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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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Whether or not to amputate my 12 year old dogs leg!
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mandiandherdogbrandi
1
11 June 2010 - 12:55 am
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Hello,

I am new here,  I just found out 4 days ago my 12 year old Beautiful Blue Merle Austrlian Shepherd has cancer on her front elbow. I need to decide if I want to remove it ( size and location is going to make it tricky to remove it.) It would take a massive amount of her skin, they would have to use skin from her shoulder and the incision to remove would be 12-16 inches but to amputate would be 6-8 inches. Im leaning more towards amputation, But my mom is trying to tell me to either put her down or just let the cancer be and spoil her and let her have a good last bit. But I do not agree. She is making me feel guilty making her go through either invasive surgery at her age and making me feel like im not thinking of Brandi’s best interest but only of my own. I am thinking of Brandi’s best interest becuase other then the leg she is completly healthy, a tiny bit over weight bbut a very happy, healthy dog. but I would like stories about amputations on elderly dogs, if you regretted doing it? Did it end up being a great decision and your dog have a good quaity of life after??? Please any info would help me out so much and I need to decide on Monday the 14th. Hope to hear from you soon,

Mandi

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11 June 2010 - 5:21 am
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Welcome to the family, this is the best place to be, sucks how we get here, but we’re in it together. Gus is 7, we had to have his left front amputated because of cancer, but I haven’t regretted it for one second. Right away, your first 2 weeks after surgery will not be easy, and probably harder on you than the dog. Gus is a strong dog, he came home the next morning after surgery and was using the steps that night. There will be ups and downs post surgery, it is a stressful time and some people start having regrets during this time,  so if you think all is well one day, the next can be different. But I would say by the 4th week after, he was 90% his old self. He had some phantom pain , that lasted a while longer but by that time wasn’t much of an issue . Your main goal should be quality of life for the dog. We opted to not do chemo, and I don’t regret that either. Some dogs don’t have to many side effect, some more, but Gus has been so happy since the surgery I feel we made a good choice. the thing that you wonder next is if the cancer is spreading or will come back, unforunately for Gus, we found out 2 weeks ago he has spots on his lungs now along with a lump on his neck, so you need to understand just cause the leg is gone the fight isn’t over, but you will have taken away the source of his pain and some dogs live quite awhile after surgery.. There is a wealth of information as far as treatment here to help with what to do after the surgery, but you know your dog best, and make sure you are comfortable with whatever you decide, second guessing will kill you, no time for that, so whatever you decide make sure you can live with that choice. Good luck, Gus and dan 

My buddy Gus had a left front amputation on April 7, 2010 and lived a great life until July 26,2010

knoxville, tn
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11 June 2010 - 8:07 am
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hi mandi, sorry to hear about brandi’s cancer.  this is a great site for gathering info and getting support for whatever you decide.  gayle was just a few months past 10 when she was diagnosed.  she had a soft tissue sarcoma in her front right wrist area – removal would have been tricky, and not alot of extra skin, etc…so we went with amputation on feb 17th.  she’s a lab mix, about 60 lbs and has really done well post op.  we just finished five rounds of chemo, and are going forward from there.  i’d recommend having brandi trim those extra lbs…as the remaining front leg does get all the weight with the new ‘hopping gait’.  we’ve decided to ‘go the distance’ with gayle, because she is (other than the tumor) healthy, happy and joyful.  like dan said, you know your dog best.  whatever you decide, you will decide out of love, so that’s a good thing.  let us know how you progress and give brandy a great big hug from us!!

charon & gayle

Life is good, so very, very good!!! Gayle enjoyed each and every moment of each and every wonderful day (naps included).  She left this world December 12, 2011 – off on a new adventure.

Love Never Ends

http://etgayle

Here and Now


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11 June 2010 - 10:11 am
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Thanks for joining Mandi! Sorry we missed you in the chat. Here are a few things to consider…

Don’t listen to your mom and forget about what other people think. This is between you and Brandi. 

Far too many times we here from people who put their dogs through mutliple, painful, expensive operations only to proceed with amputation anyway.

Get that extra weight off Brandi ASAP. It is imperative to keep tripawds fit and trim.

Have you searched this forum and the blogs for stories of other senior dogs yet? Trouble (aka: hugapitbull) is a two-year osteosarcoma survivor who I believe recently turned 13. Don’t miss our video interview with Trouble and her pack. I stopped counting when the amazing Calpurnia turned 14, she is an active three legged sled dog with plates in both rear legs. And Daisy is another older dog who just underwent amputation and recently joined the Tripawds community. Hopefully others will chime in here.

If you’re having trouble coping with the decision to amputate, consider reading Without Rergret – it’s helped many here, including us. And don’t miss these popular forum topics: Regrets About Amputation & Regrets about Chemotherapy

Finally, be sure to bookmark Jerry’s recent Tripawds Required Reading List for lots of more advice and recovery care tips.

Hope this helps. Best wishes with whatever you decide.

My heart lives at Rainbow Bridge
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11 June 2010 - 11:30 am
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admin said:

Don’t listen to your mom and forget about what other people think. This is between you and Brandi. 

Get that extra weight off Brandi ASAP. It is imperative to keep tripawds fit and trim.

Have you searched this forum and the blogs for stories of other senior dogs yet? Trouble (aka: hugapitbull) is a two-year osteosarcoma survivor who I believe recently turned 13. Don’t miss our video interview with Trouble and her pack.


 I couldn’t agree more.  This is between you and Brandi.  Do your research, then make your decision based on what is best for Brandi.  LOTS of folks won’t understand why you would amputate.  Trouble’s vet made it quite clear to us when we talked about options and treatment, that osteosarcoma is incredibly painful and the only way to stop the pain is to amputate.

Overweight does not make them a bad candidate for the surgery, but it does put one more goal on you as they recover.  The weight MUST come off for them to do well.  The added weight just puts an added burden on them.  Trouble was 69 lbs when she had surgery and we took her down to 55.  She stabled out between 55 & 57, but in the last few months has gained and is now on a diet.

Admin got a little over zealous with Trouble’s accomplishments and age.  She is an 18 1/2 month survivor (which is incredible) and will turn 11 in September. Our goal is to still have her around – spoiled and bossy – at age 13.

Best of luck to you as you decide how to procede.  Remember – there are no wrong decisions.  Make the decision that is right for you and Brandi.

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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11 June 2010 - 12:10 pm
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Hey Mandi, welcome. Cancer is ruff but you’ll find so much support here no matter what you decide.

We can’t always predict who will do well and who won’t, but we have seen that most dogs do fine, even senior dogs. And while some may live an extra two years like I did and others don’t, what makes the decision to go forward with amputation is that at least that time was spent pain-free and enjoying life.

I’m going to be blunt and say it here; there are lots of people out there who don’t get it, they don’t understand how resilient dogs are, and how much we have to learn from them. If these people would just get over their old-school ideas about how dogs should live (i.e., outside, in a dog house, separate from the family, and “put down” when a health issue comes up because why should we ever spend “so much” mney on them when we can go get a new one?!”), the world would be a much better place.

You’ll find that those of us who are here DO get it, our dogs are family and we respect the lessons they have to teach us. This is between you and your pup. Only you know what she is capable of and what will make her happy. We will suppport you either way.

And the next time someone says “either put her down or just let the cancer be and spoil her and let her have a good last bit” I’m going to say “OK then, if you ever get sick I”ll be sure to honor your wishes in the same way.

Good luck Mandi. Ask any questions you might have, we’re here.

 

 

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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11 June 2010 - 3:33 pm
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Mandi and Brandi,

I cannot start without saying how sorry to hear of the diagnosis, but you have found a community filled with wonderful people who will share their collective experience base, provide excellent advice, and give support. I also will have to appoligize that for another couple of weeks, we will not be on the internet as much as usual, but I will be leaving you in excellent hands.

Miss Cherry turned eleven the day before her amputation and that is very senior by Standard Poodle measurements. She had significant other issues at the time, but for me it was an easy decision. The amputation would eliminate the pain immediately, and the chemotherapy would provide the chance for a longer turn. Do not let the age deter you from doing what you feel is best for everyone here will tell you that with extremely few exceptions, they recover from the amputation very quickly and can enjoy an excellent level of quality of life. The first two weeks of the recovery may test you both, but after that you will move forward quickly. Any decision on continuing treatments like our chemotherapy is not as clear-cut and the effects are much more complicated. However, the amputation will provide immediate pain relief and allow you to more excellent time together.

Should you decide to move forward with the amputation, there are sets of suggestions that we provide. Many here can detail these later if you decide to go that way. For now, we wish you the very best, send positive thoughts, and will include you both in our prayers.

Spirit Cherry’s Dad

RuthieGirl
8
11 June 2010 - 7:39 pm
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Ruthie had just turned 6 so I’m no expert on older amputees.  But as hard as a decision it was to make, I really didn’t have a decision to make.  The leg was just too painful to stay.  Our recovery was pretty easy.  Ruthie has her 9 month ampuversary next week.  My father still thinks what I did was a big waste of money.  You have to follow your own heart.  I will never regret my decision.

 

Post a picture!  I would love to see a picture of your girl!

Good luck and keep up posted Mandi.

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11 June 2010 - 9:48 pm
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Sophie was 12 and a half when she had her amputation surgery (Feb 25, 2010). Like you, I agonized over the decision fearing that I had ended Sophie’s life – just in a different way than the cancer would have done. 

I was wrong. My 12 year old son pointed it out to me very clearly. The night we brought Sophie home from her surgery – I couldn’t deal with it at all. It was beyond my ability to cope – and I had some other very difficult things going on in my own personal world that I was not able to deal with at the time – so dealing with a newly 3-legged dog was not something I was prepared for in any way, shape, or form. My son told me I was treating Sophie like a freak – that she deserved better than that from me – and to pull myself together for her sake. 

He really did. And he was right. 

Sophie, a Golden Retriever, 12.5 years old, having just lost her soulmate (Keaton, a 14 year old Golden Retriever) 2 weeks prior, adapted to the loss of her limb very quickly. It wasn’t without problems, or setbacks. It took her a few days to get her balance, a few more days to be able to navigate the stairs in our house on her own. But she certainly adapted more quickly than I ever could. She inspired me, and humbled me. 

Sophie had lymphoma – a large mass on her upper left front leg. You haven’t mentioned what kind of cancer Brandi has – osteosarcoma is, from all accounts, extremely painful for the dogs – and the surgery alleviates the pain immediately. The recovery for these dogs can be even faster – because they are already adjusting and not using the leg for bearing weight as much as normal because of the pain. Sophie’s cancer wasn’t so much painful as it was interfering with her movement because of it’s size and location. She was weight-bearing on that leg, and it did take her a little while to adjust her balance.

If this had been a decision we had to make with our other dog, Keaton, we would not have made the same decision. Keaton would not have recovered well from a physical challenge such as losing a limb. He simply was not the type of dog who overcame physical challenges such as this. Sophie, on the other hand, never let anything stand in her way. She always went at life 100 mph with her hair on fire. We knew that she would bounce back, despite her age. She was healthy in every other way. So knowing your dog, and whether Brandi is the type of dog to overcome this type of challenge is something only you can say.

Is Sophie the same dog she was before? No. She is different. She takes advantage of all of us – like when she stands at the sofa in the living room – her one front foot on the cushions – looking around over her shoulders – waiting for someone to boost her up – when she is perfectly capable of getting up there herself. She still goes for “walks” with her big dog-walking group in the day-time. But she rides in a Chariot – and she gets out to walk when she wants to – or when she has to pee or poo – and then she hops back in to be pushed some more. She still gets the socialization of the dogs, she gets to be outside, but she would not be able to do the hour or 90 minute walk without the Chariot. 

She sleeps a lot more than she used to. She doesn’t chase balls like a crazy woman anymore. She likes to chase them about 10 feet – and she won’t bring it back for another throw. She used to do it for hours – and man, she was fast !! It’s sad to think that she doesn’t do that anymore. But – as someone else said (CometDog) – as I am about to hit 50 !! (OMG) – there are MANY, MANY things that I can no longer do – and I still have both of my arms and legs – and I don’t have cancer, or chemo drugs to deal with. 

I have to comment on the weight thing. Sophie has always been a “big-boned gal” – and that was a great concern to me with the amputation, too. It turned out to be a non-issue for her. She has lost some weight since her surgery – mostly because her appetite comes and goes due to the chemo treatments – so she doesn’t eat as much as she used to. 

My mother is EXACTLY like yours !! She tries to make me feel guilty all the time about my animals. As soon as we were told Sophie had cancer – my mother said “Put it down.” Several years earlier, when my older dog started to get arthritis she said the same thing about him. My mother has osteoporosis – quite severe and is quite crippled. I did what  “Admin” said in the post above – I told her that I never considered putting HER down just because she was stiff and getting crippled. Don’t listen to the people who make comments like that. They have never experienced the love, or the bond that a person and an animal can share. It is definitely their loss. 

Tana  

Sophie (1998 – 2010)

"Going Dog" def: living every day in the moment

"It came to me that every time I lose a dog they take a piece of my heart with them. And every new dog who comes into my life gifts me with a piece of their heart. If I live long enough, all the components of my heart will be dog, and I will become as generous and loving as they are."

–Unknown

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11 June 2010 - 9:48 pm
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Oops ! I wrote a book..

whatever

Sophie (1998 – 2010)

"Going Dog" def: living every day in the moment

"It came to me that every time I lose a dog they take a piece of my heart with them. And every new dog who comes into my life gifts me with a piece of their heart. If I live long enough, all the components of my heart will be dog, and I will become as generous and loving as they are."

–Unknown

Madison, WI
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11 June 2010 - 10:02 pm
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Well, I can’t speak from experience with an older dog, unfortunately.  I can say that my Yoda, who had osteosarcoma, only made it about 4 months after diagnosis and it was still COMPLETELY worth for us.  Heck, half that would have been worth it.  I have some videos of how well Gerry and Yoda do/did on three legs.  Yoda was 5 when diagnosed and Gerry is between 2 and 3, but still what Brandi would have in common with them, once her awful tumor is gone, is the lack of pain! 

You know your dog best and your vet knows better than any non-vets out there with opinions for you.  So listen to yourself and your vet and best of luck to you and Brandi!

Here are links to those videos I mentioned (sorry Yoda’s is kind of poor quality – old camera):

http://gerry.tr…../dog-park/

http://gerry.tr…..in-action/

http://gerry.tr…..-roommate/

Gerry has been a tripawd since 12/16/2009.

He was a shelter dog with a mysterious past and an irrepairable knee injury.

Videos and pics of Gerry's pawesomeness can be found at: http://gerry.tripawds.com

Las Vegas, Nevada
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11 June 2010 - 10:25 pm
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Welcome Brandi and Mandi!

So sorry to hear.  I know your heart is broken.  I can’t offer any information because I haven’t experienced cancer (3-legged from birth) but I do want to offer encouragement.  Everyone here will help you and will support you.

We always want our mommy’s approval and support, so may be you can have a talk with your mom and let her know that you want more time with Brandi.  And tell her that if you don’t go thru with amputation that you will have more regrets about losing Brandi.   Your mom may understand the regret factor.  Speak with your heart and try to get her on your side so you’ll have family support.   I’m sure she loves you very much and probably doesn’t want to see you hurt.

I’m pretty lucky my mom understands how much I love my dogs and even though I’ve never considered my mom a dog person, she does treat mine like they are grandkids.   But then again, I’m like Tana – my mom is crippled with rheumatoid arthritis and since I’m her only child now – I could put her down!smiley 

Do what’s in your heart or you’ll have a hard time living with yourself.

Best 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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12 June 2010 - 8:18 am
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Hi Mandi and Brandi,

We’re so sorry to hear about Brandi, but so glad you found tripawds.  You’ve already received excellent advice from this loving community.  Holly was 8 when she had her amputation, and has not had trouble adapting.  We had a hard time getting our brains and hearts around the amputation.  We didn’t know any tripawds at the time and didn’t find this site until after Holly came home from her surgery.  Our vet told us that dogs aren’t like people – they adapt to life on 3 legs, and other dogs won’t stare at them and think “wow, that dog only has 3 legs”.  He was so right.  We’ve never looked back at our decision because Holly is so happy (that’s why we call her Jolly Holly aw-shucks).  You know Brandi best, and will make the decision that is right for her with lots of love.  And all of us will be here for you, whatever that decision is.

Hugs,

Holly, Zuzu and Susan

 

Holly joined the world of tripawds on 12/29/2009. She has a big little sister, Zuzu, who idolizes Holly and tries to make all of her toys into tripawds in Holly's honor. And she's enjoying life one hop at a time!

http://anyemery.....ipawds.com

mandiandherdogbrandi
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13 June 2010 - 4:23 pm
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Im overwhelmed with how much responses I got and all the caring words. It seems like you guys almost care more then some of the people in my life. Im so thankful I found this place!! As far as Brandi is feeling she is great, she isnt in any pain at all. We still need to do a wedge sample to see what exact cancer but my vet thinks its Hemangiopericytoma cancer which typically doesnt spread , we did an xray of the lungs and she said she didnt see any tumors. Some little white spots but she said thats typical for a dog her age. Or it could be lymphoma or sarcoma. But she told me we do need to do something right away and gave me the weekend to think about it, im supposed to call her tomorrow with my answer. After hearing all your guys courageous stories it gives me hope that Brandi’s life will be good after an amputation. The only regret I could see if I amputated if after it would be if Brandi started needing help all the time, pissing herself and just lose dignity as she dies. I wouldnt want her to leave feeling ashamed or no pride left cause everyone has to do stuff for her. But im just scared cause I want to make the right choice.  Does anyone know what the vet does with the limb once its removed? I hate thinking that my girls cute little leg is just going to be disposed of but I gotta think of the good that comes out of it. Also I was wondering if anyone has ever tried the prosthetics for front legs? ANd If they worked?



knoxville, tn
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13 June 2010 - 4:36 pm
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mandi, in our case, they biopsied the heck out of the amputated leg, then it was destroyed as ‘medical waste’… seems pretty insulting to see it in print, but we didn’t need it anymore, and it was just a carrier for that ugly cancer, so it had served it’s usefulness to us.  i sure understand not wanting to have brandi being ‘dependent’ and feeling depressed…most of that has to do with you.  YOU will drive the boat on how she feels about herself.  right now she needs you to be strong and show a brave and positive face.  she will follow your lead, i assure you.  if you show her how proud you are of her, she will continue to surprise you everyday with her true sense of being the best girl she can be.  even though all of this is and will continue to be scary for you, be brave for brandi!!!!!

charon & gayle

Life is good, so very, very good!!! Gayle enjoyed each and every moment of each and every wonderful day (naps included).  She left this world December 12, 2011 – off on a new adventure.

Love Never Ends

http://etgayle

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