Dear Porky and Buddy,
I have terrible sad news and I thought maybe you could give me some advice.
My beautiful golden Retriever, Sadie, has just been diagnosed with bone cancer and my vet is referring me to a specialist, but says she will probably recommend amputation of her leg to try to save her. I am just devastated.
Should I put my already sick dog through all that trauma? How will she adjust?
We absolutely do not intend to make light of such a serious diagnosis.
Bone cancer — osteosarcoma — in dogs is common and we are sure your vet has already told you that the long term prognosis is not good.
But that said, our advice to you is simply this. . . Get a grip.
Because remember this . . . Dogs can’t count. Three legs, four legs, whatever, they have no psychological attachment to their body parts. They’re just legs and three work out about as well as four.
Assuming the specialist does recommend amputation for Sadie, and we suspect that she will, you will probably be astonished at how well she recovers.
In fact, since bone cancer is known to be very painful, she will, in all likelihood, act like a happy playful dog again when the source of her pain is gone!
There are a few things you can do to make the post surgery recovery and the transition a little smoother. Your surgeon will undoubtedly have lots of careful instructions for you to follow, but here are the basics.
Make sure Sadie has a quiet easily accessible bed where she can stay at first with her food and water nearby and her favorite toys (or cats) to keep her company.
Encourage her to rest as much as possible at first. The surgery and medications used during and after will take a toll on her.
If you have ever had surgery yourself, you know how exhausted you were and you knew what was happening.
It’s the same for Sadie, but she has no clue who or what all these strange people and places are.
Follow your surgeon’s advice about feeding Sadie after the surgery. Some dogs may only take a small amount of food or no food at all the night after surgery, but will eat normally again the next day.
Administer her pain medication according to your surgeon’s instructions. This will help keep her comfortable during recovery. Don’t get all silly about strong pain killers — Sadie can’t tell you how much her incision hurts, so you have to rely on your surgeon’s advice.
You’ll have to put one of those horrible plastic cone things on her head to keep her from licking the wound. She will hate it, but will get used to it.
Provide whatever wound care your surgeon recommends — but watch it and don’t hesitate to call if you have concerns or questions.
Depending on how strong you are and how big Sadie is, you may want to have a cloth sling to help her navigate difficult maneuvers like stairs at first. At the very least, stay near her as she begins to walk around again so you can help if she needs you.
Most important . . . enjoy your time with Sadie through her recovery and for the rest of her life. She needs you — you need her. Make it count.
The Oswego County Humane Society provides spay/neuter services and assistance, fostering and adoption of animals in urgent need, humane education programs, and information and referrals to animal lovers throughout Oswego County.
Our office is located at 265 W. First St., Oswego. Contact the office at 207-1070 or firstname.lastname@example.org