Featuring Demian Dressler, DVM and Susan Ettinger, DVM, Dip. ACVIM (Oncology), authors of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide.
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Canine Osteosarcoma: Amputation and Life Quality

In the last post, I focused on looking at life quantity, or lifespan, in considering amputation for dogs with osteosarcoma.   Let’s focus on life quality issues and amputation.

Often the first question that arises is, “But will my dog be able to have a normal life on 3 legs?” Everyone, the answer is almost always yes.

There are two big things to factor.  First, are you available to assist your dog in walking during the recovery period? The remaining limbs need to strengthen to support the extra weight.  This can take just a few days in a lean, young dog, or it may take a few weeks in an older or overweight one.

The second things to factor in is other problems that could affect the weight bearing, like arthritis, hip dysplasia, old ligament tears, back or neck problems, and so on.  The presence of other orthopedic issues can slow or complicate things a little and should be discussed with your vet.

Usually, most dogs are up and hopping around whenever or wherever they want to within 1-3 weeks.  They really do just fine once their strength builds.  It can be hard to watch but many times when people are depressed about it, they start to look at the dog and realize, “Wow..my dog actually seems pretty happy!”

They just seem to move on with life and live in the moment, which is a good lesson for all of us to learn from our dogs.

During recovery, you will need to help your dog learn to walk on three legs.  This is really pretty simple. you just need to help them support their weight during walking.  This can be done with a commercial sling you can purchase, or with a towel looped under the belly or the chest.  You just lift some of the weight and they will hop right along.

Remember in males that you will need to position the towel away from the sheath for urination or you will have a wet sling and a unhappy boy!

You will want to provide a surface that is not slippery to walk on.  Ramps can help get up in some cases too.

You should work on keeping your dog lean.  Being overweight has a whole collection of bad effects in dogs with cancer, and bone cancer is no exception.  Additionally, the extra load makes it harder to move around.  Another issue to remember is that being overweight increases the risk of injury in the remaining limbs due to increased wear and tear (arthritis, cruciate ruptures, and more).

Activities that required four legs can always be modified.  Dogs will learn to live how they can and they adjust, just like we do.  If you watch them, they will derive as much pleasure in their new life as they did before. The limits of what they can do change, not the limits of how happy they can be.

Let’s look at the surgery itself and preserving as much life quality as possible with pain control in the next post.

Best to all,

Dr Dressler

About the Author: Demian Dressler, DVM


Dr. Demian Dressler, DVM is known as the "dog cancer vet" and is author of Dog Cancer Survival Guide: Full Spectrum Treatments to Optimize Your Dog's Life Quality and Longevity. Visit his blog and sign up free to get the latest information about canine cancer. Go to http://DogCancerBlog.com.

  • Melanie Wolfe

    My dog has cancer in his knee on the right back leg so he would have an above the knee amputation. He is 12 years old, He has congestive heart failure, (well managed with Enelaprill and Furosemide for 3-4 years already), and he is a Pit Bull weighing about 80 pounds. is he too old for an amputation?
    Thank you for your response.

  • Dr. Dressler

    Melanie,
    There is no correct answer to this question. In situations like this you must do what you know is the right thing for your dog. This is the gray zone of life decisions. Surgery could push him over the edge, or he could recover well and life happily for a period of time. Based on your description, a lot of owners would euthanize at this stage, but this is such a personal choice, you need to take time to quietly clear your mind and do your best to answer the following question for your dog, “at this point in my life, is the life I have lived up to this point so a good one and a full one?”
    D

    • Z

      Has anyone who visits this blog used artemisinin to treat canine osteosarcoma? I would be so grateful for any assistance along these lines. Most sincerely, Z

  • alisa

    It has been 10 days since we brought our 6 year old rottie home from having her amputation done. We had hoped we caught it early due to the x-rays couldn’t confirm the cancer until we had the biopsy done. We quickly decided to give her a chance and the amputation was done 1 week from the initial x-ray. My husband and I were extremely upset when we picked her up, she wasn’t even visible excited to see us(which never happened before). She had bad reactions to the pain meds which we stopped after 5 days due to her not eating and drinking at all. She is getting around very well and appears to have adapted to the 3 legs very well. My concern though is that she is still not showing a real interest in her food. I can get her to eat maybe a couple handfuls of dog food when handed to her, and usually 1 to 3 chicken breasts a day. Seems her appitite keeps dwindling and she eats just because she is trying to please us. Has anyone else had this problem? I can’t seem to find anything on-line and I am getting very concerned. The hospital left us a message yesterday stating that we had made the right choice that the results came in from the testing of the limb. It confirmed osteosarcoma as well as being a very aggressive form. This being said is it possible that the cancer has already moved to the lungs? Or is it possible she is still having a difficult time adjusting to her new life?

  • Adrienne

    I have a 8 month old Corgi that may have Juvenile Osteosarcoma in his hind leg. We are waiting for the results of a Valley Fever test, then a biopsy if the test is negative. The Vet believes it is one or the other. From what I have read this is a cancer that hits older dogs and larger breeds. Is there truth to that? Can I believe that the chances of my Corgi getting this are slim?

    • Dr. Dressler

      Adrienne,
      I sure hope your little Corgi does not have OSA. Although generally what you say is true, there are cases of certain connective tissue tumors in bones affecting young dogs. Tests supporting the diagnosis of Valley Fever should be done first, as your vet did, as you may get a false negative on the biopsy.
      Best
      D

  • Shannon Provost

    Hi, we have a little schnoodle name RJ hes 8, turning 9 in Feb. and they found what they believe is osteosarcoma in his front leg. All recommendations from doctors and websites lead us to get his leg amputated. We had this done this morning, they are going to biopsy his leg to see where we stand further. RJ has had problems with seizures in the past, last one about 2 years i wanna say.(knock on wood he still continues to be free of them) And he has to take thyroid medicine as well. What can we do for him, he’s been through so much and the Doctor says only a year to a year and a half left on his life, could he be wrong? What can we do to keep RJ going for many more years? Any advice would be grateful. Thank You

    Shannon & Rob

    • Dr. Dressler

      Hi Shannon and Rob,
      I am very sorry to hear about RJ. The first thing to do is hold everything until you get that biopsy. Could be a different cancer type, and that could affect the time you have left. Next, you need to pay attention to his diet (carb restriction and more), get him on a supplement program (see the e-book and the blog posts), stimulate him with manageable challenges once he is well to reduce stress hormones, consider the chemotherapy statistics, costs, and define what type of risk tolerance you have- then make a call on your approach. This is a complicated question, as you can see. This week’s webinar is on OSA, so you should tune in (it is recorded so you can listen later):
      http://www.mydogvet.com
      Best,
      Dr D

  • Jo Anne

    Dr Dressler:
    I have a 14 yr old female 60 lb soft coated retreiver. We had x-rays and it is almost certain she hass bone cancer (no biopsy). I have started the bisphosphonate. I have her on a very good diet and supplements. She has a good appetite and her blood work is impressive for an old girl. I am seriously considering an amputation to spare her further pain. How do you feel about amputation in such an old dog but one that is pretty healthy overall?
    Jo Anne

  • Jim

    Has anyone considered a prosthesis? I ask because my 8 yr-old St Bernard/lab mix is getting his front right leg amputated next-week. 3 of the vets in my local vet-office have 3 legged dogs (or “tripawds”). Look that term up online when u have a chance…anyway, my vet says the dog knows the prosthetic is something that shouldn’t be there & will likely chew it up (figure spending ~$800 on one). However, ever since I found orthopets (dot) com the idea of a prosthetic leg has peaked my curiosity. I truly believe my dog would both use & benefit from one (based on how he uses his cast) but everyone thinks it’s not necessary. I need to decide before the surgery if I’m gonna ask them to keep a partial-limb. Thanks everybody!

  • Jo Anne

    Z:

    I tried arteminisen. But you would have to talk to a holistic vet. It may have helped but it is hard to say as I put my dog to sleep 2 weks a go. Really, nothing seemed to help and she was old and I was unwilling to amputate. I kept her as comfortable as I could until she was in such obvious pain.
    Best wishes. very difficulty time.
    Jo Anne

  • Angie

    Hi,
    My 7 year old Bullmastiff just had his front leg amputated because of bone cancer 2 weeks ago and he is having random painful attacks. When he gets up or when he’s walking, that side of his body twitches and he howls in pain. We just hold him and try to calm him down until it goes away. We are working with the Ontario Vet College (where the surgery was) to change around his pain meds but he basically sleeps all the time and only gets up when we make him. He is very unhappy with his tail between his legs :( The Vets claim they have only seen this symptom before in a cat.
    Has anyone ever experienced this before and have any reccomendations? I just want him to be comfortable.
    Thanks for any help.
    Angie & Hunter

    • Dr. Dressler

      Dear Angie,
      assuming appropriate testing has already been done (labs, X-rays etc), one thing to consider would be back or neck pain. Have the vet see if there is restricted range of motion in the neck or a pain response anywhere in the vertebral column. “Pinched” nerve secondary to a slipped disc or some other cause of back pain (tumor spread or other..) would be thoughts I would be having right now.
      Also have them check the other limbs for pain since more weight loading on those other limbs might be increasing a pre-existing condition that nobody knew about before.
      Hope this helps,
      Dr D

  • Stephen

    Hello, I have a retired racing greyhound named Jewel who was diagnosed with left hind leg osteosarcoma. She will be 12 in May. Prior to last month she had been getting around gloriously. She still ran around a lot. The chest x-ray didn’t show anything (I do know it is there, however).

    I want to consider amputation because I don’t think she’s ready to go. She still wants to go with us when we get up. She eats very well. She is old though, I realize. I just don’t think that the tramadol, neurontin, rimadyl combo is cutting it.

    • Dr. Dressler

      Dear Stephen,
      most times the amputation will help tremendously with the pain after the post op period. You may be able to go up with the dose of Tramadol, add gabapentin, amandatine, elavil, and try a different anti inflammatory like metacam or deramaxx. Another option is samarium injections.
      Best,
      Dr D

  • Donna

    Hi, I have a schnauzer that just turned 12 years old. He was diagnosed with a malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor on his right front elbow when he was 9.5 years. He went through two debulking procedures but was about to go through another one but the vet held off due to he had elevated liver enzymes including his ALT. Did not know if this thing spread or not, but he put him on antibiotics for three weeks to see if this would bring it down. Low and behold it did except just for a little elevated alkaline phosphatase. So, he felt he was ready for surgery and could tolerate the anesthesia, but this tumor grew so fast this time week by week that when the vet called me he indicated it would take two seperate surgeries to debulk this again due to the tumor wrapped around to the inside of his arm. So I had no other choice but to elect for amputation to finally be rid of this. I am just suprised this thing is so aggressive but especially the last month while we were waiting for his liver enzymes to come down. Oh, and BTW the vet thought maybe Corky had a bout of pancreatitis possibly. To avoid this, should he be on a strict diet from now on? Also, he had the surgery Tuesday and now it’s Sunday (5 days postop.) He seems to be doing well except for the occasional blood curdling cry at times, but his Penrose drain was removed yesterday so he seems a bit more comfortable now. He even managed to jump on the couch which suprised me but I don’t really want him to do that too often yet.

  • Donna

    PS, I know this is an osteosarcoma blog and my story is a little different but had no choice but an amputation which is similar to the stories above.

  • suzy

    Dr. D. All has been good for my 9 year old Rottie after having amputation of a hind leg due to Osteosarcoma, his rebound was amazing, he had an issue with tiring after the amp, we got over that, He has been living very comfortably, eating well, going outside and barking as usual, however, yesterday, he just did not seem himself, he did not eat, seemed very tired. He even refused his favorite can food. Today, I took him out, he was ready to go out, but he got really tired, really quick, he dragged, It was quite an effort to get him in. This evening, I made him some fresh beef, he ate, thank goodness. He drank water. As I sat and pet him, I noticed he is very sensitve when I rub him below the shoulder blade. Im wondering if more of the horribe cancer has returned to my baby. I dont know if its the cold that is making him sick, or if more cancer has surfaced.Im so worried right now

    • Dr. Dressler

      Dear Suzy,
      please bring your Rottie in for a check up. Could be just a little sprain, but it could be something else entirely. Let’s hope it’s a minor orthopedic issue that quickly resolves!
      Dr D

    • Diane

      Hi……….my dog is right now in surgery having her front right leg amputated. She was run over by a vehicle 6 1/2 years ago, and it started out as being only nerve damage, and a year later they amputated a toe. They said, she had absolutely no pain, however she was continually licking it and opening it to the meat. They had thought it was due to a tingling sensation. She has had the cone on almost always and a boot for the past 2-3 years. She has been experiencing chronic infection lately, and the last x-ray show massive bone deterioration. She is 7 years old and 30 pounds. I hope I have done the right thing, as she is in perfect health otherwise. Will she have a lot of propblems because of it being the front leg?? Thanks for your help……

      • http://DogCancerBlog.com DemianDressler

        Diane,
        usually dogs with a bad limb have been compensating for it, and doing their own physical therapy in the process by bearing weight on the other 3 legs! Have your vet thoroughly check out the other legs before the procedure.
        Best,
        DrD

  • TexSun

    My 7 year old rottie had left rear leg amputated and then 5 weeks of chemo, and still shows cancer-free in the lungs. However, he has now been diagnosed with signicant hip dysplasia in his one good back leg. The vet is trying adequon shots, but he just cannot use that leg, period, and has begun urinating in the house and crying when he does. We have to pull him up and almost drag him out of the house to try and use the bathroom. I mean, he has NO use of that back leg. We also tried some acupuncture but to no avail. My vet xrayed the dog’s spine but didn’t see any cancer there, though several people told me that it sure sounded like the cancer had spread to the spine. Is that possible?

  • Brett

    My old friend Fortis is a 10 year old 150lb Cane Corso. He was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in the tarsus (ankle) area of his right rear leg on 1/23/2010. I noticed a slight limp about 2-3 weeks prior to the diagnoses and swelling the day before. No biopsy has been done but his vet (who I highly respect) is confident in his diagnoses. He feels that I will need to euthanize my boy within about 3 weeks. It’s so hard, he seems so happy and driven. I’m considering amputation although I’m not sure this it is what his vet would prescribe. Lung xrays were negative today although it is assumed the cancer has already spread. Is there any harm in waiting to do the amputaion 1 week from today? He dosen’t appear to be in any pain but thats fortis. I’m with him 24hrs a day and don’t allow him to get to crazy! Im so scared, I just want to do the right thing for my boy, my best friend, Fortis.

    • Dr. Dressler

      Dear Brett,
      The standard of care for osteosarcoma (not considering life quality or quantity) includes amputation, if for no other reason than pain reduction, and in some cases other good things as well. You should gather more data on this if you are not ready to have him put to sleep. Treatment plan analysis includes your dogs life expectancy with cancer versus without cancer (probably the same right now), the type of person you are (what is your tolerance for side effects or life quality decreases during surgery and chemo) in exchange for the benefits of a complete cancer plan, and so on. You might want to get a life expectancy extension figure (how long would treatment give him with surg, chemo, and all the other things in the Dog Cancer Survival Guide) and then ask youself, after gathering info on dogs recovering from amputation, if this feels right for both you and Fortis.
      You could be looking at 6-9 months more, hard to say. For a ten year old dog, that is about 5-7.5% of a life span. For a person this could be another 2-5 years of life or something.
      Cancer is not clear cut. Get the facts, do your reading, take a few days and make your choices as best as you can. None of us has a crystal ball, so we have to make do.
      Best of luck to you in this tough time,
      Dr D

  • Ferdinand

    Dr. Dressler,
    Can or are digital xrays now use to diagnose osteosarcoma? If not,
    do you think it’s better to just have an xray taken of my dog’s leg
    rather than try Deramaxx (concerned with side effects; seems like
    dogs or small animals are more prone to drug side effects).
    My dog’s a Westie. He’s overweight (25 lbs) and his been limping for
    more than a year now (gradually worsening; it had gone away before).
    But now it’s been about a couple of months and it’s no longer going
    away.
    Thank you very much,
    F

    • Dr. Dressler

      Dear Ferdinand,
      It is always better to get information rather than shoot in the dark. I will say that statistically ostesarcoma is not very common in Westies, on the average, compared to some other breeds. However, just like for you and I, if we were limping for more than a year it would be prudent to get it checked out for a diagnosis.
      Better safe than sorry in this case!
      Best,
      Dr D

  • Ferdinand

    By the way, Dr. Dressler, my dog’s ALP has been elevated for some time
    now. The last check 4 to 5 months ago was 165 out of a 150 normal high
    Prior to that, about a year ago was 177 out of a 131 normal high. Both
    bilirubin and GGT are quite normal. His serum calcium has also been
    elevated until his last blood test back around 4 months ago, both
    total serum calcium and ionized calcium were within normal limits
    then.
    F

  • TexSun

    Hello….how come everyone gets a reply but me?

    • Dr. Dressler

      Dear Reader,
      I wonder about the back as a source of pain, but it could be the remaining hindlimb. I assume this was osteosarc?
      I would consider:
      a. pain control: tramadol, gabepentin, amandatine, and a NSAID like one of :Metacam/Deramaxx/Previcoxx would be a nice combo.
      b. consider Pamidronate: http://dogcancerblog.com/more-ideas-for-bone-cancer-pain-pamidronate/
      c. I would suggest getting a veterinary orthopedic surgeon involved for a second opinion
      d. sometimes cancer spread to the vertebral column is visible on routine X-rays, but not always. To assess this fully (and the source of the pain if it is persisting), advanced imaging like a CT scan would help, if you are near veterinary referral center or a vet school.
      e. other aspects of care are covered in detail in the Dog Cancer Survival Guide.
      I hope this helps!
      Best,
      Dr D

    • Joan

      I have 4 dogs. My 12.5 year old Malamute has bone cancer of right front leg. This is such a hard decision. I have read your book and searched on line, joined 2 yahoo groups. I could much more easily make this decision with my other 3 dogs. The pain of bone cancer is truly awful. I need to act now. My wonderful malamute has no weighf issues, good general health, but her arthritis is quite bad. I am in my 70s and know that age does matter. I understand that dogs can cope on 3 legs, but can this 12.5 year old with arthritis cope? I just don’t know.

  • Tana Farrell

    Dear Dr. Dresslier;
    We have just lost our beloved 14 year old golden, Keaton, and are now faced with a very difficult decision regarding our 12 year old golden retriever, Sophie. Sophie was diagnosed with lymphoma – a very aggressive form – in April 2009. At the time, we made the decision that we would not put her through an amputation due to her age, and the fact that we were told she would have to be in treatment away from us for approximately 2 months. She is a recovered separation-anxiety ridden dog, and that kind of separation would have been the end of her. Since then, however, we have had her tumor (right front leg) debrided twice, and it has come back faster and bigger each time. Now our vet is saying that they are 100% sure that if we amputate, they can make her cancer free – and she could have good quality of life for her remaining time.
    She is overweight, and 12 years old, though she does not look or act like a 12 year old dog. She has amazing spirit, a love of life, and lots of energy. Her tumor is the size of a grapefruit, and seems to cause her discomfort as she is always licking at it. It is so difficult to tell if she is ever in pain as she has never shown pain under any circumstance.
    Are we doing the right thing – amputation of her right front leg at her age and being overweight – and having just lost her life-long buddy?
    Thank you for your advice.
    Sincerely,
    Tana

    • Dr. Dressler

      Dear Tana,
      I am a little confused. Are you sure that the cancer in the leg is indeed lymphoma?
      It is difficult, in my opinion, to cure lymphoma with an amputation. Could a miscommunication have occurred?
      Dr D

  • TexSun

    Thank you so much for your reply. We had to put our dog to sleep. We were getting many conflicting opinions from different vets, but th bottom line was that our rottie could no longer walk at all, whether it was the osteosarcoma spreading or hip dysplasia–at that point, a distinction without a difference. Thanks again.

    • Dr. Dressler

      Dear Reader,
      I am so sorry. This must be very hard right now. My thoughts are with you,
      Dr D

  • debbie

    Dear Dr Dressler
    I had my 5 yr old great pyrenees leg removed 6 weeks ago. he was doing really well. Running around and his spirit is really good. Today is just started to be able to barely walk. Is it possible that the osteosacoma has alos spread to the other rear leg.

  • Andrew

    Hello,

    My dog, a 70# lab/hound mix does not nave cancer. However, I am facing the decision to do a partial (radial/humerus) amputatin versus a full amputation of his foreleg secondary to a partial brachial plexus injury. He seems to use the leg to swim, run and dig as well as climbing onto the sofas, and into the car. Unfortunately he is chewing on his paw and it needs to be removed. He injured dislocated the other shoulder int he accident and had to have it surgically repaired and the elbow on this side had been fractured before we rescued him and had healed badly. So he is using a not so good leg to stand on. I am thinking that a partial amputation with the use of a prosthesis will allow him to use the leg to take up some of the strain on his other leg. The regular vets are pushing towards a complete amputation including the scapula and shoulder. The Orthopedic / Rehab vets are recomending the amputation be done lower some are recomending a mid shaft ulna / radius and some say to leave them intact. This would be followed by a prosthesis. I know this is not cancer, but cancer seems to be the main cuase for amputations so here I am for advice and counsel.. Also, we are probably going to get an EMG test to determine specific nerve root issues.

    Thanks for anything

  • Dr. Dressler

    Dear Andrew,
    I would lean towards the specialists’ advice in general, and the more experienced the better. Look to the qualifications of the person giving the advice, the numbers of cases they have managed and so on.
    Best,
    Dr D

  • Kristy

    We just got the diagnosis today of osteosarcoma in our 6yo Great Dane’s right front upper leg (humerus). We initially noticed a slight limp, which quickly progressed to severe pain & lameness ~2 months ago, but initial x-rays were negative for tumors and fractures. She has no history of any limb fractures/surgeries and even very little arthritis damage was seen on the x-rays. She underwent a course of Lyme-disease meds and then 2 anitbiotics when the pain returned after the first round of meds. No progress was made – she began using the limb again for ~2 weeks, but stopped again ~2 weeks ago and has had severe pain around the shoulder. A return trip to the vet today including a consult with an orthopedic and x-rays under sedation were repeated. This time the x-rays showed the beginnings of a tumor at the upper humerus – but still not as obvious as in some of the x-rays I have seen online. X-rays of the lungs came back clear, but since it has been 2 months (with significant pain & lameness) what is the liklihood that there are micrometastesis in the lungs even though the tumor is just starting to show now?? The vet (& many online posts) say that by the time dogs are typically seen for this, the cancer has likely already spread, but is true even if the actual tumor was not yet obvious on the x-ray? (Meaning, is our dog hypersensitive & showed more severe signs of pain earlier than others might?) Is there significant merit in getting a blood screen to check levels of ‘alkaline phosphatase’ as a marker for better/worse prognosis? Any other enzymes/etc. that can be screened to give an indication of (micro)metastasis? How necessary is it to get a pre-amputation bone biopsy? Our dog seems to have classic symptoms & with the x-ray change, is that enough to diagnose OSA?

    • Dr. Dressler

      Dear Kristy, although it is true that over 90% of the dogs with OSA have mets (often micrometastasis) at the time of diagnosis, it does not mean that your dog will have them. Sadly we do not have a test for these. Most of the time diagnosis by X-ray is adequate, especially if you are dealing with an experienced clinician. I believe you would be well served to use all of the tools at your disposal, from the conventional side, diet, supplements (as usual I use Apocaps in my patients), stress management and life quality enhancement, touch therapies, sunlight and so on, once your Dane is up and going again.
      Wishing you the best,
      Dr D

  • Maria

    PLEASE HELP — front leg amputation???

    I found out last week that my 7 year old Rottie has OSA. We took him to a specialist and he gave us our options. The only two I am considering, are amputation plus chemo, or keeping him comfortable and have him live out his life. He has a bone tumor in his front left leg, and the leg would need to be amputated just under the shoulder blade. I’ve read a lot of comments on here, and most of the amputations are of back legs. He is very tall for a Rott and he weighs about 130 pounds. He limps pretty bad, and once in a while I will see him do a little hop and not even use that bad leg. This dog seriously means everything to me. At first I wanted to do the amputation, but then I spoke with some family members and they all thought his quality of life would be poor because he wouldn’t be able to get around that well on one front leg. So in the past couple of days I thought I had made my decision to not amputate. Now that I am reading everyone’s comments, I am even more lost.

    Almost 2 years ago I lost my 48 year old mother to non hodgkins lymphoma. She was given 12-18 months to live or to try a bone marrow transplant. Well basically we went for the transplant, and it was a slow and painful 6 months until she died. I don’t want to go for the amputation and have him be miserable and it be unsuccessful. THe oncologist said by the looks of the x-ray, his bad leg will probably break within a month, and at that point we will need to put him down. Other than a little bit of grumpiness due to the pain, he is still himself! I can’t imagine putting him down like that.

    Two factors I must consider (besides how incredibly expensive this will all be) is that last summer he had a toe amputated because of carcinoma. The vet said his OSA is unrelated. I don’t want to go through all of this for him to only get a 3rd cancer in a couple of months. Also, he hates going to the vet’s office. He gets anxious and nervous, and he basically hates being away from home, so I can only imagine how stressful being in the hospital and then the chemo visits will be for him.

    Basically I need some advice on how his quality of life will be with 1 front leg. I need to make my final decision pretty soon!

  • suzy

    Dr. Dressler, May 2009, I had my 8 year old Rottie’s leg amputated because of osteosarcoma, As I have posted, he has had some problems that we have overcome, He is still my strong boy today, loves his food, alert, watching, ect. however, this evening, I was outside with him, he was sniffing, looking around, when suddenly he let out a cry, a cry I remember well. I checked him, and now I see, his right front leg is very weak and very limp. As you can imagine, Im worried. I know you cant tell me what is up with that, because you have not examined him, but I want to ask you, have you seen this and can it be more osteosarcoma in the front leg now? Thank you Dr. D.

  • suzy

    Dr. Dressler,Its been over a year since my Rottie was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma. Since last May I chose surgery to remove that horrible cancer. My choice for amputation was the best choice I ever made.He No way was ready to be put to sleep. My dog will be 10 this month.We have had some issues, he has overcome. However, again, now he has such a hard time getting up, although once he is up, he goes out, sniffs, does his business. and comes in, sometimes he lays like he is sick, and may not feel good, othertimes, ears out, wrinkles in the forehead to say lets go. Im confused with the outcome of this type of surgery, Originally, His blood tests and chest Xray said no cancer elsewhere, Im curious about the outcome for this cancer, Can it resurface in other limbs? Even after the films came back clear? Again, I know you have not examined my dog, Can you please enlighten me on this Osteosarcoma and typically the outcome?

  • Lacy

    My dog was diagnosed with osteosarcoma yesterday and I just want to make sure that I am making the right decision in putting her down. This is devestating to my family as she is such a sweet girl and a part of our family. She is a St bernard, great pyrenese and weighs 167lbs. I was told about the option of amputation, it is on her left front leg, and I am afraid she will have a very hard time getting around, and really do not want her to suffer from pain. I am having a hard time accepting the idea of putting her down because she is so loving and she is still mobile, with a limp that varies in severity. She is only 5 years old and I still see her as a baby. Is it the right decision to have her put down so that she does not suffer?

    • Elizabeth

      My dog was dx with a Hemangiopericytoma in Oct. 2010. Surgery was delayed b/c he had a rash reaction after his needle biopsy. His was tumor removed in Nov. 2010. In Mid-Feb or early March it returned with a vengence. It is now causing him significant pain. My understanding is amputation is the only way to get rid of this fast growing tumor for good and it tends to be a localized tumor. Blizzard is a rescued 10 year old husky-australian shepherd mix?, and weighs 78 lbs. He has a strong, playful, sweet spirit. The vet said after his tumor removal that Blizzard was her hero that she had never seen a dog recuperate that quickly. My husband and I have differing opinions on what to do next. I feel that being 10 years old, it would be unkind to put him through an amputation. My husband feels we should proceed. We took him for a 2nd opinion yesterday and the vet said he otherwise was very healthy that he would probably do well with an amputation since he is already adapting to walking with 3 legs. Do you have any thoughts? I wondered about another tumor removal rather than the amputation but it came back so quickly that I doubt it would do much good and don’t want to put him through that again. Thanks.

      • http://DogCancerBlog.com DemianDressler

        Dear Elizabeth,
        dogs on three legs are indeed already doing their own physical therapy. Based on this info, I would consider the surgery.
        Also if Blizzard were my patient, I would likely advise Apocaps, the dog cancer diet, and the other supplements in the Guide.
        Best,
        Dr D

  • Mary Brown

    This is all a Lie of bull… 11 months ago my Siberian was diagnoised with cancer in her back left leg, the told me the only way to say her was to amputate… AND he said IF we did this it would be gone!!! Yesterday she was diagnosed with lungs full of cancer and has about 2 weeks to live. I am devistated… The just make their $$$………..:(

  • Hien

    Mary, your vet misinformed you. OSA is extremely aggressive. Once diagnosed, the cancer almost always has metastasized to another site, & the lungs are often the first major organ to develop metastases. The fact that you had an additional 11 mos with her after amputation is great. Today, I had to put my baby to sleep b/c I could not handle watching her in pain. The cancer on her front ankle was the size of a large grapefruit, the skin was so stretched, it was weeping internal fluid. She was diagnosed with OSA a little more than 2 mos ago. Amputation was not an option for us (she was 240 lbs)… Though in pain, she was so happy to be loved… I’m devastated.

  • Diane

    Thanks for the reply in regards to my dog having her front leg amputated. It is day 3 to-day, and she is doing phenomenal. I am having a hard time keeping her from doing too much. We have a small carpet covered 3 step stool, which she uses to go to the couch or onto a bed. Like you said, she has been relying on her other 3 legs for so long now, that I believe she is finding it so easy. We have a pet door which goes to our garage and then outside, but I am not sure if in the future she will be able to use it. Once she steps through it, there are 2 steps, she needs to go up. Once her wound is healed, I guess we will see. Should it make a difference, with only 1 front leg, since she could always do it with 2??? She hasn’t been whimpering or whining, since the 1st day, and I am still giving her the tramadol. Should I be giving her it for the complete week……Thanks again……………..only regret is not having done this sooner! Cookie is now painfree, and we are finally getting a break from the constant worrying and work that goes along with having a pet with a long term problem!!!

  • Nikole

    Yesterday my 10 year old German Shepherd was given an initial diagnosis by our general vet (radiographs also read by a radiologist offsite) of osteosarcoma on the proximal humerus. I have seen the radiographs and it certainly is not as obvious as the ones that are posted online but there is an irregularity in her shoulder – it looks like a break in edge of the bone and sharp piece sticking out but perhaps somewhat of a sunburst pattern if I really use my imagination inside the bone (no mass sticking out). The chest radiographs are said to be fine – I don’t know what I’m looking for but I do see hundreds of small specks on that one. They said that is normal? She has very advanced arthritis for about 3 years and takes 150mg of Rimadyl a day, so the limping may have been masked for a while due to the pain medication. However, she was seen by the vet the day BEFORE the limping started for her comprehensive annual exam, dental cleaning, and vaccines. When they called to check on her the next day, I asked them if she fell of the table because the limping started right when she came out their door (they said no)… that was two weeks ago yesterday. We have an appointment tomorrow afternoon with an oncologist. I am wondering what questions I specifically should ask in order to make our visit as productive and informative as possible? I want to be able to make as informed a decision as possible for my girl. Thank you!

  • Danielle

    Dr. Dressler -

    Our 6 year old Great Dane was recently diagnosed with Stage 1 sarcoma in her lower jaw. The vet couldn’t verify whether the cancer is osteosarcoma or some other type. We are having x-rays and blood work done tomorrow to identify whether the cancer has spread. If it has not, then surgery to remove the tumor is likely. Our vet didn’t not mention anything about the grade-level of the cancer but rather only referenced it as stage 1. Is there a difference between the stage and grade of cancer? Also, given that stage 1 sounds low in comparison to a cancer that is stage 3 (for example), do you have any insight on whether that reduces the likelihood that the cancer has spread?
    Thanks for your insight!
    Danielle

  • Erica

    I have a question. My dog is 51 pounds and 10 years old and has canine osteosarcoma, which is cancer in her left back leg. I’m not sure if I should go ahead with the surgery which is an amputation. Does anyone have any comments or advice to help us out. We want to go ahead with the surgery, but would like to talk to someone who has gone though this before. I also, talked to Dr. Charles Loops and he said to go ahead with the surgery and to give her his herbal vitamins. We also, went to Red Bank Veterinary Hospital in New Jersey and spoke to the two doctors and they both told me to go ahead with the surgery, and her back leg is strong enough. However, her regular vet told us NOT to do the surgery and that her back leg is not strong enough. So I AM VERY CONFUSED AND would like some advice from someone that has had a dog with bone cancer and did the surgery. E-mail : Ericazimm@live.com

    • Brad

      Heather,

      I had a seven year old 75 labrador that had a front leg amputation in January 2011. She was absolutely amazing after the surgery. She did not even know she only had three legs. My understanding from talking with others is that rear amputees may be a little easier since most of the weight bearing is in the front. Each dog is different though and only you know your dogs limitations. If left untreated, the bone will weaken and you may end up with a fracture which will leave you with the other decision which may not quite be ready for. We read the survival guide and talked to folks on the website and other groups such as tripawds.com and found such an amazing community of folks out there to help us out. We would not have done anything differently in our treatment and would do the amputation again. You have to come to terms that it is a treatment though and not a cure. It is simply removing the tumor and pain in your dog. One common lesson we learned was that osteosarcoma is incredibly evil and agressive. We were only able to prolong our dogs life for seven months because the cancer came back in the lungs and both kidneys. The kidney failure was what finally got her. Up to that point, however, she was absolutely amazing and brought so much joy. She had a compromised immune system from the beginning so suspect that had a lot to do with it. It was a real commitment to go through with the amputation and was rough for a week or two but her recovery from it was absolutely amazing. You know your dog best so take advantage of whatever resources you can to help you navigate this difficult time.

      • http://DogCancerBlog.com DemianDressler

        Dear Brad,
        thanks for sharing your experiences with the rest of the readers. It is a tough choice but most of the time the results are similar to what you describe, so thanks for that. By the way, don’t forget about the other tools you have at your disposal too…diet, apoptogens, immune support, anti metastatic supplements, and of course deliberate increases in life quality too! Best, D

    • http://DogCancerBlog.com DemianDressler

      Dear Erica,
      if your dog is limping, she is already bearing weight on the other remaining 3 legs. Hopefully the added extra won’t be that big a deal for her. Don’t forget diet, apoptogens, immune boosters, deliberate life quality increases, and anti-metastatics discussed in this blog and more completely in the Guide.
      Best,
      D

  • Heather

    I have a question. My dog is 51 pounds and 10 years old and has canine osteosarcoma, which is cancer in her left back leg. I’m not sure if I should go ahead with the surgery which is an amputation. Does anyone have any comments or advice to help us out. We want to go ahead with the surgery, but would like to talk to someone who has gone though this before. I also, talked to Dr. Charles Loops and he said to go ahead with the surgery and to give her his herbal vitamins. We also, went to Red Bank Veterinary Hospital in New Jersey and spoke to the two doctors and they both told me to go ahead with the surgery, and her back leg is strong enough. However, her regular vet told us NOT to do the surgery and that her back leg is not strong enough. So I AM VERY CONFUSED AND would like some advice from someone that has had a dog with bone cancer and did the surgery. E-mail : heatherzimmermann@live.com

  • Kathleen

    I’m writing this with a broken heart. After 2-3 weeks of limping I brought my bullmastiff in hoping it was just a simple injury. We were told it was bone cancer. the Xray showed bad in her right shoulder. Vets said if it shows up that bad in that Xray it’s probably already spread. We rescued her only 2 years ago. Vets suggested amputating the leg as well as chemo and radiation but says with all that we will be super lucky to get a year out of her. We have decided to put her down tomorrow. Before pain gets any worse. She has had major surgery on both her back legs getting her knees replaced so that acted in the decision we mad. Amputating would put more stress on her already other legs which she couldn’t handle. But the decision kills me. When she is still playing and being silly it’s hard to comprehend how sick she is. A dogs love is stronger than anything on this planet. I seriously feel I’m having an emotional breakdown over this. My best friend is leaving me.

    • Debby

      Hi Dr,
      I have a 115 giant pyrenese. He has cancer in his left front paw. If the cancer hasn’t spread….we are scheduling him for a byopsy to be sure it is cancer and xraying his lungs, amputation is our only recourse. I have many concerns as to whether our Louie can learn to walk with as big as he is. He is 34″ tall a giant dog and my human mind can’t wrap around the idea of him learning how to get up off the floor and get around. Have you ever experienced seeing a gian dog like him maybe a St Bernard learning how to walk? I am desperate here because I love my dog and only want the best for him.

      • Dr. Demian Dressler

        Dear Debby, more often than not they do fine.
        Here’s the link to Tripawds- check it out
        Don’t forget diet, apoptogens, supplements, immune support…there is more to it usually than surgery for best outcome- If you have not yet I would read the Guide!
        Best
        Dr D

  • Kerri

    My 8 year old chocolate lab was diagnosed with osteosarcoma on his left scapula today based on xrays. Options for treatment given to me were to 1) Amputate the leg and give him pain free living for 3-9 months. or 2) amputate with chemo and get average 18 months left with him. Unfortunately the cost of both is around 6,000 dollars, which we don’t have. Is it worth it for him to go through the amputation to only last 3-9 months??? or do I spare him the additional pain and put him down? its an impossible decision.

  • Abner’s Dad

    I am perhaps not the best person to weigh in on this but I am going to anyway. My Great Pyrenees was tentatively diagnosed with osteosacroma in his right hind leg and I was given the same information you were. I have a close friend who is a veterinary oncologist who encouraged me to go ahead with the amuptation and follow up with the chemo. Abner’s leg was amputated 4 days ago and while he is certainly having a bit of a tough time, he has started to sort of walk unassisted for short (20 feet is his record) distances roughly 4 days out from his amputation. I am expecting his recovery to take several weeks in terms of walking becoming easier for him although he seems quite happy now that he is home and getting lots of visits and love. He appears to have little or no post op discomfort with Deramaxx and Tramadol to take care of what there might be.

    What I will tell you this soon after, is that I probably would not do this without the chance of chemo extending his life 18-24 months. I think he is going to have to work hard for the next 4-6 weeks to get to where his walking is more comfortable and rewarding and if he only had a life expectancy of three months and the likelihood of discomfort coming from a different source, I wouldn’t put him through it. Our costs, not including the diagnostics which exceeded $2,000 will be about $6,000 as you have been told where the surgery was only about $2,000 of that.

    I know what you mean by an impossible decision. We don’t even know conclusively that Abner had osteosarcoma but because of the evidence pointing toward that and the very aggressive nature of this disease I had to make the choice and quickly. I cried a lot but at this point have a pretty happy dog at home with me. If things go well I will have a happy dog for another year and a half or more and that would certainly be worth the more than $8,000 this will end up costing me. One thing I am doing is paying for this with Care Credit. this is a credit program that is owned by GE that many doctors, dentists and vets offer that allows you to pay off these expenses over a period of 6-18 months interest free. It becomes very costly if you don’t pay during the allowed time but I should be able to and it will help spread out these big expenses.

    Best of luck. I sympathize with your difficult situation. I hope my current experience helps.

  • Toya

    Hi Kerri,

    There is a vet in Richmond, Va. called Helping Hands. Their fee for amputations is $800.00 all inclusive. If you are within reach it would be worth the additional 3 to 9 months.

  • Tangi

    My 6 year old Bull Mastiff 48kilos, Bud xx
    Was diagnosed a week ago with a MCT on his front right leg, we had this removed but unfortunately the vet has recommended that we take his leg from the shoulder to make sure that it won’t spread.
    My head is going round in circles and I don’t know what the best choice would be.
    I have read a few things online about dogs living comfortable and considerable lives after surgery and I also hear the stories of ppl ignoring the facts and there dogs/babies suffer.
    My main concern is that cos he’s so big the weight on his other limbs would bring on a whole lot of other problems.
    Has anyone experienced or know of anyone that can shed some light on big dogs with cancer or big 3 legged dogs.

  • Debbie

    Hi my dog has had a lump on his leg since feb 3rd . I didn’t do anything because he would limp for a day and then be fine. My self and groomer thought is was arthritis. 3 days ago he was rough housing with the kids and the lump got really big and he has been limping the whole time. I took him to the vet and he thinks it is bone cancer. He has sent it to orthopedic surgeon to read xray. His chest is clear. They said if it is it would have to be amputated. He is a healthy airdale who will be 9 next month. Do you think maybe this could be a calcium build-up as they found a fracture too. If is is cancer how do i know if I get the leg removed that it hasnt spread. Should I have a biopsy first.

  • Erica

    I have my baby, 14 years old presumably . I found him , I rescued him from a very bad abuse…In 2007 he was diagnosed with sarcoma and now the cancer has invaded the entire front leg. The doctors suggested to amputate it. My quaestion is after the amputation hpw big is the chance for him lose any other limbs. I live by myself and I am afraid not being sucessful in his recovery, is there any way to find a recovery center? I don’t know , I am desesperate..

    • Dr. Demian Dressler

      Erica
      if you dog is hopping on 3 legs he is already walking on three legs…so that is how he would be walking without the leg if all goes well with the procedures!
      I hope this helps
      Dr D

  • Jennifer Hartz

    Hi Dr. Dressler,

    My ~3 year old Sheltie mix was diagnosed with osteosarcoma 6/27/12. We amputated her leg on 7/7, and she’s being treated with carboplatin every three weeks.

    She’s doing great, so far. I’ve had her on Apocaps alternating with artemisinin and K9 Immunity/Transfer Factor since right after her amputation. We’re also feeding your diet (supplemented with Orijen kibble).

    What are your thoughts on Avemar (Lifeguard 4 Dogs)? Would it be beneficial to add it to Scout’s regimen? If so, how and when should it be administered? Currently, she gets K9 Immunity and fish oil with her twice daily meals. The Apocaps/artemisinin are 3-5 hours after each feeding.

    Thanks for all that you do! I got your book the day Scout was diagnosed and read it cover to cover. I can’t imagine how we’d have gotten through to this point without it.

    Gratefully,
    Jennifer and Scout

  • sherry and my dog Patchman

    Patchman will be 18 years old in feb i just took him to the vet today for cyst on his paw the vet gave two options i could have it removed but chances are it would come back or suggested to have it amputated so it will never come back he is over weight and has a birth defect with his front paw that causes his foot to look crooked so sometimes he has arthrists in it do i do this or not i am not sure for a older dog i love this dog with all my heart which i am leaning more on having put to sleep to avoid him going threw all this pain i feel he is the happiest on all fours and it would be selfish of me to take that away from him his last days or months or maybe another full years on earth i just do not know what to do i dont want to loose him yet i dont want him to have problems adjusting either help me you can email at summers1551@msn.com

  • Ruth

    Hello. My Golden Retriever started limping a few days ago on her front right leg. I inspected her paw and bent her leg and she did not show any pain. She is acting fine, eating fine, etc. I did notice a bump about the size of a quarter just above her ankle joint on the back of her ankle, just above what I think is called the hock (that small pad on the leg). I’ve started researching bone cancer and am getting very worried. I was thinking that she might have sprained her leg while playing with our other dog. Could this bump on her leg be something other than cancer?

  • lou

    dont do it i had 2 rotties with amp back limbs there quality of life was never the same and i regreted doing it they both lived only about a year later dont do this its tough but its hard for them

  • dogkeiko

    We had our Baby girl Dali diagonsed in June 2012 with ostercoma in her back rear leg, we did amputation and 4 chemo treatments, she did wonderful , got right up after surgery, not sick from chemo..but then right after last chemo treatment she was not walking well with her existing back leg, it was checked by regular vet, xray showed no issue, just strain of 3 legs, and mild arthrithis, she is 11. One month later she now would not get up at all, we just found the cancer is back at the hip of amputation site, we have her comfortable now on pain meds, she is still eating, and bathroom good..but plan to say goodbye this week for her own good and no suffering. This is the hardest thing my husband and I ever went through and decision to put her down, I wish everyone well in their fight. She is the best dog ever, we have 4 and our life will never be the same

  • Helena Hon

    Dr D and E,

    Are there no prosthetics for amputated dogs?

    • Dr. Susan Ettinger

      Helena,
      I’ve only seen prosthetics that work for the ends of the legs, not the entire legs.
      All my best, Dr Sue

  • Deborah

    My 9-1/2 year old Saint Bernard has severe arthritis in both hind limbs. About a month ago, she became lame in her right front leg. Obvious, significant pain. Walking with difficulty. We are no longer able to get her to the vet, actually. The ramp, the drive, her difficulty with moving are too much. We have a vet who comes to the house. This is great, but it means the exam does not include x-rays or anything. My vet is 75% sure my dog has osteosarcoma. She is not a candidate for amputation (arthritis, age). She cannot take NSAIDS (internal bleeding, have tried everything). So she is taking prednisone and Tramadol. It provides some benefit. She is quite immobile. Able to walk, but with obvious reluctance and difficulty. Still waggy and happy and has a good appetite. The truth of the matter seems to be that it does not matter if this is osteosarcoma or something else since our treatment options are so limited. Does that sound right? I feel it is really getting close to the time when I must have her put to sleep, but I am terrified that I am wrong, or that I will do it to soon or (much, much worse) too late. How do I know when the time is? She wants me close to her all the time. She pants. But she eats, and she still smiles. Any guidance? I love my little girl.

    • Dr. Demian Dressler

      Dear Deborah,
      sorry to hear about your St. Bernard. The diagnosis of osteosarcoma is very different from other orthopedic issues unfortunately, with different treatments and outcomes. I would suggest you perhaps re-evaluate the NSAIDS. Sometimes one will work better than another. Also don’t forget about smaller doses. Metacam, Deramaxx, Rimadyl, Etogesic are common, and liquid metacam can be dosed in small amounts for better control than pred. I might have your consider Apocaps at a low dose (1/4-1/2 the labeled dose) under veterinary supervision of course. Other pain control steps are gabapentin and acupuncture and loading up the Tramadol which can be given in surprisingly high doses (all under vet guidance). Also consider Traumeel Heel or Zeel (homotoxicology), Adequan, and Everpup. i hope this helps. Here is more info for you:
      http://dogcancerblog.com/life-quality-in-dog-cancer-dr-dresslers-joys-of-life-scale/
      Best,
      Dr D

  • Terry

    My 120 pound 10 year old Shep/Husky mix just came home from a right front leg amputation due to bone cancer. My amazing vet believes that we caught it early enough and gave me thought that Jack would improve faster at home but I need more advice on his rehabiliation. I appreciate your mention of up to 3 weeks for recovery in older, overweight dogs as I was concerned that I needed to get him up and moving very soon. He is currently doing the “army crawl” and I have gotten him to sit up some and have actually caught him on all “three” twice since he came home but he crashed to the floor a couple of time and I’m worried that he can do more damage if I keep trying to encourage him to get up. I am concerned now that we made a selfish decision to go with the amputation and I too become more encouraged each time I look in his eyes and see a wag of the tail. If you have any “tricks” you can share with me that would make it less stressful for him I would appreciate them!

  • Mavis Palmer

    Hi Terry,
    I have a 120 pound 9 1/2 year old Rotweiller diagnosed with osteosarcoma. The Oncologist wanted to take out his jaw and told me they may not get all the tumor. I have him on K9 Immunity and 14 pills per day of tetracyclin (on my research I discovered that 2 people have given the tetracyclin to their dogs and it shrunk the tumor after 6 weeks). This is the treatment I have used now for 2 weeks and his tumor is definitely smaller and he is eating like a horse and running again like a puppy.

    K9 Immunity (2 doses morning and evening) total 12 pills
    K9 transfactor (1 pill per day)
    Tetracyclin 14 pills per day
    Nu Vet Plus (1 pill per day)
    I also give him one injection (for pain) of Rafterdex 2ml per day.

    I ran out of K9 immunity for a couple of days and found that this is the one that really is working.
    I also read an article on a dog named Beanie and his owner had 2 Rotweillers and Beanie had to have his leg amputated so his owner bought him a cart he would walk then get back in the cart when he was tired. They also have I found a harness with a front leg for dogs.
    if you need anymore info you can email me at tfiinc@shaw.ca
    Hope this info helps Jack.
    Take Care
    Mavis

  • Dr. Dressler

    Terry
    A thought would be to keep him confined unless you are performing an active physical therapy or assisted walkng activity. You can use a towel under the belly and chest for the backside, and a leash or harness for the front side, and help move the dog. There are also harnesses that can be purchased online for the same effect. Take Jack out at least 4-6 times a day. His strength will build. I talk about this a lot in the osteosarc section in my e book.
    Best,
    D

  • suzy

    Long story short,My 8 year old Rottie was diaganosed with osteosarcoma in his hind leg, Doc said put him down, I know he was not ready to be put down, I knew that, he favored his hind leg, but his demeanor was the strong boy I knew, so,,,,I had his leg amputated, Im amazed, the evening of his surgery, he was up, pulled off the lampshade, did not lick or tear at his wound. 10 days after surgery, he is as fiesty as ever,,,I know the cancer can resurface, however, at this point, I know I did what was right, he is full of life, and at the time I was told put him down,,,,,that was just wrong. I have given my Baby some more time, I will never regret that.

  • http://dogcancerblog.com KITTY

    My rottie husky was diagonised with osteosarcoma yesterday and we caught it early and body scan showe no other spots so today my Penny is haveing a right front leg amputation so we can have her longer in our life.She weighs 61 lbs and has been using 3 legs for a few day before we took her in and I hope she does great with her 3 legs.My husband and I both work full time outside the home so she will be alone at times.we get her back friday and someone will be home sat sun and holiday monday and possible tuesday as well so I have faith in my Penny she will adapt quick.She has a strong will and has a strong rottie tude she thinks she is the alpha so never a doubt between my husband and my choice to have this done.We also know that the cancer can rear its ugly head but we are blessed to have in our lives. Just wanted to vent as it is a tough choice for anyone to make Kitty from colorado

  • suzy

    Kitty, I hope everything works out for you and Penny, I know how you feel, I hope for the best. So far, my Rottie is doing great, and I will not regret amputation, So far, so good, however, I know the Vet said, it may buy a few month’s,or up to a year, but at least that is better quality for my bonehead, He is now trotting on three, trying to escape the yard to get to the neighbors female, jumping, and trying to hump my spayed female Rottie, for pete sake, he is either doing extremely well, and in remission, or he has just been given some extra time to keep me on my toes, and happy. I know he hurts, but refuses to say so, I just love him up, comb him, pet him, and lay with him, snuggling and loving him up, that is the best I can do for my Baby. Suzy

  • Jen

    It is now 7 days for Ms. Coco since her rear leg amputation. It was real tough the first few days. I had to hold her leash in the front while my husband supported her with a sling in the back. She is now almost totally on her own when walking! She still needs some help when squatting and she does get tired quick but I know that it only gets better from here. She misses her rides in the car though. Does anyone have any suggestions on getting dogs in the car? We bought a ramp but she is so afraid of it since it isn’t very sturdy.

  • Brian

    I have a 10 and a half year old St. Bernard with Osteosarcoma. He was treated initially as having arthritis with glucosamine for months. This worked well until it didn’t. Then we moved to Metacam one week on and one week off and blocked his access to the stairs. At the end of the second week he was sore again. We repeated same result and now 4 weeks later. We rushed him to the emergency room because he wasn’t eating and in pain. They did an IV for fluids and treated him well. I can’t remember exactly but I believe we had to go back within 72 hours and this is when it was first thought he had Osteosarcoma. There were so many variables Ostesarcoma wasn’t considered when we rushed him in for not eating or drinking much. He came home on pain killers, Ziniquin, and Metacam. If it was a bacterial infection this would solve it since the vet considered a biopsy too risky and if we weren’t going to amputate then it wasn’t worth it. At his age my wife and I just did not want to put him through amputation which came up during the first emergency visit and we were fearful of localized radiation causing broken bones because we just can’t get him to take it easy during the brief times he feels better. After a week of Metacam we were able to drop the pain killers. He finished the Ziniquin. He went back 4-5 weeks later. He was noticeably better. So much so the vet was hoping for a clear X-Ray. Unfortunately it only confirmed the cancer. He did great for a week or two then another turn for the worse. This time the pain killers didn’t seem to help. At night he was in pain and audibly so. He has a high pain tolerance and this means he’s in a lot of pain and that was after several doses of pain killer. He’s just wonderful and it was really hard to watch the cancer spread and very quickly. Now at least three months into it he is almost constantly lame in his back right leg even during the good times. Last night was tough and this morning he wouldn’t eat breakfast. I have been making him fresh beef, rice, chicken, and whatever he wants for months and he never passes it up. At least he is snacking this time unlike the previous time we rushed him to the ER. In conclusion as a result I just put my dog to sleep and it’s such a tough decision. It’s really bothering me. Did I do the right thing? Why didn’t we catch this sooner? What is the cause of the lack of eating at times? What would the outcome of have been with amputation? He had lived a great long life but could it have been extended with quality? What would he want? I agree with a prior post this is clearly a grey area but I wish it were black and white. I just hope he knows I tried to do the right thing in the absence of conclusive foresight and a lack of his opinion. It’s more of a qualitative decision than quantitative and much is unknown. One one hand I question whether I did the right thing to save his quality of life but had I of let it go would I be kicking myself for letting it go on too long. I just don’t know but either way its difficult.

  • Sally-Anne

    My 12.5 year old 60# male was diagnosed with synovial cell sarcoma on his left front elbow in March 2009. He had his leg amputated and the lymph node was dirty. He adjusted beautifully to 3 legs. He had 3 IV treatments of doxorubicine and now has had left facial paralysis and vestibular disease for the past 2 weeks with no improvement. CT scan showed no inner ear infection and neurologist is leaning toward a facial nerve problem rather than central. It is hard enough for a 4 legged dog to balance with vestiblar disease but even worse for my three legged guy. He has no blink reflex so I am giving him artificial tears, his lip droops and he can barely chew and does not want to walk. He is taking Cerenia. Would pred help? Is there still hope that it is idiopathic or has it gone on too long and so idiopathic must be ruled out and he has a mass?? What can I do to help him? He is so dibilitated I decided not to do the 4th and final chemo treatment. He has wonderful specialists but another opinion is always welcome.
    Thank you,
    Sally-Anne

  • Barbara

    My 9 yr old Golden Retriever had his right rear leg, up to his hip bone, amputated in Feb. this year. He recovered fairly well and adjusted to having 3 legs. His daily walks were a little shorter because he would get tired faster, but overall he did well. About a month ago, he was starting to get weak and had a fever. I took him to the vet, they said he had a virus, gave us antibiotics. A week later he’s no better, they did a blood test, said the tests looked good but he is a little anemic. They gave us vitamins, recommended glucosamine and chondotin, 1/2 deramaxx per day and tramadol at night (which he had already been taking- the pain meds seem to make him miserable, I’ve been limiting them as much as possible). He has been declining ever since, is having a very hard time getting around, can barely get from the house to the yard. I’ve been to 2 vets in the same office, no one seems to have a solution. I’m not sure how much more I can put him through. If anyone has any ideas I would be most grateful.

  • suzy

    Hey, Just a update on my Rottie, he had his rear leg amputated, osteosarcoma. He was strong, full of life,after surgery. I dont know if he is tiring because of only one rear leg, or if there is more of that horrible cancer coming out again, but I noticed he it tiring out more. Im thinking he hopped on three when the cancer hurt him, and maybe, is is use to hopping on three, but he is getting unstable on his one hind leg, or can it be the osteosarcoma is in his other leg, is that possible? Anyone else have this?

  • Dr. Dressler

    Suzy, there are lots of reasons for this. The most common is just some arthritis and soft tissue strain. Have your vet take some films of the opposite leg…
    D

  • suzy

    Thank you Dr. D. I will do that, Thank you for your input. Suzy

  • Sonia

    My 7 year old male rotttie was diagnosed with sarcoma. Don’t know
    what type osteo etc. My vet gave me option
    to have bone biopsy but says the only treatment option is removing hind leg and chemo.
    What do you think about getting another biopsy? And about amputating leg?
    Thanks
    Sonia

  • Jill

    Our 6 yr old male St. Dane (1/2 Saint, 1/2 Dane)”Bailey” was diagnosed with Sarcoma on August 28, and confirmed on August 31st. We had his left rear leg amputated on Sept.2nd. Our vet didn’t feel that Cheno or Radiation would benefit. That leg was broken 4 years ago in a car accident and never healed properly. He has always been strong and resiliant, and had been hiking with us 3 weeks before. After that hike, he refused to put weight on that leg. He had slipped going up a hill and had used that leg to catch himself. We thought he had pulled something or torn a ligament. X-Rays showd that a tumor and also that the leg was broken. The swelling and pain was well above the tumor. He came home from the hospital on the 3rd and is up, walking well and loving all the attention. In all the reading we have done in the past 2 or 3 weeks, we have decided to change his diet and add vitamins and herbs. I will do more reading and most likely use the K-9 suppliments. We (along with the vet ) are hoping that in breaking the leg, we found the cancer early. He is the love of our lives—goofy, charming and the best companion we have ever had.