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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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New and very scared for my BearPup
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Member Since:
11 September 2012
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12 September 2012 - 12:05 pm
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Hello…

 

Like so many, I found this community because our BearPuppy is facing a front leg amputation due to Osteosarcoma.   I am grateful that this community exist… thank you.

 

I would lie if I said I am not scared … actually, I am horrified, I am still in shock, and I do not know if I am making the right decision.   I do know; however, that something has to be done soon because of the pain he is. 

 

Bear is a very special pup.  We found him in our local dog pound some 6 years ago.  He was very emaciated, covered in ticks, fleas, heartworm positive, and his left paw was severely infected from what the vet believed to be injuries from an animal trap.  With time, Bear’s paw healed up, he doubled in weight and he turned into this magnificent creature that looks more like a bear cub than a dog, thus we call him BearPuppy.

 

He is about 8 now and with age came hip problems.  He can walk and run…well it’s more like a bunny hopping, but when he tries to get up it becomes very obvious that his hips bother him.  It is also very obvious that he very much depends on those front legs to get himself up. 

 

Bear was scheduled to have a hip replacement surgery done this month on the 18th.  However, about a month ago, he started limping on his front right leg.  Repeated x-rays of the entire leg didn’t show anything at all.  It wasn’t until yet another series of x-rays last week that revealed the cause for the pain in his leg.  So, here we are.  Instead of having that hip replacement surgery, he is scheduled to have his front leg removed.

 

 You see, I am uncertain if amputation is the correct choice for my Pup because of hips. I know there are all kinds of harnessed and wheel chairs to support pups with disabilities and there isn’t anything that we would not do for him, but I just don’t know if I made the right decision for Bear.   At the same time, I do realize what the only other choice is.

  

Thank you for listening.

 

Eve

krun15
2
12 September 2012 - 12:15 pm
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Hi Eve, welcome to Tripawds.  Your future posts will not require moderation.

I'm sorry you and Bear are dealing with cancer- but you have found a very knowledgeable and supportive community here.

I have to run back to work now- but I wanted to moderate you post and say welcome.  I'll check back later.

 

Karen and the pugapalooza

Orange County, CA
Member Since:
28 November 2008
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12 September 2012 - 1:46 pm
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Hi Eve & Bear!  Our dog Max had hip dysplasia on both hips.  It really only bothered him whenever it was super cold (and since we're in Southern California, that wasn't too often).  Anyway, when Max was diagnosed with osterosarcoma in his left front leg, we were worried a three legged dog couldn't make it with the dysplasia.  Our surgeon took brand new x-rays of his hips.  We asked him what he thought.  He said that he would go ahead with the amp if it was his dog.  So, that was good enough for us, we went through with it. 

Having that said, it sounds like Bear obviously has some more difficulty with his dysplasia than Max did.  So I would suggest having a serious talk with your surgeon, and ask him/her what they think.  Dogs adapt really well to being 3-legged, but it's always important to speak with a professional.

Please keep us updated on Bear and we'll be sending you guys positive thoughts. 

Columbia, MO
Member Since:
10 December 2011
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12 September 2012 - 2:31 pm
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My Daisy lost her left front leg to arthritis. She also has hip dysplaysia as well as some arthritis in her spine.  I was concerned about mobility after her amp but the vet thought she would do ok.  She takes meloxicam once a day for pain and glucosimine/chrondroitin (spelling??) twice a day for her joints.  She is 7 years old and weighs 80 lbs.  Daisy has never been an agile dog due to having so much arthritis so I really didn't noticed a difference in her activity other than she can't take longs walks anymore (we do short spurts with rests in between).  I would discuss with your vet and if he/she thinks Bear can handle it with his hip condition.

Best of luck to you and Bear and keep us updated.

Marla and Daisy

My Two Tripawds...Biscuit and Spirit Daisy

On The Road


Member Since:
24 September 2009
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12 September 2012 - 8:43 pm
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Hi Eve,

I'm so sorry to hear about Bear's diagnosis. Yep, most of us have been there and know how scary it is to envision life on three legs. But watch the videos and look at photos, read the interviews and you'll see that once that pain is gone, most dogs do terrific. 

I'm sure your vet thinks Bear is a good candidate for amputation, right? It's hard to see it now, but he'll get there. Remember though that you have to be a strong pack leader, and believe that he will do great, so that he will believe it too. Save your tears for some other time, be hopeful and strong, and you'll all get though this with spunk. 

If Bear has trouble with arthritis, remember that one of the best things you can do is to keep his weight down. Tripawds need to be leaner than most dogs of the same size and breed, in order to prevent mobility issues. You'll find lots of tips in this community, just search around and you'll find 'em. 

In the meantime, when is his surgery scheduled?

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene
tripawds.com | tripawds.org | bemoredog.net | triday.pet

Member Since:
11 September 2012
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13 September 2012 - 1:22 pm
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Thank you for everyone’s input.  Bear's surgery is scheduled for this coming Tuesday, so I need to make my final decision by Monday.  We have had extended conversations with our vet.  He does not think that Bear is a good candidate for amputation.  Both of Bear's hips have moderate subluxation with the left more than 50% subluxated, thus the hip replacement surgery that was supposed to happen next week.  In addition, the left leg that will remain, is the leg which had its paw mangled up in animal trap some 6 years ago.

  

When i first made the decision to amputate, my thinking was that with Adequan injections, supplement, acupuncture, and some good harnesses, we could manage the hip issue.  However, as days passed and I watched very closely how much weight Bear shifts to the front, I really started questioning my decision and I became very concerned with that left limb, the paw in particular. 

 

Today I have discussed this matter with a doctor that we see for acupuncture and cold laser therapy for many of our pups.  I have also engaged Herbal remedy doctor and a homeopathic doctor.  We discussed the full picture... the amputation, the hip issue, the left paw, etc.  It seems that I am hearing the same opinion from all of them....

  

I will have to make a decision and it has to be a decision that is best for my Baby not for me.  In the meantime, his homeopathic remedies came in today, so we can start him on this and I have scheduled him for acupuncture treatment tomorrow for pain management .

 

Again, thank you for listening and please give all your babies a big hug from me.

  

Eve and BearPuppy.

Sydney, Australia
Member Since:
13 September 2011
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13 September 2012 - 4:35 pm
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I'm sorry to hear that amputation may not be the best option for you. Have you discussed radiation and bisphosphonates  for the leg with osteosarcoma?  I know of one dog here, KBear, who was able to get some more quality time with radiation therapy on the leg. I'm sure there are others.

 

Thinking of you and sending you hugs

 

Karen and Spirit Magnum

Magnum: 30th May 2002 to 5th May 2012. Lost her back left leg to osteosarcoma on 5th Sep 2011. Lung mets found on 20th Mar 2012 but it was bone mets in the hip that ended her brave battle. Magnum's motto - "Dream as if you'll live for ever, live as if you'll die today" (James Dean). Loyal, loving, courageous and spirited to the end. My beloved heart dog, see her memoirs from Rainbow Bridge ...... http://princess.....pawds.com/

On The Road


Member Since:
24 September 2009
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13 September 2012 - 7:45 pm
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Eve, I'm so very sorry. That is such a tough thing to hear, and I can't imagine being in your shoes right now. You are a very conscientious, forward-thinking pawrent who is obviously doing everything possible for Bearpup and will make the best decision for him. I wish the opinions from the vet professionals that you've seen were different, my heart goes out to you. 

In the meantime, Karen's suggestion about bisphosphonates is terrific. This blog post tells more about it

Bisphosphonates Brochure from VCC

Bisphosphonates: When Amputation isn’t an Option

I hope this information helps. We will be here to support you no matter what you decide, so keep us posted OK?

And hugs have been given to our Wyatt Ray . He says "zzzzzzzzz"




Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene
tripawds.com | tripawds.org | bemoredog.net | triday.pet

Member Since:
11 September 2012
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14 September 2012 - 7:16 pm
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Thank you for suggesting bisphosphonates .  I have read about this, but my brain has been going in circles over this amputation decision that I seem to have dismissed everything else.

 

I have printed the information on bisphosphonates and we took it with us when we made the long trip to the city for Bear’s acupuncture.

 

  Bear’s regular doctor wasn’t at the clinic yet, but his acupuncture doctor and I, once again, had a very long discussion about the options we have for my pup.  She was happy that Bear’s homeopathic treatment had arrived and we got it started and  she was delighted to read about bisphosphonates and thought that this could be a great option for my cuteness pup.  She is going to share this information with our regular doctor and she is supposed to make some phone calls to the OSU veterinary oncology to check on these specific drugs.

 

Of course, we discussed the amputation again as and the various ways that we could support those hips like front end wheel chair and harnesses so that he can still carry his weight to the front, but not put stress on that left paw.  In theory, this would work, but obviously this would be something we can consider only after his amputation site heals.   We bounced around a few other ideas and she told me a very sad, but a heartwarming and encouraging story of a German Shepherd who is now happily moving around in a quad wheel cart.

 

Since we were in the story telling mode, I told the doctor about the irony of Bear’s paw situation…  The left paw that was  so severely injured by the animal trap was not healing.  We were two or three months of treatment with various antibiotics and a number of treatment ideas and the infection continued to cause havoc in that paw.  Finally, the doctor that was treating Bear at that time told me that we have no choice to amputate his left paw.  Well… of course that was not happening.   I have engaged the help of herbal doctor who was able to heal Bear paw with some Chinese mushroom complex and Mylanta mixed with sugar.  I guess Bear pup’s paw was meant to be saved because it was very much going to be needed later on in his life.

 

This Tuesday our big white Bear, Aslan, who is Bearpup’s best friend starts chemo.  He was diagnosed with lymphosarcoma on the same day Bearpuppy was diagnosed with osteosarcoma.  At least there is no hard decision to make in his case.

 

Thank you for being here for us.

 

Eve and my cuteness pup, Bear. 

On The Road


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24 September 2009
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15 September 2012 - 8:11 am
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Oh my gosh you are dealing with a lot right now Eve, I'm so sorry. But your vet team sounds pretty excellent and forward-thinking, that is a wonderful asset to have at a time like this. I hope that you can all find something to help Bearpup stay comfortable, healthy and strong for a long time.

Mylanta and sugar? Wow! You'll have to tell us about that one, I've never heard of this before. 

Keep us posted OK?

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene
tripawds.com | tripawds.org | bemoredog.net | triday.pet

San Diego, CA
Member Since:
29 October 2010
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15 September 2012 - 10:55 am
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Hi - sorry I'm late welcomming you. (Been on vaca.) Wow, you are indeed dealing with a lot right now. I hope the biophosphonates can help. Does your homeopathic/herbal treatment include artemisinin ? You might want to read up on that. There's some info on it here: http://nutritio.....temisinin/

Keep us posted on what you decide! Sending pawsitive thoughts out for both your pups,
Jackie, Angel Abby's mom

Abby: Aug 1, 2009 – Jan 10, 2012. Our beautiful rescue pup lived LARGE with osteosarcoma for 15 months – half her way-too-short life. I think our "halflistic" approach (mixing traditional meds + supplements) helped her thrive. (PM me for details. I'm happy to help.) She had lung mets for over a year. They took her from us in the end, but they cannot take her spirit! She will live forever in our hearts. She loved the beach and giving kisses and going to In-N-Out for a Flying Dutchman. Tripawds blog, and a more detailed blog here. Please also check out my novel, What the Dog Ate. Now also in paperback! Purchase it at Amazon via Tripawds and help support Tripawds!

Member Since:
11 September 2012
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16 September 2012 - 9:39 am
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Hello Jackie…and good Sunday to all.

 

Yes, I do know of Artemisinin .  I had both boys on it, but had to stop as Aslan will be going through chemo and Bearpuppy started his homeopathic regiment.  Actually, I need to check with Bear’s homeopathic doctor if we are okay to continue with the Artemisinin .

 

I have not slept much last night.  I am still going over all the pros and cons of our two options: biophosphonates or amputation.    Based on all I have read, I am starting to conclude that the only chance of beating this cancer is to amputate, put my faith in the homeopathic remedies, and manage the hip issue with acupunctures, wheel cart, harness, etc…    Yes, I know, I maybe nuts, but I have been told many times before that this or that is not possible and this or that won’t work and yet we were able to beat the odds many times with our other pups.

 

I do have a question for all of you that have gone through front limb amputations.  If we go through with the surgery, I will need a sling or harness to help Bearpup up.  I know that many harness, like Web Master harness , are not recommended for post-surgery use. 

 

Could you please share what you have used post-surgery?  Perhaps you know of a harness that can be used immediately after surgery, or a place where I can get some information.

 

Thank you.

 

Eve and Bearpuppy.

San Diego, CA
Member Since:
29 October 2010
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16 September 2012 - 10:37 am
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I'm sorry you are having such a difficult time making a decision, but you are right - pups beat the odds all the time!

For Abby, we just used a folded over bath towel that I sewed handles on to - but I have a heavy duty sewing machinem, and she was pretly light (47lbs). Others have used a reusable shopping bag lined with a towel. I'm sure others with large dogs will weigh in on what they used.

Hang in there,
Jackie

Abby: Aug 1, 2009 – Jan 10, 2012. Our beautiful rescue pup lived LARGE with osteosarcoma for 15 months – half her way-too-short life. I think our "halflistic" approach (mixing traditional meds + supplements) helped her thrive. (PM me for details. I'm happy to help.) She had lung mets for over a year. They took her from us in the end, but they cannot take her spirit! She will live forever in our hearts. She loved the beach and giving kisses and going to In-N-Out for a Flying Dutchman. Tripawds blog, and a more detailed blog here. Please also check out my novel, What the Dog Ate. Now also in paperback! Purchase it at Amazon via Tripawds and help support Tripawds!

On The Road


Member Since:
24 September 2009
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14
16 September 2012 - 2:11 pm
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I would be sleepless too. Lots to think about. No matter what, remember there are no "right" decisions; the only one that matters is the one that comes from the heart.

We suggest waiting to use the Ruff Wear Web Master until stitches are out, to avoid risk of the straps irritating the sutures. Meanwhile, a shopping bag with the sides cut open worked for us. I have a heavy-duty sling I would be happy to send to you if you would like it. PM me if you decide to go that route.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene
tripawds.com | tripawds.org | bemoredog.net | triday.pet

Member Since:
11 September 2012
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17 September 2012 - 7:10 pm
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I will keep this very short for now.  Today has been a total emotional roller-coaster.  At the end, I have to do what I feel in my heart and what I feel in my heart is that Bear does not want me to give up on him and that I have to try.

We are going to proceed with the surgery tomorrow.

It will be okay …

 

Please keep our Bearpuppy in your thoughts and prayers.

 

Eve and Bearpup

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