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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Should we amputate?
Greetings. My dog’s (Papillon/Long-haired Chihuahua mix, eight lbs.) full-body x-ray showed a dark mass on her right hind leg, and there is a growth there. She had been limping, and favoring that leg. It was thought she might have osteosarcoma, so she had an oncological exam. No biopsy or scans yet. Anyway, last June, life expectancy was four months with pain management , or 10 – 12 months with amputation and chemotherapy. We opted for pain management . She is now at seven months since the oncological exam, and seems stable, aside from hopping. She’s on three pain meds, all of which make her drowsy and lethargic. The growth doesn’t seem to have grown, but the muscles have atrophied, due to disuse. She’s still eating, drinking, socializing, and, occasionally, runs around when excited. Osteosarcoma has not been confirmed. She is now 14 years old. Would it be better to amputate now, so that she doesn’t have the discomfort anymore? She’s not really using the leg, and is getting around on three legs. My wife thinks the dog’s too old to get an amputation now, but my thoughts are, if we amputate, then maybe she won’t need the pain meds anymore, so she’d perk up, and revitalize somewhat. I don’t want to put her down until it’s absolutely necessary. Also, the vet said amputation might cause the cancer to spread, but that’s only if she actually has it, and it appears that smaller dogs are less susceptible to osteosarcoma.
Any input would be greatly appreciated.
Hi Marc, thanks for joining, but sorry you had to join our club. What is your dog’s name?
It sounds like your vet thinks she is a good candidate for amputation surgery? If so, that’s great. At 14, she’s not young but she also wouldn’t be the oldest Tripawd who has joined us. We have seen smaller dogs as old as 16 do really well on three legs. Small dogs have such a long life expectancy that it’s entirely possible you could get a few more years of a great quality of life with her. If your wife believes the dog is too old, it would be good to get a second opinion to have more information so you can decide together.
Oh one more thing: we’ve asked oncologists if amputation causes osteosarcoma to spread, and there are no studies that confirm it will or it will not, at least last time we discussed it.
As far as the cancer diagnosis; no matter what it turns out to be, the important thing is to help get rid of that pain. If she is limping, she is in pain, even with the pain management . The sooner you make a decision the better. Dogs do all they can to hide pain. When they show it, they really, really hurt.
I hope this helps. Please feel free to check out Jerry’s Required Reading List and our e-book, Three Legs and a Spare , for more information about life on three legs. And stay tuned for more feedback from the community.
Thanks. Her name is Clover.
My wife said the oncologist felt Clover wasn’t a good candidate for amputation, because of her age, and that it might cause the cancer to spread, so both of those reasons might be invalid, if she’s still got a few good years left, and she doesn’t actually have cancer. If she’s still going strong now, and the growth hasn’t gotten bigger, it makes me wonder if she actually has cancer, as it has not been confirmed, plus, she’s three months past her life expectancy on her current treatment plan. Additionally, it was commented that the tests may give a false negative or positive, so we still might be in the dark, yet out of pocket $ 3,000.00, not including amputation.
18 October 2009
High and welcome to you and Clover.
Based on what I’ve seen here it is unusual for small dogs to have OSA, but not unheard of. But it could also be another type of cancer. My understanding is that OSA tumors in bones tend to have a specific look that allow diagnosis. Did they do at least a needle biopsy of the mass? They are not always conclusive but it might help in your decision.
Another thought that if the leg is not being used and the bones and compromised then it might not matter what type of tumor or mass is there. That makes the decision then about weather she is a good candidate for amputation. In my opinion actually age doesn’t matter as much as how much life a pup seems to have. If you think Clover has some living still to do than maybe surgery would be a good option.
Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls
No biopsy or scans have been done. She just had a general check-up at the oncologist. Everything is based on a shadow in an x-ray. The diagnostic is $ 3,000.00, not including amputation, and life expectancy was 10 – 12 months with amputation and chemotherapy. The literature we received talked about the possibility of a bone fracture from a biopsy, and false positives and negatives, so we decided, if she’s limited for time, we’ll opt for pain management as she deteriorates over the four months, instead of all the rigmarole, and she still passes. Except she hasn’t deteriorated, and has lasted three months past expectancy, so I’m thinking that she may not have osteosarcoma, as nothing seems to be happening, except she’s uncomfortable. I’m hoping that amputation will at least eliminate her discomfort, if that is now the only difference whether the leg goes or not.
I’m hoping that amputation will at least eliminate her discomfort, if that is now the only difference whether the leg goes or not.
Yes, that’s why it is recommended for osteosarcoma or any limb cancer causing acute pain. If the leg is already destroyed by the tumor, it really doesn’t matter what kind of tumor it is. Get rid of the leg and you get rid of the pain.
I would get another opinion from an oncologist just to double check. You don’t have to do all the diagnostics your previous oncologist recommended. A simple fine needle aspirate and new set of x-rays should reveal what you are dealing with. You’re probably looking at half the cost of $3k mentioned to you previously. By now that tumor has probably evolved into a more definitive condition. Get that appointment made so you can help your pup get rid of the pain in whatever way is best for her.
If you’d like help finding another oncologist just let us know OK?
How do I upload a picture? I want to post a screenshot of the oncology documentation, but the options I get, either in mobile or desktop, just ask for a source or image description. There’s no “Browse” button, and I don’t know what information to enter.
If nothing else, thanks, everyone, for your input/advice. We’re to see the vet on Wednesday, to get the ball rolling.
Here ya go Marc:
We have these instructions for adding images to the Forums. If you’d like help figuring out the process let me know. It’s pretty easy:
- Upload pics to a photo sharing site like imgur.com, Facebook, etc.
- Right click and copy the Image URL
- Return to your Tripawds Forum post and paste the image URL (or the image itself if possible) in your post. It should automatically appear.
Here we go:
Clover’s oncology documentation
Yay you got it figured out! Don’t forget to post some photos of Clover too!
So it does seem like the next step would be to do some simple diagnostics. Even a radiograph (x-ray) may give better clues now. Since none were done previously, it’s hard to say what you could be dealing with but Clover is obviously one strong doggie who continues to thrive. Age is just a number for her! As for Dr. Elliott, she has fantastic credentials, I would feel confident with her as my vet oncologist.
Another thanks to thee, hee-hee.
Pictures of me dog. Not MY dog. ME dog.
22 February 2013
Just catching up…and just in time to see these ADORABLE pictures of Clover!! CUTENESS ALERT!!! OMD! She is a real smile maker, that’s for sure! The one of her peeping out under the covers is priceless!
Yes, do let us know how the Vet visit goes. Clover is already proving she’s a spunky gal with personality galore! I love that she’s a greeter and a mascot. Quite a talented pup!
Yoi are a great advocate for Clover and clearly you have her best interest at heart…..and she knows that.❤
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!
Thanks very much.
Although I have been previously associated with at least nine other dogs throughout my life, Clover is the first one I can truly call my own, as all of the others would bond with my mom while I was growing up. I was just another person who lived there. Clover comes to work with me, so we are together more than my wife is with Clover, so I think Clover’s closer to me. She’s my bum-bum-diddy-bum!