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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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Help please - Life expectancy
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Forum Posts: 4
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23 January 2009
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23 January 2009 - 10:07 am
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Hi all. We were directed to this site by Bev and her tripawed deerhound Darcy. Our 8yr greyhound Zac has had his biopsy today. His chest is clear thank god.

Our dilemma that I would be really grateful for some help with – and I am sorry if this may upset some of you – is this.

Our vet says life expectancy after amputation/chemo is 10 to 14 months.

Is this really the case? What really is the life expectancy??  Am I buying time for me or for him?

I suppose what I really want to know is are there any regrets?? 

I don't want him to suffer and then have to put him down shortly after anyway.  Sorry if this sounds all a bit blunt. We are still reeling but I would love to know your honest opinions.

 I can totally see that the photos/posts of dogs here look happy- please don't think I am being antagonistic!

Am not trying to be

Thank you.

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23 January 2009 - 10:53 am
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I think we can all relate to the questions you are asking, since we have all thought the same thing at one time or another. I too, struggled with the decisions and at first did not want to amputate. After much soul searching and talking to our orthopedic surgeons (one who called me at night and talked for an hour) my husband and I decided to give Max every chance we could.

The oncologists will tell you what the median life expectancy is, but remember that every dog is different. Look at Jerry…2 years! Our Max is only 19 months old and we have been told a year, but he has no lung mets yet and is taking his chemo well, so who knows what the future holds. Its all about quality of life and not quantity. I for one have started making sure I am in tune with what Max wants to do. If he wants to go out and play, then thats what we do. Live in the moment for them. As for regrets…..I personally have absolutely none. Im at peace with my decision and its been a ruff road for Max. But looking at him now…he is happy and pain free and I wouldnt have it any other way.

Whatever decision you make will be the right one for you and your dog. No one can make that decision for you and everyone on this site will support you in whatever you choose to do.

Paula and Spirit Max

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23 January 2009 - 12:14 pm
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I think there are no absolute answers, but since you are asking about life expectancy, which was our question too, I can share our experience.

When we were making the same decision, we had several people tell us not to bother with the amputation, just put our dog Krishna down then.  But having just been through my Dad's last year of life and having accompanied several friends through cancer, AIDS, whatever, that made no sense to me.  I treasure every moment i spent with my father and with my friends during those last months and years of their lives, and I know despite the pain and difficulties, they were not ready to leave until they were ready…and when they were, they knew it and those of us who loved them knew it.  Remembering what they always say–a year in a dog's life is like seven of ours–whether you have three months or three years beyond the surgery, most of that time will be good and precious.  The recovery from amputation is relatively easy and it is such a joy to see the pain gone from their eyes.

And based upon what we are seeing right now and what I read in other stories here, the end, when they are ready, comes pretty quickly…their body will begin to shut down and you'll know it is 'time'.

Sending aloha,

Krishna's “mom” Beth

Northern CA
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23 January 2009 - 12:20 pm
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When we looked at Wrigley's xrays and  we were told Wrigley most likely had cancer,  I don't know why, but I said “we can amputate can't we”- didn't even hesitate. It wasn't until the drive home that I really started to think about what I had just considered- then I doubted-  I called my friend at the our regular vet, and she told me ” by all means if amputation is an option , take it- Wrigley will do fine as a tripawd”.  I kept thinking and thinking though. Would that really be the right thing to do?

Then when the orthopedic called with the biopsy results, and confirmed that Wrigley did indeed have cancer and the only way to relieve her pain was to either amputate or put her down my head started spinning. I was out of town and had to make decisions over the phone-  called my husband, called the vet back, called an oncologist…. called everybody. My sister was with me out of town, and looked at me and said “I don't understand why you wouldn't amputate- what is your other option”. This was 3 days before Christmas- she was right. my other option was to put her down. Everyone but me at that time felt that Wrigley  would be OK.  I was reacting to doubt, not what I believed or loved. So I went back to my gut response the first time we heard it could be cancer and my thought then was to amputate ( I believe in the power of the gut) so I called my husband, told him Dr. Richardson ( who also felt very strongly Wrigly was  good candidate for amputation) was available to amputate right then so please take Wrigley up to the orthopedic vet- I'lll be home soon.

I felt guilty for not seeing her before she went to surgery; I prayed, I visualized…. I cried.

We picked her up the next day. She was smiling and so happy to see us. I could tell in her eyes, the pain was gone. She came home and as we sat on the ground she buried her face in my arm and layed there.  The pain was gone-

The next 2 weeks were HELL- no easy way to say it. PURE HELL. I hardly slept, I wondered what I had done, when will this end…. Then we made it past those 2 weeks. We are now taking our walks like we used to, playing like we used to; Wrigly once again is a happy dog- and it is because we made the decision to amputate.

We have been to the oncologist and they did not give us a very good prognosis for Wrigely. They give you the median survial times. But the bottom line is no one really knows for sure- except the greater being that put this plan in place for me  and Wrigley right now. There is a cancer center commercial on TV and the woman says how  the DR.s at the cancer center tell her “when you came here, I didn't see an expiration date on the bottom of your foot” ( or something like that). That is the bottom line. None of us know our expiration date. So why do we worry so much about it. My husband always tells me ” if I can't control it, why worry about it”.

So, to sum it all up. Absolutely no regrets whatsoever. I suppose it was for me, when we first did the surgery. I  wasn't ready to say goodbye, ( nor were my husband and kids) but I don't think Wrigley was either.  I don't know if I have 1 day, 1 month, 1 year with Wrigley, but I willl take every second I get.  I do believe that Wrigley did not want to go yet- especially in the condition she was in prior to the surgery. I think she wanted to enjoy life to the greatest just a little bit longer – and that is what our decision is giving us.

Do what is best for you and your dog- do ask your dog what he wants to do.  Follow your heart and what you feel is the right thing and know there are not right or wrong answers. Whatever decision you feel is best, will be the best decision for you and that is all that matters.

Seanne and CA Wrigley

Seanne and Angel Wrigley

Forum Posts: 345
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23 January 2009 - 12:33 pm
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This isn't a race. However, when a beloved pet does exceed a given prognosis it is truly a time to celebrate. The Dr's only can give you an estimation based on statistics. In my case with Buster is was very good since his tumor was a chondrosarcomaand was supposed to be stage 1 and low grade. Over the holidays we were given the unfortunate news that it has spread to his lungs. Initially I was devastated and felt betrayed , and given a false sense of hope. I did not hesitate the amputation because I could see how the tumor was causing him to be in pain, and did indeed diminish his quality of life. The initial weeks after the surgery were difficult. He did bounce back and we were given extra time with him . So far we have really enjoyed and continue to enoy his final chapters of his life.(9 months so far)

Living on borrowed time, I can honestly say I have no regrets about the amputation. It is a gift! Making memories and spending extra time with him…. is priceless. Would you rather know or not know? The is power in knowing. You can make the remaining time full of love and caring. I tell you this from the heart, recently losing a family member at the age of 39. Not be able to tell them how much I love them and saying goodbye, now that is something I do regret… No one is guaranteed tomorrow.

Listen to your heart… and to Krishna. My Buster has a strong will to live and that should be a factor as well!

Until we find a cure for cancer, all we can do is give our fur babies a fighting chance!

No regrets,

Keeping the faith

Kim & Buster

Kim & Angel Buster

"Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened."
–Anatole France

Here and Now


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23 January 2009 - 4:35 pm
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zacman said:

Am I buying time for me or for him?


Good question, but you also need to ask yourself if you would rather have quantity time, or qualtiy. I recommend the latter.

Amputation is the only way to free Zac of pain and ensure his quality of life. Everyone asks, “How long will they live?” But more important – to me if you ask – is how happy will he be?

Every dog is different. We ere told Jerry had 3-4 months after his amputation. He lived a happy life on three legs for nearly two years. Unfortunately, others don't last nearly as long. But but if your asking how long, your asking for yourself. If you ask how happy, you thinking on behalf of Zac.

Hope this helps. Best of luck with whatever decision you make.

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24 January 2009 - 12:39 pm
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Thank you all. What a tremendous site.

It is lovely to get such positive replies.

I can't really think about anything other than what to do and still not coming up with any answers……….

I really appreciate the support though, thank you.

Here and Now


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24 January 2009 - 1:53 pm
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Thank you zacman! It means a lot to us knowing that you find our growing community of support helpful.

We all understand what you’re going through, and this place would not be nearly as helpful if it weren’t for members like you asking the difficult questions and sharing their decisions. There are no wrong answers here.

MarleyFlynn
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25 January 2009 - 9:15 am
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We are scheduled for surgery a week from tomorrow so I can't speak for us – yet. I can tell you that our oncologist – Dr. Romansik at New England Veterinary Oncology Group – told us he's had about 300 clients go through amputations and only 1 regretted the decision saying that her dog wasn't the same after (though he seemed fine).  our surgeon said she hasn't had one client regret it….  

Here and Now


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25 January 2009 - 11:48 am
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Thanks for sharing this and best of luck for a successful procedure and full, speedy recovery.

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25 January 2009 - 12:18 pm
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Zacman–

I think you will be very happy in the long run with your decision. Our Mal is only 4 1/2 years old, and we are told in younger dogs (like Max) for some reason the cancer is especially aggressive.

We will be following chemotherapy with metronomic protocol.  At 1 1/2 months after surgery, the amputation is a non-issue. There'll be moments, slips and falls, etc that will make your heart stop, but overall, no regrets.

I had to travel for business this week, so I had a night with my girls.  It was a great night and I took pictures to bring with me. I had my Mal dancing with me around the house and we just had a wonderful time.  That might not have happened if we didn't make our decision almost two months ago.

Prepare yourself for what's to come, like others say, the first couple of weeks is not easy.

It's a great thing going on here to have this support.

–Kim and Tika

Kim and Spirit Tika http://www.tika.....ogspot.com

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26 January 2009 - 9:48 am
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Hi Zacman,

If I had to choose, I will make the exactly the same decisions I did with Dee. Most people in South Africa do not choose amputation, but Dee is an example of how your beloved friend's quality of life could improve.  He even picked up weight after his amputation! It is now just over 8 months, and even with lung mets, he is still a very happy and playful dawg.

You have made the right decision.  I was very teary on the day of the operation, but when I saw what an improvement there was to Dee's general health and quality of life – I knew I made the right decision for my canine friend!!

Good luck on your journey and big hugs to Zac, the brave…

Lots of love,

Ansunette & Dee

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26 January 2009 - 10:40 pm
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SADLY I JUST HAD TO PUT MY SPAZZY DOWN,ON JAN 23.  HE WAS DIAGNOSED WITH OS AND HIS REAR LEG BONE WAS DETERIORATING. I WAS TOLD WITH AMPUTATION ALONE, 6 MONTHS. WITH AMPUTATION AND  CHEMO- 1-2 YEARS. THERE ARE NO GUARANTEES. I WAS ALSO TOLD HE WAS IN EXCRUCIATING PAIN. I COULDNT BARE HEARING THAT. IT WAS AWFUL. SO FOR ME I DECIDED THAT  THE BEST DECISION WAS TO PUT HIM TO SLEEP SURROUNDED BY HIS FAMILY.

PLEASE DONT THINK IM ENCOURAGING YOU TO DO WHAT I DID.FOR ME, I JUST THOUGHT OF ALL THE WHAT IFS. HE IS WITH GOD NOW. PAIN FREE AND HAPPY. BELIEVE ME I WOULD HAVE DONE ANYTHING IN THE WORLD FOR HIM. I REALLY FELT IF SOMETHING WENT WRONG AND HE DIED AND WE WERENT THERE TO COMFORT HIM THAT WOULD JUST ABOUT KILL ME. BUT , ITS NOT ABOUT ME IT IS ABOUT HIM.

I CRY EVERYDAY. I WILL FOREVER MISS HIM AND I CANT STAND NOT HAVING HIM HERE BY MY SIDE. HE WAS A BEAUTIFUL BULL MASTIFF PITBULL MIX AND THE SWEETEST DISPOSITION YOU COULD EVER SEE ON A DOG. AND HAPPY.

I NEVER KNEW HE WAS IN SUCH PAIN.HE NEVER CRIED BUT HE DID SEEM TO WITH DRAW SOME BUT I JUST NEVER REALIZED WHAT HE WAS GOING THROUGH. I FEEL SO GUILTY ABOUT THAT. HE DIDNT CRY AT ALL UNTIL 3 DAYS BEFORE I PUT HIM DOWN. HE WOULD WIMPER JUST A LITTLE. HE HAD A PAIN PATCH AND PILLS.

I JUST DIDNT WANT HIM TO HAVE ANY MORE PAIN.  I LOVED HIM TOO MUCH. DO WHAT YOU THINK IS RIGHT. I KNOW LOTS OF PEOPLE HAVE GREAT SUCESS STORIES! GREAT VIDEOS! AND HAPPY DOGS!! ONLY YOU CAN MAKE THE CALL.

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26 January 2009 - 10:46 pm
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PS- IAM SORRY THAT YOU ARE GOING THROUGH THIS . I KNOW HOW YOU FEEL . THAT IS WHY I FOUND THIS SITE . I NEEDED ADVICE TOO. WHATEVER DECISION YOU MAKE WE ARE ALL HERE FOR YOU. I WILL SAY A PRAYER FOR YOU AND YOUR BABY ZAC.

The Rainbow Bridge



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27 January 2009 - 2:09 am
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Happynine, we are so very sorry to hear about Spazzy. We know what a tremendously difficult decision that was, and our hearts go out to you. Thanks so much for sharing your unique story. It's good for people to hear all sides, because there is no single decision that is right for everyone. You did what you felt was right for your baby, and that's all that matters.

Many loving prayers and condolences going out to you . . .

Rene, Jim & Spirit Dog Jerry

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