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  1. #1

    Default Amputation vs. euthanasia for a large breed dog

    My sister has a very large 9 year old rott/golden cross with bone-eating cancer in her hind foot. They have already amputated two toes and it keeps coming back. Vet says their options now are amputation of the entire leg, or euthanasia. She is otherwise happy and healthy, and has basically been functioning with 3 legs for quite some time because the recurring foot issues have made the leg non-weight-bearing due to pain. I'm trying to help my sister think through her decision.

    I guess my questions are, does anyone have a large-breed 3-legged dog? And, WWYD?



  2. #2
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    If the dog is already handling life well on three legs, than amputation shouldn't be too big of a deal. Most I've seen recover within about a week.



  3. #3
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    "I have never seen a wild thing feeling sorry for itself."

    Bigger problem, the dog is already on three legs, and advanced in age....

    Ok, other than that, I would not foresee any big problems. There will be an adjustment period and of course healing.

    But generally, animals do not suffer from amputation as people do.

    I am a little talking like the blind of color though, I had my cat's tail amputated when he got into a fight with other cats and the base of the tail got infected badly. Doc said take it off or wait, basically till it spreads further. Given the location I opted for amputation. It hurt me more than him I am sure.

    Another point (and I hate to bring it up):
    Money.
    The OP won't be cheap and the cancer might yet claim her.

    many hugs to you and crazy jingles for your pup.
    Quote Originally Posted by Bristol Bay View Post
    Try setting your broomstick to fly at a lower altitude.
    GNU Terry Prachett



  4. #4
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    I was almost eaten by a 3 legged Great Pyrenees. He moved pretty quick on 3 legs as I ran for my life back to my car! He seemed just fine with his situation. Me on the other hand...
    Southern Cross Guest Ranch
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  5. #5
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    I'd amputate in a heartbeat. Dogs are incredibly adaptable and she'll live a better quality of life for what she has left seeing as she won't be in pain on a daily basis. I remember hearing somewhere that dogs carry 60% of their weight on their front legs so hind leg amputation is easier on them.



  6. #6
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    If the dog's otherwise in good shape for her age, and it's a hindleg, yeah, I'd amputate.

    Now, if the dog had other health problems, that might change things, but it sounds like for this dog, once you get rid of the problem leg, she has a good shot at having several years of life with good quality.
    Full-time bargain hunter.



  7. #7
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    Default I would not amputate

    Quote Originally Posted by onelanerode View Post
    If the dog's otherwise in good shape for her age, and it's a hindleg, yeah, I'd amputate.

    Now, if the dog had other health problems, that might change things, but it sounds like for this dog, once you get rid of the problem leg, she has a good shot at having several years of life with good quality.

    With osteosarcoma the cancer has usually spread if just on a microscopic level. Even if you do lung xrays to disallow for the spread, dogs usually only get 6 mos. of extra time. If this dog has already had two surgeries, it's prognosis is poor. I had a dog diagnosed with osteosarcoma and although it was inoperable (in a hip and metasticized to lungs), the veterinarian at the U of FL. was not at all in favor of amputation for this disease. Whatever you and your sister decide, I hope it goes as well as possible. Sorry to sound like Debbie Downer.



  8. #8
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    Onelaneroad would know about QOL for three legged animals because apparently she lives across the road from a three legged llama.



  9. #9

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    I vote for amputation followed by chemotherapy in order to improve the dogs QOL.



  10. #10
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    My friend's dog had cancer on his foot, and it was removed but came back 6 or 8 months later. The cancer came back worse, and the vet suggested amputation. She had the leg removed and the dog lived another 1 1/2 years before he died from something unrelated.

    She said it was tough the first day or 2, but that the dog came around really quickly and was bringing her his frisbee to play on day 3. This was a big yellow lab.

    If the dog is in pretty good health otherwise, I would have the leg removed. Better to get it taken care of in one shot than multiple surgeries taking a bit at a time.



  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by MrWinston View Post
    With osteosarcoma the cancer has usually spread if just on a microscopic level. Even if you do lung xrays to disallow for the spread, dogs usually only get 6 mos. of extra time.
    Thanks for all the replies so far! My sister wanted me to note that it is NOT osteosarcoma and is a localized, non-metastasizing type of cancer.



  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snowflake View Post
    Onelaneroad would know about QOL for three legged animals because apparently she lives across the road from a three legged llama.
    Why yes, she would!
    "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
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    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.



  13. #13
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    Default If it isn't osteosarcoma

    Quote Originally Posted by JCS View Post
    Thanks for all the replies so far! My sister wanted me to note that it is NOT osteosarcoma and is a localized, non-metastasizing type of cancer.
    I guess that is a totally different picture. Jingles for your sister's dog. May the force be with you.



  14. #14
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    A friend of mine was facing the same decision with his bull mastiff - with the complication that the BM was well on it's life expectancy,

    He has had the hind leg off now for over 2 years and is getting on fine ... except for getting older of course
    Still Working_on_it - one day I will get it!



  15. #15
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    As previously said, if it is osteosarcoma, even with the amputation the cancer will likely reoccur.

    We removed part of our first flat coat's jaw (just a few teeth) fighting it. It popped up within a few months in his hind leg. The vet wanted to amputate that but instead we took him home and had 3 more good months with him.

    On the day we euthanized him he played frisbee and went swimming first.

    A friend of ours with a rottie (it is VERY common in rotties) chose to amputate. It bought the dog six months.
    The rebel in the grey shirt



  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by JCS View Post
    Thanks for all the replies so far! My sister wanted me to note that it is NOT osteosarcoma and is a localized, non-metastasizing type of cancer.
    Good to read this. In that case, if she's financially capable and the dog's other legs are in good enough shape to make up for it, go for it and good luck!
    The rebel in the grey shirt



  17. #17
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    Amputate, keep the weight down and be agressive to prevent or slow the arrival of arthritis. And good luck!



  18. #18
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    Amputate and the dog will be running around 2 days later.

    Just did 2 amputations last week (one was a newfie, the other was a rotti), both were done Monday and by their Thursday recheck they were bouncing around like nothing ever happened.

    Criteria for amputation - 3 other legs should be in good shape. Dog should be of reasonabe weight.

    Otherwise, size, age, breed shoud have little to no impact on the decision. Age and size isnt a disease remember.



  19. #19
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    but will it actually save the dog? if the dog was in car crash and needed amputation, I'd do it without hesitating. But osteosarcoma? odds are the dog has already had the cancer spread, and it's only a matter of time before it kills the dog. So you're talking about putting the dog through a major, painful surgery that will do what for the dog? possibly not very much.
    People above are talking as if the dog will barely notice the surgery, but the dog will. Just because dogs try to hide pain and function as best as possible doesn't mean they aren't suffering.
    The best gauge to how much a procedure might hurt is to ask humans who have had a similar procedure- sure, dogs might not suffer the mental anguish of losing a limb, but they feel the same pain. Humans report that limb amputation is way up there on the pain scale. Human amputatees also often suffer from serious "phantom limb pain" after surgery, and there's no reason to believe a dog wouldn't suffer from this as well. Also after surgery, human amputees report considerable pain in the rest of their body for weeks to months as their bodies adapt to their different way of moving.
    So you have to ask the vet for a prognosis: how many months before death without surgery, how many months before death with surgery, and have to make a decision if the gain in months is worth the pain of the surgery.



  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by wendy View Post
    but will it actually save the dog? if the dog was in car crash and needed amputation, I'd do it without hesitating. But osteosarcoma? odds are the dog has already had the cancer spread, and it's only a matter of time before it kills the dog. So you're talking about putting the dog through a major, painful surgery that will do what for the dog? possibly not very much.
    People above are talking as if the dog will barely notice the surgery, but the dog will. Just because dogs try to hide pain and function as best as possible doesn't mean they aren't suffering.
    The best gauge to how much a procedure might hurt is to ask humans who have had a similar procedure- sure, dogs might not suffer the mental anguish of losing a limb, but they feel the same pain. Humans report that limb amputation is way up there on the pain scale. Human amputatees also often suffer from serious "phantom limb pain" after surgery, and there's no reason to believe a dog wouldn't suffer from this as well. Also after surgery, human amputees report considerable pain in the rest of their body for weeks to months as their bodies adapt to their different way of moving.
    So you have to ask the vet for a prognosis: how many months before death without surgery, how many months before death with surgery, and have to make a decision if the gain in months is worth the pain of the surgery.
    See below.

    Quote Originally Posted by JCS View Post
    Thanks for all the replies so far! My sister wanted me to note that it is NOT osteosarcoma and is a localized, non-metastasizing type of cancer.



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