Our Sweet Nico

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Our 12 year old Boxer was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma last week.  The X-rays showed it located around his left rear knee.  The vet suggested amputation, for which I was not for because of his age.  His blood work showed he was otherwise healthy, but even with his meds he is in pain.  My wife do not want him to suffer and I have been told that the amputation will relieve the pain and maybe give him up to another year of life.  He has been a very close to us and our grandchildren.  It is a very hard decision because I have read that the recovery period from post op is longer for older dogs and the rehab process may be difficult.  Has anyone out there faced a similar decision as to amputate or give pain meds until it was time to put your best pal to sleep?

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20 thoughts on “Our Sweet Nico”

  1. Welcome and best wishes for Nico! Every dog is different, but the vast majority cope with recovery much better than we people do. While older dogs may have a more difficult time, there is much you can do to make it easier on everyone. The Tripawds Foundation can even pay for your first consultation with a certified rehab therapist to help keep Nico fit and strong…with a bone cancer diagnosis, it’s all about quality of life now, not quantity. That tumor pain will only get worse, resulting in a painful pathological fracture. While surgical recovery pain is manageable and get better over a couple weeks, at most. Please search the blogs or post in the forums for much more feedback from others, or call the toll-free Tripawds Helpline anytime!

    Thank you for sharing Nico’s story. Your future blog posts and pages will publish immediately without requiring moderation.

    You will find much more help and feedback in the discussion forums or by searching the member blogs. Start here for help finding the many Tripawds Resources an assistance programs.

    1. I am enjoying Tripawds so much, but I have one question. When I go to managing posts on Nico, I see that I can directly reply to the great comments from other members, but how do I add a new reply to all and keep in the same thread of comments? Thank you

      1. Hey there, just saw your question. I think you’re talking about your blog comments right? If so…from the public side of your blog, view any blog post, scroll down to the bottom to leave a reply, and post your comment.

    2. Thank you Jerry and all members of this thread. We had to put Nico down yesterday, June 30, and it was one of the worst days of our lives. The cancer had advanced to his left front paw and he could no longer balance himself. He was running a fever of 104.4 and was pretty much tired oot f life. He never whined or complained and still wagged his tail when we talked to him. The vet recommended that Nico should finish his life here and so we reluctantly complied. My wife and I are still in shock and missing our buddy. We decided that Nico was our last dog. We cannot go through this again. It is too hard on the heart. Again thank you and God Bless.

  2. It was a tough decision for us when our sweet black lab mix, Butterbean, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in her front left leg January 2, 2019. We originally thought we would just make her as comfortable as we could until we needed to let her go. Though she was only 8 years old at the time, she was a big girl at 85 pounds and had already had a TPLO surgery on her left rear leg as well as some arthritis. I went online to see if there others in our predicament. Everyone said do it, do the amputation. So, we did and we haven’t looked back and regretted it. She is a happy dog! Yes, we have trouble with her back legs because being a tripawd puts more strain on them. Unlike some others, we are not able to walk her like we once did. We have a large fenced yard and allow her to chose her activity level. She hops around like a pro and when she becomes tired, she rests. We also rely on a fairly heavy regimen of pain meds and supplements. We have given her chemotherapy, she has taken part in an osteosarcoma trial and we are beginning the Yale cancer trial this week. I am so glad we decided to fight! I enjoy every moment with her and she enjoys life immensely. Best wishes to your sweet Nico whatever decision you make!

  3. Good morning!
    Our sweet Buddy (we lost him about 2 years ago) was 13 when he was diagnosed with a cancer lump on his left front leg. He was a medium size dog with Rhodesian Ridgeback mix in him. He was very healthy and in great shape. The only thing wrong with him was that horrid lump. We had it removed but sure enough, just as the vet said, it came back and was starting to spread. We too, struggled with the decison to amputate because of his age. We put a lot of thought in it and decided it wouldn’t be right if he had other complicating factors. After the vet x-rayed his lungs for signs off cancer and looked over his other limbs for arthritis, we decided to amputate.
    Buddy took awhile to bounce back because his amputation was his front leg. (Its a bit easier on rear leg’s) Long story short… he lived almost 3 years longer after that ampuation and we never regretted it. Not once.
    You can find his story in the achives. I documented everything we went through. His story is under
    ” Our Sweet Buddy” https://buddybud.tripawds.com/
    The best advice I can give you is that you need to be prepared to be able to handle your sweet Nico after surgery. You may need 2 people to lift him to go out and do his business for awhile. But…before you know it.. they bounce back and just like that.. they are doing it on their own! Get yourself a really good harness. They will give you lots of great advice on this site as to what would be the best harness for you. Get a feeding station that is tall, so that once he is able, he won’t have to lean down to eat.
    Much love and luck to you. In the end, you are your sweets Nico’s best advocate as to what is best for him and your family.

    1. Thank you for your advice and other members’ comments because it really helped. We are into the 12th day post-op and see signs of less pain and more activity desired by Nico. He still has times that his amped leg twitches, but ice packs have helped. He is back at barking at the UPS trucks when they deliver stuff from Amazon. I think he wants us to mind our budget. We have backed off on the Tramadol to one tab every 8 hrs and he handles that better than zoning out with 2-3 tabs. He does know the “W” word well and as soon as I say it, he is waiting at the door. His stitches come out this Thursday, so hopefully the licking will not hurt anything. Again to all of you, thank you for the stories of your dog’s life post-op experience. It really made it easy for us to decide and whether Nico has 6 months or 3 yrs left, we are going to enjoy him and be happy in our decision.

  4. When our Nikki was first diagnosed (She was an elderly Rottweiler), we were devastated. We decided to do the amputation, and followed the advice of folks here. Nikki lived for 14 months after that, and those last months were some of the best of her life. I blogged about the experience here http://nikkitherott.tripawds.com .

  5. Like Butterbean, Nico had the TPLO surgery, but to his right rear leg 3 years ago. Before we decided to go ahead with the amputation of his left rear leg we wanted to know if the extra strain placed on the TPLO would hold. The vet did an X-ray and said the TPLO was strong. We are now on day 6, but for those that decide to have the surgery, beware you won’t get much sleep the first week. Nico has been taking Meloxidyl, Tramadol and his antibiotics. The Meloxidyl helped but he hated the Tramadol and it put him into a zone stare. We were lucky to find on the blog that Greenies Pill Pockets hid the smell of Tramadol and we have been successful getting him to swallow them. At night he was still in pain, even with 3 Trams. So the vet prescribed us some Acepromazine 25mg (sedative) 1-3 every 12. One was okay, at least he would sleep at night, but when I gave him a second one after 8 hrs, we thought he was going to die. He lost control of his whole body and his bowels. I had to carry him everywhere and at 80 lbs, I didn’t have to do dead lifts at the gym. He didn’t eat or drink for 24 hrs.
    We are hoping night 6 goes better. We are still happy we went through with the amputation because when he is not in pain, he hops around great and doesn’t seem to miss his rear leg.

  6. I was amazed by how quickly my 7 year old Osteosarcoma pooch recovered – the first 2 weeks were really rough. He didn’t care he was missing a leg, though, and it didn’t slow him down. Lots of people have multi year success stories – we only had 4 months with our very rare, highly endangered 3-legged Gus Gus. He was an inspiration and a joy, and I have no regrets about the amputation. And I was terrified to put him through that.

  7. Our rescue dog Alice was probably over 13 years old when we had to make this decision. She was a stocky lab mix weighing about 80 pounds and it was her front right leg. The reason we decided to go ahead with the amputation is that she was so full of life and didn’t look like a dog who was ready to give up. The first week was really hard, but it got easier after that as she regained strength and limited mobility. Alice never really walked very far on her own after the surgery but we invested in a good harness and also a type of sling that secured with Velcro. This made it much easier to transport her and walk beside her as she went about her activities. She almost made it to two years post amputation, and although it was really hard on us, especially the last few months when she barely had any mobility, we believe she continued to enjoy life up until that time. Good luck with the decision, and hugs to Nico.

  8. We made a very similar decision with out pit bull, Rosco in 2012. He was 13 years old when diagnosed with osteosarcoma in his front right leg. The vet recommended euthanasia due to his advanced age. We were beyond devastated. We knew we needed to make a decision fast as this is an incredibly painful condition. Someone describe it as his bone exploding in slow motion. Looking at him, we knew he wasn’t ready to go anywhere. We amputated his leg and it was the best decision we ever made. He bounced back within about a month and was playing with out big goofy lab like nothing happened. He lived for almost a year after surgery and honestly I wouldn’t trade that year for anything. He was happy and pain free up until the last few days. Every dog is different but most do really well with amputation. Regardless of what decision you make know that you made it out of love. ❤️❤️❤️

  9. Oz is an 11 year old whippet in December 209 he was diagnosed with a soft tissue sarcoma on his front leg. Initially I thought he was too old and I couldn’t do it to him but after loads of research and speaking to people we decided to go ahead as it was his best chance.
    The first few days I questioned my decision as he had an infection and his wound just didn’t seem to be healing but forward 7 weeks and wow! He’s amazing, he runs, plays and basically is back to his normal self. If I had to make the choice again I wouldn’t hesitate. Oz is back to living his best life and I wish you all the best in making your decision for lovely Nico.

  10. We had to make the same decision for our 10 yr old St. Bernard/Golden girl. Chondrosarcoma in the front leg. It was absolutely the right decision for us and her. The first 3 weeks were rough and we questioned our decision but once she was off the heavy pain meds she was up and around and by 8 weeks we were having trouble keeping up with her. By 12 weeks she was running across the yard & beating all the other dogs. People who didn’t know her never realized she was missing a leg until she stood still. She enjoyed life for over a year until the cancer returned.

  11. We had our GSP, Kyler’s right front leg amputated. He was 11 and hated the vet’s office. My husband was horrified when we went to pick up Ky and see that beautiful boy wrapped up…We chose not to do chemo so he didn’t have to endure the stress of going. I followed a natural dog food recipe mixture on Tripawds. The morning after surgery Kyler was blocked off in the kitchen holding a stuffed bear the size he was! It was as if he was saying, why am I being punished, let me out! He ran up our bedrooms stairs like it was nothing! He lived an additional 16 months. I wouldn’t trade those months for anything! I don’t think my husband would agree to do the surgery again on another dog though. Hope this helps! Keep me posted! Love and Prayers, Cher

  12. I am a horse veterinarian and was faced with this decision in my own older dog last year. He had an elbow joint capsule cancer. He is 85# and was 10 years old. He had no evidence of metastasis so we went ahead. He had kidney failure afterwards and bounced back after fluids. We have limited pain med options, but we are 15 months out and he is happy and sassy and his old self. I’m very happy I made the decision, even though it felt like the hardest and wrong one at the time. Whatever you decide will be kind and fair. It depends on the dog as well. Best of luck and hope you get a happy outcome.

    1. Kristen, thank you for your post. It addressed the post-op meds. We have been giving Nico less Tramadol than our Vet has prescribed because we didn’t like the effects upon him and he has been very tolerant of the pain. We are in the 13th day of post-op. Nico is almost 13 years old, Boxer-pit mix that was a rescue puppy our son adopted while he was volunteering at the shelter. My son began a long training in preparation to becoming a paramedic fire fighter. Well, long story short, we have had Nico for the past 9 years and loving every minute. My question, regarding pain management, what is your opinion on the use of CBD Oil after we back off the Tramadol and Meloxidyl. We do not plan on chemo treatments. And as to his diet, we have switched from a mixture of Purina Pro Focus dry food and Blue Wilderness canned food to the Purina dry mixed with chicken breast meet that my wife puts in her crock pot. Someone told us that is a better source of protein for cancer nutrition.

  13. I recommend amputation! My dog was older when she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma. The first few days after the surgery are a little rough because they are recovering from the anesthesia and might have phantom limb pains for a brief time. But I have no regrets! My dog was able to walk out of the vet’s office post-surgery with very little help. Before long, she was back to outrunning me, and she was 15 years old. It didn’t phase her at all to lose a leg. She was much happier to be pain-free and not medicated. And I cherish the extra time I had with her that the surgery was able to provide. I highly encourage trying amputation!

  14. It’s a hard decision and one I struggled with as well. My Franklin was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in September 2012. He was 13 1/2. We thought, lets just take him home and love him up. By November, this guy was not giving up and we decided to amputate his front left leg on Dec 4. He was the happiest dog on 3 legs. Unfortunately the cancer hit his lungs 6 months later. But we had six more months of a pain free happy dog. I learned a lot from Franklin. And one of the biggest things I learned is that I’ll never wait. If I ever have to make that choice again, I would do it right away.

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