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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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Pain Management vs Amputation for 10ish year old black lab.
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Schertz, TX
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19 June 2020 - 4:06 pm
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A little over a week ago my black lab, Chance, started limping and then not putting any weight on his left front leg.  After my regular vet did X-rays and said it was likely osteosarcoma, I decided to get a second opinion.  I trust my vet, but wanted a vet oncologist’s opinion.  She looked at this record and X-rays and agreed that it’s likely osteosarcoma.  She was great at going through all my options, pain management , amputation needle aspirate vs bone biopsy, etc.  I found my way back to the Tripawds site and started doing a lot of reading and listening to the podcasts.  I say back to the site because 10 years ago I went through this same situation with my dog Cody.  She had her right rear leg amputated, but within a year was diagnosed with Cushing’s disease.  I had her for a year after her surgery for which I’m thankful.  So here I am again…and wondering if amputation is the right answer for Chance.  I know it’s my decision to do what I think is best for him…but it’s still so hard!

So the question I have is about pain management should I decide against amputation.  He’s currently on Rimadyl, Tramadol and Gabapentin.  They worked great for the first 5-6 days but now I notice him limping more.  I just don’t know what pain management with meds will be enough, especially if I just have to keep giving him higher doses or stronger meds.  Now that he’s been diagnosed (although no biopsy yet), how long before it’s “too late” to amputate?

The Rainbow Bridge



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19 June 2020 - 5:03 pm
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Chance & family, welcome. I’m so glad you posted, sorry I missed you in the Tripawds Chat earlier. I am SO sorry you are here again. Did you register as a member when Cody was diagnosed?  You are re-registered now though, and your future posts won’t require approval so post away.

Ok, meanwhile, know that whatever path you choose we will support you. You’ve been through it once and you know the drill, I won’t tell you anything you don’t already know except what’s changed when it comes to options. Good for you to get other options from different types of vets. 

Today’s most effective palliative care treatments involve more than just pain medication, because good vets know that drugs alone will not manage pain for more than a couple weeks at best. You are already seeing the effects of pain management that still cannot control the pain of osteosarcoma. Unless Chance is using something like a Fentanyl patch, the limping is going to get worse, and fast. As you know, when dogs limp they are in excruciating pain. They will do anything not to show it. So please call your vet and get advice about stronger medications while you decide what to do. 

Oh back to today’s options: stereotactic radiation therapy can often control pain, sometimes for a year, sometimes not. Did your oncologist mention it? One particular story we wrote about was Hazel, a Great Dane who was not a good candidate for amputation. The Stereotactic Radiation Therapy (aka Cyberknife) worked for about six months or so until they had to let her go. But it gave she and her family time to enjoy together without being sedated with heavy drugs.

 There may also be some clinical trials that are looking at other types of treatments, so be sure to check out the clinical trials databases:

As for when it’s too late to amputate, generally most oncologists will say that if the lungs are filled with metastasis, then amputation is no longer an option. Some will still amputate though, depending on the size of the mets. A few members dogs have defied the odds and lived longer than anyone thought, even with mets.

Now, I’m going to be nosy but I have to ask: what is it about amputation that you think may not be a good fit for Chance? Is there something about his health history that keeps him from being a good candidate? Just curious.

I hope this helps. Stay tuned for more feedback from others OK? 

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Virginia




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19 June 2020 - 5:59 pm
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Oh gosh, to find yourself here again…I’m so sorry.  

Jerry has given you the very best support you could ever hope for.  Check out the link, check out the options.

Without question, we are all here for you with whatever path you take.  Any decision out of love for your precious Chance is the right decision❤

There are many reasons some do not do amputation….the condition  of the dog….finances… personal circumstances…all sorts of reasons.  That said, if you do want to share your concerns, we may be able to help you navigate through the process a little better.

Hugs

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!

Happy Hannah had a glorious additional bonus time of over one yr & two months after amp for osteo! She made me laugh everyday! Joined April's Angels after send off meal of steak, ice cream, M&Ms & deer poop!

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19 June 2020 - 6:20 pm
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Hi, I was where you are right now about a year ago. My choc lab was diagnosed with ost. Well Brownie was almost 12 at time of being diagnosed. Because of his age I decided to just treat with meds. He was on the Rimadyl, tramadol, and a fetinol pain patch. About after two weeks I could tell the medication wasn’t working as well, and I started seeing a lump appear on his wrist. My main concern was he would fracture his leg while I was at work, and would be In pain all day. He was pretty much doped up all the time, so I thought what kind of life is this. But he wasn’t ready to go to the bridge. He still tried to play, he just hurt. So I called the vet and asked if it was too late. Brownie had amputation 10 days before his 12th birthday. Before Brownie started limping he wasn’t acting himself. I just thought it was age. So once he got his spark back he had more energy and was happier before he started limping. I actually got my dog back. It made me wonder. How much pain was he in before the limp?

Just think about what we be best for Chance, and you.

My Beautiful Beloved Brownie was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma on February 26, 2019.  With all odds against him he lived an additional one year and eight days with amputation, love, and prayer.  I was honored to be his mom, and I have never been so proud!  He will live forever in my Heart!

Brownie Bubba Bell

04/01/2007 - 03/05/2020

"March Saint"

Schertz, TX
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20 June 2020 - 7:17 am
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Wow…how wonderful is it to wake up and see all of you amazing responses!  Jerry thank you so much for all your advice.  I’ve never heard of a fetinol patch so will be looking that up this morning.  I’m going to be calling the vet this morning about his current meds and will ask about that.  I did speak with the oncologist about radiation therapy but didn’t give it much thought.  Honestly I’ve been leaning toward amputation, but just want to fully explore other options.  While it’s definitely costly surgery, as all of you know, that’s not the issue.  I’d do anything for my fur-kids.

Do any of you have any small 2-legged kids/grandkids around?  My nephew and his family live with me and my grandnephew (he’s 4) is Chance’s cuddle buddy.  I’m really worried how he’s going to react — with amputation and at some point in the (hopefully far) future Chance’s journey over the rainbow bridge .  That’s probably a question for another forum.

As far as I know, there is nothing about his health that would keep him from the surgery.  He is also on azodyl due to earlier high levels of creatinine in his kidneys but again, I don’t think that’s an issue or the oncologist would’ve said something.  While I have read about the dangers of possible bone fractures, I guess I really didn’t think about it as much until I read Brownie’s mom’s post…thank you for sharing.  I definitely don’t want to take that risk with Chance either. 

I did register with Tripawds when Cody was registered but couldn’t find/remember my login/password so just reregistered.  She was about 12 when she was diagnosed and had the amputation surgery.  She did great for a few months then really started to slow down and just wasn’t herself.  I don’t know if it was her age, the cancer or the onset of Cushing’s disease.  I’ve asked (email) my vet if there’s any link between the bone cancer and Cushing’s…I can’t find anything on line that answers the question.  

I’m scheduling the chest X-rays to make sure he’s still a good candidate. I’ll definitely read those articles and Hazel’s story.  I didn’t use the site like I should’ve with Cody.  I will definitely be on here more as Chance and I continue on this journey.

Thank you all again!  

Sandra, Chance & Kenya

The Rainbow Bridge



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20 June 2020 - 10:48 am
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Sandra, Chance and Kenya, I’m glad we could give you some info and thoughts to consider! We are here to help whatever you decide. As for kids, here’s a great story that Stacy shared about how she told her sister’s kids about Griffin’s amputation

Yeah you might want to consider SRT, it’s a newer form of radiation therapy (not widely available but most big cities and universities offer it). The amount of sessions required to control and hopefully shrink a tumor are a fraction of what traditional radiation therapy calls for, so it may be an option.

I’m glad you are here even if it’s under these circumstances. Cancer one time is bad enough. Ugh! Let us know what we can do to help this time around.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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20 June 2020 - 2:55 pm
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So Brownie’s vet called in his prescription for the pain patch to Walgreens. I about dropped when they told me for two patches it was 130.00.  Changing the patch every three days would be close to 300.00 a week to continue. The girl at the pharmacy told me to go online and get a coupon. The price for two patches dropped to 35.00.  I couldn’t believe it!

My Beautiful Beloved Brownie was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma on February 26, 2019.  With all odds against him he lived an additional one year and eight days with amputation, love, and prayer.  I was honored to be his mom, and I have never been so proud!  He will live forever in my Heart!

Brownie Bubba Bell

04/01/2007 - 03/05/2020

"March Saint"

The Rainbow Bridge



Forum Posts: 27195
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21 June 2020 - 2:01 pm
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So Brownie’s vet called in his prescription for the pain patch to Walgreens.

Was that a Fentanyl patch Nancy? And for the human or animal one?

That’s incredible that the price dropped so much! Good to know, thanks for sharing.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
Latest Tripawds News
Read my story here.

Support the Tripawds Foundation!

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21 June 2020 - 3:34 pm
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Human. I take the patch to th e vet for him to apply. He wouldn’t let me put it on because he was afraid I would touch it

 And yes it was the Fentanyl patch. 

The bandage you see around Brownie is some of the pics is holding and protecting the patch.

I was so happy the tech told me about the coupon. She even reimbursed me the difference for the first prescription. One thing I will say about Brownie’s vet is he truly believes in pain management .

My Beautiful Beloved Brownie was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma on February 26, 2019.  With all odds against him he lived an additional one year and eight days with amputation, love, and prayer.  I was honored to be his mom, and I have never been so proud!  He will live forever in my Heart!

Brownie Bubba Bell

04/01/2007 - 03/05/2020

"March Saint"

The Rainbow Bridge



Forum Posts: 27195
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21 June 2020 - 4:27 pm
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Wow that’s a terrific vet, Nancy! That level of trust in her clients speaks volumes, it’s nice to know that dogs and cats are getting the pain control they deserve. 

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
Latest Tripawds News
Read my story here.

Support the Tripawds Foundation!

Schertz, TX
Forum Posts: 11
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22 June 2020 - 10:57 am
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Thank you again for the support and encouragement.  I made the call this morning to the vet oncologist to schedule the surgery.  I’m waiting for the call back to set up the date and while waiting, continue to read lots of items on the forums, scanning books on the reading list (just downloaded a couple…3 Legs and A Spare, Loving Life on 3 Legs ), and feeling a bit overwhelmed, which I know is probably normal.  I also found the tripawd podcast so listening to that as well.  I’ll try not to overdo it and stress myself out! smiley2

Thanks for sharing about how Stacy shared her story with the nieces/nephews…that will definitely help.  Funny, I was looking at her diet recipe earlier this morning!

I was kinda hoping Cody’s Ruffwear harness would fit Chance but he’s about 30lbs heavier than she was so doing a little shopping as well.  While still a bit nervous about my decision, Stacy’s post (and others) is really helping me to focus on the positive…with a successful amputation and continued treatment, he won’t be in pain (he’s been limping a lot this morning).  

New York, NY
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22 June 2020 - 11:31 am
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Hi Sandra!  It sounds like you are taking all the right steps to prepare for Chance’s surgery and life as a tripawd. I remember how nervous I was leading up to Griffin’s surgery, but I found so much help and comfort in this site.  I’m glad my posts have helped you.  I’ve chronicled Griffin’s Journey on his blog from the beginning, but please keep in mind that every dog recovers at his own pace.  Keep reading and asking questions – you are going to be great in supporting Chance through everything!  Sending hugs from NYC! ~ Stacy

Virginia




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22 June 2020 - 3:34 pm
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 Well, first of all, as you could tell, no judgement  here and we support ANY decision  you make.  

Shhh…..our secret….I’m  actually glad you ate fping the amputation  route.  It  is one surgery,  one recovery  and a proven way to get rid of the pain!  

Obviously it is major surgery and recovery  is no picnic for a couple of weeks. Chance will recover at his own pace and in his own way.  Larger dogs may take a few days to get mobile, so no worries.

You already know the drill (unfortunately).  Rrst, short leashed potty breaks and back for more rest for avout the first two weeks.  Drinking and peeing are important.  May take a few days to poop and may not jave much of an appetite  for a few days.

Non slip  scatter rugs  if you have  hardwood floors.  

Assuming spending  the first night in a fully staffed clinic.  Will most likely  come home with Gaba, Tramadol,  Rimadyl  and an antibiotic.   Some come home with the patch.

We are here by your side every step of the way.  YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!!

Hugs

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!

Happy Hannah had a glorious additional bonus time of over one yr & two months after amp for osteo! She made me laugh everyday! Joined April's Angels after send off meal of steak, ice cream, M&Ms & deer poop!

The Rainbow Bridge



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22 June 2020 - 4:31 pm
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Awww poor pupperz, I can only imagine how much that bad leg hurts. I remember our Jerry limping around really bad during the week before surgery. The day after he came home from amputation, that look of pain was all gone and he literally looked relieved and joyful to be free of it. We all felt so much better.

You are doing all the right things to help him through this and if there’s anything that we can do on our end just holler. Thanks for downloading the books, if you have any questions we are here for you.

Keep us posted on the big day.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
Latest Tripawds News
Read my story here.

Support the Tripawds Foundation!

Schertz, TX
Forum Posts: 11
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19 June 2020
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23 June 2020 - 6:09 am
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Presurgery question.  Did any of you limit exercise prior to surgery?  I’m still waiting for a surgery date so trying to keep Chance’s day as normal as possible to include walks…although much shorter.  However, I’m wondering if the increased limping could be caused by his walks.  I’ve read lots of posts about post-surgery and being careful with exercising too soon.  I’m going to keep him in today (except potty breaks and little breaks in the backyard) to see if the limping improves.  

Non-skid rugs…my next investment.  My house is ceramic tile throughout the common areas!  I have a few rugs here and there but I’m going to need more! Also a good orthopedic bed …Chance has always slept on my bed so that’s going to be fun keeping him off the bed.  

As odd as it sounds, given the subject matter, it’s really helpful to read all the blogs and forum threads.  Thank you!!

Sandra, Chance & Kenya

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