Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat
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I just wrote a really long post that didn’t go through, so will try again, much more briefly.
In the course of 11 hours yesterday (Wednesday), my 10 year old lab/shepard/maybe Rotti mix, Sophie, went from being happy and playful at 9 AM, to a slight limp at 5 PM, to in terrible pain and unable to bear weight on her front left leg by 7 PM. We took her in for emergency care, and an x-ray indicated a likely osteosarcoma, radiology this morning agreed with the vet’s initial diagnosis.
I can get her in for us to have a surgical "consultation," followed immediately by surgery, on Monday. Otherwise, we could have a consultation on Thursday, followed by surgery probably on Friday.
Her pain seems largely controlled right now by rimadryl and tramadol- she is still favoring her leg, but can walk around (and wants to run), spent evening trying to entice me to play fetch or tug of war with her, and has a good appetite. If she were obviously in a lot of pain, I wouldn’t consider waiting until later next week, but given that she isn’t, a part of me would really really like a few extra days to prepare, emotionally and logistically, and then for the surgery to occur later in the week where I could follow it by being available 24/7 for several days. This is all a shock. I guess I would also like to be able to consider other possibilities, although I’m pretty sure from the research I’ve done today that we would go with amputation followed by chemo.
My question: how much difference might three days make? Vet says by time of diagnosis cancer has generally metastisized; on the other hand, her x-rays were not 100% definitive, so maybe we did catch this early, and I wouldn’t want to lose time removing cancer if so. But it is all very fast.
Hopefully post will go through this time, and I apologize that it turned long again. I really appreciate your taking time to read this, and any thoughts/advice anyone might want to share. Sophie appreciates it too!
Christine & Sophie
2 February 2008
Firstly, I’m sorry to hear about Sophie’s probable diagnosis. I know how shocked you must feel.
If I was in your situation, I would go for the Monday surgery option. In reality, I am not sure how much difference three days can make to Osteo but given that it is highly likely to metastesise (or however you spell it), I’d want rid at the very very first opportunity. The other thing is that although Sophie’s pain seems to be under control today, I do know from reading the stories of many who’s dogs have osteo (not just here but on other forums) that the pain control issue can become a real problem very quickly.
If you know you are going to go ahead with surgery anyway I’d go for Monday rather than Friday next week if at all possible.
I’m not sure how many stories you are familiar with here on Jerry’s forum but in our own case with Darcy, she went from NO symptoms to breaking her leg (which is another reason I’d opt for Monday in your case) and she was xrayed and operated on that very same day. This was on 16th October last year…
Darcy and I send you and Sophie very best wishes, whatever you decide is best for you to do and we’ll be part of the pack to offer encouragment during the recovery period.
Bev & Darcy
Darcy – tripawd since 16th October 2007.
***Darcy would love to be your friend on Facebook - just search for Darcy Deerhound***
26 July 2008
Hi Christine and Sophie
We understand your worries. While osteosarcoma is known to be fast growing, the rate of metastises (sp) is different with every dog. Even if chest x-rays are clear … even if you do the surgery immediately, that doesn’t mean metastases can’t happen quickly.
The fact that Sophie is still favoring her leg means she is still in pain. Dogs are very stoic and will hide pain if they can. True control of her pain would mean even more pain meds. Pain meds have side effects and many dogs do not tolerate them well for very long. You know she will need pain medication after the surgery for sure. The amount of time then depends on Sophie. I would opt for the earlier surgery to minimize the amount of time she needs to be on meds.
You will be amazed at how quickly Sophie will adapt and become her old self. I know you are trying to prepare yourself, but time and again, posters on this forum have shown that the loss of a leg does not change the way they view or feel about their dogs. Many have said that it is easy to forget that their dog is even missing a leg. I know I feel that way with Radar.
Good luck with the surgery – please keep us posted on Sophie’s progress.
Connie & Radar
Dear Bev/Darcy, Connie/Radar (and anyone else who might still reply!),
Thank you so much for your responses and your thoughts. It is really helpful.
I guess one of my concerns is that there is a little bump (between marble and pea sized) on her back leg, which ironically I had an appt for her regular vet to check out next week. X-rays say current lession is not advanced, and this bump does not appear to be painful and may just be a fatty deposit, but I had hoped to ask about it at surgical consult. The only reason I wouldn’t get the amputation would be if it turned out that this was also related and therefore affecting two legs- in which case I would probably go with radiation. I’m waiting to hear back from a vet (unfortunately neither of the ones I’ve spoken with already are at the hospital today). Has anyone heard of something like this before, where there might be both a primary lesion and another bump elsewhere?
Sorry for all the questions, and a million more doubtless to come. I’m going to go read over some other posts on post-operative care to see if I can start learning more about what to expect- I’m also anxious about how to coordinate this with my work in community mental health, as I have a lot of clients with a lot of crisis/stress in their lives too, and don’t feel I can really say, "sorry, folks, I’m checking out of work for a few weeks."
Sophie however seems pretty happy this morning. We snuggled all night, and this morning she’s been going back and forth between the kitchen and sitting in the driveway enjoying the fall sun. Continues to try to get me to play too, but I worry about her leg so am trying to keep her calm.
Thank you again, so much.
Christine & Sophie
I spoke with hospital today and learned that we can keep the consultation for Monday and, if it makes sense to proceed with the surgery, do so the same day. If the surgeon feels any of my concerns need further exploration, then we can postpone the surgery. So, looks like best of both worlds, quick surgery unless there is some reason not to. When I was told the surgery was already scheduled, I think I somehow jumped to conclusion that that would make it a done deal.
So… please keep us in your thoughts and prayers, and we will keep everyone posted.
Christine & Sophie
22 August 2008
My dog Tazzie had her front leg amputated 5 weeks ago. I would agree to do the surgery earlier rather than later, since you don’t know how fast the tumor could metastasize. Tazzie’s post-op biopsy came back low-grade, well-differentiated osteosarcoma so we caught it early, but I know that it will probably spread at some point. I’ll bet that your surgeon could take off the lipoma/mass on the other leg at the same time if it concerns you.
Good luck on Monday!
Pam and Tazzie
11 September 2008
Hi Sophie & Christine,
I had my amputation two weeks ago and am recovering well, despite some hairy moments for my family in the last few weeks. I’ve posted a fuller story elsewhere in the "share your stories" forum. Like you I didn’t appear to be suffering terribly pre-op and initially post-op this made it hard for my family to cope with knowing whether they had one the right thing. It’s just great to know that the primary site is gone and now that the post-op pain is over, my family can be sure that I’m not just "getting on with it", but am genuinely pain free.
It’s amazing what we dogs can cope with, I would agree with others here. Go for it!
25 April 2007
Hi Sophiesmom! Thank you for joining the Tripawds community, I apologize for the delayed response.
I would say the quicker you can relieve Sophie’s pain the better. But it sounds now like you’re on the right track. This cancer this is terribly quick and aggressive. It doesn’t help that we dogs hide our pain until it is unbearable.
Best wishes for a successful procedure and speedy recovery.
26 January 2008