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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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Amuptation or Euthanasia??
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Otter's Guardian
19 July 2008 - 7:51 pm
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Hi All,

     My soon-to-be seven year old Rottweiler, Otter, has been having knee problems for about a month now.  I took him to our local vet who said the problem appeared to be his cruciate ligament.  I then took him up to the UC Davis vet hospital and they confirmed the findings.  Since he was favoring his hind left knee more, we decided to perform a TPLO on that and do his right in the future.

     About two weeks after the TPLO (just last week) I noticed his condition worsening and some inflamation in his hips.  I immediately took him to our local vet who x-rayed his hips and found, unfortunately, what they believe to be osteosarcoma.  I can’t believe we put him through the invasive (and expensive) TPLO for absolutely nothing, and I’m a little frustrated that UCD didn’t perform a comprehensive orthopedic diagnostic on him prior to the surgery.  I do have to say, however, they were quite understanding and sympathetic and paid for his biopsy in full which he just had a few days ago; for that I am extremely grateful.

     Anyway, I took him home yesterday and he was in significant pain.  The fentanol (sp?) patch was supposed to have kicked in, yet was doing nothing and he was miserable.  At midninght last night we took him in to our local emergency clinic and they kept him comfortable overnight on meds.  I picked him up this morning and took him back up to UCD where they are keeping him comfortable over the weekend (and being generous by not charging us emergency rates).  He had an amputation scheduled for two weeks but there’s no way he can endure the pain that long.  Davis was kind enough to call around and find a spot for him on Monday morning.

     Otter does have a "bad" right knee.  He is also arthritic in his elbows, but no one is sure of the extent of these maladies.  The vets recommended amputation – "he is not a great candidate, but he is a good candidate."  Since he’s been walking around on three legs recently they are led to believe he will be fine, for now, with three legs in his current condition.  Which finally brings me to my question…. does anyone have any experience with a similar situation?  If Otter really can do well on three legs for a while, and if he will be happy and comfortable, then it’s a no brainer.  My only two options are both extreme and I don’t want to cause him any more suffering than he’s already experienced.  He is such an amazing dog and a beautiful, important member of our family.  We want to do what is best for our buddy and, completely selfishly, I am no in way prepared to say goodbye to him.

     Any help/advice is greatly appreciated.


The Rainbow Bridge

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19 July 2008 - 8:19 pm
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No brainer indeed! And you’re in good hands with the great folks at UC Davis.

It’s now been over 18 months since my operation. I’m a fairly arthritic and now have a partial ACL tear in my back knee, but still get around pretty well. I act healthy, love to run and play – though I shouldn’t – and really enjoy swimming, which is good for my knee.

You will find plenty of others in the forum with similar experiences. every story is different, but the vast majority of us bounce back quickly and recover fully. The amputation will not cure the cancer, but it will end the pain. Best wishes in this difficult time and send our love to Otter.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Forum Posts: 62
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20 July 2008 - 11:22 am
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Hi Otter,

>> if he will be happy and comfortable, then it’s a no brainer.

This is exactly what happened in my case. Before the operation I was not myself and moping around from the pain. Around two weeks post op, I was pain free and hoppy once again. I have hip dysplasia, but that does not seem to be an issue so far. My walks are a lot shorter, but I just stop to do more sniffing!

Good luck,

Max C

Manchester, UK
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20 July 2008 - 5:18 pm
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Hi – I’m sorry to hear about what’s happened to Otter.

I would certainly go for the amputation.  I’d not worry too much about the future at this stage and just concentrate on getting Otter more comfortable (which he certainly will be, within a short period of time).

Best wishes from us!

Bev & Darcy

Darcy – tripawd since 16th October 2007.

***Darcy would love to be your friend on Facebook - just search for Darcy Deerhound***

Otter\\\'s Guard
23 July 2008 - 3:42 pm
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The vets decided to do a CT scan before Otter’s amputation.  They found that the tumor was much more aggressive than they previously thought.  What was to be an amputation turned into an amputation and major pelvic removal, with a poor prognosis.  I had to make the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make in my life and put my bestfriend to rest while he was still under anesthesia.  I couldn’t bare to put him through the surgery, particularly knowing about his other legs and several complications resulting from the procedure.  My wife spoke to the vet this morning who confirmed that Otter had both osteosarcoma AND chondrosarcoma – she said even if we had elected to do the surgery he likely would have been gone no more than two weeks later.  I suppose I can "rest" easier knowing I made the right decision, but all of this happened only within six days time!  His illness hasn’t even set in for me yet, let alone him being gone forever.  I just wanted to update you and thank you for your support.  All of your dogs are in my thoughts, and I hope Otter is in yours.  Thanks!

The Rainbow Bridge

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23 July 2008 - 7:06 pm
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The vets made the right decision to do the scan, and based on the results you did the right thing as tough as it was. At least Otter went painlessly and peacefully. Rather than endure the surgery, recovery, and short remaining life. Too many times people go to extremes, only for themselves. I’m a firm believer in quality of life, not quantity.

Thank you for sharing your experience. Try to find a little peace knowing that your story may help others prepare for such sad surprises if/when they face cancer in their pets.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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25 July 2008 - 11:26 am
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I am so sorry to hear of Otter’s passing.  Remember that you did all you could for him & that you were there for him right up to the end.

 Sending you big hugs!


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