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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My primary vet xrayed and diagnosed Victor’s osteosarcoma (right front leg above elbow). We then met with an oncologist and are now meeting with an orthopedic veterinary surgeon as I’d like a specialist to perform the amputation rather than my ‘neighborhood’ vet. Has anyone else gone this route rather than using their usual vet? Neither of the first two did any testing other than the xray for diagnosis. The oncologist may have done bloodwork, but she didn’t mention it to me. This third vet asked if there was an ‘abdominal ultrasound ‘ performed….I said ‘no’ and they are suggesting that before moving forward with amputation. I’m all for more knowledge of what is going on in my dog’s body. Have others done the sonogram? I understand that osteosarcoma is very aggressive and is probably, microscopically in other parts of his body at this point….chest xray was clear.
25 April 2007
Has anyone else gone this route rather than using their usual vet?
I’d say it a mix of about 60% go to their primary vet, 40% to their general practitioner. Reason being is likely the limited availability of specialists in many parts of the globe.
Be sure to keep close tabs on your dog’s records so that you’re not paying twice for tests. Here’s a great article about asking for medical records.
Abdominal ultrasounds are a good way to gauge whether or not certain cancers have spread, like hemangiosarcoma, but when it comes to osteosarcoma, if the technology is available and within your budget, a PET-CT scan would be money better spent. It’s more expensive but it’s the only conclusive way to know whether or not mets have spread to the lungs, the most common place of metastasis for Osteosarcoma. However, even if there are mets, that doesn’t necessarily rule out amputation. See:
Otherwise, x-rays are standard and what most people do before surgery when it comes to osteosarcoma.
21 October 2014
Our primary vet referred us to another one for Harmony’s procedure. For us, it could’ve been because there was so much going on with her situation that they felt she would be in better hands at a specialist.
Harmony became a Tripawd on 10/21/14 (MCT). She left us way too soon on 11/1/14.
"We miss you so much; our love, our heart, our Harmony."
- Pam, Ron and Melody, Meesha, Doublestuff and Mariah Carey
22 February 2013
My regular vet said that, although it had done many amputations on smaller dogs, he was not comfortable doing amputations on large dogs and referred me to her Orthopedic Surgeon. He also liked that they provided 24 hr care and he felt overnight stays were a good way to go.
The only “pre-,op”‘tests were the xrays (lung and leg) and blood work. The regular vet and the Surgeon both confirmed osteo with just the xrays and the clear lungs with the three panel xrays.
With every fiber of my being I hope I’m never faced with this again. If it happened…and this is just me….I would just stick with the chest and leg xrays. At least that would be my thought at this time…..subject to change.
Stay connected and let us know how we can help further.
Hugs to all
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!
23 April 2016
For what it is worth, Pofi’s suspected cancer was a peripheral nerve sheath tumor in the brachial plexus, so an MRI is really best and only good way to map out the surgical plan to try to get all of the tumor in soft tissue. But in terms of trying to get a sense of whether there had been spread to lungs, we only did chest X-ray. The MRI was all on chest/shoulder/armpit. Everyone I personally know who has had an osteo amputation on their dog had depended on the chest x-ray. I have known someone who had the amp done after spread to lungs was clear and confirmed because pain was too much. She still had a good four months past the amp.
We went to a specialist. My vet practice has two very accomplished surgeons, one of whom had had to perform 2 such amputations early in his career without the aid of MRI – so he called it a presumptive diagnosis and said it was difficult and harrowing as he could not be sure he was getting all the tumor. The other flat out said he believed we would be best served by the specialist.
On October 27, 2016, nearly 6 months after amputation, and 18 months since his cancer likely started, we lost Pofi to a recurrence of Soft Tissue Sarcoma in his spine quite suddenly. His canine sister also succumbed to cancer on March 1, 2019 - we lavished her with our love in the interim, but life was never quite the same without her only real canine friend. Cliff kitty had to leave us, too, suddenly, in August 2019. Lucia kitty grieved all these losses, but helped us welcome two new Lurchers into our home and our lives, Shae and Barley.
18 October 2009
One of the things I love about my vet is that she always tells me when she thinks a specialist would be best. That was true when Maggie need an amputation due to mast cell cancer. We dealt with a surgeon for the amp and then an oncologist.
I haven’t heard of an abdominal US for osteosarcoma as a normal pre-op test. We did do a US because mast cell tends to met to the liver and spleen.
Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls
21 May 2016
Hi Victor and Mom
My girl Eurydice (a large Great Dane) has osteosarcoma, the vet who suspected she could have cancer did a leg X-ray and once confirmed referred her to a specialist surgeon as she was too big for him to operate.
At the oncology referral hospital she had a PET – CT scan done to check her entire body, they told us between 4 and 5.000 images are produced so it is a very thorough exam. We were told PET – CT scan is the best for osteosarcoma and MRI is the best for other types of cancer, like Pofi’s.
She also had blood tests done prior to the amputation but I am not sure what they were looking for exactly.
Surgeon and oncologist both told us when osteosarcoma is visible on leg X-rays there is a 90%+ chance that cancerous microcells are already circulating in the blood stream. This is why we followed amputation with chemo, 3 sessions done to date and no side effects.
I would like to add not everybody goes for chemo and some dogs live longer lives without chemo than others with chemo.
It is a very personal choice and there are no guarantees either way.
Wishing you all the best, big hug and cuddles to gorgeous Victor
Eurydice 77kg/170lb Great Dane limping end of April 2016, amputation (right front leg/osteosarcoma) 4 May 2016 6 courses of carboplatin followed by metronomic therapy, lung mets found 30 Nov 2016. 3 courses of doxorubicin, PET scan 26 Jan 2017 showed more mets so stopped chemo. Holistic route April 2017. Lung X-ray 5 May 2017 showed several tennis ball size mets, started cortisone and diuretics. Miss Cow earned her XXL silver wings 12 June 2017, 13 months and 1 week after amputation and 6 1/2 months after lung mets, she was the goofiest dawg ever and is now happily flying from cloud to cloud woof woofing away :-)
22 August 2008
14 February 2016
We had same tests as Happy Hannah. Otis broke his leg on a Sunday, so spent one night in an emergency vet hospital before we could get him transferred on Monday to a facility that had both a qualified surgeon and an oncologist. The emergency vet said they could do the amputation, but had no oncologist. I wanted the seamless care of having both on site, and the knowledge that the facility handled osteo cases routinely. We also did chemo and have completed our four rounds of carboplatin.
Otis - 106 pound lab/Dane mix, lost his right front leg to osteosarcoma on Febuary 9, 2016. Four rounds of carboplatin completed in April, 2016. Lung mets August 25, 2016. Said goodbye too soon on September 4, 2016. Lost his adopted sister, Tess, suddenly on October 9, 2016. likely due to hemangiosarcoma.
Wherever they are, they are together.