancer came back in her spine and we were very happy to have that extra time with her!

Pam

  

Hi Dr. Pam

THANK YOU so much for your feedback.  I hate to ask but is there any way you would be willing to talk live with me?  

Her hips seem to be ok although she does have a little bit of arthritis.  She walks fine although sometimes she walks backwards into other rooms… 🙂 She’s always done that.  They did say that her Xrays and Ultrasound looked clear and no major concerns in the blood.  But I’m just so concerned of her age 10 1/2 and if this is cruel to put her through amputation at that age given the average life span for a mastiff is 10-12.  She is very lean and alwasy been healthy.  She has been also gagging alot lately. The Oncologist isn’t sure if it is connected but that does concern me.  It happens for no apparent reason (not aligned to drinking or food, etc.) although it does happen more after drinking.

The alternative we were considering is SRS treatment, biophosphates and chemo. Putting money aside.  I just worry about potential risk of fracture, pain of Osteosarcoma and then you are not really taking the cancer out of her body.

If you are willing to provide your thoughts I would SO GREATLY appreciate it.  This is such a difficult decision to make.

Kim

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15 May 2019 - 12:28 pm
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Hey Kim,

Thanks for filling us in. Nialla is so lucky to have you. What a beautiful name!

I hear you about your concerns when it comes to her age. As for the anesthesia, perhaps Dr. Pam can fill you in on that aspect but as far as I would be concerned if she were my old gal, as long as your vets are following the latest AAHA Anesthesia Guidelines the risk should be no greater than it would for another healthy, younger dog.

When it comes to bisphosphonates and SRT, you may want to check out Hazel’s story. It really did buy her an excellent quality of life right into her last days, she did not fracture and she lived to a normal age for a Dane. I am happy to put you in touch with her humans if you would like.

No matter what decision you make we will be there for you. 

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
Latest Tripawds News
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16 May 2019 - 7:43 am
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Did they ultrasound her heart?  I had an echo done on my dog just to make sure her heart could handle anesthesia.  Chest xrays can give you an idea but an echo or at least an ECG might give you peace of mind.  Feel free to send me a private message anytime!  

Pam

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16 May 2019 - 6:03 pm
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jerry said
Hey Kim,

Thanks for filling us in. Nialla is so lucky to have you. What a beautiful name!

I hear you about your concerns when it comes to her age. As for the anesthesia, perhaps Dr. Pam can fill you in on that aspect but as far as I would be concerned if she were my old gal, as long as your vets are following the latest AAHA Anesthesia Guidelines the risk should be no greater than it would for another healthy, younger dog.

When it comes to bisphosphonates and SRT, you may want to check out Hazel’s story. It really did buy her an excellent quality of life right into her last days, she did not fracture and she lived to a normal age for a Dane. I am happy to put you in touch with her humans if you would like.

No matter what decision you make we will be there for you. 

  

Thank you very much Jerry for the information. I will definitely read through what you sent. I would love if you could put me in touch with Hazel’s humans.  It helps to talk to anyone else who has been through this.  This is such an amazing forum and support – it means so much – thank you for helping.

Today Nialla had a CT Scan and everything looked great. They said the vet said her lungs look like the lungs of a 5 year old dog!  There was no signs of metastatic disease.  They feel she is a great candidate for amputation.  She is a very lean English Mastiff with very good muscle mass.  My struggle is just how difficult it would be for her to adjust as a big dog without one of her front legs. .

I will go through everything you sent and may have more questions. 

I can’t thank you enough. XO

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16 May 2019 - 6:06 pm
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tazziedog said
Did they ultrasound her heart?  I had an echo done on my dog just to make sure her heart could handle anesthesia.  Chest xrays can give you an idea but an echo or at least an ECG might give you peace of mind.  Feel free to send me a private message anytime!  

Pam

  

Thank you Dr. Pam!  They did an ultrasound and said everything looked fine from what they could see.  No heart murmer either.  I didn’t think to ask about an echo.  Today they did a CT scan and they said everything looks great.  They said her lungs look like the lungs of a 5 year old.  I think my big hang up is if she can really do ok without one of her front legs and if she will adjust ok.  I want to give her the best option at the longest quality of life, pain free. My concern with SRS/chemo is around how painful her leg will get still as well as risk of fracture. 

I’ll private message you as well and SO appreciate your support. 

Kim

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16 May 2019 - 6:17 pm
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ksaturley said

I would love if you could put me in touch with Hazel’s humans.  It helps to talk to anyone else who has been through this.  This is such an amazing forum and support – it means so much – thank you for helping.

Sure thing. I will email them and message you here when they reply.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
Latest Tripawds News
Read my story here.

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Virginia




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16 May 2019 - 6:47 pm
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Hi Kim and Nialla.  You’ve  gotten grest jnputalready  and you are doing an excellent job of researching  and getting all your questions answered.  Knowledge is, indeed, power when making these kinds of crazy decisions  for our pups.

Qhile rhis certainly  isn’t  the only factor, but the feedback from all the tests and from the professionals  certainly  indicates  she is a good candidate!  There are no guarantees  on this journey, or with any surgery, minor or major, humans or puppers.  We can only get all the markers done that tell us in a  clinical sense that a dog should do very well.

I can address the size “concern” based on my own experience and what I’ve seen here.  My Bull Mastiff(8 1/2 st rhe rtime pf amp) Happy Hannah, was a “fluffy”  125 lb chunk of love.  She loved tummy rubs, sunbathing and strolling around the yard sniffing all the scents of nature.  She was a “couch potato in training ” before  the amo, and she mastered  the art afterwards.  Being next to me, being loved and spoiled  by me, matter far more than how far or how fast she could run.  Oh she still liked to take off on a frisky little jaunt in  the snow, or take off after the cat,but mosying around  and taking a rest under a shade tree was joy to her.

Qe hace a beautiful Harlequin  Great Dane who had her front leg amp.  I believe she was around 170 lbs., maybe more.  We also had another Great Dane named Atals who was a front legger and he, like Eirydice romped and played on their three legs like ballerinas

We ALL understand  the emotional toll it takes when trying to do what’s  best for our beloved dogs and cats.  Lots of tears, lots of “yes”, “no”, “maybe”…yeah, we get it.

Sometimes  it comes down to a couple of things.  What do you think Nialla qould want.  Also, whichever  decision   you make, which one would cause not to second guess no matter how things turned out.  To “try” regardless of the outcome…to “not try” regardless of the outcome….yeah, these choices suck!!

Nialla does not have a time frame stamped anywhere on her vutt.  No one knows when our earth time is up.  The great thing about dogs is they don’t  count days on a calendar.   

How “long” they live does not matter.  How well they lived is all that matters.

NO MATTER WHAT!!!  NO MATTER WHAT, YOUR LOVE FOR NIALLA COMES SHINING  THROUGH TO ALL OF US.  And a decision  made out of love is not “selfish”.  It is ALWAYS the RIGHT decision

We are all right here by your side 100% no matter what decision  you make❤

Sending you love, peace and clarity.

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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16 May 2019 - 8:43 pm
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If the CT scan also looked good then I would go for it….No one can see the future but for sure you do not want your dog to live with the pain of bone cancer. I briefly looked into limb spare surgery and orthotics but honestly for giant dogs the outcomes for those things aren’t always good and you end up amputating anyway.  I was worried because my dog was so big but she surprised me with how well she actually got around after the amputation.

Pam

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21 May 2019 - 2:02 am
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Hi Pam, I have a 10.5 year old mastweiler and got diagnosis 3 days ago,… I’m struggling so badly and wondered what you decided to do.  Your love for her is so bright, thank you for sharing.  Angie and Mavis 

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21 May 2019 - 6:33 am
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Angie, here is Dr. Pam’s story. You will find other giant breed dog examples here too:

https://tripawd…..?s=Tazzie+

Sorry to hear about Mavis’ diagnosis, we know it’s a tough decision. Please start a new topic so we can help you better and follow along with her story. Thanks!

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