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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

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Hemipelvectomy - any advice much appreciated
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Member Since:
11 July 2008
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11 July 2008 - 3:18 pm
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Hi everyone - My sweet dog Gatsby, and 8 yr old terrior mix is going to have a "hemipelvectomy" on Wednesday 7/16.  This is a "rare" for of cancer in which the entire hip and leg will be amputated.  They did an ultrasound and the cancer has not spread, so the vet said they are fairly confident they will be able to get clean margins and full removal of the tumor (of course there are not guarentees).  One of her lymphnodes is swollen, but it is right next to the tumor, and they weren't able to take a biopsy because it is right next to a blood vessel.  So the vet said he won't be able to test the lymphnode until he does the surgery.  It could be that the lymphnode might just be swollen since it is right next to the tumor, and not cancerous.

 Technically, Gatsby does not have bone cancer - this started as a tissue-cancer/tumor and spread into the bone.  I have done a lot of research and decided this is the only way to give Gatsby a chance at survival.  As others have written on this forum, if nothing else, it will relieve her of her pain, regardless of how long she lives after the amputation.

However, I have been told that this is an aggressive, painful surgery, since it is essential the removal of half her pelvis/hip and leg.  Honestly, it just plain sucks because I don't like either choice (to amputate or not), however I am confident that with my positive attitude and support she will recover quickly and be (hopefully?) pain-free after she recovers from the amputation.


I've been told this is a rare type of cancer-situation in animals, as many orthepedic vets I have spoken to only do 2-3 hemipelvectony's a year.

 PLEASE if anyone has information or shared experienceds with this specific type of amputation, I would appreciate any and all insights/advice.  I'm continuing to research online.  And, I really appreciate this website.  I've done all my crying privately, away from Gatsby, as I only want to give her positive energy.  However, I'm having a hard time holding back as we get closer to the surgery date, as she is just quite simply my best buddy, and the sweetest, friendliest girl, always there for me unconditionally, as I am for her.

 Thank you for any and all advice.


On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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11 July 2008 - 7:15 pm
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Hi Erika,

Welcome to the forums. Thank you for registering and thanks for the kind comments about the site! That means alot to my people.

Gatsby's surgery does indeed sound serious. But just remember how resilient we dogs are. I had my entire scapula removed – scapulectomy? – and hopped out of the hospital on my own the next morning.

Also keep in mind that we carry 60% of our weight on our front legs. So in general, we've heard that rear leg amputees have it (slightly) easier. But to be honest, I've never heard of a Hemipelvectomy. And my people are not vets, we can only speak from experience.

It's good that you're doing your homework. And even better that you're hiding your grief from Gatsby. He will only follow your lead. Best wishes for a successful surgery and speedy recovery. Hopefully other forum members may be of more assistance... 

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

Member Since:
25 April 2008
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12 July 2008 - 10:22 am
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   My Buster had his forelimb and shoulder removed. His lymph node in that area was enlarged as well. It wasn't cancerous just inflamed.

  Just keep doing your research, knowledge is power. Please keep in mind the ends justify the means. The pain of the surgery will be temporary as opposed to the pain of the cancer. If you feel confident & the vet(is it a major teaching hosp?) has reassured you of clear margins you can have peace of mind.  There are cancer support groups out there if you are looking for a similar case (yahoo & delphi).,So you can compare notes. However , I have found many friends on this site, not to mention the information needed. Stay strong & keep the faith.... Gatsby will feel your energy and love that will help in recovery.

Best wishes...


Kim & Angel Buster

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

5 February 2012 - 9:46 am
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I would love to hear any info you found out since I am going through the same type of diagnosis.

Member Since:
8 January 2012
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5 February 2012 - 12:25 pm
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I believe Tate had a hemipelvectomy.



On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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5 February 2012 - 1:36 pm
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Linda, welcome. We're so sorry to hear this news.

This search for "hemipelvectomy" tags comes up with some stories that can help show you what to expect. When you start a new topic for your pup, be sure to tag it with "hemipelvectomy" too so that future members can easily read your story.

Thanks for joining, we're glad you're here and will help out any way we can.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

Chicago, IL
Member Since:
5 March 2011
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5 February 2012 - 3:54 pm
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Gatsby's diagnosis sounds like Tate's, he had histiocytic sarcoma in his hip and it degraded the bone.  Oh we wanted to save that leg!  But there would always be the risk of pathological fracture plus it's just a really good idea to get the cancer out if you want to have any hope of getting rid of it.

I know it's scary.  Tate had a hemipelvectomy and I'll be honest – the recovery was hell.  The surgeon explained to us that it's similar to hip replacement (except for the new hip part, obviously).  Yeah, it's aggressive and yeah, it's painful – any amputation is painful.  That's why they recommend preventive pain management – in other words, give your dog his dope before it starts to hurt.  So we had Tate all doped up for awhile and he didn't like that part too much.  For a couple days, he just wanted to lie under the spruce tree and I didn't understand the signifance of that until the day he died.  That was the only other time he laid under the spruce tree.  So I guess for a couple days, Tate either thought he was going to die or just wanted to.

But, on the brighter side, he was hopping around on his own on Day 1.  We tried a sling when he got home but he wouldn't have any part of it.  He was very mobile immediately, no poop or pee problems, no serious complications.  It just took a little longer for him to get back to his normal happy self, 3 or 4 weeks.

I love to share this video of Tate at 6 weeks postamp.  Only you can decide if it's worth it for your pup.
August 16, 2006 to November 28, 2011
TATE ~ Forever in our hearts.

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