My hope with this blog is to provide information for other owners faced with decisions regarding amputation in their large breed geriatric dogs.
As a bit of background, Grover is a 10.5 year old male neutered Great Dane who was diagnosed with a mid-diaphysial ulnar osteosarcoma at the beginning of July. We had had osteosarcoma (OSA) scares in the past (acute lameness in a large breed dog) and they were always injuries due to his fairly active life style. Unfortunately, this time we weren’t so lucky. 5 days prior we had been hiking the mountain and I had no inkling of what was to come. One day he came up lame on a simple walk around the block. We figured it was “just” another soft tissue injury … unfortunately radiographs revealed a lytic lesion in the middle of his left ulna. A sample (Fine needle aspirate) was taken and cytology (evaluation of the cells) confirmed an osteosarcoma. Thoracic (chest/lung) radiographs were taken to look for metastases and luckily none were seen. However, unfortunately, we know that 90% of dogs with OSA already have metastases to their lungs … it’s just whether or not they are big enough to see on radiographs that gives us more information about how much time we might expect.
Unfortunately, Grover is not what anyone would describe as a “good” amputation candidate. He is large (50 kg/110 lbs), has angular limb deformities and osteoarthritis due to having hypertrophic osteodystrophy/HOD as a puppy (before he came into my life at 9 months of age) and has cervical stenosis/wobblers disease resulting in some hindlimb weakness, mild neck pain and mild ataxia. All of these things are “do able” when you have four legs … but how much will loosing one leg affect him? Can he still compensate? Will it push his neck over the edge? Can his other leg hold up? What would HE want? We went home for the weekend (bad things always happen on a Friday …) with a combination of pain medication hoping to gain clarity on how to go forward and let this devastating news sink in.
The photo is from our last hike, 5 days before our diagnosis. Time to prepare for “new normals”.
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