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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What a beautiful site! My baby girl Tara, a vivacious Airedale, has just been diagnosed with Synovial Cell Sarcome. We just found out yesterday and they want to amputate on Thursday. I can’t bear the thought of not having my baby girl in my life, but we have many other issues in the picture. Tara has several food allergies and is on a strict diet. She has Epilepsy, which is now under control with drugs, a year ago she started showing signs of Kidney failure we are also trying to control that with medications as well. We just took her in for blood and urine tests to see how her other issues are doing.
Her symptoms came on fast and furious too. She developed a limp, they took xrays, sent me to an orthopedic specialists, but it took a couple of months for the actual diagnosis.
Tara is the love of my life and I can’t bear to think of her not being a part of it. I have heard so many opinions from friends telling me to put her in a happy place and let her go. Others tell me she will function just fine with three legs. My son is away in University and my husband travels a lot on business leaving me to take care of Tara. Will I be able to do this on my own? How much support will she need? Am I being selfish wanting to keep her at my side?
Any advice or direction would be so greatly appreciated. Thank you.
25 April 2007
Hi Tara & Co.
Thanks so much for registering and joining us here at Tripawds. We are truly sorry about Tara’s diagnosis, and hope to be able to offer you some comfort and advice as you cope with things.
First off, please know that no matter what, there are no "right" decisions. You have to do what’s in your heart, and what you feel is best for your baby. Only you can make that call, and nobody will judge you.
As you can see here, dogs do great on three legs, even big, older dogs. A lot of people don’t know this, which is why we started Tripawds. So don’t let anyone tell you that a big ol’ dog in general good health can’t be hoppy and healthy on three legs.
Tara does sound like she has some health issues, but we get the impression that the diet and epilepsy are under control? That’s great. The kidney failure issue sounds like it’s being controlled as well, correct? That sounds like the big one, aside from the recent diagnosis.
From what we understand, synovial cell sarcoma may or may not metastacize the same way that other bone cancers do. Which means chemo might not be necessary, and that’s a good thing because it would mean she’d have one less health issue to cope with.
How young is Tara? We have had many senior tripawds here that do just fine after amputation.
What is the vet suggesting?
Amputation is fast way to stop the pain. Although there are challenges to overcome during recovery, most of the time dogs quickly adapt and get back into their routines in no time.
Although their walks may be shorter and they might not be able to play as hard as they used to, life on three legs is a blessing for most. Dogs are out of pain and living life, and their humans are able to have extra time with their best friend. How much time is always the million dollar question. But we like to say that it’s quality, not quantity, that counts. If you feel that Tara would have a good quality of life after recovering, then amputation may be what is right for you and your family.
As far as support goes, you can see some of the issues involved in our Health Tips page. Can you see her through her recovery by yourself? Sure. We know lots of single individuals who’ve handled their dog’s amputation recovery on their own, even when big dogs were involved. It might be more challenging, but you will be amazed at how quickly a dog can adapt and heal.
We know how heavy your heart is and how difficult a time you are going through. We hope this helps somewhat. If there’s anything else we can help you with, we’re here for you.
26 July 2008
Hi Airdale Lover,
I second everything that Jerry said. Health issues and age do come into play in the decision making process, and yes, make that process all that much harder.
I don’t know how old she is, however, I am drawn to the word you use to describe Tara: vivacious! That word alone makes me think of Tara as full of life, happy and ready to keep on living. It is a word that greatly describes so many of the tripawds on this site including my own Radar. If you and your vet think her other health problems would not be exacerbated by the amputation I would give it serious consideration. At the very least she will be out of pain and can be her happy vivacious self again.
Whatever decision you make we understand and support you. Please keep us posted and know that you can come here to talk.
Connie & Radar
28 May 2008
We second all that has been said. Listen to your heart and ask Tara what she wants…you might be surprised at the response. When I was making my decision and I just didn’t know which way to go, I asked Zeus what he wanted…I explained the situation to him as he was laying on my bed with me. When I asked him what I should do, he literally jumped off the bed, chased his tail, found his favorite toy and whipped it around a little bit and then went to the window and barked – then looked back at me. Knowing Zeus the way I do, I knew he was telling me that he wanted to live, that he wanted to try and he wasn’t ready to go out without a fight.
I currently live alone with my 2 boys (Zeus and Buddy) and Zeus is 70 pounds and I’m all of 102 pounds, so I was very nervous about being able to handle this. I did have some help, my dad came and stayed with us for a week after surgery, but after that we were on our own a lot. We managed – together. It’s really amazing…you just instinctively know what to do. We used a harness at first to help him around the first couple days and then he pretty much got along on his own.
He is doing very, very well. He is still the leader of the pack in the neighborhood and can chase the tennis ball and almost everything he used to be able to do – the main difference is the lenght of walks – I can’t take him for an hour any more, he tuckers out after about 15 minutes…but we just take more frequent walks instead.
BTW – Zeus is a 10 1/2 year old golden retriever, right front leg amputated…4 1/2 months post op with osteosarcoma.
Like Jerry said, only you know what to do…and whatever you decide, it will be the right decision for both of you.
Lots of love, thoughts and prayers while you make this difficult decision.
We’re here for you.
Zeus and Mom
Heather and Spirit Zeus - Our life changing journey…from the earth to the heavens…one day at a time…always together
5 August 2008
Hi Tara and mum, they’re right go with your heart and do what’s best for Tara. By all means listen to all the advise and surf this site thoroughly and use the links so that you are well informed. I found that the minute I had all the information I needed and the ability to share with others in the same situation everything fell into place. It’s not easy and the emotional strain is sometimes unbearable. Butch is 17 days post op rear leg amputation all I have to do is look at Butch and he gives me courage day by day, he’s dealing with it better than us, his blubbering pawrents. As Zeus’ mum said, talk to Tara it’ll help I talk to Butch all day long. Lots of big hugs to you.
Annie and Butch
10 July 2008
Hi Tera and Mom, First let me tell you (however you may already know) how helpful this site was to me. I also spent time searching opinions, had opinions from 3 different Surgeons. I spent time on the Internet as well as this site. Also read the book "Without Regret ".
All of this was very helpful, however the final help was from Bailey herself (my 10 1/2 year female Golden, who is 24 days post op, she had her left hind leg amputated). I looked into Bailey’s eyes, she then gave me a kiss. Then the surgery date was set.
My husband also travels a lot and we are currently living in a 5th wheel travel trailer after just moving to an area where we did not know anyone. I too just couldn’t think of not having Bailey Girl around. Truth was/is I need her. The care would rest 100% on me.
We had to consider the condition of her other knee, at the time had a partial tear. (Her hind leg is just now showing signs of not being able to support her, so feel the repair surgery will be sooner than we thought).
You and your Mom should take it one step at a time, and as Bailey and I did and still do, learn from the experiences from all the wonderful dogs and people on this site. "Listen to your heart." And know that all our hearts are right with you both.
27 July 2008
Hi, Tara & Mom: I realize this is a repeat of what everyone has sad, but I agree that only you know what Tara would want. I realize she has some other health issues, but talk to Molly’s Mom: her dog has synovial carcinoma and is doing quite well after her recent surgery. Follow your heart and look into Tara’s eyes for your answers. If she is still enjoying her life, her vets have her other health problems under control and she has her zest for life, I’d say she should do just fine. I’m sorry it took so long for the vets to find the diagnosis of synovial carcinoma, but there is always hope. Good luck, on whatever decisions you make. Please know that everyone here is on your side; no matter what you decide to do. I pray you will have the answers.
Love, Vicki, Blazer & Kimber