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 vet has advised amputation for my 3.5yr old dog. His xray and CT came back with suspected bone tumour but they wanted a biopsy. The surgery has now taken two biopsy and each one has been inconclusive, however based on the CT they think they are 95% it’s a tumour and the leg should be removed. He has no metastatic tumours anywhere else right now so they want us to move quick. I just find it strange that the biopsy have come back inconclusive? Anyone had this before we need to make a decision soon on the amputation
Hi Antrooney, thanks for posting. Please consider registering as a member so that your future posts won’t need approval.
Your doggie is so young, I can see why the vets wanted to double check to ensure they know what they’re dealing with. Are you working with an oncologist?
Unfortunately things like this happen quite a bit, we’ve seen it here many times. Ultimately though, if the leg bone is so destroyed that it has to come off anyways, there’s no choice but to move forward with something, and fast, as osteosarcoma is horribly painful. Have you asked if limb sparing is an option? Are there any reasons why your dog might not be a candidate for amputation?
For more peace of mind you might ask your vets to consult with a university teaching hospital.
What’s your dog’s name? Tell us more about him. We’re here to help.
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I’m sorry you are dealing with this, but I’m afraid it is not uncommon for biopsies to be inconclusive. It must be very frustrating and painful for your pup, what’s his name?
My question is how much bone damage is there? Does the leg need to be removed whether or not it is cancer? If the leg needs to be removed then they can get a better chance at a firm diagnosis.
Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls
Thanks for getting back to me,
his names Bruce.
The Vet University Hospital have been reviewing his case. After two biopsy’s they say it’s still inconclusive but there are some cells that leads them to believe it is some form of cancer but they are around 80% sure based on xray CT (I know I mentioned 95% but she said 80 today so I am assuming I miss heard her on the phone.)
today we had further correspondence where they advised two options 1) a third biopsy but a surgical one to to be sure, although it could lead to a pathological fracture 2) straight up amputation and then a test afterwards to confirm cancer and type.
He weighs around 54kg and last year had a ligament repair on this back leg although that’s now locked in by a plate. I am not sure how 3 legs would work on a big boy?
We want to do what is best by him but due to all the vets being a little cagey on ‘percentage’ we just don’t know what is best.
I am thinking of the amputation on Monday and then testing the leg, to see what the cancer is, however I would be devastated if there was no cancer after having it removed.
Going straight to amputation would reduce the stress on our boy having two surgical procedures in a short time frame.
I know the odds are stacked against us I just don’t know what to do
Thanks for registering.
Glad to hear you are working with a university, that’s terrific. Which one is it?
The big question is: will the leg need to be removed regardless of whether or not it’s cancer?
We agree: bone biopsies are almost more painful than amputation itself and then there’s two recoveries, etc. Yes, pathologic fracture is a risk for sure. We haven’t seen that happen here because of a biopsy, but we have seen it happen when people are either unaware their dog has osteo, or when they wait too long.
The odds aren’t necessarily stacked against you. 54 kg/120 lbs is not that big compared to the many other large dogs we’ve had here. Your dog is young and overall healthy. Even with a ligament repair (assuming CCL repair?), we’ve had large breed Tripawds do well on three. Have you consulted with an orthopedic vet at the university? That might help you decide too.
28 March 2015
Hi Bruce & Family!
I know it is so hard to face amputation when you don’t have a definitive diagnosis. But it does seem that more often than not the biopsies are not conclusive. And as Jerry says, the most important factor is whether it will need to be amputated regardless of the actual cause of the bone destruction. (I’m assuming here that they are seeing some sort of bone decay if they’re talking about OSA or other cancers.)
It is also hard if you feel like the vets are not sounding confident. But I don’t think they really can’t be 100% sure of the tumor type until they have the leg to test, not just a small amount of cells. And even if everything they see on the films and on exam tell them it is some sort of bone cancer, I think vets are trained (just like doctors) to always leave that door open.
It sounds like the option to do a “surgical” biopsy is probably something like what our Ellie ended up with. She was actually in surgery for a TPLO when the surgeon found “soft”bone. So he took a biopsy from the suspicious spot and then we waited. I think all his years of experience were telling him that soft bone=OSA, but even then he told us he would wait for the biopsy result.
Knowing what I know now, I probably would not have opted for a biopsy if the x-rays had indicated OSA. She did have two surgeries back to back and she had a really rough recovery from amputation. Was it because of the double surgery? We’ll never really know. But it was two surgeries were a lot to put her (and us) through.
Denise, Bill and Angel Ellie.
Active 10+ Pyr mix suddenly came up lame with ACL tear in left rear leg. Scheduled for a TPLO but final pre-op x-rays indicated a small suspicious area, possibly OSA, which could have caused the ACL tear. Surgeon opened the knee for TPLO but found soft bone. Biopsy came back positive for OSA. Became a Tripawd 9/18/14. Carbo6 with Cerenia and Fluids. Pain free and living in the moment. Crossed the Bridge on 7/12/15 after probable spread of cancer to her cervical spine. A whole lifetime of memories squeezed into 10 months. Here's her story: Eloise
I’m so sorry your tentative diagnosis brought you here. We also proceeded with surgery without a definitive diagnosis. We were told the X-ray showed high percentage it was osteosarcoma with a very small chance of it being fungal. (It did turn out to be osteosarcoma). They told us even if it did turn out fungal the treatment would be amp. So we proceeded without surgical biopsy because we didn’t want to risk the bone fracturing during the biopsy. Our Max was a long legged 110# German Sheperd and he adapted to 3 fine. Others here have given you great advice I just wanted to let you know that many of us have proceeded without a solid diagnosis. We all understand how hard this is for you. Please keep us posted and let us know if we can help in any way. Hugs,
Linda, Ollie, Riley & Spirit Mighty Max
2 April 2013
Murphy also had an inconclusive biopsy. We proceeded with surgery because we could see the change in his x-rays and that it was eating away at the bone. It was only a matter of time before he would have had a fracture. It still took a couple of weeks after his surgery before we had a diagnosis of histiocytic sarcoma. It can be a frustrating thing to have to go through, and many of us can understand. I agree with the others that the most important factor is whether the leg will need to come off anyways. Bone cancer is very painful, and eventually will lead to a fracture.
There have been many large dogs on here that have done well. The first couple of weeks are difficult for most, and the larger dogs sometimes have more of a struggle in the beginning, but after the first bit they do well.
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
just to tlet you know Bruce came back last night from the Vets, he had an awful night and morning pacing and crying, I think he was coming down from the morphine (he acts like that after General and Morphine) tonight he’s sleeping lying down and drinking water/eating healthy. He has went for a pee a good few times, just confidence on that one front leg I think!
He hasn’t been bothered by his wound and is currently watching an episode of Supernatural with us !
Aww Brucie! Sorry to hear about that first night home. Yep, that can be a ruff time! But really glad to hear things are much better. More TV time, snuggles and naps are the best healing medicine for all of you 🙂