Osteocarcoma and amputating...please help. - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 10-03-2007, 03:08 PM Thread Starter
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Osteocarcoma and amputating...please help.

My 8yr old GS, Hans, is an absolute beauty, full of life, energy, and love. He adores his toys, loves to fetch, and his favorite is to have his belly scratched by my boyfriend and I. Last week we found a growth on his back right leg and had xrays and a biopsy done only to discover the worst news yesterday that Hans has Osteocarcoma, bone cancer.

We've been told by the vet and specialist that this tumor will cause his leg to break, even by doing something as simple as walking. The vet has given us several options, one that we are considering is to amputate his leg to give him comfort to what could be his final months. Does anyone have any stories about dealing with a similar situation? My fear is he will not be able to handle his new life post surgery. The vet told us he does not have hip dysplacia and shows no signs of arthritis, so he should be fine with 3 legs. Hans is 100 pounds and I worry that he won't be able to get up on his own or even go to the bathroom.

Our ultimate goal is to give him the best quality of life and to eliminate any potentital pain that his cancer will cause, but is amputating just as painful and miserable?
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 10-03-2007, 03:15 PM
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Re: Osteocarcoma and amputating...please help.

<span style="color: #3333FF"> He will be fine with 3 legs. Osteosarcoma is VERY painful...

I'm sure others with more experience will chime in.

{{{HUGS}}} to you and your boy!</span>

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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 10-03-2007, 04:43 PM
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Re: Osteocarcoma and amputating...please help.

I had a forever foster from work ( a 6 year old norwegin elkhound) whom came to us with some leg issue, we xrayed he had a huge tissue reaction to a plate that had been previously put into his leg for a break. We had to amputate his leg and then sent out biopsy off the tissue and it came back osteosarcoma. I loved him already always spending time with him at work so I said I'd foster him till his time was up. He lived about 7-8 months following his leg amputation. At that time, his spirit was gone, he wasn't eating much, he was having a harder and harder time getting up and walking on his own and that pretty much told me it was time and we euthanized him then. I did not put him through chemo or anything of the likes but I know they do have those options available.

Given your boy is in good health otherwise, I would say go through with the amputation, and get a few more good months with him vs. doing nothing and having him get sicker a lot faster. Also you may want to ask your vet about having chest radiographs done to see if the cancer has spread to the lungs yet or not. If it has they may say not to amputate as it would be more advanced.

Sorry for your news, but make the most out of the time you have left with him no matter what course you decide to take. I don't regret fostering my boy knowing he was going to die eventually, it was worth it.

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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 10-03-2007, 04:48 PM
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Re: Osteocarcoma and amputating...please help.

Sorry to hear about your dog. I currently have a young male being treated for lymphoma. I spend alot of time at the onology hospital as he has been getting chemo treatments since May. I have seen a bunch of dogs who have had amputations and are doing great! I would definately recommend that you pursue more information about this option.
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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 10-03-2007, 04:55 PM
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Re: Osteocarcoma and amputating...please help.

These resources might help:

http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/bonecancerdogs/

http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/CanineCancer/

http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/orthodogs/


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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 10-03-2007, 05:18 PM
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Re: Osteocarcoma and amputating...please help.

Oh My Gosh I am SO SO SORRY to hear that news......
I lost my Gracie 2 years ago to Osteosarcoma.........

I know this is a very difficult time for you- we were not even in the same boat, sorry to say..... Grace had bi lateral Hip Dyspasia and also another issue with a front elbow from a prior injury. We had no options at all............. I will ask her to say a special prayer for you....... as I will as well........ Best luck in whatever your decision. I am so sorry that this heartache has hit yet another GSD

Kate
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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 10-03-2007, 05:22 PM
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Re: Osteocarcoma and amputating...please help.

I was faced with this decision with Ranger. Ranger had EPI too and different other health problems. I was planning to do the amputation as soon as he gained enough weight/strength to go through this surgery. Unfortunately he had some complications with the "good" leg so surgery was not an option.
I asked the vet for the prognosis and he told me that a Great Dane he did amputation on got to live 6 years after the surgery and died of unrelated causes. That was the best case scenario. Osteosarcoma is very painful, so amputation is the best option.
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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 10-03-2007, 05:32 PM
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Re: Osteocarcoma and amputating...please help.

Unlike the posters before me, I don't have any personal experience with osteosarcoma in dogs. However, I want to address this sentence from the original post -

Quote:
Quote:My fear is he will not be able to handle his new life post surgery.
Dogs adjust to amputation very differently from the way people adjust to amputation. Most dogs post-amputation get back on their feet and are able to live a happy normal life (provided there are no other medical issues), hardly even noticing that their leg is gone. Many are up within hours of the surgery and running around within the week.

If you're worried about his quality of life, I would say that amputation is a better alternative for a dog than pain unless the cancer has spread or there are additional medical issues. If all is clear except for the osteosarcoma in his leg, I would go ahead with the amputation. You may still have several years together.

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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 10-03-2007, 06:51 PM
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Re: Osteocarcoma and amputating...please help.

Hans

Oh, my heart breaks for you. I lost my dear Niki to osteosarcoma. Just thinking about it brings tears to my eyes.

I made a horrible mistake with Niki, I'll never forgive myself, I pray I can help you not make the same error I did.

I decided to do nothing except keep him comfortable with pain drugs, no surgery. What I didn't know was that there's no drug I could find that kept him comfortable including controlled narcotics such as Duragesic patches (extremely expensive) and methadone.

He was diagnosed in February and I finally got the good sense to have his leg amputated the end of May or first of June. By this time he was walking on three legs, not enjoying life.

The amputation went well. He was on morphine the day of surgery and the next day, BUT the third day he was taking Rimadyl. He was less than 48 hours post surgery when I accidently dropped the towel I was using to support him while walking in the yard. He hopped over the towel, found his ball, brought it back to me ready to PLAY BALL!!! After that he had to be placed under house arrest which included leash walking until his stitches were removed.

He didn't go thru the same problems human amputees have - he didn't have phantom pain, psychological problems, etc.

Within weeks after the surgery, he was doing every thing on three legs that he did on four. Go up and down stairs, run and play and hold his own in shoving matches with the other Hooligans BUT he could NOT run as fast as he used to. He got up on the furniture, chased trespassing chickens, and the best of all, he could dig holes, big beautiful holes any dog would be proud of, and play ball for hours.

RIN TIN TIN'S NIKI
May 5, 1994 - December 22, 2001


Taken in May 2001 just prior to the amputation.


Niki, the tripod, playing with his favorite ball!!


Good luck to you and Hans, you'll be in my prayers!

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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 10-03-2007, 07:33 PM
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Re: Osteocarcoma and amputating...please help.

A friend of mine has a dog going on five years post amputation. He adjusted extremely quickly after surgery. Never missed a beat.
Best of luck to you.

Mary
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