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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

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Senior dog with cancer of the joint...
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On The Road


Member Since:
24 September 2009
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17 October 2011 - 4:54 pm
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I found out about Tripawds from my oncologist and just joined today. I'm so glad that this forum exists. I've shed so many tears and had so much heartache about what the right thing to do is. Reading many of the stories shared here gives me hope and definitely helps with my decision making.

I have a 12 yr old border collie mix and he was recently diagnosed with synovial cell sarcoma in his front, left leg. He is a candidate for amputation. I guess it's been hard for to move forward because 1) he has moderate arthritis in both hind legs and 2) he is not showing any signs that the cancer is bothering him. He's eager to go on walks, sleeps fine, loves to eat and is just his usual self but has this cancer growing in his little leg.

With his arthritis, I worry that he'll have a hard time if I remove the front, left cancerous leg. I do have him on fish oil and glucosamine which has helped with the arthritis but am I going to cause him more distress with amputation? And the cancer is believed to be slow growing which is good but that really doesn't give us better treatment options. I feel guilty in making this drastic life change when he is otherwise feeling healthy at the moment. However, something needs to be done as the cancer will eventually affect him.

Any advice from dog owners that have similar situations and have gone through with amputation? How are senior dogs with arthritis coping with a missing front leg?

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene
tripawds.com | tripawds.org | bemoredog.net | triday.pet

On The Road


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17 October 2011 - 7:20 pm
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Hi there. Thank you so much for the kind words and joining us. We know what a tough decision this is, and hopefully we can help make it easier.

First off, what does your vet think about his candidacy as a Tripawd? And have you had a second opinion to back that up? Another assessment could really help in your decisionmaking.

The cancer isn't one of the worst ones, so I can most definitely see your dilemma. Have the doctors said anything about the odds of him living out his normal lifespan with the cancer and without doing amputation?

Unfortunately there is no right decision in this matter, since you know your dog better than anyone here. I can point you to stories about senior Tripawds, like Calpurnia, who became a Tripawd at age 12 I believe, and went on to live to be a vibrant 15 year old senior gal. Others like Sami, had her surgery at about the same age as your pup.

I wish i could look these stories up for you tonight but I'm on a really LAME internet connection and it's super slow. Just search the Forums fr "Senior Dog" and the News blog for "Sami" and "Calpurnia." Lots of other dogs here are also seniors and doing great, like Sammy with a "Y" (you'll find him here and in the Dog Blogs), and so many more.

Who is your oncologist? Please thank her/him for sending you our way. What an honor!

I'm so sorry you're in this situation but we'll do what we can to help OK? Have you given yourself any kind of time frame for deciding?

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene
tripawds.com | tripawds.org | bemoredog.net | triday.pet

On The Road


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17 October 2011 - 7:21 pm
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Hi there. Thank you so much for the kind words and joining us. We know what a tough decision this is, and hopefully we can help make it easier.
First off, what does your vet think about his candidacy as a Tripawd? And have you had a second opinion to back that up? Another assessment could really help in your decisionmaking.
The cancer isn't one of the worst ones, so I can most definitely see your dilemma. Have the doctors said anything about the odds of him living out his normal lifespan with the cancer and without doing amputation?
Unfortunately there is no right decision in this matter, since you know your dog better than anyone here. I can point you to stories about senior Tripawds, like Calpurnia, who became a Tripawd at age 12 I believe, and went on to live to be a vibrant 15 year old senior gal. Others like Sami, had her surgery at about the same age as your pup.
I wish i could look these stories up for you tonight but I'm on a really LAME internet connection and it's super slow. Just search the Forums fr "Senior Dog" and the News blog for "Sami" and "Calpurnia." Lots of other dogs here are also seniors and doing great, like Sammy with a "Y" (you'll find him here and in the Dog Blogs), and so many more.
Who is your oncologist? Please thank her/him for sending you our way. What an honor!
I'm so sorry you're in this situation but we'll do what we can to help OK? Have you given yourself any kind of time frame for deciding?

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene
tripawds.com | tripawds.org | bemoredog.net | triday.pet

Las Vegas, Nevada
Member Since:
14 August 2009
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17 October 2011 - 7:31 pm
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Oh, I'm so sorry.  And I'm so sorry you find yourself here.  It is such a hard decision.

 

We promote amputation to eliminate pain and survival time if it has not spread.  Do you know if the cancer has spread?  From just a cursory look at synovial cell sarcoma in dogs, it is painful and is aggressive.

 

The grade of the tumor, based on the biopsy report, will have a dramatic impact on the long-term survival times.

Grade 1 and 2 synovial cell sarcomas are commonly cured with survival times commonly exceeding 3 years. Grade

3 synovial cell sarcomas generally have a high rate of tumor metastasis and reported median survival times of 7

months. Special stains of the biopsies can also be done to help differentiate the specific types of joint tumors and

predict potential patient survival. http://www.mich.....rcomas.pdf

 

I'm sure you will make a decision out of love and there won't be a wrong answer.  If your dog is a good candidate according to your vet, I'm sure he will guilde you.

 

Sending you lot of warm wishes.

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.

Pontiac, IL
Member Since:
13 April 2010
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17 October 2011 - 7:34 pm
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While I can't talk about a front leg amputee, since Ginger was a back leg, I can discuss the age and arthritis issues.

We were shocked to learn Ginger had cancer. She was not showing much, if any distress. Just a slight limp that we decided to have checked out. We couldn't believe the diagnosis. We took a couple weeks to make the decision to amputate but wouldn't change a thing now. Ginger was 9 1/2 years old at the time and had some arthritis in her 'good' back leg. She was running around like a puppy the morning of her surgery and we were wondering if we were doing the right thing. A few blocks from the hospital, we had to stop short because of construction traffic and Ginger got jostled a little. Just that tiny movement in the right, or wrong, direction, caused her cancerous leg to break.

Cancer is a nasty nasty disease and your pup is probably in more pain than you think. Dogs are so much stronger than us humans and don't let much get to them.

Stay true to your decision and keep a positive attitude for your little guy. We took our oncologists recommendation that Ginger was a good candidate for amputation to heart and she was right. Ginger is now 11 years old and 18 months post-amp. She takes Derramaxx daily and is on glucosimine and condrotine as well. She couldn't be happier and is living her life on 3 legs, just the same as she did on 4.

Keep us posted. We would to see pictures of your pup.

Ginger's mom, Annie

knoxville, tn
Member Since:
12 February 2010
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17 October 2011 - 7:40 pm
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gayle is a lab mix who lost her right front leg when she was 10.  she had a grade three soft tissue sarcoma in her right wrist, after the amp she did five rounds of chemo.  gayle now weighs about 65 lbs, give or take, and will be 12 in january.  she is not as active as she once was (nor am i) but she does fine with three legs.  we do get acupuncture every three weeks, which helps with immunity issues, spinal issues and basic muscular maintenance. gayle has a little arthritis in her back legs, but it's not a major problem at this point.  she is also battling a second cancer, which we address with the acupuncture as well.

since her tumor was a grade three, the amputation was pretty much a 'must do' to save her life.  we have no regrets, every day we get to spend with gayle is a gift.  have they done a biopsy?  keep asking questions of your vet until you are satisfied with the info you have to make a decision.  know that when you decide, and you make your decision out of love for your pup, it will be right.

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

Member Since:
13 June 2011
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17 October 2011 - 7:41 pm
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We're sorry to hear about your dog, but you have found a wonderful support group here. 

Our Bo was 6 years old when he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma. I'm not familiar with synovial cell sarcoma, but OSA is highly aggressive, so amputation was really our only option to get rid of the pain. 

Bo was a front left amp and he had hip dysplasia in his back right hip. Bo had minimal mobility issues after surgery. He would typically need assistance getting up, but once he was up, he could get around pretty well. We used a Ruff Wear harness , which was a real life saver helping him around. He got a lot of exercise through swimming and he still played and had fun; it was more rolling and hopping, instead of sprinting and jumping. Even with 3 legs, one with hip dysplasia, Bo could still manage the stairs, go potty on his own, scratch, and all of that kind of stuff. 

What's your dog's name? Keep us posted on what you decide! Good luck! 

Orange County, CA
Member Since:
28 November 2008
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17 October 2011 - 7:47 pm
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I don't have any experience with arthritis; however, my dog Max had hip dysplasia in both of his back legs (he was a left front amp).  We learned of a product on this site called Synflex, it's a liquid glucosamine and chondroitin formula, all natural ingredients.  You might want to check out their website, and consult with your vet to see if this might be of some assistance to your boy.  Please keep up updated on his surgery and progress.  By the way, what is his name?

On The Road


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18 October 2011 - 4:31 pm
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Thanks for the kind words and advice. My dog's name is Spirit. At first, we weren't convinced that it was cancer as the lump on his joint area would swell up but then decrease. After numerous blood tests, x-rays, biopsies, the conclusion is cancer of the joint. We had the tissue sample tested at 2 different labs and they both came up with the same result. Right now, we still need to get a chest x-ray and check his lymph nodes to see if the cancer has spread. With the diagnosis of this slow growing cancer type, the dr. gave us these options: 1) amputation, 2) radiation – supposed to slow the growth for a year or 3) do nothing and give meds to keep him comfortable. Spirit is otherwise pretty healthy (has arthritis) so if we remove the leg, he could live happy and longer. But if we do nothing, the dr. said it will be months rather than years before he will experience some discomfort.

Also the life span for border collies is 12-15 years so of course my husband and I have a slew of people telling us not to do this because he's 12 and don't let him suffer in his last few years, it's cruel, blah blah blah. I know it's our decision to make and I feel like Spirit wants to live. He has spunk and is eager to do most of the things he loves. His arthritis has slowed him down and he can't run and chase bunnies like he used to but he will give it his best effort.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene
tripawds.com | tripawds.org | bemoredog.net | triday.pet

Lucas, Ohio
Member Since:
17 September 2010
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18 October 2011 - 5:33 pm
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Wow! What a handsome boy you have...with an awesome name. You guys will make the right decision, I just feel it. <3

  Good luck...sending "pawsome" thoughts your way!

Anita, mom to Xena & Roger

  and my angels, Spammy & Chloe

Washington
Member Since:
1 February 2011
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18 October 2011 - 6:15 pm
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Hi Spirit's People,

Rio was almost 11 when she had her surgery. Her cancer was Mast Cell, a very slow-growing type of cancer that didn't cause her pain. She occasionally limped from arthritis, though, and sometimes her right front leg shook when she was tired. I know how difficult your decision is, because I felt exactly the same way. I was really worried that she'd lose her mobility if we amputated. However, she made it through her surgery, and is hopping right along 8 months later... I don't know that we would have had so much quality time if we hadn't done the amputation. But it was not an easy decision to make, and I don't envy you the next few weeks.

Micki and Rio

the Woo

~ ~ Rio ~ ~
Forever in my heart...

April 2000 – January 20, 2012
Diagnosed with Mast Cell Cancer in June 2007. Left rear leg amputated Feb. 8, 2011.
Mets discovered Aug. 31, 2011. Read more of Rio's story here.

Member Since:
8 January 2012
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14 January 2012 - 10:26 pm
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I'm sorry to hear about your pup.  

My dog, Crystal, is 13 and had her front right leg amputated 4 days ago.  Her health situation seems similar to your dog except that she has a different cancer.  In addition to the cancer, she has hypothyroidism, arthritis for years now and a bit of weakness in her back legs. Despite this, x-rays showed that her hips were great and she was deemed a good candidate for amputation.  It's only been 4 days since the surgery so I can't tell you how this will turn out but I definitely feel like she's making progress every time she attempts to do something.  She had to stay at the vets office for 2 nights to recover under their care and I know a lot of dogs only stay for 1 night.  She's only been home for one night so far but in that time, she stood up for the first time without any assistance and is certainly getting better at it.  She still needs help walking though and has trouble walking straight.  I'm hoping she'll get better at this in the next few days.  She's definitely recovering but just at a slower pace than younger dogs.

I don't know much about synovial cell sarcoma but palliative radiation therapy was offered as an option for us.  Do you know if that is an option in your case as well?

Feel free to PM me if you have any questions or if I can help in any way.

Member Since:
8 January 2012
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14 January 2012 - 10:32 pm
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Oops.  Just read your other post about the radiation.

I can definitely relate to feeling like my dog still has a lot of life left in her despite her age.  Crystal is very old for a german shepherd but she was still running and chasing bunnies literally days before her amputation.

Member Since:
8 January 2012
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14 January 2012 - 10:34 pm
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And now I just saw the date of this post...blush

Las Vegas, Nevada
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14 August 2009
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15 January 2012 - 9:05 pm
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No apologies necessary!

 

(but watch out the monkeydogs like to make fun of tripawds and this could be good fodder in the future!laugh)

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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