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Three weeks ago my 4 year old BC had a slightly swollen foot. Upon inspection I found a small tick on his foot that was not engorged. I took him to the vet the next morning where they gave him a shot of antibiotics and pills to take home. There have been no signs of lyme disease.


Two days later my husband and I had to leave town for a family emergency. He was left at home with dog sitters visiting him three times a day. Several days into the trip they noticed his bandage was twisted and his foot was bleeding a little.


They took him to the vet who admitted him for a severe infection. When he arrived at the vet that time his foot was 3x it original size and had several abrasions on it. After a week in the hospital he seemed to be doing better. All of his toenails fell out which they said was common.


We brought him home and followed the car routine. Several days ago (about a week after the antibiotics were stopped) the original site seemed to be having more issues than the rest of the foot. We spoke to the vet everyday updating them on his progress. The foot was again swollen this morning so we took him back to the vet.


He is on antibiotics and pain meds but they are worried that the bone is infected. They said to wait three days and if the site does not get better they will refer us to a hospital for amputation. Either of the one digit (if we are lucky) or the whole foot.


I have two questions 1) Does anyone know what kind of life he can have missing the digit (it is the middle one) 2) What about if it is the whole foot? The other problem is the infection is in his right rear leg, he was diagnosed with hip degeneration in his left a year ago. At that time they told us in 2-3 years we would need to look into hip replacement. But by losing the foot he will have to put all his weight on the bad hip? Any help would be greatly appreciated. I am very worried and am not sure how I will get through the next 3 days without getting an ulcer.


Sorry for the long post?

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I can only address the issue of amputation. I know of several people whose dogs (not BC's)were diagnosed with osteosarcoma, resulting in entire leg amputations. If you would ask each and every one of these dog owners if they would do it again, you would get a resounding yes. The dogs adjusted and led quality lives until the cancer ultimately came back and they had to be euthanized.


I would think a toe amputation would be OK. I would wonder about removing just a foot. I don't know. How about it AK Dog Doc? We haven't heard from you in a while.



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Hi, Val.


My BC Jake lost a front leg when he was almost 2. He is now 13. Your dog has some issues that Jake didn't have, but Jake hasn't had a bit of trouble since the amputation. He was hit by a car (not while in my care). The vet thought he could repair the elbow, but when he opened up the leg, he found that the elbow was totally shattered. My then-husband wanted to put Jake down, but I insisted we just amputate and keep the dog! :eek:


Jake did fine with his recovery. He never seemed to notice anything was wrong. He was ready to play ball when he got home from the vet's office. He walks with a hop, but when he's running, you can't tell he's missing a leg. He doesn't run much now, at age 13, but he gets around fine. He has a little trouble jumping off the bed, so we lift him off when we can get to him in time.


The only downside is that Jake hasn't been able to herd sheep. I did do a bit of herding with him, but sheep can outrun him. If he had started herding before he lost the leg, it might have made a difference. Dogs missing a rear leg seem to do well with herding, but it's a little tough with the front leg gone.


I got another dog for herding, and Jake has lived a good, long life. He played frisbee in his younger days and was quite good at it. A vet with the N.C. State Vet School saw Jake playing frisbee at a doggie olympics held at the school. He asked if he could video Jake. He shows the video to people who are considering putting down a dog because the dog needs an amputation.


I've not had a single regret about the amputation. I do have some regrets about leaving the dog in my ex's care! :mad: But Jake is a happy dog, and he's added a lot to my life.


Good luck to you and your dog. Let us know how it turns out.

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When I was growing up we had a fox terrier who had a rear leg amputated after being accidently stepped on by a horse. Nip lived a long and happy life and used to follow us kids everywhere (and I mean even trips that lasted all day) on horseback, even swimming in the Potomac River. It didn't slow her down at all.


There was a well-known working dog named Decks who had three legs and he trialed and worked successfully for years.


As for the hip question, good musculature is important for helping to support bad hip joints. If the bad hip is used exclusively, then I would guess that osteoarthritis (the actgual disease resulting from hip dysplasia) would have an earlier onset. But OA can be managed. The question in my mind would be wether it made sense to take off just the foot. Your dog would likely walk on the leg stump, but the leg missing the foot would be significantly shorter than the other hind leg, and that would bring in the issue of torque on the other (bad) hip--a twisting motion that probably wouldn't be helpful for a dysplastic dog. If I had to choose between the dog losing its foot or its leg, in this instance I might opt for the leg as it might be the lesser of two evils when considering the condition of the "good" leg.


I would set up a time to consult with the vet and definitely get a second opinion and ask all these questions (like what I've mentioned above with the strain caused by one leg being shorter than the other). Then you can make an informed decision.


If the vet ends up amputating just a toe then it's not likely to bother the dog, but again I would ask the vet (and have a second opinion) as to whether removing the toe will actually fix the problem. (That is, I wouldn't want to put the dog through an amputation only to find later that the infection had spread to bone beyond the toe and that a second amputation operation would be required.)


I'm not trying to sound like a doomsayer, but these are the issues I would consider if I were in your shoes.



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I remember reading about a dog born w/o feet - his owners had prosthetic feet made for him so he didn't rub the stumps raw. Apparently he's doing quite well w/ his new feet. Something to consider if the foot is amputated since then he wouldn't be putting any more weight on the other hip.

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My Trim jumped her kennel fence and got her foot hung in the wire, three years ago when my son was born and everyone was busy getting us home. We got home with the baby and found Trim hanging upside down with just her front tippy toes touching ground.


We were sure she was going to lose her leg as her bone became involved in the infection, but after a trip to the orthopedic specialist, they assured us that the worst that would happen was digitomy (sp?). Trim is a VERY high-drive active dog - her actiivities at the time included daily training in flyball, frisbee, and sheepdogging. We were told that probably jumping would be unsafe because the toe is needed for balance, but we could cautiously reintroduce stock work, watching for balance problems. Well, that sucked frankly, because she was TERRIBLE at working stock, and really only was interested in frisbee and flyball. And she was a dog that would go nuts with inactivity - aggressiveness and OC behaviors would surface if she didn't get enough to do.


We were looking very seriously at having her put down if removing the digit were our only option.


I do remember though that the vet kept saying, any normal dog would not know the difference - but with her high activity level there was such a danger of secondary injury.


One thing for sure - do go to a specialist before you take any permanant measures. I've had three occaisions when a trip to a specialist saved a lot of heartache and provided options my GP didn't know existed. My WONDERFUL GP by the way, who knows when to say, "I don't know" and write up a referral.


Trim by the way turned out fine. Her foot healed without surgical intervention - but it took about three months of crate rest, so don't get discouraged if that's your prescription - it's worth it!

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First, let me say thank you for all of your advice and encouragement.


Remi is not yet doing any better but we are still hopeful.


We are actually very lucky we live just outside Boston and will be going to Angell Memorial for any surgery. They are supposed to be one of the best hospitals in the country. They have a fully specialized orthopedic department as well as rehab, plastic surgery, etc..


We did find out today that he may be a good candidate for a wheelchair. The prosthesis option does not seem to be good for him at this point but it is on our list to talk to the specialist about.


By the way, does anyone have any experience with a wheelchair? So far everyone that I have spoken to about it says nothing but great things. Unfortunately we will have to make decisions fast if he does not get better; so I am doing all the research now, just in case.


Although I am holding out hope that tomorrow I will wake up and he will be completely better?.keep sending your advice and thoughts our way. We truly do appreciate the help and support that we have received from these boards since our angel entered our lives.

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I spent three months in a wheelchair last year, does that count?


I would be tempted to go ahead and have the hip surgery done too if worse came to worse - then he could bear weight on that side when he started walking again. I've seen TV stories about dogs with various devices and it always breaks my heart. But the wheelchair doesn't seem to bother the dog.


I saw one with the prosthetics (I think it was a pup born with no hind feet) and I have to say the agony the dog went through is something I couldn't put any of mine through. However, the dog is currently a therapy dog at a children's amputee hospital so you can't say it was a total waste. Something to consider if your dog ends up this way too.


Many regards,

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Originally posted by brookcove2:

[QB] However, the dog is currently a therapy dog at a children's amputee hospital so you can't say it was a total waste. Something to consider if your dog ends up this way too.


Good point, Becca! Jake, my amputee BC, and I became certified with the therapy dog association that Duke requires. For a few years, we worked with cancer patients at Duke. It was very rewarding (and sometimes sad). We had to stop when my kidney failure advanced to the point I had no energy for pet therapy. Unfortunately, by the time I could do it again, Jake had gone deaf.

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I'm afraid the likely reason for that is that her Buddy is nearing the end of the road. If you're reading this, AK Dog Doc, our thoughts and best wishes are with you.


I can't contribute much to this. I have known a number of dogs with amputated back legs, and a lesser number with amputated toes, and all have done well and not seemed to mind. Kate Broadbent's famous Decks, whom Julie mentioned, is the best example -- a hard-working farm and trial dog, who was nationally ranked in sheepdog trials despite having only three legs. But I also had a friend whose Borzoi got an infection in the bone of his toe, and she managed to clear up the infection, though it took months of treatment and care. So I guess I would strongly echo the advice to get a second opinion before opting for amputation, but not to be discouraged if you ultimately have to amputate. I'd be surprised if he would need a wheelchair permanently, in any case.

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