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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Hi! I am new here and need some experience/advice from you.
My dog Leyla (Boxer, 9 3/4 years now) has a tumor on one frontleg.
The tumor could not be completely removed at this point. So it will grow again soon. The vet suggested that the leg be amputated soon before the tumor will burst. And this will only a be question of when.
She is a very happy dog and full of energy. Blood tests, X-rays and abdominal ultrasound have so far been normal. Apart from the cancer she is in good health. So maybe we could have some more year(s) together after an amputation.
What worries me most is how she will get up and down the stairs right after the amputation. I saw some videos of dogs walking the stairs.
But which day after the operation is that possible? Will I need help to carry her up and down the stairs for the first X days?
Hi Leyla and Mom, welcome. We are happy to help, just sorry that you two are in this situation. Cancer. Ugh!
I’m curious, what type of STS is it? And did your oncologist talk to you about the possibility of doing electrochemotherapy or intralesional chemotherapy instead of amputation? I just wanted to mention those therapies because they’re not something widely practiced in the U.S. but it is in other countries, and it’s a good option in many instances when a soft tissue tumor is involved.
If you do need to amputate, rest assured that it sounds like she is a great candidate for surgery and life on three legs.
As for the stairs…how many are you talking about? Do they have a no-slip surface? And are they required for her to get outside to do her business?
Dogs missing a front leg will have a harder time going down stairs than up. If stairs are necessary for going into and out of your home, you will need to help her. Stair training isn’t difficult, many people have to manage them with their Tripawd.
We lived in an upstairs apartment when our Jerry lost his leg. He had 18 steps to get up and down after surgery. We tried carrying him for a while but 75 pounds is a lot of weight. So we got a Ruffwear Webmaster harness to save our backs, and it also gave him the confidence to do the stairs while we guided him with the handy handle on top. Today, the Ruffwear Flagline harness is a better option for most front-leg amputees, since it’s easier to put on a front-legger.
I hope this helps! Stay tuned for feedback from others and let us know how things are going!
22 February 2013
Glad that Leyla isn’t having any pain with that bum leg for now.And it is good news that all her tests show she’s a good candidate for amputation.
Yeah, as Jerry said, front leggers usually can go up easier than down. MAs suggested, a harness is a good tool to help. Surgery recovery generally lasts about two to three weeks. Every dog is different though.
So yeah, for a couple of weeks Leyla will need help with the stairs, at least until the stitches are out. If they are hardwoods, carpet or non slip stair strips will help with traction .
Tell us more about your girl when uou can. Let us know any questions you jave regarding surgery, recovery, etc. Recovery is no picnic at first, you will be amazed at how well she will adapt and enjoy being Leyla!!
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!
Thank you! 🙂
She has a kind of soft-tissue-sarcoma. Fortunately, this tumor does not tend to spread into the organs.
And, fortunateley, she has strong muscles and a strong will. 🙂
I think the Flagline harness will not fit, because Boxers have a deeper chest than most other dogs. The “front range” from ruffwear f.e. does not fit: The part which should be in the middle between the frontlegs, slided to the left or to the right and so the whole harness was crooked.
What about some kind of vest with a handle and holes for the legs?
The steps are not slippery and not steep, but they are many. 😉
If she can’t walk stairs at all for the first few days and a harness is not enough support, someone has to carry her at least 3 times a day because I can’t lift her 58 pounds. I have to know that in time for planning. I must know how many days it will be.
24 March 2020
Hi Leyla’s mom (what’s your name?)! I’m Stacy, mama to Griffin (Griffin’s Journey). Welcome to the Tripawds family! I think most of us didn’t use the harness until the stitches came out, so you have some time to figure that out. Here is one dog harness that might work better for Leyla as it is more of a vest like you described. But before that, you can make a sling using a towel or cutting a tote bag along the side seams (so the handles are on top to help lift) to help Leyla up and down, but she will not be steady enough to do many stairs with just that support. She might be able to go up the stairs with help after a few days, but I’d say you should plan to have help carrying her down the stairs for at least a week. Griffin is a forelimb amputee who is almost 3 month post-surgery, and he still doesn’t love walking down stairs. I know you said the stairs are not steep, but it also matters how deep they are. For Griffin, he needs treads that are wide enough for him to have both his front and a back leg on them at the same time to comfortably go down stairs. I hope this information helps. Please keep asking questions – someone always has an answer here! ~ Stacy
Griffin lived an amazing life for 11 years! Diagnosed with osteosarcoma on March 17, 2020, Griffin's right forelimb was amputated on April 2, 2020. Ten days later he was running and playing fetch! Lung metastasis discovered in July 2020 did not slow down Griffin and he lived joyfully for the next 7 months, passing peacefully at home on February 11, 2021. https://griffin.tripawds.com
Well, if you have to deal with amputation for cancer then having it be curative is a good thing!
Have you measured Leyla’s girth to see what size harness she would need?
The Flagline and the Webmaster have more adjustment points than the Front Range so will fit a larger range of dogs (I have all three).
Although my dogs are smaller than yours they also have large chests, I’m talking Pugs and a Pug mix. Just for reference based on my dog’s girth they should wear an XS Webmaster or Flagline. However the length of the harness is way to long for their torsos. When I get the XXS Webmaster, which fits on their torso, the chest straps are too short.
However- I recently got the XXS Flagline for my Tripawd and the chest straps adjust far enough to fit!
So that was a long way of saying that the Flagline might fit because of all the adjustment points. I also think that if it doesn’t fit you can return it (as long as the tags are still on it) but I would confirm that with Admin or Jerry.
As far as how many days before she can do stairs? Well, I hate to fall back on this but all dogs are different. If you have to do stairs then a harness is probably your best option but be aware that some vets don’t want a harness used until sutures are out so check with your vet. Some here have put a tee shirt under the harness to protect the incision and sutures.
Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls
Thank you all so much for your friendly replies!
The topic of harness has now been pushed into the background by new events: Because a mast cell tumor on her neck was just diagnosed. The veterinarian will remove it in three weeks after her holidays.
How to proceed because of the leg then depends on whether the mast cell tumor spread into the organs. The first mast cell tumor she had (2 years ago) dit not. But it could be removed completely, the new one can not.
I’m sorry to hear this news.
I’ve been down the mast cell tumor path twice- Maggie lost her leg to it and had recurring tumors and Mag’s little sis Tani had multiple MCTs.
Keep us posted.
Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls
The mastcelltumor has finally been removed. But because it was sitting on the neck near the larynx, it was not possible to operate with a sufficient safety distance. Now Leyla should possibly get Masivet. To do this, the tumor would have to be of a certain nature, which the pathologist would have to examine. But I don’t know if the vet ordered this from the pathologist. I remembered via email.
Does anyone have experience with Masivet?
Does anyone have experience with Masivet?
It’s called Kinivet in the US. It was not available when Maggie was fighting MCTs. I know it went off the market in the US for awhile but it seems to be available again now.
I did a forum and blog search on this site but didn’t find anything useful. Hopefully someone here has some info for you.
Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls
According to the pathologist Masivet exists only for financial reasons. There is no proof for effectiveness, so he does not recommend it. The mastcelltumor has been removed with sufficient distance, so it is likely that it will not occur again. 🙂
Still I’m not sure if the leg should be amputated. Nobody knows what happens if or if not. Each decision can be regretted.
Hmmm. I would talk to an oncologist about Masivet, not the pathologist. But I’m glad they got good margins on the tumor.
It’s hard to decide about amputation, I feel your pain, I’m so sorry.
Have you seen the Custom Pet Support Suit? I would recommend it for Leyla if you decide to proceed.
No, I believe the pathologist. I think I will let her enjoy the summer on 4 legs. In autumn we check whether there are metastases anywhere. If everything is ok, then amputation. Ideally in the morning so that I can pick her up in the evening. I don’t want to leave her alone.
This is my plan so far. The threads came out yesterday. The veterinarian urges decision. If only I knew what would happen if we didn’t amputate. She says it can go well for another six months and then I would have to put her to sleep because the tumor would stress the nerves. But I don’t understand why it should be too late then for an amputation.
No easy answers but if you are good with your plan then that is what matters most. No two situations are alike.
I believe your vet wants a decision however, because what we often see here is when people put off a decision about amputation, they often find themselves having to make it under unexpected, stressful circumstances when a tumor bursts or a leg breaks.
That is a good question to ask your vet what she meant about “stress the nerves.” Stress what nerves, brain? Body? How and what would the ramifications be? You may want to get clarity on that.