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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

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Whether or not to amputate my 12 year old dogs leg!
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On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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13 June 2010 - 4:45 pm
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mandiandherdogbrandi said:

...wondering if anyone has ever tried the prosthetics for front legs?

Personally, we believe dogs adapt much easier to the missing leg than some odd attachment they must get used to. But we're not vets and all dogs are different. Be sure to search the forums for existing feedback, and check Jerry's News Blog posts about prosthetics for dogs...

Canine Prosthetics: Pardon My Faux Paw
Friday, October 30th, 2009

Prosthetics: Should Tripawds Just Be Tripawds, or Bionic Dogs?
Saturday, June 28th, 2008

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

On The Road

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13 June 2010 - 5:28 pm
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mandiandherdogbrandi said:

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?



Remember, there are no "right" choices. Like life itself, you never really know how things will turn out. You can only make your best guess based on the information and resources you have at your disposal. The only "right" answer is the one for you and Brandi.

About the leg...well, sure, they'll biopsy it and get rid of it, which is weird, but here's one way you can make sure that something good comes out of that icky cancer; make sure your vet donates some DNA for the Canine Cancer Consortium's study. Check it out:

CHCC, 2 Dogs Team Up to Gather 2000 Cancer Dog DNA Samples

As far as prosthetics ...we've heard lots of stories about people who are about to get these very expensive items made for their dogs, but we never hear about how the dog does with them long-term. Not sure how many dogs adapt to them, but my guess is that if they were overall successful, we'd see a lot more dogs out there using them. But that's just me. I'd love to hear from others who've tried them.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

13 June 2010 - 6:36 pm
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Welcome Mandi,   Brandi is a beautiful looking pup sorry she is having to go through this.

When Fortis was diagnosed he was ten which is approaching the high end of life expectancy for his breed. I was told by my Vet that I would need to say goodbye to my boy within two to three weeks if I did not opt for amputation. That said my Vet didn't feel I should opt for amputation. Manage pain (Fortis was never in any pain that I could detect) and enjoy him for the few weeks that you have remaining was the advice. I was floored, he seemed so happy and healthy. Long story short I found this wonderful community and both Fortis and I are the luckier for it. It's going on 5 months and he's still living the dog's life!

For me like most others here the decision to amputate was a really tough one. It seemed to me that most of my friends and family who were against amputation (I think most felt I must be on drugs or something) would state their case by pointing out things such as the cost, the time demands, etc. Just let him go, it's best I was told. Although these are important concerns my question to them was, Best for who, me or Fortis?

It hasn't been a walk in the park that's for sure but I have no regrets. By the way, that's very rare for me!  Fortis and I have had a great 4 months and I feel truly blessed for it. I love my boy.

The decision to amputate is a very personal one. My advice to you is to just follow your heart. Regardless of the outcome your decision will be the right one because it came from love.

Your in my thoughts and prayers,

Brett, Fortis'dad


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13 June 2010 - 8:08 pm
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I hesitated to post, because of where we are in the scheme of things, but Magic had a different cancer.  Magic turned 11 in February and lost his leg to osteosarcoma on March   11, 2010.  We have done three tries at chemo, the last being a more or less experiment with a brain cancer drug for people.  He unfortunately got lung mets at 5 weeks out and just a few days ago we discovered there is a tumor in one of his kidneys.  He has a very aggressive cancer the doc says.  However, that being said….He was not a really active guy prior to the surgery…we walked every day for about an hour…I do mean walked not run or jogged.

He has gone from 114 pounds to 89 (last weigh in) which makes it easier for me to assist him.  His vet says he is remarkably enjoying life and he is.  We go to a park almost daily where we flirt with getting a ticket for off leash (occasionally we used to hit a dog park, but probably not any more) and he meets all kinds of new friends and romps around believe it or not.  It took ME longer to get used to three legs than it did him and I was beyond amazed.  THe first time he tried to hump another dog I almost cheered him on!!  Oh, he is a front leg amp which is a little harder cuz they carry most of their weight in the front…his appetite seems to be ok right now, he is eating tri tip, Miss Cherry's Miracle Biscuits (hypoallergenic biscuits by Hills that everyone seems to like, suggested by Miss Cherry's dad…hence the name) and I do hand feed him…

Be sure and get a Ruffwear harness (or some harness…I sound like I work for them sometimes) that saved our lives…non skid rugs for slippery floors and check your entrances to your house to see if you will need ramps…Magic HATED ramps and would rather steps and sometimes just dispenses with everything and goes from house to patio or porch..which isn't very far.

There is nothing a young whippersnapper can do that our senior dogs can't figure out a way to do easier!!  Good luck and keep us posted!!

Las Vegas, Nevada
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15 June 2010 - 9:39 pm
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Any updates on Brandi? 

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.

16 June 2010 - 1:38 am
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Hey Guys,

Sorry I havent updated in a bit, I have been really busy, not only trying to decide what to do about amputation but im planning  a "Fundraiser Punk Show For Brandi The Dog"  Some of my friends are in bands and they were nice enough to play a show for me for free as a fundraiser to raise money for Brandi's surgery. It seems like its giong to do pretty good. There is even quite a bit of people who cant come but are donating money. I work at a tattoo shop and a pool hall and both are offering to help. The tattoo shop sent out invites to everyone part of their group on facebook to come support Brandi at the fundraiser punk show, the pool hall was thinking of maybe doing chairity pool tournament. My friends and family are gonna try to have a garage sale/bbq and one friends parents own a grocery store hopefully they will donate some food for the bbq and my friend who tattoos will paint faces for money and all money goes towards Brandi It's nice to know people care. I was supossed to tell the vet what I decided on Monday and its now Tuesday night and I havent talked to her. Im having sooo much trouble deciding what to do. The one thing that makes this the hardest is my mom is strongly against it.  She really loves Brandi, we got Brandi when I was 13 so my mom has lived with her and got to know Brandi quite well.  She says it will break her heart if I put Brandi through this. She has done her own research and said she found a page about amputation that wasnt as positive as this site, showed pictures of after the surgery and was crying saying she doesnt want Brandi to go through that. She thinks it will shorten her life span then as if I were to leave her alone. A lot of people are saying that im only thinking with my heart and not thinking of Brandi's welfare. That im being selfish. It makes me second guess my gut feelings about amputation. Making me wonder if im a bad dog owner if I do this to Brandi. When I feel with my heart and gut that I should do it. Im questioning my own judgement and dont know what to do because I honestly want to do whats best for Brandi. My sister who is a year younger then me was getting scared about it too after talking to my mom but I sent her a link to this discussion and the discussion about regrets after amputation and she feels a lot better about it and thinks since Brandi still has a sparkle in her eye and is happy that I should amputate. My best friend thinks I should. My boyfriend doesnt really care what I do, says " It's up to you, its your best friend" and really has no opinion at all. I have some supporters and some people against. Its not only a struglge in my own head but my mom and I fight daily about this. It makes it very hard for me cause my mom has always been very wise and I trust her judgement. But this time we strongly disagree and im stuck.  And once again I thank you all for your funny, uplifting, informational posts. They made me laugh, cry, educated, it's good to talk to people going through the same thing. I cry for you who have lost your dog and glad to see you guys are still strong and help support the weak (example me) on this site.


Mandi & Brandi

16 June 2010 - 1:49 am
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This is the poster for the show im putting together. Notice Brandi with a mohawk in the corner picture that we photoshopped in?! Cute!!!!



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16 June 2010 - 1:56 am
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A mock up poster for the show my friend made lol. Its the album cover to Iron Maiden's the trooper. It makes me laugh everytime I look at it

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Member Since:
27 February 2010
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16 June 2010 - 2:06 am
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Hi Mandi: 

Wow - you have some good friends. What a great idea to help you out with the costs. Cancer treatment for dogs is definitely an expensive journey. 

It IS a very difficult decision to make and, as many have said, it is one only you can make for your best friend. Whichever way you decide, the group on this site will support you, hands down. No questions, no judgement. Many people look at amputating a limb as mutilating the animal, and just prolonging the inevitable end to their life. True. We are all going to die. When? That is a big question. How? We don't know. Probably a good thing that we don't know. Will your dog have good quality of life - with amputation or without amputation? Your vet can help you with that question. 

It sounds like you have a good relationship with your mother, and respect her opinion very much. If you feel in your heart that amputation and treatment is the best thing for Brandi - then maybe educating your mother would help to set her fears to rest. 

You know your dog. Your vet and you need to work out what's best for your dog. Your mom and you need to work out what's best for the two of you. 

Good luck - with this difficult decision - and with resolving the conflict with your mom. 

Tana and Sophie


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."


16 June 2010 - 2:21 am
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Yeah im very grateful for the people I have in my life that care.  I have tried educated my mom, sending her to this site but she is convinced on what she feels. She tries educating me and im convinced on how I feel lol. We probably wont ever agree on this and she knows its up to me. Im thinking postive and thats the best I can do right now 🙂

My heart lives at Rainbow Bridge
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16 June 2010 - 3:57 am
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I think it is awesome your friends are willing to do a fundraiser.  Something to consider - if you are going to amputate, why go through the expense (and pain forr Brandi) of a biopsy?  They can biopsy all they want on the leg once it is removed.

We had the same experience with our diagnosing vet that Fortis Dad had.  I was sent home with a huge bottle of Tramadol to manage the pain and told to love and spoil her for the next couple of months.  Trouble will celebrate 19 months next week thanks to a second opinion who firmly believed amputation was the only way to go.

Amputation is scary and things can and do go wrong.  We had one new member just a couple of months ago who lost her fur baby on the surgery table, and one just recently that only lived a couple of days after surgery due to other complications.  It is rare but it happens, and you should be aware there is some risk involved.  The other reality statistics will tell you, it increases the chance for life to labout 12 months For the large majority, it is the chance at a longer lifespan free of pain.

I'm not trying to disuade you, for I firmly believe Trouble would not be with us today without the surgery.  I am thankful I found a vet to support us and whose kind nature gently led us to make that decision.

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.

On The Road

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16 June 2010 - 9:22 am
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Love that poster! And what awesome friends to put on a show for Brandi, that's sooo cool.

Ok, so we've heard what everyone else thinks, but what do you think? If you are in charge of Brandi's health then this is your decision and yours only. Its hard making adult choices like that but it's one of things we've all gotta do in life. Once you can put everyone else's opinions aside and rely on your inner strength and voice to get you through hard choices, then you've succeeded at creating the life you deserve.

We would never, ever tell anyone what to do here. We just lay out the facts. Dogs can get along fine with amputation, and yes, it can prolong their life. But like anything in life, things can go wrong. Some dogs may not make it through surgery, some will not last more than a few months. So why do it? Because most of the time, it works out fine and they do have an extended happy life without the horrible, torturous pain of bone cancer eating away at their bones. And like hugapitbull said, bone cancer biopsies are horribly painful (and expensive). If you're going to amputate, why do it? Doing so will just put her through 2 separate recoveries.

If anything, get your Mom to talk to the vet and so that she can hear these things from a medical professional. It sounds like perhaps that's the only thing that may help sway her either way.

No matter what you decide, we will support you. Many hugs coming at you, we hope you can find the strength to find your voice.


Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

16 June 2010 - 12:47 pm
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We dont know exactly what type of cancer yet, but my vet thinks its a soft tissue cancer. So we would be taking a biopsy of her tissue not bone. But the pathologoist who looked at the fine needle aspiration said if it were her dog she would get a wedge sample , becuase there could be a chance we wont need to amputate. But the pathologist and vet both said it looks like a nasty tumor so im guessing the chance we wont need to amputate is small. Also s sample would let us know exactly what type of cancer exaclty and how fast or slow growing it is.  Does anyone know if the dogs who didnt make it through the surgery if they had anything in common, like they were elderly, or overweight or was it just happened for no reason , and losing Brandi on the surgery table is my biggest fear of the whole amputation. The ride to the vet I would have to preapre myself as if I were to eutahnize her. Make sure I say my goodbyes , wondering if it really is a goodbye. And Jerry I am trying very hard to look within and find an answer... and my first thought is to amputate. But ever since I was a little kid my biggest fear was regret (kind of a weird fear for a kid lol) and I already have HORRIBLE regret regarding my lutino cockatiel. I still beat my self up for it.  And I loved that bird with my heart but I only had her 2 years. Brandi has been with me for half my life and the regret that could come from her would ruin me. I do have some regret about the cancer, when the lump first showed up 10 months ago I took her to the vet and they did a fine needle aspiration and came back just fatty cells and for the past 10 months its slowly been getting bigger but I was in denial. Didnt wannt believe it, my mom and sister would say it looks bigger. I would just say that it looks the same to me , and it did look the same to me. But then a couple weeks ago I was kissing her goodnight and it just came too me. Like wow, this thing is bigger, way bigger. How did I let it get so big without my even noticing it. I didnt wanna believe that it was getting bigger and somehow convinced myself it wasnt much bigger then the first vet visit. Im kicking myself wondering if I would of took her in sooner , then we could of maybe just removed it. Im pretty sure they could of and I hate myself for this. If I wouldnt of been in denial.... I would of never of hate to contemplate amputation. Right now she doesnt seem to be suffereing or in pain one bit. Maybe bone cancer hurts more then soft tissue cancer, or Brandi is one very strong dog. But she shows no eveidence whatsoever that she is in pain. Just a big lump on her leg. So the only reason to amputate would be to stop the cancer. Not to take away pain. There`s a chance the cancer would still spread even with an amputation.  Does anyone know how painful a tissue biopsy is for a dog

Portage Lake, Maine
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16 June 2010 - 12:56 pm
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For me, I guess I would need to be SURE it is cancer before amputating...especially if she isn't in some sort of pain?  Is she limping?  I'm sorry you've probably already posted more history and I haven't read it.

My dog has(had?) soft tissue sarcoma on her rear knee...she was in an INCREDIBLE amount of pain.  Incredible.  I spent one VERY horrific night with her and a very good medication that got us through, Gabapentin!  Thank our lucky stars for my sister(a Vet Tech) for helping me get through that night as the local vet just wanted me to give Maggie Valium to make her sleep...............mad

Is the biopsy painful?  I can only guess yes?  I know my dog's leg really blew up after her biopsy(week prior to amputation).

Tracy, Maggie's Mom

Maggie was amputated for soft tissue sarcoma 10-20-09

Maggie lost her battle with kidney disease on 8-24-13


On The Road

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16 June 2010 - 2:02 pm
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We can't think of any specific similarities among those (very few) dogs who didn't male it through surgery. But compensatory issues are always a major factor to consider – being overweight, weak heart, heavy bleeders, etc.

Regarding regrets, we highly recommend the book Without Regret. It certainly helped us cope with the decision to amputate when Jerry was diagnosed. Fear, uncertainty and doubt are silly human emotions that will get you nowhere. Try to Be More Dog ! winker

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

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