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Dogs with 3 legs?

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  • Dogs with 3 legs?

    Does anyone have a dog who had an amputation? If so, how did they do after surgery, and how long did it take them to get back to full function (if they did)?

    Thank you.

  • #2
    I have not personally owned a tripod critter, but have been around many via the clinic I used to work at. Dogs don't have the same emotional attachment to a limb as people so the psychological barriers to recovery just aren't there. Most dogs that I've seen with amputation get around very well within days post op. They can run, play, jump, etc--often better than before the surgery if they've had a chronic injury.

    Pain meds can make them a little unstable initially and stairs can be a little challenging. Sometimes, using a towel under the belly to offer some balance when they're urinating or defecating can help too.

    Smaller breeds who are in good weight seem to bounce back faster than larger breeds or obese critters IME.

    I have seen some complications (like ACL tears) especially in larger breed dogs or dogs that were obese at the time of surgery.

    Generally speaking though, most pets seem to do quite well with minor modifications to their environment in the beginning.
    A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

    Might be a reason, never an excuse...


    • Original Poster

      Thank you, my dog had a biopsy of her leg last week and this morning the vet called and said it was cancer. One option is to remove her leg and do chemo, Im just not sure how she will do with that.

      Im just devistated as she is only 5 years old and feel like I have done everything right for my dogs for preventing things like this. I lost my male last year due to cancer at 7, Im not ready to let another one go. I want to do what is good for her, so was hoping to hear about dogs with amputations. They are able to do it today if I give them a decision.


      • #4
        Not exactly on topic, but I adopted a rabbit with only one front leg from the SPCA and she did just fine. She was in a hutch in a stall at night, but during the day we'd put her out in a 3' high dog run, and one summer she dug out such a large "parlor" that, with my arm in up the the elbow, I couldn't feel the far wall. Eventually she also dug a "back door" that opened into the male rabbit's enclosure, so we had to keep it covered with a rubber feed pan . . . which I removed one day to find a giant, gleaming green bullfrog sitting in the parlor! It was like a children's book: "One fine afternoon, Mrs. Nutmeg invited Mr. Toad in for tea."

        Don't feel that you missed doing something, you obviously did a great job finding a problem and getting her to the vet, in time to still have some options. All the tripod doggies I've known have been cheerful, energetic critters. I hope you can reach a decision with your vet that you feel good about. Sounds like she's lucky to have you! Good luck and let us know.
        Last edited by Martha Drum; Jan. 25, 2013, 11:11 PM.

        I can ride my horses without a sharps container.


        • #5
          I am now retired, but used to work for a vet for 20 years. Amputees do just fine. The most amazing one I seen was a toy poodle lost both back legs. The owners were gonna fit her for a doggie cart whell chair, when she had healed up enough. Well she didnt need one, she tucked up her tummy and walked in a hand stand for the rest of her quite lengthly life. They reported it really didnt change her life to awful much. And yes she walked into the clinic herself for yearly vacs, she was not carried.
          So sorry you are going through this. Hope things turn out good for you.
          Just like our eyes, our hearts have a way of adjusting to the dark.--Adam Stanley


          • #6
            RottiMom - I chose not to amputate my dobie's leg when he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma. Generally it's thought that amputation and chemo may buy your dog a few months, but won't change the outcome of the cancer diagnosis. I have chosen not to put him through that or me through the expense. If it was a cure, that would be a different thing, but just to buy some time - no. However, we all have to make that choice based on what's best for ourselves and our dogs.

            For what it's worth, Jake was diagnosed three months ago and is still doing okay on steroids and minimal pain meds (rimadyl once a day). However, I can see tumors developing on his body, and there will be a day, probably not too far in the future, when I'll have to make that fateful decision.



            • #7
              I'm very sorry to hear that she has cancer.

              The chemo thing changes the game in my mind. I wouldn't rush into doing the amputation until you've had the opportunity to learn more about the chemo protocol and what goes along with that.

              A lot has changed with regards to chemotherapy since I was last involved with it in dogs so I'm afraid I'm not a great resource.

              If I were in your shoes, I'd want to carefully consider the prognosis and quality of life during and post treatment as well as learn about my options should I choose not to do the procedure and chemo.

              The thing about animals that I try to keep in mind is that they live in the now. If now is good, life is good. If now is bad, life is bad. If we have a relatively good prognosis, asking them to suffer a bit and have some bad days is hard, but reasonable. If the prognosis isn't very good, I'm of the thought that it's not necessarily fair to ask them to suffer through.

              Please keep in mind that I've spent thousands and thousands of dollars on my dog--so it's not that I'm opposed at all to taking advantage of the current medical technology available to our pets.

              But quality of life has to figure in too, even if money is not an object. Sometimes just because we can doesn't mean we should.

              I am so very very sorry that you're in this position. You must know that there's nothing you could've done to prevent this. Cancer sucks. And doesn't discriminate. Equal opportunity crap all the way around.

              A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

              Might be a reason, never an excuse...


              • #8
                Originally posted by StGermain View Post
                RottiMom - I chose not to amputate my dobie's leg when he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma. Generally it's thought that amputation and chemo may buy your dog a few months, but won't change the outcome of the cancer diagnosis. I have chosen not to put him through that or me through the expense. If it was a cure, that would be a different thing, but just to buy some time - no. However, we all have to make that choice based on what's best for ourselves and our dogs.

                For what it's worth, Jake was diagnosed three months ago and is still doing okay on steroids and minimal pain meds (rimadyl once a day). However, I can see tumors developing on his body, and there will be a day, probably not too far in the future, when I'll have to make that fateful decision.

                This is the way I would go as well although I hate Rimadyl. I would amputate for an injury if necessary but not for cancer. Jingles for both of your dogs.
                McDowell Racing Stables

                Home Away From Home


                • #9
                  FWIW, I probably would not elect to do the surgery or chemo. I would probably offer palliative care and enjoy my time left. But that's based on the info I have and may be different than your situation, OP.
                  A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                  Might be a reason, never an excuse...


                  • #10
                    OP, you may want to PM Fish who recently went through this with her dog. Best wishes.
                    "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.


                    • #11
                      I think IF you choose to amputate, please get thoracic radiographs first. If there are mets in her thorax, your chance of reaching median survival is very very slim. It is not fair to your dog to put her through an invasive surgery for an extra few weeks of life.

                      However, if chest rads are clear, she is otherwise healthy (in good shape, not fat and other legs sound), amputation and chemotherapy can achieve a median survival of 1.5years (535 days to be exact). Meaning, 50% do better than 1 year, 50% dont reach 1.5 year.

                      Im not sure what I would do in this situation, as I have seen several do poorly, and several do extremely well (ie. 3+ years). If I knew my dog would lead a healthy life for 3 years, I would be all at it. However, you just never know what the outcome will be. It generally does not reduce quality of life like some people think. The chemo used for osteosarcomas generally has minimal side effects. The most common protocol used is only 6 injections, so its not a lifelong commitment. It IS expensive, and there are no guarantees your dog will a.) be ok with 3 legs and b) respond to the chemo. However, the combination does give your dog the best chance at survival.

                      There is also radiation therapy, which is useful when an osteosarcoma is small and not threatening to break the leg.

                      In all, there are lots of questions that you need to ask your vet. Its personal choice, and either choice you make will not be a bad one. Good luck with your choice and jingles for your girl.
                      Last edited by SquishTheBunny; Jan. 25, 2013, 03:33 PM.


                      • #12
                        When making your decision be sure and take into account which leg the tumor is in - dogs put 60% of their weight on their front legs, so amputating a front leg (especially in a dog that is overweight to begin with) is harder on them (but most will still adjust and do fine).

                        Also be sure and ask what the survival is for no treatment, amputation only and amputation+adjunct therapies (chemo/radiation etc.) is. There are papers out there that spell it out pretty specifically.

                        So sorry you're dealing with this. :-(


                        • Original Poster

                          Thank you all for your replies. Im fairly new to this message board, but appreciate all the advice I have received so far.

                          I just dropped her back off at the Vet specialty hospital to stage her. Im not ready to put her down today, and they suggested getting her worked up to prepare for an amputation if thats what I choose (still not sure). She is getting xrays of her good leg and chest to make sure there is no cancer there. She is very very lame so Im thinking options are going to be limited.

                          Just waiting for a call back to hear how she is doing and to discuss options with the oncologist Money isnt a concern, I just want to do whats best for her.

                          I also just got a call from my riding coach that one of the horses has a gash on his leg while unloading from the trailer. This day isn't so much fun.


                          • #14
                            Hang in there. ((hugs))

                            Do what you think is right with the information you have at the time and no one can ever fault you.

                            Wishing you and your pup the best. I'm so very sorry.
                            A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                            Might be a reason, never an excuse...


                            • #15
                              I am ver sorry, Rottimom. I have been through osteosarcoma numerous times over the years, as I have Irish Wolfhounds. It has been my personal choice not to amputate so far, though I do not rule it out given the right circumstances.

                              I have been the "hospice" caregiver for my stepdaughter's Rottie who had a different sort of cancer, he was such an awesome dog, I know what you are going through.

                              Rotties tend to carry much more of their weight in front, and they are a heavy breed, think about that, it is not a toy poodle. I know there is a lot of information thrown at you at once.

                              Whatever your decision, I know it will be heart rending, know you will do the best for your beloved girl.


                              • #16
                                If She was my dog, I would first have her lungs X-rayed to see if the cancer has spread. Often by the time you find the osteo in a leg, it has moved into the lungs also. As Houndhill mentioned Rotties are heavy built and do not do as good as smaller/lighter breeds with amputation. Not to say that some don't handle it well, it's a dog by dog case. I worked for a large shelter with a full hospital and handled lots of dogs who had amputations. Most handled the amp. and recovery well. The osteo is the monster here.

                                As a rule amputation and chemo just buy time. And not as long as you wish for either. I would not do it with my dogs, but it's a personal decision. Fortunately I haven't had to face this, but having 7 Rotts, a couple Dobes and 2 Bull Mastiffs (not all at the same time), I've seriously thought about what my decision would be if it came up.

                                Give your girl some scritches from me please. I'm truly sorry to hear you both are going through this. I do love me some Rottie. :-)


                                • #17
                                  Very sorry Rottimom. My friend's chow mix was diagnosed w/ osteosarcoma in a rear leg late May 2012. She took him up to Michigan State for a consult and decided on palliative care. Fast forward to early January. Dog is still kicking and actually looks good. Dog is eating well and coat is shiny. The leg looks awful, but the dog still uses it. My friend doesn't want to euthanize and looks into amputation. Dog was radiographed and there was no obvious sign of metastasis. Dog had his leg amputated 3 weeks ago and doing very well. My friend is glad she was able to give him this chance and wishes she had done it sooner.


                                  • #18
                                    Hi Rottiemom, I lost my Rottie at age 9 to osteosarcoma. Her tumor was on her rib.

                                    If you do a search in this forum for osteosarcoma, there are several of us who have gone through it and have related our experiences. I know I have in several detailed what drug combos made my dog comfortable.

                                    Sorry you are going through this ((HUGS)))
                                    Unrepentant carb eater


                                    • Original Poster

                                      Thank you all! I feel like I have been on the phone non stop with vets today. Between my dog and the horse, its been a crazy day.

                                      Oncologist called me shortly after I got home today. She re-did the xray of the cancer leg and it was fractured (this explains why she was non weight bearing the past few days). I had to make a decision to put her down or continue with staging in hopes of amputation. After a long talk, we decided to do the chest xrays and if they were clean persue with the amputation. Thankfully her chest xrays were good and she came out of surgery minus 1 leg about an hour ago. The doctors were great as they gave me plenty of time to make a difficult decision and didnt pressure me to make a decision against the clock.

                                      I got the call about 20 minutes ago that she was awake and comfortable. They feel as she is in such great shape, and that its a back leg, she will do well. I will be able to visit her tomorrow morning, and take her home Sunday if all goes well. Chemo is still up in the air right now, if we decide to do it it wont happen for another 2 weeks so I have lots of time to weight the pros and cons.

                                      I really hope I made the right decision for her. I just wasnt ready to lose her tonight.


                                      • #20
                                        Wishing your girl many many good healing vibes.

                                        What is her name?

                                        Just need to know who to be jingling for. You'll have me, Roger the Poodle and Giais the lab jingling like crazy for a quick recovery.

                                        Hang in there Momma. It's tough stuff. You're doing what you think is right with the information you have....like I said, no one can ever fault you for that.

                                        Wishing you both a good evening and a speedy recovery for Miss Pup.
                                        A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                                        Might be a reason, never an excuse...