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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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Amputation or SRT (Stereotactic Radiotherapy)
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Virginia




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18 February 2017 - 9:21 am
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OMD!! That pic is ADORABLE!!! The techies will come along and give you links to posting ohotos, but this way worked just fine!

Has Bree been evaluated specifically by an Orthopedic Surgeon? It sounds like she is a good candidate for the amputation should you go that route. As you are aware, ANY surgery has unforseen risk and I never want that to be overlooked. Obviously, everyone of us here took that risk because of “forced choices” we had to make. Discuss all that with the Ortho guy.

Here’s a link that has some interesting information on Fosomax. It is NOT scientific and NOT verified in any specific studies. I just thought you would find it interesting.

I also want to stress that your wife and Dr Dressler do you have many valid points specific to your Bree. If I’m reading your posts correctly, you are hesitant about the amputation mostly because yiu fear Bree won’t “be Bree” as she is now? Is that pretty much it in a nutshell for you? Are their other concerns too that maybe we can help you work through?

Oh..and here’s the link….http://tripawds…..-for-this/

Can’t wait to see more pictures of Bree! Such a ssweetheart!

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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18 February 2017 - 10:09 am
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Yes, that is a big concern.  We know the chances are low to beat this, but we want to beat the odds, give her a long life, and let her be as happy as possible.

I am concerned that on 3 legs, especially with some hip displasia and arthritis (though she runs through the pain), that she would lose some of that will to thrive, which has a lot of impact on survivability  (and happiness).  I am concerned that, God willing she is with us, 2 or 3 years from now she will struggle on 3 legs.  I’m sure she would be able to transport herself around the house… I mean be able to run and play and swim – things she lives for.  I know dogs get back into all those things, but we’ve watched many videos and it’s just not the same intensity as when they have 4 legs.

Another big concern was that the local vet surgeon we were going to use for amputation expressed hesitation in proceeding.  He is not an orthopedist (nor an oncologist), and hasn’t seen Bree much, but has done many amputations and remarked that “she would be happier on 4 legs”, and even asked if it’d be possible to wait to amputate.  His hesitation has really thrown off our thought process, to be honest.  Bree is still putting a lot of weight on the leg, and I think he is confused why we didn’t use SRT.  He is not an expert in any of these areas (though I understand he is a good surgeon), so we want to keep his opinion in perspective.  But he has been a vet for a long time and we don’t want to brush off his remarks.  We’re going to try to talk to an orthopedic vet too.

Ultimately, all of us want what will give her the best chance to beat osteosarcoma.  If someone could say “amputation has a much better chance in beating the disease”, then the decision would be clear.  But the data out there just doesn’t answer that question, and seems to indicate it’s a wash.

Secondarily, we want whatever limits her activity the least.  We want her to be able to do what she wants to do – amputation means she’ll be self limiting with one less leg, and stereotactic radiotherapy means we have to limit her because of fracture risk.

This is tough.

The Rainbow Bridge



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18 February 2017 - 10:20 am
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I’m in the Tripawds Chat room right now if you want to talk. Back in a sec for some thoughts.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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The Rainbow Bridge



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18 February 2017 - 10:27 am
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First, I’m so glad you sought care beyond your original vet. And I’m so happy that Dr. Dressler is as terrific on the phone as he seems. We’ve loved his work for many years. 

Please contact UF’s oncology department and ask to speak with Dr. Boston / leave her a message. Let her know that you talked to Tripawds about her limb salvage work. The project she is doing isn’t officially in clinical trial status right now, I should have mentioned that. But last time I talked to her about a month ago, she was still looking for dogs to participate. She is an AWESOME onco surgeon. You will like her.

As for losing quality of life…. the vast majority of dogs and cats are as happy as always when they recover from amputation. The vast majority of humans say they would do it again. When our Jerry lost his leg to bone cancer, the only thing that really changed was his ability to hike long distances. We just did other things together. He still swam, he still romped on the beach and he was so happy to be with us. That extra time was life changing and if I had to do it again I wouldn’t change anything. The Tripawds Videos page has tons of videos of Jerry and happy cats and dogs loving life on three. Currently we have Tripawds Spokesdog Wyatt Ray who has been a Tripawd for seven years (not cancer related), and he’s just as happy as always.

Bree seems like the ideal candidate for amputation surgery. I understand your hesitation, totally. We mourned the loss of our ability to backpack together and do stuff like that with Jerry. But it didn’t take me long to realize that I was the one who was mourning, not Jerry. He could care less. All he wanted was to be rid of that horribly painful leg. And he did! He had a blast for two amazing years that we wouldn’t have enjoyed with him otherwise.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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The Rainbow Bridge



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18 February 2017 - 10:33 am
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I also want to share thoughts about this:

amputation means she’ll be self limiting with one less leg

It’s up to us to limit their activity, not the dog. They will keep going until they fall over. But really, when it comes down to it, if Bree had gone into old age without cancer, she would still have to be “limiting” in many ways as a senior dog, right? Just like humans, we must adapt as we age to make the best use of our amazing bodies.

also

“amputation has a much better chance in beating the disease”

As you know it’s not a cure when it comes to osteo. It cannot take it away. But what it does is get rid of the excruciating pain, and help a dog live out the rest of their days without a disintegrating leg bone while enjoying the company of their favorite humans. 

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
Latest Tripawds News
Read my story here.

Support the Tripawds Foundation!

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18 February 2017 - 10:50 am
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We’ve talked with UF oncology a bunch… I’m surprised they haven’t mentioned it.  I’ll try to get in touch with her.  I assume she is doing SRT.  Limb sparing surgery won’t work for Bree due to the location.

I read all these stories of “2 years together”, etc., which makes amputation seem like a good option.  I wish SRT had better long term survival data.

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18 February 2017 - 10:51 am
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Do you have an email address for Dr. Boston?  The only email UF publishes is their general one.

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18 February 2017 - 10:53 am
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Yeah we know neither option is a systemic cure.  But one gives better long term odds than another… I think… we just don’t have an answer.

Virginia




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18 February 2017 - 11:10 am
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Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your concerns. You’re doing a very thorough job of processing everything.

If I haven’t exceeded my limit, I have more question for you!

Let’s must take “statistics” about timeframes off the table for a minute.

Based on what yoy know so far, and this is a “forced choice question”, which avenue to you feel is best for Bree? Which to you feel gives Bree the best chance of being Bree? Which option eliminates lots of Vet visits, risks of infections, etc? Which option pretty much guarantees a pain free life with the least amount of limitations and worry?

I know it’s hard not to think in terms of timeframes. It’s just so important to realize that dogs don’t count days on a calendar and don’t have timeframes stamped on their butts! There ARE dogs who exceed “statistics” bynuears…AND…there are some who only get months, or even weeks. THERE TRULY ARE NO GUARANTEES and sstatistics are just guidelines. EVERY DOG IS DIFFERENT and sstatistics just cannot incorporate the make up of the individual dog. And ine more thought. One year in doggy hears equals seven years in human years.

Okay, enough about that! Besides, you weren’t supposed to focus on that with my above question! Oops!

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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18 February 2017 - 11:27 am
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No, I appreciate any and all help.  No limits for us.

Those are good questions.  We don’t know the answers.  Great point about keeping her out of the hospital.  She doesn’t hate many things, but the vet is one.

I’m very analytical.  It has served me well in much of life.  I’m also quite emotional over Bree – she is attached to me more than she is to anyone else in my family.  Here is my analytical thought process:

– What we know:  Bree will be happy with either course of action, and will be happy her entire life as long as she is with us (we’ve had her since she was 10 weeks old) and can do what she loves – even if in some pain.

– Thus, from what we know, our goals:  We wish to give her both longevity, and the ability to continue to do what she loves.

– Unknowns:  What would give her the best shot at longevity, and what would give her the best shot at continuing to do what she loves.

Anyone who has had experience with stereotactic radiation and would like to share would help a bunch.

And thanks for all the responses.

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19 February 2017 - 4:36 am
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Not sure if this helps, but my Otis had a fracture.  He went outside to pee and suddenly was screaming in pain.  That was the first sign I had that he had osteo.  We had taken our nomal walk just the day before.  So, you really cannot tell how bad the pain is just by observing the dog.  Since we had the break, amputation was the only option for us – my family vet was also doubtful.  Otis was 106 pounds and had mild arthritis in his hips.  We went to a surgeon who worked in a facility that also did oncology, who was much more comfortable, having performed many cancer related amputations.  Otis did just fine on 3, although our walks were much shorter.  He was as active as before, could chase cats and squirrels, sleep on the sofa, and do the stairs.  We still went for walks most every day, we just spent more time sitting and smelling the air and less time moving.  But he was happy!

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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19 February 2017 - 10:06 am
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I don’t have a medical background and I only have my experience.  I went to the ‘best’ orthopedic surgeon in my area.  He had no qualms about amputation.  Take away the limb, take away the pain.  

The first 2 weeks after we’re hard.  But as soon as the Staples came out her zest came back full force.  She was swimming and chasing balls.   

My story is different.  She tore her CCL on her right rear and had TPLO surgery in August.  During rehab she began limping on her right front leg.  

The x-rays taken in May showed a beautiful leg.  Six months later that beautiful leg bone looked like it had cotton balls attached all over.  

As far as stoicism goes, Miss Rosie ran and jumped like a bat out of hell.  Never slowed down.  Then every once in awhile she would have a slight limp for a few hours.  Over time it got worse.  But-the reason she had to have TPLO on her rear leg was because she was protecting her Cancer leg and over-compensating so she could continue running like a bat out of hell.  

My girl is one that isn’t going to beat the odds.  Despite 2 major surgery’s and aggressive chemo it spread to her lungs.  3 months post amp she has 20+ nodes in her lungs and most likely will only be with us for a month or three.  

I know that whatever route you take you are likely to second guess it unless yours beats the odds. 

I wont lie, recovery was rough!  But to see my girl sparkle, grin and be her beautiful self running free on three, I did the right thing.  No regrets.  

Brst wishes for the best possible outcome.   

Kellye and Rosie the Wonder Tripawd❤💕🐕

Virginia




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19 February 2017 - 4:22 pm
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Good feedback Kellye. And when you have a Wonder Tripawd like Rosie, statistics don’t apply!

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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19 February 2017 - 10:14 pm
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Well, we have an amputation scheduled for Wednesday.  I’m still very torn over this, especially since we went to the trouble of exploring stereotactic radiation (SRT) at UF.  My wife is very concerned about the fracture risk, and believes amputation is our best chance at letting Bree be herself.

In all my vast amount of reading, I think this is true:  SRT *may* be able to give the same survival time as amputation, but it will not give a longer time.  Amputation is still the best shot (though everything is a long shot) at being curative.

I could be wrong on the above.  Please correct me if you know otherwise.

For now, Bree is still walking around on her bad leg.  She’s running… doing everything normally.  I know they’re stoic, but I wonder how much pain she is in since it hasn’t altered her behavior.  Obviously we have to do something, though.

I will still be seeking answers tomorrow… Any other thoughts are greatly appreciated.  We came on the forum here cause we needed help.  Thanks for everyone’s kind words.

Livermore, CA




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19 February 2017 - 11:22 pm
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We didn’t deal with OSA but I wanted to share a couple of things.

My pug Maggie had mast cell cancer and lost her left rear leg as a result.  Although the tumor was working its way into her knee joint it was not causing her pain.  Mag was quite a drama queen and always let me know when she was hurting!  It was very hard to come to grips with the fact that amputation was our best option.  I realized that without amputation her tumor would continue to grow and eventually ulcerate and cause a very painful wound that would not heal.  There was also the likelihood that the cancer would spread without removing the tumor and the only way to remove the tumor was to remove her leg.  When I chose amputation I gave Maggie a chance at more quality time with me, without amputation there was no chance at a good ending.

One of the mistakes I made after Mag’s amp was spending time missing what she couldn’t do anymore- I was sad about what I perceived as her limitations and I thought she would miss things too.  Mag was 7.5 years old at the time of her amp so wasn’t as active as when she was younger- but she still loved her walks and liked wading in the creek.  She could jump up on the furniture and onto my lap as well as get into the car by herself. She and her sister Tani liked chasing and playing.  Was it different after her amp? Of course it was- no long walks, no jumping into my lap, not as much running with her sister.  I got a stroller for her so she could still get to the park. I put stairs and stools to all the furniture.  Was Mag sad or unhappy about the changes in her life- not at all!  While I was busy missing the things she couldn’t do anymore she was busy figuring out how to do what she wanted to do. Life was a little different but it was still great.

Once Bree is healed from the surgery you can start on core strength and balance exercises.  My current Tripawd Elly is a pug mix who lost her right rear leg at 7 months old.  I adopted her at 10 months old and she had energy to burn! We work everyday on core strength and balance through food puzzles, obedience practice, learning tricks and games.  We are currently learning Nose Work which is great. It is amazing how these things challenge her brain and burns energy productively. All this work has made Elly strong and fit, it is helping boost her courage (a problem for her) and has really helped us bond. 

Life with Bree after surgery will be a little different- but that doesn’t mean it won’t be great!

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

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