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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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Upcoming amputation of my loving Great Swiss Mountain Dog... Extremely stressed
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Member Since:
5 November 2021
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5 November 2021 - 8:30 am
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Hello to all,

I am writing to you because I have had the worst two weeks of my life.

I live in France, near Paris.

The love of my life has been diagnosed with bone cancer (osteosarcoma) following a swelling in the wrist of her left front leg.

She is 8 1/2 years old and a little overweight. She is a 132 pounds dog, quite a bit of a wimp and very placid. Just like me. She is extremely sweet, and always looks at me with so much love while licking me. She is my little life companion.

At the beginning, I was willing to let her live the last months of her life extremely happily, and the vet did not recommend an amputation.

So I went to the clinic and asked a great oncologist and the two surgeons at the clinic for their opinion.

She had a CT scan, and they saw some arthritis in her shoulders, but nothing that would prevent a recovery. They all told me that amputation is what would be best for her, and they don't seem to be panicking about her recovery.

Only I am.

I'm really afraid that her quality of life will be diminished with this amputation. She's a big dog, a bit overweight, 60kg, but at the same time I think she's suffering. I have come to terms with the fact that every day with her is a day gained, and I only think about her well being now. Whether she lives 3 months or 2 years, the important thing is that these are her best moments. I'm afraid to take that away from her with the amputation to try to selfishly keep her as long as possible. Am I wrong? Will amputation offer her a much better quality of life than pain meds (tramadol) + radiation + bisphophonates + anything else.

If she were to die in 4 months, I would be mad at myself for making her spend 1 month or more recovering when I could have taken away most of her pain and kept her mobility.

Even without talking about survival, how do you compare the quality of life between a palliative treated old dog and an old amputated dog?

I am totally desperate. His amputation is scheduled for tomorrow and I am terrified. I have lost 5 kg and hair because I can't think of anything else, and I am afraid to condemn her for the rest of her life...

What if she doesn't want to walk anymore?

Thank you all for reading.

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5 November 2021 - 8:33 am
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Oh, I forgot. She is one-eyed due to a double cataract (one eye is completely opaque).

On The Road


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5 November 2021 - 9:23 am
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Bonjour! Your future posts won't need approval so post away. 

What is your dog's name? She sounds like a sweet pup and you two have a very close relationship, what a lucky pair!

Cancer is a devastating diagnosis, there's no doubt about that. She is a big dog, but it's great that the oncologist and other vet believe she is a good candidate for surgery. We have seen other dogs bigger than her do well on three legs. Although she is overweight, that weight can certainly come off, which will make it much easier for her to get around. Amputation recovery is a good time to help her with the weight loss too, since most dogs don't like to eat when they are on pain control.

The amputation decision is not easy. It's not about whether or not you are being selfish. The fact is, that bone cancer is very painful and amputation is often the best way to get rid of the pain. Yes, it can also buy quality time. How much time is anyone's guess. Nobody can say for sure. Some dogs live up to the prognosis or longer, some do not. But what 99% of Tripawd parents say in surveys is that they were glad they decided to amputate even if the dog didn't live as long as they had hoped.

 Will amputation offer her a much better quality of life than pain meds (tramadol) + radiation + bisphophonates + anything else.

There are no guarantees, but even the strongest pain medications are no match for the pain of bone cancer. If you decide to put her on radiation and bisphosphonates , that is totally understandable and it can help alleviate pain, just not as long as amputation typically does. Many dogs do well on it and live out their lives with a good quality of life. Hazel's story is one example. Quality of life for both treatments is very similar, although there is always a risk of fracture for dogs who are treated with palliative care.

What if she doesn't want to walk anymore?

In all our years of running the Tripawds community (since 2006), we have never known of a dog who didn't want to walk. It may seem that way when you're going through recovery. Dogs will get on their feet at different rates, and some will take longer than others to have full mobility. Giant breed dogs take longer than most, and senior giant breeds even longer. But they DO get there! Yes, they may not walk as far or run as fast, but most dogs will return to doing the things they love. 

 amputation is scheduled for tomorrow and I am terrified.

Do you have assistance to help with recovery? How is your house, do you have stairs or slippery floors? If you have assistance to help you help her that is ideal. She may need assistance getting outside and doing her business. Most big dogs do at first, but only for a few days. 

I'll be honest; the pet parent's attitude is everything during recoveries. If you are terrified, she will reflect those feelings right back to you, and may not do nearly as well during recovery than if you are strong and confident. A good recovery starts with pawsitivity and an upbeat attitude. The hardest recoveries tend to be when the pet parent is only thinking the worst, crying a lot, and not seeing the big picture of life after recovery. It sounds like you've already made the decision to amputate, so do your absolute best to put your fears in the back of your mind so that she can do well and get her life back again. It really is the best medicine.

I hope this helps. Be sure to check out the What to Expect articles , and Jerry's Required Reading List . Our Tripawds e-books library also has books you can download.

I'm in the Tripawds Chat for a bit if you want to talk OK? 

Keep us posted!

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

Member Since:
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5 November 2021 - 10:22 am
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My baby's name is Isis 🙂

Thank you for reassuring me and for your quick reply.

I will be completely positive when the operation is done. What still terrifies me is having a choice.

Yes, I have someone who will help me, and I will stay with her, at home, for as long as it takes, to help her whenever she wants to get up.

I'm terrified because I still don't know what to do. The longer I wait, the greater the risk of metastasis. I spoke with the oncologist again and told him about palliative treatments.

She would have been a candidate for limpsparing due to the fact that her tumor is in her wrist, but it is not recommended because there is a high risk of complications.

I really don't know if I should postpone this amputation and try before the radiation and the biphosphonate infusions. I'm just afraid that if I wait too long to amputate and start chemotherapy, I'll take away his chance at life.

I emailed the oncologist and he told me that the best thing for her is amputation.

I bought her the sling that Tripawd recommends.

Virginia




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5 November 2021 - 12:10 pm
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YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!!!

So sorry you find yourself here, but as you can already tell by Jerry's valuable  input, you are in the right place for support and information  AND understanding!   And we sure do understand  the fear, the indecision,  the panic, the stress, the doubts, the uncertainty!  Yes, we understand it all!!

First of all. It is crystal clear how much you love ISIS and how commite you are to her well being.  Wanting to keep her with you as long as possible  and with good quality is called LOVE (not selfish)!

It's reassuring  that the Onco and TWO Surgerons feel like amputation  is the best path forward and that ISIS is a good candidate!!   Very valuable input. It's also good that they gave you their professional  opini6 as to why going alter ative routes have a lot of risks and complications  and not a high degree of certainty.   Of course, amp is major surgery and ANY surgery  always has a risk.  But thru the proper  pre-op work Isis should be able to handle  it just fine., 

My Happy Hannah was a "fluffy" (o,at, chunky) 125 lb Bull Mastiff 8 1/2 years.  Kind of a "senior" for a large dog.  I was sooooo scared when I first heart the word "amputation "..  Said absolutely  not!  Then I talked with Surgeons and Onco (this was before I found this community).  I tried pain meds a vit longer and then it became  evident  they weren't  working.

I made the surgery appo.  I cancelled  it.  I was sooooo scared and dull of all the same fears you had.

I rescheduled the appointment and, to my amazement after a night at the clinic  she hopped out on three!!!!   I can fo k to more later, but I can tell you it was the best decision  I could jave made.  She was pain free and quality was all that mattered!

Sit quietly with ISIS.  I bet she will "tell" you she wants this chance. Sogs don't  cou t days on a calendar.   All they care about is be loved and spoiled and pain free from one moment to the next.

We are here for you!  Stay connected and reach out any time day or night.  We'll help you navigate  recovery  and celebrate  with you each time Isis gets her sparkle back bigger and brighter than before!

Hugs

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!

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5 November 2021 - 12:50 pm
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Thank you for your awesome reply.

I shed a few tears when I read your answer because that's all I want for my Isis.

On The Road


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5 November 2021 - 6:50 pm
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It was so nice chatting with you today, I'm sorry it had to be so quick, it was a crazy work day for me. But you'll usually find me in the Tripawds Chat during daytime hours M-F.  As you can see, Sally struggled with the decision too. Everyone does! But dogs are so much stronger than we ever believe until we go through something like this.

You have a great support team it sounds like. Now, find the strength in YOU to help Isis recover. Her name is just so appropriate, I know that she has what it takes to overcome this glitch in her life and go on to surprise you! 

Please keep us posted OK? 

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

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6 November 2021 - 8:22 am
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I postponed operation to monday, because I was on the verge to chose the Limp sparing or radiation instead, and when I talked to my vet surgeron she did nothing to reassure me on her being OK post op. 

Now she is very lethargic because she is in pain. She is on 2400mg gabapentin, cbd and antiinflamatory. This afternoon she is not able to walk more than 2 meters.

i am afraid i did the wrong delaying the op…

I am hopeless. 

Virginia




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22 February 2013
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6 November 2021 - 9:25 am
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Welcome e to the "Second Guessing Everything Worry Wart Club'.    This "club" is only open to those in the decision making phase of this journey  and who are exhausted  mentally,  physically,  emotionally  and sleep deprived.  Oh, and who feel 'hopeless' also.  

Now, take some deep breaths......b r e a t h e.........b r e a t h e......inhale .slowly...exhale  alowly........ B R E A T H E.   Hang onto us.  We'll carry you through. 

No, you have NOT waited too late!  What you ARE seeing is Isis confirming to you she needs the amputation  to get rid of the pain.  As I mentioned  ear.ier, I cancelled  the first appointment  for mh Happy Hannah.  And then in a very, very short time, she was holding g her leg up and not using g it at all because  it hurt and the pain meds weren't  working.    So etimes our dogs make the dec for us in no unertain terms in their own ways.

Not sure why you didnt feel reassured  by the Surgeon as the Onco and Surgeons have told you amp6 is the best route and she is a good candidate.   It most likely  is just the Surgeon covering their butts by basically  saying g there are no guarantees.   That's  not an unusual approach at all.   What specifically  was said that made you feel so scared?

And as far as "waiting too late". often it's many mo ths before the proper diagnosis is even made.  Many times dogs are treated for arthritis  or a pulled muscle for quite awhile before the actual diagnosis is made.

So what amou t of Gabapentin  is she on and how frequently  each dose?  It may be that it needs to be increased.or..... ay even need to be reduced if making her too lethargic.   Just keep her rested and only up to go to potty.. 

I see you're  on here now.....I'll look for your response. 

Hugs

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!

On The Road


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6 November 2021 - 1:56 pm
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((((hugs)))) everyone second guesses themselves, really. Yes, she is in pain, and you're at that critical point where something needs to be done to help her. You are doing that.

I'm sorry you didn't feel comforted by your vet. We all want guarantees that our animal will be OK after surgery and even the best vet in the world can't say with 100% certainty that this will happen. I agree with Sally, your vet was probably just making sure she didn't your expectations too high because as that old saying goes, better to under promise and over deliver. Hope that translates!

It sounds like you are still thinking about limb sparing. It is an amazing surgery when it works. And when it doesn't, it's full of complications, lots of vet visits, bandage changes, and costs--lots of them. Unless you are working with a vet who does limb sparing all the time, it's even more prone to these problems. So I know it sounds appealing, and we never want a dog to lose a leg, but at this point, your pup may not even be a candidate for this procedure (not all dogs with bone cancer are good candidates, depending on the tumor). 

At this point, if you've made the decision to amputate, then it's best to focus on how you will help her recover. Stay busy, get your house ready, create a recovery area for her, figure out how you will get her out of the car when she gets home. Get your helpers ready, and stuff your refrigerator with good things for you and her to eat. It's so important to be pawsitive. I know you can do it!

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

Member Since:
5 November 2021
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6 November 2021 - 3:41 pm
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Thank you Jerry & Benny55.

Your kind words make me feel better.

I didnt sleep this night, and I was shaking. Physically ill about that.

I've rented a small place to live with my beloved Isis while she's recovering, and I'll be able to set it up for her. I will be working from home so I can spend most of my time looking after her.
I've called the vet clinic and if they have a place on Monday she's having surgery on Monday.
She's doing better. She had a really bad morning and I was really scared, but now she's better. She is sleeping.
Yes, I feel like I took away her chances of survival by dragging it out. Her scan is going to be 11 days old when she has the amputation. I hope there's no new stuff 🙁

On The Road


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6 November 2021 - 6:17 pm
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You are so welcome. We know this isn't easy.

OK glad that you have everything set up and ready to go.

That's great that she is feeling better. Try not to let her do too much activity so she can save all of her energy for healing.

You are doing everything you need to help her. You really moved quickly and given her every chance to be pain-free. Soon!

I hope she can get in on Monday. Try to spend your Sunday just relaxing with her, and telling her, and you, that this is all going to work out. Isis will recover, she will show you she is much stronger than you ever believed.

Stay pawsitive, she needs a lot of that right now!

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

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8 November 2021 - 6:17 pm
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My beloved Isis is officialy a tripawd.

I will bring her to home friday... Clinic will releases her friday.

I don't even know how she will be moved... They barely walk with help in 3-4 days no ? 🙂

Virginia




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22 February 2013
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8 November 2021 - 6:42 pm
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Welcome to the Tripawd RockStar  Family Isis!  

So she will be at the clinic until Friday??  Generally, not always, dogs stay one to two nights.  Sometimes  they do stay longer if they are mobile yet.  

ISIS will set her own pace.  Try not to compare her rec to other sogs.  Each dog is different.   Each recovery is different.  Some dogs need harness assistance for several days or longer....some need no assistance  at all.  Just follow Isis's  lead.

When you do tomtoe pick her up, shownup with a strong confident e edgy.  Don't  even bother to look at her incision  or draw attention to Iit.  Ahe just needs to see your Happy smiling face telling her she's a good girl and she's gping home!!!  Be upbeat!  She'll feed off your energy. 

I know it's hard to believe,  especially  in the very early part of recovery,  but you will be amazed at how well Isis adapted to a pain free life on three!!!

Stay connected  and hang onto us.  This will all soon be behind uou!

Hugs

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!

On The Road


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9 November 2021 - 9:59 am
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YAY! She made it through surgery! That's wonderful! WHEW!!!!

Most dogs are up and walking by the next day. Sometimes bigger and older dogs need extra time. I think that's why your vet has decided to keep her a couple of days, which is totally fine. It will make it much easier for you when you pick her up.

I agree, whatever you do, remember that Isis is unique. Don't compare her recovery to others. Everyone starts this journey in a different situation and she will define her own pace. 

Stay strong! You can do this!

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

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