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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 Member… PEZ - Post Amputation
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csmpez
1
15 January 2010 - 7:35 pm
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We noticed our 11 year old pit bull "Pez" limping one day in October and didn't think much of it until we took her to the family vet who has been seeing Pez since she was a puppy. The vet took X-Rays and came back crying, so we knew it wasn't just arthritis. She informed us that Pez had Osteosarcoma in the right front leg (proximal humerus) near the shoulder. She sent us to an oncologist with the film to be 100% and the oncologist confirmed the diagnosis. Talking about immediate water works in our eyes. We were also told that due to Pez having past ACL surgery on her rear right leg and elbow displasia she may not be a good candidate for amputation. So they put her on Piroxicam and Trimadol and told us to just make her comfortable for her last 2-3 months. This was horrible and made us feel virtually helpless.

After doing some research I found the K9 Immunity stuff, Essiac, changed her diet, acupuncture, etc. and surprisingly she was showing signs of doing very well. The limping went away, she was eating well, bowls were good, everything was looking good. In fact, my wife and I took her to Florida for Christmas and New Years to visit my parents. She played at the beach, in the water and was in good spirits.

Today, I decided to stay home and work from the house. It was approximately 8am and Pez and I were on the bed and I don't know who, but someone rang our door bell. We weren't expecting any deliveries, contractors to come by, nothing. Well this startled Pez and before I could do anything she jumped up and off the bed (which she normally never does). Upon hitting the ground she immediately cried out like I never heard before and lifted her paw up in the air. I couldn't believe it as my heart sank to my stomach. After calming her down and carrying her down stairs, I called the vet and I took her in for an emergency exam. The vet took some X-rays and diagnosed her as having a pathologic fracture of the proximal humerus. She wanted to put her down, but we opted to put her on morphine pills and we have set up an appointment to see a specialist on Tuesday.

We have currently set up a bed downstairs to sleep with Pez. We did this when she was going through rehab for the ACL surgery.

Any help, suggestions, words of advise and prayers would greatly be appreciated.

Thanks!

Scott, Charlotte and Pez

Livermore CA
Member Since:
24 January 2009
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2
15 January 2010 - 8:06 pm
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HI Pez' family...I'm so sorry you have to go through this.  We all know how horrible it is.

When my Cemil was diagnosed with osteosarcoma (in a scenario very similar to yours), I wasn't sure amputation was a good idea.  My vet encouraged me to take a couple days and do a lot of research before making the final decision.  We don't have the ACL and elbow problems, so I don't know how that would affect it, but amputation for Cemil has extended his life almost a year (Jan 26!!) and he's still going strong.  I would offer you the same advice I got:  Do as much research as you can, and maybe get a second opinion.  Tripawds get around pretty well, and they love leaving the pain behind.  A recent amputee, Mali, is having physical therapy.  Pez might benefit from that too.

Whatever you decide, I can tell it will be in Pez' best interest.  You know her best and your decision will be based on your love for her.

Let us know how it goes.

Mary and Cemil

Cemil and mom Mary, Mujde and Radzi….appreciating and enjoying Today

Cemil's blog

On The Road


Member Since:
24 September 2009
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15 January 2010 - 8:20 pm
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Welcome, and thanks for joining! We're so sorry to hear about Pez, but glad you found us. ACL tears are treatable, the cancer is a different story. Be sure to read about Chuy, another front leg amputee who has undergone multiple surgeries on his back legs. With adequate therapy, Pez may indeed be an amputation candidate. But you and your vet know best. Best wishes with the decisions you face.

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

Member Since:
1 January 2010
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15 January 2010 - 8:22 pm
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Our hearts go out to you. Holly is 2 weeks post-op and is doing very well. She has amazed me at how well she is getting along. I agree with Mary and Cemil - do as much research as you can, and if possible get a second opinion. Like Cemil, Holly doesn't have the other complications so I am not sure how that would impact Pez's recovery. Your love for Pez will guide you... and we will keep you in our hearts as you go through these difficult days. We're keeping fingers and paws crossed for you and Pez.
Holly and Holly's mom

Holly joined the world of tripawds on 12/29/2009. She has a big little sister, Zuzu, who idolizes Holly and tries to make all of her toys into tripawds in Holly's honor. And she's enjoying life one hop at a time!

http://anyemery.....ipawds.com

Winnipeg
Member Since:
13 July 2009
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5
15 January 2010 - 9:45 pm
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Hi Pez and Family

Sorry you have to be here. Glad you found the site. I think it is great you are taking a bit of time to look into things. It sounds as though the ACL surgery was in the past and not a current problem. I personally know nothing about ACL other than noticing that it seems that some dogs on this site have had that surgery either before or after becoming 3-legged, most notably Chuy. As for "elbow displasia", what is that and how serious is it? Was Pez limping on that leg noticably, that is, before the cancer made itself known in the other leg?

When my dog had his amputation, everyone thought his other legs were in great shape, but then no x-rays had been done. About a month later, when we x-rayed a mass near his right hip, we happened to learn that the hip itself was in horrible shape. But it hardly made itself known, other than perhaps making him a bit slow to get back up to speed following surgery (he seemed to take longer to re-learn to walk and run than most 3-leggeds, but by 4-5 weeks he was having a great time).

Still (sorry for going on so long), complicating medical conditions can definitely influence the outcome of amputation and you would think that most oncologists would be pretty good at judging whether amputation is appropriate. They must see a lot of 3-legged dogs of all sizes. I guess you don't really have the option of getting a 2nd oncologist opinion, do you? I know that doggy onco's do not grow on trees.

I wish you, Pez and your family all the best in figuring this out. As others said, your love for Pez will help you make the best decision.

Kirkland, WA
Member Since:
2 June 2009
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6
15 January 2010 - 10:14 pm
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One day my dog, Jack, was playing and all of a sudden started screaming at the top of his lungs and holding up his paw.  This went on for about 30 seconds and after he had quieted down, we found he had "emptied his bowels" (polite wording) onto the carpet during his ordeal.  I completely understaned the panic and terror that runs through you when you hear that crying out sound.  In our case, Jack went mis-diagnosed for 8 months.  So, in actuality, he was living with cancer 8 months before he was diagnosed with it.  We were not giving him chemo, supplements, or anything.  He passed his 7 month ampuversary on January 3, and is still doing just great (as far as we can tell).  I also met a pet owner whose dog had osteosarcoma as a puppy (probably a year or 2 old) and it lived 8 more years with only amputation.  Each dog will fight the cancer differently.  If you feel that Pez can take on the challenge, by all means, let her!  But you know your dog better than anyone, and you will make the right decision, whatever that may be.  Best of luck!!!  We are all here for support.

<3 Laura and Jackadillly

Wesley Chapel, FL
Member Since:
13 September 2009
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7
16 January 2010 - 4:29 am
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Hi Scott, Charlotte and Pez…

Your story sounds so familiar… My Jake also had osteosarcoma in his proximal humerus… and we only found out after he was playing outside with his younger brother Wolfie, and all of a sudden screamed out in pain and held his front leg up… We thought maybe he had just pulled or twisted a muscle… but within a few hours, his upper leg was swelling up and he would not put any weight on it. We brought him to the vet and they did an x-ray… pathological fracture due to what looked like osteosarcoma. OMG! We were devastated, but went ahead and did a bone biopsy the next day to confirm. They couldn't repair the fracture until they knew if it was cancer or not. So our poor baby had to wait around on pain meds with his broken leg, until the results came back. During that time, my husband and I were doing all the research and talking to several vet friends about his prognosis. It didn't sound good… But then we found Tripawds… and saw so many other dogs with the same diagnosis, big and small, old and young… that had their leg amputated. Some did chemo afterwards, some did not… We saw pictures and videos and read all their stories… and saw that if we amputated Jake's leg, he could have a chance at some good quality life afterwards. Some dogs lived a few months afterwards… some up to a year or two. We had to take that chance. So as soon as the biopsy results came back, we scheduled the amputation surgery immediately!

It was very hard at first. Even though we read about what to expect the first 2 weeks after the surgery, we were pretty shocked when we first brought him home. It lookes so drastic with his missing leg. We questioned ourselves the first nite… what have we done?!! But the next day, he was hopping around (with help from a sling) and did his peeps and poops, ate his food (and snacks) and snuggled with us like he always did before the whole nitemare began. Then we knew we did the right thing.

I took a week and a half off from work to take care of him… and that helped alot. My other younger dog Wolfie, was always by Jake's side throughout this whole ordeal… By the 2nd week, Jake was doing a million times better… and as soon as his stitches came out, he was able to go swimming in our pool (his favorite thing!) with Wolfie. You can see his pictures and videos on his blog at Jake's Journey. He really did enjoy his extra lease on life until the very end. Unfortunately, just short of 8 weeks post op, that damn cancer quickly spread to his spine, and we had to let our sweet golden angel go. We were devastated! He didn't get to live as long as many of the others tripawds did… but for the short time he had with us… he was happy and so were we.

We don't regret having the amputation at all!! The alternative would have been to put him to sleep right away… so we are happy that we were able to give him that chance… It's been a little over 2 months now since we lost Jake, and we still miss him every day… but his memory will live on forever…

I know the agony you must be going through right now… what to do? Well, do alot of research, talk to different vets, and read everyone's stories here on Tripawds… You know your Pez… Whatever you decide to do, we will be here to support you…

My thoughts and prayers are with you all, as you struggle to make your decision for Pez. She looks like such a sweetheart!

Angel Jake's Mom

Jake, 10yr old golden retriever (fractured his front right leg on 9/1, bone biopsy revealed osteosarcoma on 9/10, amputation on 9/17) and his family Marguerite, Jacques and Wolfie, 5yr old german shepherd and the newest addition to the family, Nala, a 7mth old Bengal mix kittie. Jake lost his battle on 11/9/2009, almost 8 weeks after his surgery. We will never forget our sweet golden angel… http://jakesjou.....ipawds.com ….. CANCER SUCKS!

My heart lives at Rainbow Bridge
Member Since:
28 November 2008
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8
16 January 2010 - 5:43 am
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Have to tell you, I love Pez.  Pit bulls have a very special place in my heart and especially the seniors. I have two, Trouble, my tripawd is 10 and Duke, the wild child, is 5.

By all means, if you have the resources available to you, get a second opinion.  Our second opi nion vet saved Trouble's life.  Her pimary vet did not encourage us to do the amputation because of Trouble's weight.  A second opinion can shed light on options a primary care vet, just may overlook.  The can't see the forest for the trees syndrome.

Trouble was able to lose 14 lbs after surgery and has kept it off.  I've not dealt with the additional ACL injury, but am thinking if you take things slowly, use some physical therapy, and have a supportive vet by your side, you can make this work.

Shanna & Spirit Trouble ~ Trouble gained her wings 3/16/2011, a 27 1/2 month cancer survivor, tail wagging. RIP sweetheart, you are my heart and soul.  Run free at Rainbow Bridge.
The November Five - Spirits Max, Cherry, Tika, Trouble & Nova. 11/2008 - 3/2013 An era ends as Queen Nova crossed the Bridge.

csmpez
9
16 January 2010 - 10:00 am
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Thank you all for your kind words and encouragement. Pez's appetite is still great as she ate a full bowl of food and all her meds/supplements last night. We really don't like the way the morphine is making her act (kinda loopy and spacey). Last night, my wife and I brought down a mattress from upstairs and made a bed in the family room but Pez wouldn't have anything to do with it and would just stare up at the stairs, as if asking, "are we going to bed anytime soon?" So I carried her upstairs and placed her in our bed. During the night she changed positions a few times on her own and actually laid on the bad leg/shoulder most of the night. This morning when we woke up, she ate another full bowl of food w/her meds and supplements with no problem (in bed) along with some water and then I carried her outside to go to the bathroom. She did cry a little when I picked her up, which breaks our hearts. I hate to give her another morphine pill. I also pulled Pez's X-rays from October when she was first diagnosed with bone cancer to compare with the X-rays taken yesterday. One thing I noticed is where the vet said she sees a pathological fracture on the new X-rays taken yesterday and pointed it out to me (indicating it was new), I noticed the same condition on one of the X-rays taken from October, so it's nothing new as the vet indicated and Pez was walking fine up until yesterday's injury on that leg. I'm now wondering if it's something else in the leg/shoulder/ankle that the vet didn't see on the X-ray. Hopefully the vet we are seeing on Tuesday will have a better diagnoses of what's going on. This vet is located at the place that Pez normally goes for doggy daycare during the week. We may also ask for another oncologist to go to and get another opinion on her bone cancer. The oncologist we went to first, was cold, unemotional and only gave us one option for treatment (amputation, chemo and radiation) and pretty much dismissed any other form of treatment. We will keep our fingers crossed and pray because we don't want to lose or precious angel. Thank you all again for your kind words.

Scott, Charlotte and Pez

Member Since:
20 May 2009
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16 January 2010 - 10:46 am
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I am so sorry to hear of Pez's diagnosis.  Hopefully the vet you meet with on Tuesday will be more informative, caring and encouraging.  Unfortunately with an osteosarcoma there are not a lot of options.   If, in fact, there is a fracture your choices are limited.  My prayers are with you and Pez.  I hope on Tuesday you will be able to tell us some good news!

Debra & Angel Emily

Debra & Emily, a five year old doberman mix, who was diagnosed with an osteosaecoma. She had a right rear leg amputation on May 19, 2009. On November 10, 2009 she earned her wings and regained her fourth leg.

East Bay, CA
Member Since:
6 August 2009
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11
16 January 2010 - 1:18 pm
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I'm with Shanna, I have a soft spot for pits. They are awesome dogs.

I cannot tell you how important it is to find a vet/vet oncologist that you feel comfortable with. Do some research in your area and find someone who you feel cares about you and more importantly, Pez. I am a strong advocate for that with people and pets. There are too many kind, knowledgable doctors out there to settle for anything less.

For us, we found that traveling further to get to a teaching hospital made all the difference. We have 100% faith in what our vet onc tells us. He led us in a different direction than I originally (from my family vet) had decided. Because I knew in my heart and soul that he had Caira Sue's best interests, and because I could tell he had a very large knowledge base, I had faith in him. I have never regretted our decision to do this.

I'm not sure what area you are in, but I'm sure wherever you are there are people on this forum who can help you find someone in that area.

Good luck with your search!

mary and Caira Sue

May 2001-Jan 21, 2010.....I'm a dog and I'm AWESOME!..... Always.

Kirkland, WA
Member Since:
2 June 2009
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12
16 January 2010 - 10:52 pm
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I absolutely agree with the finding an oncologist you are comfortable with thing.  When we lived in MI (where Jack was diagnosed), our oncologist was amazing, she was totally honest, gave us lots of options for treatments, told us what she thought was best, and was completely open to letting me add herbal and homeopathic supplements into Jack's diet (she said it couldn't hurt, right?).  Then after we moved to WA state in September, we went to an oncologist out here to see about continuing treatments.  She basically said that without chemo there was really no point, and that supplements are useless.  It made me feel terrible and I cried for 2 days.  So, after that incident, I decided on no more oncology for us (a happy mom is better than a stressed out and emotionally wrecked mom!!).  We are just going to enjoy eachother for as long as Jack wants to stick around.  Having the right doctor makes all the difference.  I have to say, our regular vet here is great.  Jack has only been to her once and she personally calls me to see if he's feeling OK and if his allergy meds seem to be working (she has called twice in the past month the check on him).  She is also willing to help out with cancer treatments if I want to start.  Perhaps if you find a regular vet who you just love and who Pez loves, they can consult with an oncologist and they can work together for a customized treatment plan.  Good luck!!!

My heart lives at Rainbow Bridge
Member Since:
28 November 2008
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17 January 2010 - 7:29 am
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The scenario ldilon81 describes is exactly what we did.  The closest oncology center was 1 1/2 hr away, not too far, but farther than I wanted an aging, sick dog to have to endure.  We asked our amazing consulting/surgery vet to consult with a veterinary school and administer the chemo for us. He was happy to do this for us and it was so much easier for us and Trouble. 

Not everyone has oncologist in the same city, and they get care, so an oncologist isn't essential for the animal, as long as the primary care vet is being guided by an oncologist.

Shanna & Spirit Trouble ~ Trouble gained her wings 3/16/2011, a 27 1/2 month cancer survivor, tail wagging. RIP sweetheart, you are my heart and soul.  Run free at Rainbow Bridge.
The November Five - Spirits Max, Cherry, Tika, Trouble & Nova. 11/2008 - 3/2013 An era ends as Queen Nova crossed the Bridge.

csmpez
14
17 January 2010 - 8:29 am
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We actually have a veterinarian oncology/surgery center here in Annapolis, MD where our family vet had referred us to for the first oncologist (who was cold and unemotional). That particular oncologist was the same person that our family vet took her dog to. However, rather then going through the ordeal of amputation, chemo/rad treatment she opted to put her dog to sleep. She also said that she has seen many cases where owners have regretted putting their beloved dog through such an ordeal (amputation and chemo therapy). I think I'm okay with going through the amputation, but the chemo I'm concerned with due to the known complications/side effects. Our vet also said that if you did the amputation and didn't do the chemo it was a waste because once you cut into the bone/tissue where the bone cancer is it causes the other cancer cells (that may be elsewhere such as the lungs to grow and take over for the cancer that has been removed). Right now Pez is sleeping comfortably on the sofa in our family room (at least I hope she's comfortable). What kills us is we just came back from Florida a couple weeks ago where Pez was hopping around and playing on the beach and in the water as if there was nothing ever wrong and now this. My wife and I just don't know what to do. Hopefully the vet on Tuesday will be more optimistic. Again, thanks to all for your comments and suggestions.

Scott, Charlotte & Pez

My heart lives at Rainbow Bridge
Member Since:
28 November 2008
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17 January 2010 - 8:55 am
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Everyone has to make their own choices.  Our diagnosing vet had treated Trobule for years, but she wasn't comfortable taking on the cancer, nor did she encourage us to pursue options aggressively.  That is when we, not unlike you, began to search for a consulting vet.  We were lucky to find a warm, caring, personable vet the very next day.  They exist, just keep looking until you find one.  Dr F isn't an oncologist, but when we asked him to consult with the oncology department at a nearby veterinary school, he was willing to do so.  When we asked him to administer the chemo, he was willing to do so.  He has been our pillar in the last 13 months, we couldn't have done it without him - truth be known, we wouldn't have given her the chance for life without him.  Dr F is now our primary vet, has been since the morning of her surgery, and I hope to have his wisdom with us for a long time to come.

Shanna & Spirit Trouble ~ Trouble gained her wings 3/16/2011, a 27 1/2 month cancer survivor, tail wagging. RIP sweetheart, you are my heart and soul.  Run free at Rainbow Bridge.
The November Five - Spirits Max, Cherry, Tika, Trouble & Nova. 11/2008 - 3/2013 An era ends as Queen Nova crossed the Bridge.

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