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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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Forum Posts: 5
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16 September 2016 - 11:43 am
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Hi all,

New to this site, but here’s our story…Our Vizsla, Miles, was diagnosed with osteorsarcoma 2.5 years ago when he suddenly broke his leg. At that time we decided not to amputate…for 2.5 years he was doing great, running, jumping, etc., up until a few months ago, when he began to limp. He’s at the point now, where he’s not even using the leg. Our oncologist said he would be a good candidate for amputation, but my wife and I are having a difficult time deciding to remove the leg. He’s 12 years old now, so that is factoring into our decision. Other than the pain in the leg, he seems to be ok (eating, barking, wanting to go out, etc.).  Should we do it? Any guidance, advice or life experiences would be much appreciated as we go through this difficult time.

Thank you.

Regards,

RC

The Rainbow Bridge



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16 September 2016 - 12:37 pm
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Hi RC, welcome. Your future posts won’t  have to be approved so post away.

So let me see if I’m reading this right…Miles was diagnosed TWO AND A HALF YEARS AGO? WOW! That’s incredible. So what happened to the broken leg?  How did that heal when there was an osteo tumor in it? What kind of therapy did you do? Do tell! Miles is amazing.

If your onco thinks he’s a good candidate that’s awesome. Even at 12, an older animal can do great as you can see here in this particular forum area. We can’t tell you what to do, but we can say that we’ve seen dogs who are great candidates bounce back at all different ages. What in particular is keeping you from proceeding? Is it just his age? Or are you not sure he has the temperament to have a good recovery? Just curious.

Thanks for joining. Stay tuned, others will chime in shortly.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Forum Posts: 5
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16 September 2016 - 1:01 pm
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jerry said
Hi RC, welcome. Your future posts won’t  have to be approved so post away.

So let me see if I’m reading this right…Miles was diagnosed TWO AND A HALF YEARS AGO? WOW! That’s incredible. So what happened to the broken leg?  How did that heal when there was an osteo tumor in it? What kind of therapy did you do? Do tell! Miles is amazing.

If your onco thinks he’s a good candidate that’s awesome. Even at 12, an older animal can do great as you can see here in this particular forum area. We can’t tell you what to do, but we can say that we’ve seen dogs who are great candidates bounce back at all different ages. What in particular is keeping you from proceeding? Is it just his age? Or are you not sure he has the temperament to have a good recovery? Just curious.

Thanks for joining. Stay tuned, others will chime in shortly.  

Hi Jerry,

Many thanks for responding. Well, he broke his leg 2.5 years ago (for no apparent reason…he was simply running in the snow) and they weren’t sure it was osteo until a biopsy was conducted. He showed no signs of limping, pain, etc. so, since they were conducting a biopsy my wife and I had them set the leg. They found the bone was in good shape, but there was a very slight shading to it, which they believed to be osteosarcoma. As mentioned, he was doing fine up until this April. Really, what’s holding us back is more emotion than anything else. My wife (and me to some extent) are having a hard time coming to terms with amputating his leg. I know that dogs really don’t dwell or become depressed on losing a limb, but my wife can’t bear to see him without a leg.  Any guidance or words of wisdom would be greatly appreciated. 

PS – In terms of treatment, up until this point it was all palliative. We had him on a monthly zoledonate infusion and that was it.

Thanks again!

Here and Now


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16 September 2016 - 4:08 pm
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miles2014 said

…my wife can’t bear to see him without a leg.

Our best advice is to Be More Dog . Miles will follow your/her lead, and needs you both to be strong balanced pack leaders to prove that life is and will be OK.

Next, consider the alternative! crying Amputation is the best option to improve quality of life. Tumor pain is unbearable and only gets worse, always resulting in a traumatic fracture, and…well, much worse.

Also, it helps to re-frame the situation: Amputation did not remove the leg—it got rid of the pain!

Finally, watch some of the many Tripawds Videos for plenty of examples of dogs Loving Life On Three Legs .

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16 September 2016 - 4:25 pm
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My Otis also broke his leg, seemingly for no reason, and was diagnosed with osteosarcoma.  We amputated and he did remarkably well as a Tripawd, even with mild arthritis in his hips.  He did not take very long walks, but everything else was the same.  He slept on the sofa, chased cats and squirrels, played with his sister, and stole food off the countertops.  Amputation will remove the pain Miles is in, and hopefully, if his is a fairly slow growing tumor (2 1/2 years!) give him more quality time.

Otis - 106 pound lab/Dane mix, lost his right front leg to osteosarcoma on Febuary 9, 2016.  Four rounds of carboplatin completed in April, 2016.  Lung mets August 25, 2016.  Said goodbye too soon on September 4, 2016.   Lost his adopted sister, Tess, suddenly on October 9, 2016. likely due to hemangiosarcoma.  

Wherever they are, they are together.

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16 September 2016 - 4:28 pm
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admin said

miles2014 said
…my wife can’t bear to see him without a leg.

Our best advice is to Be More Dog . Miles will follow your/her lead, and needs you both to be strong balanced pack leaders to prove that life is and will be OK.

Next, consider the alternative! crying Amputation is the best option to improve quality of life. Tumor pain is unbearable and only gets worse, always resulting in a traumatic fracture, and…well, much worse.

Also, it helps to re-frame the situation: Amputation did not remove the leg—it got rid of the pain!

Finally, watch some of the many Tripawds Videos for plenty of examples of dogs Loving Life On Three Legs .  

Thanks all,

i plan on utilizing all of the resources on this site. Can I ask generally, how long it took some of you to finally make your decision to go forward with the decision to amputate?

thanks again.

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16 September 2016 - 4:36 pm
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We really had no choice.  Otis’ leg broke on a Sunday.  He spent that night at an emergency vet.  They felt that the pain was too much to try to manage at home, plus he was a 106 pound dog.  No way I could carry him.   On Monday, he was transferred to a vet hospital with a surgeon and oncologist.  They felt he was a good candidate for amputation, and the surgery was scheduled for Tuesday morning.  He came home Wednesday night.  It was hard seeing him without the leg.  He was such a physically beautiful dog before.  But, I am so happy for the extra time we had with him.  I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Otis - 106 pound lab/Dane mix, lost his right front leg to osteosarcoma on Febuary 9, 2016.  Four rounds of carboplatin completed in April, 2016.  Lung mets August 25, 2016.  Said goodbye too soon on September 4, 2016.   Lost his adopted sister, Tess, suddenly on October 9, 2016. likely due to hemangiosarcoma.  

Wherever they are, they are together.

Virginia




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16 September 2016 - 8:55 pm
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Hi Miles and family!

Miles is a miracle dog!! I say miracle dog because to be an osteo survivor without amputation for over two years is a MIRACLE!!! I tell ya’ what, this shakes up the world of what’s the “norm” when it comes to this piece of crap disease!!

Yes, it is major surgery and, like ALL surgery it does come with risks. All we can do is cover all the bases we possibly can to make sure our dogs are good candidates for the surgery a d lofe on three legs.

It sounds like your sweet Vizsla is already showing you she can handle life on three legs. As scary as it is, everyone here will tell you that,once recovery is over, our tripawds get in with living a pain free life full of joy, loving and spoiling!! Almost all walk ojt of the hospital on three legs the day after surgery! Some may atake sling to help them for a few days, especially while they are still on pain meds.

As the Admi. Guy said, it’s not about getting rid of the leg…it’s about getting rid of the pain. Although you had an unbelievable run after the diagnosis over two years ago, 99% of the time here, the pain becomes unbearable quickly and pain meds no longer work.

Is Miles on any pain meds now? If he’s limping, he’s hurting.

Now, as far as your question…….I balled like a baby for a couple of weeks trying to decide what to do. I was almost immobile with fear and uncertainty. I hadn’t joined this site yet. I changed my mind a thousand times. And then o e day my Happy Hannah held her leg up instead of “just limping”. The pain meds were no lo ger working.

I scheduled the surgery for her…And then I cancelled…And then I rescheduled. Recovery was hell. It was myself and my dogs and virtually no guidencw from the surgeon or the Onco. I joined this site on day six thinking I had made a horrible decision. The Tripawds family supported me and shared invaluable firsthand I formation with me.

It took abojt three weeks before I coukd finally say I did this FOR my Happy Hannah and not TO her!! BEST DECISION EVER!! Once she got her sparkle back it came back bigger and brighter than before!!

STAY CONNECTED! We are here for you. We understand like no others can!!

Lots of hugs to all!!

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!

PS…check out our tripawds videos!

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!

Livermore, CA




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16 September 2016 - 9:42 pm
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Hello and welcome. 

2.5 year survivor already?!?!?! Wow, that is amazing.

My pug had a different cancer, mast cell, in her back leg.  6 months previously she had a mast cell tumor removed from her side.  When I found the tumor in her knee I was prepared to hear that the cancer was back, but I was floored when the vet said she would need an amputation.  In fact I don’t think I heard anything else she said at that visit!  Maggie was not in pain from the tumor and never limped, I only found it when we were playing and I grabbed her back legs.  The fact that she wasn’t in pain (at the time) made coming to grips with amputation that much harder…how could amputation be the solution for a bump in her knee?

I think I made the decision in less than a week, a week filled with second opinions and meetings with oncologists.  We were not dealing with pain of a bone tumor and were not worried about a fracture, but with mast cell the chance of spread through the lymph system and the high probability of the tumor ulcerating and causing a never healing wound. Maggie was only 7.5 years old at the time and it became clear to me that amputation was the only way to give her more time. 

There is lots of information and experience here- we can’t make your decision for you but we will support you and help any way we can.

Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls

Tri-pug Maggie survived a 4.5 year mast cell cancer battle only to be lost to oral melanoma.

1999 to 2010

 

              Maggie's Story                  Amputation and Chemo

Virginia




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16 September 2016 - 11:07 pm
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A couple of videos that may help……

time_continue=18

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!

Minneapolis, MN
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17 September 2016 - 11:46 am
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Hello:

In our case, the cancer is not osteo, but soft tissue sarcoma and it was missed for about a year despite referrals to the specialty clinic he is now being treated at.  So we did not have much time to spare to think or consider.  The pain was suddenly acute and with the simplest diagnostic test we suddenly knew what had been wrong all this time.  On April 15 we first heard the words “peripheral nerve sheath tumor in the brachial plexus” and were thinking surgery in a month’s time or so. But in the intervening days, as if he had heard and understood the diagnosis, he was suddenly a very, very unwell and unhappy dog.  May 3rd was our confirming MRI (needed for surgical planning) and that process really escalated his pain and he stayed in hospital and surgery was performed the next day, twelve days ahead of the original plan.

I regret only that we did not know sooner and did not amputate sooner.  I have had a happier and certainly much less pain riddled dog since that day four months ago.  Pofi turned 12 this week and is a Tripawd champ.  Take a look at our blog (in signature) for pictures and videos of how happy and spirited an older dog can be when pain is no longer a constant.

Best thoughts for you and your pooch!

Lisa, Minneapolis

On October 27, 2016, nearly 6 months after amputation, and 18 months since his cancer likely started, we lost Pofi to a recurrence of Soft Tissue Sarcoma in his spine quite suddenly.  His Daddy and I miss him terribly along with his canine sister, Mia, and two feline siblings, Lucia and Cliff.

Blog: Pofi, Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumor Amputation

Green Bay, WI


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18 September 2016 - 5:55 pm
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I, too, struggled with the decision to amputate. It took awhile for me to work up the courage to go to the vet to even have my dobe’s leg looked at, and it took awhile to make a definitive diagnosis, so about 1 1/2 months before the surgery actually happened. That was over 2 years ago, and I don’t regret the decision for one minute. Nitro will be 11 years old on Halloween, and is still going strong. Amputation really is harder on the human than it is on the dog – they do amazing on 3 legs! Good luck and keep us posted.

Paula and Nitro

Nitro 11 1/2  yr old Doberman; right front amp June 2014. Had 6 doses carboplatin, followed by metronomic therapy. Rocked it on 3 legs for over 3 years! My Warrior beat cancer, but couldn't beat old age. He crossed the Bridge peacefully on July 25, 2017, with dignity and on his terms.  Follow his blog entitled "Doberman's journey"

http://nitro.tripawds.com

"Be good, mama loves you".....run free my beautiful Warrior

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19 September 2016 - 7:26 am
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dobemom said
I, too, struggled with the decision to amputate. It took awhile for me to work up the courage to go to the vet to even have my dobe’s leg looked at, and it took awhile to make a definitive diagnosis, so about 1 1/2 months before the surgery actually happened. That was over 2 years ago, and I don’t regret the decision for one minute. Nitro will be 11 years old on Halloween, and is still going strong. Amputation really is harder on the human than it is on the dog – they do amazing on 3 legs! Good luck and keep us posted.

Paula and Nitro  

Thanks, Paul (and entire tripawd community),

this has been very helpful as we go through the process of making a decision. As I mentioned, he’s 12 years old and I’m just concerned that we’ll put him through all of this…the surgery and rehab and it might not significantly extend his life. Also, there will be a significant cost associated with it (believe me, this is not our greatest concern). Can I ask how much the average surgery cost is? I kow it may vary by region.

Thanks again. 

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19 September 2016 - 8:57 am
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Hi Miles’s family! We amputated 4 months ago (10yr old GSD with TTA repair in remaining back leg) and Zuki is doing wonderfully. I don’t regret my decisions now, who knows how long we’ll have, some dogs get a few months and some dogs get a few years. None of us know, all we can do is treasure the time we have. If Miles isn’t weight bearing on her bad leg that’s quite a bit of unnecessary weight to carry around, plus extra strain on her back to hold it up and I’m sure its just getting in her way, never mind the obvious pain she is in. I guarantee everyone here traumatised over whether to amputate, fearful of making a bad call and scared they were doing it for the wrong reasons. But all of our decisions are being made out of love, we want to give our pups the best quality of life we can.

I’m in the UK and from memory the actually amputation was about £1200, not sure how helpful that is for you. You also need to consider the cost of on-going pain meds (which you seem to be paying for at the moment anyway) and follow up appointments for stitches out etc etc. We followed up with chemo but that’s a whole other story!

I know your wife is scared, its heart breaking to think of your baby as mutilated but please have the faith that once the stitches are out after the first 2 weeks or so you will look at your pup the same way you always did. When Zuks cuddles in at night to watch some tv, or while i’m grooming him, or when he’s bouncing around with his fur sister I don’t even thinking about his missing leg. The only time I really notice it is the sound he makes as he walks across our lounge carpet now, its a bit more of a step step shuffle. But that’s a small price to pay to see him happy and bouncy again.

Sorry, I don’t mean to imply there is only one option here and that’s to amputate because every situation, every dog and every family is different and only you know what is right. I guess I just don’t want you to be scared of the surgery as an option, or to consider it giving your dog a disability, because the more I go through it, the more stories I read, the more I am convinced it isn’t. Its just an adaptation.

Keep us up to date with the Super duper Miles – he really is an inspiration to us that are just starting this journey!

xx

Zuki Wuggafer 30/09/06 - 11/11/16. Right hind tripawd due to Osteosarcoma. He had a strong 5 and half months as a tripawd but unfortunately a secondary issue with his spine ended our battle. He loved life, loved our family and was the best dog I could ever ask for. Truly my first love, forever in my thoughts and heart.

Read our story: http://zuki.tripawds.com/

Green Bay, WI


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19 September 2016 - 8:59 am
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Hi, I don’t remember the exact price, but I think it was in the $3500 range. We had it done at a referral vet so he would have someone with him 24 hrs; my vet could’ve done it (for about $1000 less), but he would’ve been alone at nite and I wouldn’t do that. It seems like you’re focusing on his age – but is he in good shape for his age? Some dogs are a “young” 12, and others are an “old” 12. There are many dogs here that are 12, some even older, that do amazingly well.  And the biggest benefit of amputation is to get him out of pain; its normal to think about “how long will he survive after surgery – will it be worth it?” But even those whose dog only made it a few months after surgery tend not to regret the decision, beause those months were pain-free. As humans, we tend to get caught up in numbers; I, myself did at first too. Then you learn from this site to “Be More Dog ” and live for the moment. Keep us posted, we’re here for you.

Paula and Nitro

Nitro 11 1/2  yr old Doberman; right front amp June 2014. Had 6 doses carboplatin, followed by metronomic therapy. Rocked it on 3 legs for over 3 years! My Warrior beat cancer, but couldn't beat old age. He crossed the Bridge peacefully on July 25, 2017, with dignity and on his terms.  Follow his blog entitled "Doberman's journey"

http://nitro.tripawds.com

"Be good, mama loves you".....run free my beautiful Warrior

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