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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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Surgery in 1 day - Worried and welcome advice
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Forum Posts: 5
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11 January 2016 - 12:25 am
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I have a 8 ½ year old Golden retriever who is scheduled for surgery on Tuesday.  We discovered  the osteosarcoma in his right front leg after some minor limping in late December.  I took him to  the vet thinking it was nothing serious and was shocked to learn the diagnosis. We are lucky to live near the University of Minnesota vet medical center where he is having surgery.  Our whole family is devasted.  He has a sister at home from the same litter who would be lost with out him and 2 teenage sisters who adore him. He is still very happy and playful and we are hoping we are making the right decision to amputate.  Advice on how to prepare for after surgery and handling a 2nd dog in the house during recovery would be wonderful!

The Rainbow Bridge



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11 January 2016 - 6:11 am
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Hi and welcome. On my mobile now but wanted to get your first post approved so apologies for the brief intro. Check out Jerry's Required Reading List to find many answers. Stay tuned, more coming your way! 

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Norene, TN
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11 January 2016 - 9:05 am
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Howdy and welcome!!!

What an adorable avatar! I'm assuming that's him, and he's just beautiful.

Just wanted to welcome you and tell you that you're not alone. I have to agree with you on the shock factor when you take your fur-baby to the dogtor with a simple limp and leave with the diagnosis of cancer. If your baby is as rambunctious as ours, vet visits happen often due to rowdy-nous. It just seems to be a blow below the belt when what you think is a strain ends up being life altering.

I'm here to tell you that we all know exactly what you're going through.

First off, always remember, no matter how much he will try to convince you otherwise, this is major surgery and he will need plenty of convalescence when he gets home. I compare it to when we bipeds have surgery and how our activities are limited until we're released from the doctor.

He will also be sore; sore from the surgery, sore from learning a new walk/gait. There will be ups and downs. If you've ever done gardening (or any other kind of sudden exercise) you know from experience that it's typically the third day before the soreness sets in. And then, it doesn't just go away overnight. You pretty much have to work it out over the next few days before you can get up out of a chair without going, "ow, ow, ow . . ." 

In the meantime, use the time you have now to slip-proof your home. This will include non-slip materials wherever he might maneuver. Also, be prepared with a sling, just in case he needs your help. The fabric grocery bag trick is great until he gets his strength back or you decide on a help-harness. Take the bag and split the side seams. This will give you a device with handles to slip under him to gently support him during his outings.  Try to make everything easier for him; raised bowls, multiple beds to rest where he stops, etc.

Lastly; you're going to rock this. Grab that cancer by its devil horns and show it who's boss. Kick its arse.

You've got this my friend.

pam

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

The Rainbow Bridge



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11 January 2016 - 9:53 am
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I'm back! Well you've gotten some great advice from Pam. Here is a photo of the shopping bag sling she's referring to.

Meanwhile, I think you'll be surprised at how dogs instinctively know to give each other some space after surgery, especially if they're close in age. I don't have multiple dogs so others can give you better insight there but in general as long as you make sure that your Tripawd doesn't overdo activity, get into roughousing and that sort of thing that recovery goes pretty well.

Focus on one thing at a time and you guys will do great. You're so lucky to be near UofM, what a great institution! Who are you working with there? I ask because we'd love to get some Tripawds Vet Outreach brochures into the hospital, so if you remember at some point (no rush, really), let us know and we'll send you some brochures you can give to your docs 🙂

I'm sorry you're dealing with this shocking news, but you'll find that your pup will do better than you ever imagined. Oh what's his name?!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Michigan
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11 January 2016 - 2:03 pm
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Ugh ~ I got logged out! 

OK, I'll try this again lol

Murphy was 7 when he was diagnosed and I remember well the feeling that the floor had just dropped out from under me!  He had been limping for a few months and had been misdiagnosed, but I still never expected to hear the words tumor or cancer.  I really expected that with better x-rays that they would see a fracture that had been missed. 

So first, breathe.  The floor coverings, raised dishes and sling have been covered.  Eventually you will want to get a harness, like the ruffwear harness on the main page.  With the front leg missing, it slips some, but the handle on top is so great for getting out of the car or any time that you want to keep a grip on the dog.  We use it for any walks or anything.  We also bought Pawz boots for trips to the vet.  You can get them on Amazon.  They're sort of like balloons that you can put on their feet, and they make walking on tiled floors easier.  They shouldn't be left on for too long, and they don't offer protection like warmth against the snow, but they offer great traction .  Murphy tends to pull towards the door when we go for his check-ups and this way he doesn't slip & slide.

Murphy had to stay the night when he had his surgery.  I wasn't sure how I was going to manage getting him into the car, but he surprised me by hopping all the way out to the car and getting in by himself!

The first 2 weeks are the hardest.  Murphy came home on Rimadyl, Tramadol & Gabapentin.  Make sure that you give the medications around the clock for good coverage.  He took them for 2 weeks, weaning down during the 2nd week.  We also applied ice packs to the incision a couple times a day and massaged around the area to help re-absorb extra fluid.  We put an old t-shirt of my son's on him to help keep the incision covered and clean, especially once the dressing came off.  Murphy didn't really want to eat much, either, when he came home, so I made some rice and poured chicken broth over it. 

Feel free to ask us questions or just post updates, we're here for you.

Donna

Donna, Glenn & Murphy 

Murphy had his right front leg amputated due to histiocytic sarcoma at 7 years old. He survived 4 years, 2 months & 1 week, only to be taken by hemangiosarcoma at 11 1/2 years 6/12/17  
Read about Murphy's Life on Three Legs

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The Rainbow Bridge



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11 January 2016 - 4:15 pm
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midnighter94 said
Ugh ~ I got logged out! 

Donna you are so sweet for trying again, thanks for your patience. Admin is closer than ever to figuring out the log-out issue, it's happening less frequently but still an issue.

Please copy (CTRL/CMD+C) your responses folks, just in case. That way it's on your device's clip board in case the log-out gremlins strike.

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




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11 January 2016 - 5:24 pm
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Well, I don't jave much to add to the great advice you've already gotten!

Just want to remInd you taking away a very painful leg is something you are doing FOR your dog, not TO him!!

When I picked my Happy Hannah up the day after surgery, I didn't even look at her surgery site...she didn't, so why should I? I just looked into her happy, so ewhate driuggy eyes, and kissed her and told her what a good girl she was! She was wagging and just happy to be out of there! I will tell you that, when I did take wuick glimpses, the amount of fur shaved off did startle me. She was a Bull Mastiff, so I'm sure it will be even more noticeable in a Golden!

Can't wait to hear more about your boy! What's his name? How did he and his sister come Into your lives?

Okay, grab some chocolate,stay connected and update when you can!

Love!

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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18 May 2016 - 3:19 pm
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I haven't posted much since busy enjoying life with Jake and Niki (his sister) during the las t4  months.  He did great after amputation and thru 5 rounds of chemo.  HeUnfortunately yesterday, the X-rays before his last chemo treatment revealed cancer in his lung and on his spine (new areas).  He did not get chemo and we are trying to decide on treatment options.  He was already on Rimadly and Gabapentin.  He recently had a little trouble getting around and just added Codeine for the pain from the spine/back legs.  Vet recommended different treatment options. Our goal is to keep him as comfortable as possible to enjoy the life he has left! 

1-Pallada to stabilize tumor growth - May consider - Anyone have dogs that did this treatment?

2-Radiation - Probably wouldn't do this since cancer could be in other areas and would be considerable time and $ (especially after already doing surgery/chemo)

3-Zoledronate - New iv drug ( a bisphospate)  for pain .  Highly  considering. Anyone have dogs that did this treatment?

4-Pain meds - Will continues on meds for now  Hope the sedation effect of increased doses will wear off and provide pain relief for Jake to enjoy good quality of life.

Virginia




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18 May 2016 - 7:26 pm
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Aww sweet Jake. Sorry you're having these issues pop up after doing so well!

A couple.of wuick reminders for your humans......take some deep breaths and look at Jake's butt. Do you see any timeframe stamped.anywhere on his butt??? Nope, didn't think so!

As far as the mets go, I can tell you first hand from my Happy Hannah's experience, you can still get some great extended quality time! Michelle's belpved Sassy got almost eight additional months after mets were.discovered!

I don't jave any specific advice as far.as.the treatments you mentioned. I do see Palladia used here some. If my memory serves me right (and that could be a little "iffy"), I think Patches recently used d it as well as, believe it or not, Cannabis Oil. Yeah, "that" Cannabis

Another thing I've seen here that supposedly helps in conjunction with other pain meds like Gabapentin is Amantadine. Something you can ask your vet about.

There's another dog on here, Vito, who I THINK just had a dose of bisphosphate. Gonna go back and find his post to make sure I'm passing on correct info. In that case I think Vito jad bad side effects so he's not pursuing.it. He IS pursuing acupuncture and believes that will.prove very beneficial.

As far as the pain meds...and I'm no vet of course....sedation can be a side effect of Gabapentin in some dogs. Not sure if the same applies to Codeine. It'll probably take a little trial and error, but you should be able to find a good balance of pain meds and quality for Jake.

Sorry I'm not much help as far as treatments.

It is clear that you have Jake's best interest at heart and you aren't leaving any stone unturned in doing what's best for him.

As you jave been doing everyday these past months, stay in the moment; treasure the present; make everyday a celebration of Jake....EVERY DAY IS JAKE DAY!!!!

Much love,

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!

Michigan
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18 May 2016 - 9:06 pm
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When Murphy finished his chemo, they found what they believed to be a tumor on his left front shoulder blade.  They offered to try a different chemo, but we declined also.  We figured that we didn't want to put Murphy through any more.   We followed up a couple of months later with more x-rays and his lungs were still clear and the new tumor hadn't grown any.  A couple months after that, still the same.  Well, it's now been 3 years since Murphy's surgery and he's still bouncing around!  His lungs are still clear and whatever that is on his shoulder blade is still there.  He does have a couple of lumps that have popped up, probably lymph nodes, but we haven't had them aspirated.  It's so easy to say to Be More Dog , to take one day at a time, but it's really hard to actually do it.  We are letting Murphy be Murphy - we still feed him his grain-free food, but if he cheats and eats some of Cassie & Max's food sometimes, well, that's ok. 

Hopefully you will also be on here 3 years from now smiley

Donna

Donna, Glenn & Murphy 

Murphy had his right front leg amputated due to histiocytic sarcoma at 7 years old. He survived 4 years, 2 months & 1 week, only to be taken by hemangiosarcoma at 11 1/2 years 6/12/17  
Read about Murphy's Life on Three Legs

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Minneapolis, MN
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19 May 2016 - 7:50 am
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So sorry to hear what x-rays revealed.  Pofi is also being treated at U of MN Vet Hospital, but for a nerve sheath tumor.  Usually not as aggressive as Osteo and lungs were clear, but pathology says our margins were not and the tumor was grade three.  Amputation was 2 weeks ago tonight and we have our Oncology consult tomorrow.

Maybe we will see Jake there at some point!  Wishing him the best.

Lisa, Minneapolis

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.

Blog: Pofi, Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumor Amputation

Copperas Cove, TX
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19 May 2016 - 10:19 am
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Give Jake a big old hug from Deb and Bandit.  One for you too. 

The Rainbow Bridge



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19 May 2016 - 10:43 am
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Well yay for rebounding after amputation! Go Jake!

Boo for those nasty lung mets. Don't you just want to smash them? (Longtime member Karen made this video when another member named her two "mints" (mets) "Boris" and "Natasha". Picture the treatment you choose doing this:)

Your vet is definitely giving you the assortment of options to treat, that's good. Many members have used one or a combo of those treatments when fighting cancer, before during and after metastasis (do a forums search and you'll find lots of responses for "Palladia" and bisphosphonates (aka Zoledronate). Every dog is different and sometimes you just have to figure out which one works best for the dog. You're getting some great care so I know you'll find that magic combo.

Live every day to the fullest and remember, Jake doesn't know or care what those scans says, he just wants every day to be a great one with the people he loves most. Stay strong, lean on us and let us know how we can help OK? Keep us posted.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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19 May 2016 - 12:14 pm
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Thank you for your responses so far - I like Every day is Jake Day!  Unfortunately, he is not doing that well.  The lung mets are not as concerning as the tumor on the spine that is really painful and growing fast.  Its not like the leg that we can remove.  To Pofi's owner - Jake love the U 0f M vet Hospital - even with the surgery,tests, and chemo it is his happy place.  He runs in every time and loves everyone there.  He will miss going for his chemo play days!  We are still looking at the options, but palliative care might be a good option too....

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