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Vet Expert Dr. Mike Petty Shares Tripawd Amputation Pain, Rehab Care Tips

Pain management care for pre and post-op amputee pets has made great strides and it’s improving all the time but sadly, not enough veterinarians are following the newest pain management guidelines. Thank Dog for veterinary pain relief experts like Dr. Mike PettyDVM, CVPP, CVMA, CAAPM, CCRT. He’s one of the vet community’s brightest stars when it comes to pain management help for animals.

MikePetty

Dr. Mike Petty, Arbor Pointe Vet Hospital

As a world-renowned expert on veterinary pain management, founder of Arbor Pointe Veterinary Hospital in Michigan, a faculty member of the Canine Rehabilitation Institute, immediate-past president of the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management (IVAPM) and co-author of the 2014 American Animal Hospital Association Pain Guidelines (among many other distinctions), Dr. Petty’s steadfast and heartfelt dedication to pain relief is creating better lives for pets and humans alike.

Today we are thrilled to present the following guest blog post about pain management for post-op Tripawd dogs and cats, which Dr. Petty wrote just for our community! This, along with his upcoming book for dog parents, “Dr. Mike Petty’s Pain Relief for Dogs,” is a must read whether you have a three or four-legged pet.

Buck recovers from amputation.

When I was in veterinary school (way back in the late 70s) a Husky came into the surgery service for a leg amputation. There were many issues surrounding that surgery that concerned me, including the lack of adequate pain control, but I was especially disturbed by the surgeon’s response to my question, “How is he going to walk?” The doctor merely replied, “He has three other legs.”

In the intervening 35 years, there have been vast improvements in pain management, but this rather offhand attitude toward an animal’s reliance on its other limbs post-amputation is still quite prevalent. This attitude has got to change, especially among the boarded surgeons who perform the majority of limb amputations.

Another prevailing belief that has survived from my time in veterinary school is to eliminate as much of the amputated limb as possible. The rationale is that if a limb is removed, it is best to cut as high as possible so that the animal doesn’t forget it is gone and attempt to use the remaining portion, causing damage to the end of that limb. Some veterinarians, especially those in rehabilitation like me, are becoming aware that taking this approach is actually doing a great disservice to the amputees. Just as in human medicine, our pets benefit from salvaging as much of a limb as we can, vastly increasing the post-operative prosthetic options available to them.

Tripawd Fritz wears prosthetic limb.

An additional post-operative problem these patients and their caregivers encounter is the lack of veterinary support once the sutures are removed. People expect these animals to get by on their own, making do the best that they can with their new life circumstances, and rarely obtaining assistance with prosthetics and rehabilitation. Pain control beyond five days of NSAIDs for the post-operative period is seldom provided either, yet these animals experience pain issues for several months, even with a prosthetic, as they learn to use the device properly.

I wish I could help everyone with a tripod pet to go back in time and redo it properly. Certain conditions can still be corrected, but some developed pain issues become very hard to treat over time. For those of you anticipating an amputation for your pet, I can offer some advice for you as your surgery date approaches.

Dog and Cat Amputation Basics: Pre-Op

If your pet has not yet lost a limb, the first thing you need to do is contact a reputable prosthetic maker. Do not work with a prosthetic maker that sells them “prêt-a-porter,” right off the rack. All prosthetics should be custom made. My two favorite prosthetic makers are OrthoPets based in Colorado, and K9 Orthotics and Prosthetics based in Nova Scotia. Make sure they either contact the surgeon directly or send him their “wish list” of how they would like the amputated limb to look after surgery.

Madison wears orthotic dog boot.

Ask what they are going to do for pain control during surgery.

  • Local and regional nerve blocks with a drug called bupivacaine completely stop pain signals from reaching the brain and spinal cord when working on the front limbs.
  • If it is a hind limb amputation, they should also use an epidural and local block.
  • In either front or rear limb amputation, something called a “Constant Rate Infusion” or “CRI” should be administered as well. A CRI typically contains one to four different pain medications and is dripped in through an intravenous catheter before, during, and immediately after a surgery.

Dog and Cat Amputation Basics: Post-Op

In the immediate post-operative period, NSAID’s. For dogs a long-acting opioid such as Recuvyra, or a fentanyl sustained-release patch or for cats an injection of Simbadol a 24 hour opioid that can be repeated with additional injections or sent home with an oral equivalent, and a drug called gabapentin, which helps shut down some of the pain signals to the spinal cord, are all drugs that should be considered.

As soon as healing is complete, or as directed by the prosthetics maker, get fitted for the prosthetic and start rehabilitation. Expect this to take biweekly visits–perhaps more early on in the process—and that it may take several months to get everything just right.

Pain Sensitivity in Post-Op Tripawd Dogs

But what if your dog has already had an amputation? Depending on each case, there may several issues involved. Chief among them are two problems. The first and most difficult to manage is the development of something called hyperalgesia—an increased sensitivity to pain—that is the result of enduring, untreated pain conditions. The second issue I often see in amputees is something called Myofascial Pain Syndrome (MPS). This painful condition can often become the primary source of pain, and may not even occur in the affected limb, but elsewhere as a result of attempts to compensate for the missing limb by subtly (or sometimes not so subtly) shifting weight to the “good” legs.

Jerry heals from pain.

Let’s take a look at the hyperalgesia first. The spinal cord can respond to a constant barrage of pain signals by actually increasing its sensitivity to incoming pain signals and by recruiting non-pain-sensing nerve fibers, such as those used for touch, and turning them into pain fibers as well. These changes can become permanent if not treated, and maybe even if they are treated. If I have a patient with hyperalgesia I do several things:

  • I make sure that I am correcting the underlying cause of the initial pain, if still present.
  • I use gabapentin, a drug that not only blocks pain signals, but actually modulates a brain cell called a glial cell, which is implicated in chronic pain states.
  • I use amantadine, a drug used primarily for treating Parkinson’s disease, to shut down a pain pathway within the spinal cord called the NMDA pathway.
  • I use an NSAID to help control pain and inflammation at many levels of the pain pathway from nerve ending up to the brain.

Finally, we look for the presence of myofascial pain syndrome. MPS is commonly one of the most significant pain issues found in amputees. Although a description of MPS is complex and beyond the scope of this blog, suffice it to say that its treatment is relatively simple if you can find a practitioner trained in something called “dry needling.” This involves inserting acupuncture needles into the sites of the muscle suffering MPS, which immediately treats the affected muscle and provides pain relief. Here’s a video demonstration of this technique on dogs:

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Pain treatment and prevention is a complex issue for our pets with amputations, as you can see by the length of this text, which has barely scratched the surface. It is my sincere hope that this blog post will open a conversation between you and your veterinarian, and help you get the necessary treatment to resolve any pain your pet might experience.

Recommended Reading

Little Extras and a Giveaway to #GetHealthyHappy!

For brand new dog and cat amputees, running, chasing and jumping games are out of the question for a while but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a good time and nurture a happy dog or happy cat!

Vinny Ampuversary

TriCat Vinny is on the Mend.

Here are three post-amputation “little extras” that you can do together while your Tripawd heals, after you get the OK from your vet. Read on for a chance to win these “Little Extras” bundles of goodies, courtesy of Hill’s®!

hphl_little_extras_logoLittle Extras Idea #1: Gentle Massage Goes a Long Way

Gentle massage for your Tripawd

Slow, gentle massage is a great way to get comfortable with your new Tripawd. Once you know the way your dog or cat likes to be massaged, you can use this new skill to strengthen your bond and spend quality time together. According to dog massage expert Pam Kuhn, CAMT,

Massage improves circulation, speeds healing, increases flexibility, relieves stress, aids socialization, relaxes the body, enhances the human/animal bond, and feels great!”

Dog parents can try these Dr. Kuhn’s easy doggie massage techniques right away. Always end your massage session with some gentle smooches and a healthy treat (Hills has new grain-free treats for dogs and cats too!).

hphl_little_extras_logoLittle Extras Idea #2: Play Interactive Indoor Games.

Fun low-impact, interactive indoor games keep Tripawds from getting bored. Encourage your cat’s hunting instinct with fun cat games that involve hunting and capturing prey. Have an assortment of inexpensive wand toys with noisy bells, balls, mice or feathers connected to the end which you can then dangle, swoosh and zip around in front of your cat (try to keep jumping to a minimum so the incision can heal).

TriKitty Smore relaxes after playtime.

For recovering Tripawd dogs, it’s better to focus on brain games, which can be even more exhausting than chasing a ball. Embrace your dog’s powerful scent instinct with nosework and “Sniff It” games for dogs that reward success with healthy, low-calorie treats like Grain Free Crunchy Creations.

Here’s how Tripawd Maggie and her mom Tracy played the “Sniff It” game in competition:

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You don’t need expensive gear, just a few cardboard boxes or clean food containers and of course, healthy treats! Here’s how to get started with scent games.

hphl_little_extras_logoLittle Extras Idea #3: Fitness Games

Build your Tripawd cat’s balance skills by dangling wand toys from a cat tower, starting with lower vantage points first and gradually up to higher platforms. Let your cat capture his “prey” and win every so often. Don’t panic if your cat stumbles once or twice. Typically after just a couple of weeks cats will return to their usual graceful, agile state. As for our canine pals . . .

Little Extras

Wyatt sits for Hill’s Grain-Free training treats.

Asking your Tripawd dog to “sit” “stand” and “come” isn’t just for creating a well-behaved dog, obedience games also build core-muscle strength and balance – a two-for-one and win-win for you both! Re-familiarize yourself with everything you learned in puppy kindergarten and get your treat bag ready!

Enter to Win Little Extras from Hill’s!

For a chance to win that “Little Extras” goodie bundle from Hill’s® Science Diet®, just fill out the entry below! Two winners will be picked at random on 10/10 and each can choose one of two “Little Extras” Giveaways:

A free doggie goodie gift bundle:

OR

A free cat goodie gift bundle:

Don’t forget; Hill’s is also offering a $10 off promotion on select products. Check out www.ScienceDiet.com/GetHealthyHappy to download your rebate today! #GetHealthyHappy with Hill’s ScienceDiet.

HillsCoupon

This post is sponsored by Hill’s and the Pet Blogger Network. We are being compensated for helping spread the word about Hill’s Science Diet Perfect Weight Food, but Tripawds only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc. is not responsible for the content of this article.

Take the Tripawd Pawrent Experience and Satisfaction Survey

In 1999 Dutch researchers conducted one of the only Tripawd surveys examining how pet parent’s perceived their dog’s adaptation to limb loss. We think it’s time for a new Tripawd quality of life survey, don’t you?

Tripawd HopeWhether you’re the pawrent of a three-legged dog or cat, we hope you’ll take a minute to answer this fast survey.

Two surveys are posted below: one for feline Tripawds and one for canines. Felines are first, scroll down for canines.

Submissions must be received by November 30 December 15 at 12 midnight PST.

Feline Tripawd Pawrents Take the Survey Here

If you cannot load the following survey, use this link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/tricatsatisfaction

Canine Tripawd Pawrents Take the Survey Here

If you cannot load the following survey, use this link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/tridogsatisfaction

 

Thank you Tripawds Nation! Together we can share information and resources to make life better than ever for all three-legged animals!

Tripawd Pawrent Survey Shows How Dogs Adapt to Amputation

If you had to make the amputation decision again, would you? The following article examines at how pet parents look back on their choice to proceed with amputation for their dog. This great post was created by Tripawds Member Erica Berse, aka Jill the Cat’s Mom.

When faced with the overwhelming news that your dog or cat needs to have one of their legs amputated, it’s hard to imagine the future.

Thinking back to the day I got that news, I remember so many emotions and questions: “Is this a selfish decision?”, “Will she ever be able to walk again?”, “How could I even think about doing this to my baby?”

You can watch all the videos, look at all the pictures in the world, but it’s just so very hard to imagine our little (or big!) one thriving on three legs. But they do! There is no better proof and reassurance than asking proud pawrents of amputees themselves about how their pups adapted after amputation.

Pet Parents Pawsitive After Amputation

In a 1999 survey* conducted by Dutch Veterinarians, 44 dog owners were surveyed via telephone about their experience with their dog who had had a limb amputated. The overall results were extremely positive. 41 of the dog owners reported that their dogs adapted “very well” to using three legs. Most of the dogs adapted within a month of surgery and nine adapted within a week.

Of the three dogs that did not adapt as well as expected, one owner replied that the dog showed an acceptable level of adaptation in that although it was unable to walk as far as it had done before the amputation, it was still capable of walking for half an hour without becoming exhausted. Two owners stated that their dogs performed poorly after an amputation for neoplasia and unfortunately those dogs were euthanatized shortly after amputation due to a metastasis.

Some other interesting facts garnered from the survey include:

  • 14 dog owners reported that their dog showed some type of behavioral change after amputation. These behavioral changes varied from aggression in six, anxiety in five, a decrease in dominance in two, and in one dog a lack of interest in other dogs.
  • Twenty-two of the dog owners were initially against the advised amputation. Nineteen of them found that their objections were unfounded after the amputation had been performed.
  • There was no statistically significant association between the adaptation time and whether a fore- or hindlimb was amputated.
  • With regard to the speed of adjustment, there were no significant relationships between the age or size of the dog, the initial objections against the amputation, complications in relation to the amputation, or changes in the behavior of the dog towards other dogs.
  • The weight of the dogs had no significant association with their speed of adaptation.
  • None of the respondents regretted their decision to have the limb amputated.

Overall, the survey shows an extremely positive response to how dogs adapt to limb amputation. It’s difficult to imagine your furry friend losing a limb when you get the news, however, these survey results show that our beloved pets do adapt quite well!

*The survey is: Adaptation of dogs to the amputation of a limb and their owners’ satisfaction with the procedure; J. KIRPENSTEIJN, R. VAN DEN Bos, N. ENDENBURG. The Veterinary Record, January 30, 1999.

Stay tuned for Tripawds very first Owner Satisfaction Survey, coming soon!

If you have a topic you’d like to spotlight here at Tripawds, please contact us for details on how you can submit a guest blog post. And you don’t even have to be a “writer” to do it. Thanks so much.

Wordless Wednesday: Survey Says

Stay tuned for Jill the Cat’s Tripawd Owner Satisfaction Survey article, coming up next!

Amputation Wound Care for Post-Surgery Dogs

Caring for your dog’s amputation incision is usually as easy as ensuring that nature is taking its course and healing the site.

Most dogs like Tripawds Founder Spirit Jerry have minimal problems at the wound, but unfortunately some dogs like Tripawds Spokesdawg Wyatt Ray and Valentina the Great Dane experience surgical wound complications, such as continuous serum (blood and bodily fluids) leakage that requires extended veterinary care and longer recuperation times.

If you’re about to start your Tripawd journey, take time to be prepared for wound complications, just in case.

Here’s a quick rundown of some things to keep in mind:

Keep a Post-Amputation First Aid Kit Handy

Your vet may want you to change bandages or clean around the incision. Be prepared by stocking a pre-made pet first aid kit or making one yourself. To care for amputation wounds, your kit needs:

To Bandage or Not to Bandage?

Your dog may or may not come home with a bandage over the incision, or a drain.

Our Tripawds Amputation Survey shows that more dogs come home without a bandage and drain, but it’s up to you and the vet to determine if these things are necessary. Most times they aren’t; usually it seems that a bandage is applied to lessen the shock value when pawrents see the wound for the first time. An old t-shirt can be worn by front-leg Tripawds to keep the incision site clean and help prevent licking. Boxer shorts can be worn by rear-leggers, with the tail through the flap.

Wound Drains

We never had firsthand experience with a “Jackson Pratt” or JP drain until our Wyatt came home from surgery last week. Had we known he was getting one, we might have asked about whether or not it was necessary, since ultimately it clogged and didn’t release any of the fluid that was building up.

JP Drains

One end of the drain tube is inserted into an incision near the surgical site to help release fluid accumulation. To the other end is attached a bulb that is compressed to create negative pressure, causing suction of fluid from the wound.

As a pawrent, your only responsibility is to empty the bulb when it looks full. Your vet will supply you with large syringes to measure the fluid amount.

The JP drain’s interior needs to be kept sterile: do not use water to rinse the bulb or tube, simply replace the bulb after emptying the fluid. Be sure to squeeze  it before sealing it closed to reactivate its suction.

After JP drain removal:

Wyatt’s JP drain was removed four days after surgery. The drain’s bulb never filled up, so we and the vet assumed there was no drainage occurring. We were wrong. Almost immediately after removing the drain, Wyatt leaked copious amounts of serum in the vet’s office. Clearly, the drain had clogged somewhere and was holding back tons of fluid.

To help the area drain but prevent infection at the drain site, Wyatt’s vet sewed a series of loops around the drain site in order to hold a large stack of gauze over the hole. As an area that’s difficult to bandage, he thought that keeping the gauze in place with the loops and surgical tape would work.

Unfortunately we didn’t have time to take a photo of this impromptu experiment since it fell off almost immediately after leaving the hospital. The gauze was too full with the weight of the fluid to stay in place. A taped-on bandage was more effective. Using a low-tack adhesive tape is recommended, however, to avoid painful removal when changing the dressing.

Incision Healing Progress

Without complications, the amputation incision site will heal within 10-14 days. A permanent scar forms between 14-21 days.

Bruising and redness is normal after surgery, but to a point. Excessive redness and irritation can be a sign of something else going on, usually just an infection that can be cleared up with antibiotics.

This great article at PetPlace.com, Is My Dog’s Incision Healing Normally? offers terrific insight into how a wound develops, heals and what to watch out for, such as:

  • Foul smelling discharge: Tell your vet about any discharge that isn’t clear and odorless.
  • Excessive fluid drainage: Some dogs will get a seroma, which is a combination of blood and bodily fluid buildup at the incision site. Seromas usually aren’t serious and can be drained in a vet’s office, but you need to tell your vet your dog is having one to make sure it’s not more serious. You can try to prevent a seroma by keeping your dog calm for at least a week after amputation: too much activity can ramp up the immune system and lead to excess fluid buildup.
  • Missing stitches or staples: If sutures fall out, this can indicate infection and an inability for the skin to heal. Also, if you see a wide gap (larger than ¼ inch) between the wound or tissue sticking out from the wound, call your vet immediately.

Whatever you do, DO NOT clean the wound with anything that your vet hasn’t prescribed. Do not use hydrogen peroxide on the incision, it can kill the cells trying to heal causing further complications. If the wound area gets soiled, use warm water only to clean around the incision and ask your vet what you should to do if further cleaning is necessary.

Itchy Wounds

Stitches are usually removed 10-12 days after surgery. After removal, most dogs go crazy trying to soothe the incision area as it dries and becomes more itchy. Unfortunately the cone of shame is the only surefire way to prevent your dog from damaging the wound.

In our ebook, “Three Legs and a Spare – The Tripawds Canine Amputation Handboook”, we share tips for preventing your dog from bothering the incision, such as:

  • Use a Bath Towel: Loosely secure a large rolled towel around your dog’s neck (not too loose that she can slip away). The thick towel can serve as a barrier between her neck/chin and the incision.
  • DERMACOOL  HC by Virbac (118mL)A special sock like Power Paws Traction Socks for Dogs or dog boots like Ruff Wear’s Grip Trex and Skyliner can be used to keep your dog’s paws from scratching at the site, but dogs with degenerative mobility issues should not use them.
  • Use of an anti-inflammatory spray such as DermaCool HC.
  • Over the counter medicines to relieve itching, such as Benadryl and Chlorpheniramine
  • Some vets recommend using ointment such as Neosporin. Others suggest using nothing that may prohibit natural healing of the incision.
  • Homeopathic remedies suggested in The Whole Pet Diet, include Calendula, Comfrey and Myrh which all have antiseptic and healing properties.

We hope these tips will help as you care for your three legged dog’s amputation wound. If you are having any post-op complications, please call your vet and then join in the Discussion Forums for a shoulder to lean on from Tripawds pawrents who’ve been there.

Recommended Reading:

Tripawds Gear Blog: Cone of Shame Alternatives

One Vet’s Canine Amputation Surgery and Recovery Tips

Post-Amputation Side Effects in Dogs

Amputation Surgery Suture Reaction in Dogs

DISCLAIMER: Information provided is not a substitute for professional veterinary advice. Please consult your vet with any concerns. Always follow the direction of a licensed veterinarian prior to making any medical decisions about your dog’s health.

Tripawd Tips for Using Wheelchairs and Carts

Are you thinking about a wheel chair for your three legged pal?

If so, you’ll want to read this brief interview with our favorite canine rehab veterinarian Dr. Jessica Waldman, VMD, CVA, CCRT, co-founder of California Animal Rehabilitation Center in Los Angeles.

We asked  Dr. Waldman when and how a wheel chair or cart can benefit a Tripawd and how it should be used. Here’s what she had to say:

Under what circumstances are carts appropriate for a Tripawd?

Carts are appropriate if the pet has severe compensatory issues or severe pain and therefore dysfunction with mobility. This should be considered after appropriate pain management, rehabilitation, and acupuncture.

Rehabilitation veterinarians or physical therapists* can aid in this decision and in measurements and fittings for the cart.

If the pet is unable to walk comfortably or without rest for more than 30 feet after these other approaches have been tried, a cart may be acceptable.

(*Qualified rehabilitation therapists have the initials CCRT: Certified Canine Rehabilitation Therapist or CCRP: Certified Canine Rehabilitaiton Practitioner after their name. To find one, visit the Canine Rehabilitation Institute or the University of Tennessee Animal Rehabilitation program website.

What are benefits and drawbacks of using a cart with a Tripawd?

Carts can be helpful to increase mobility, but a pet that uses a cart must use it in moderation (starting with just a minute or two at a time a few times daily.)

It is also important for owners to know that pets may do short walks (I would always limit to 15-20 minutes maximum) in carts, but that they cannot lie down in a cart and shouldn’t because it stresses their back.

Carts are really just a walking aid. Carts do not replace the need for strengthening, range of motion, or flexibility issues.

Are there steps can a human take to avoid needing a cart for their Tripawd?

LOTS!! Rehab, exercise restriction is key, acupuncture, pain management, strengthening!!!

What kinds of qualifications/experience should a human look for in a company that makes carts?

Good question. Reputation, experience. Check the Better Business Bureau. Ask: Do they make rear wheel carts only or both front and rear limb carts (meaning, the more variety they have the more understanding they have)? Do they provide carts with counterbalance?

How do you know if a cart is properly fitted?

Hard to say, we have physical therapists do this because it isn’t easy to explain. The dog needs to be in “as normal an anatomic position” as possible.

Many thanks to Dr. Waldman and California Animal Rehabilitation Center for helping us bring this valuable information to you. If you are lucky enough to live nearby, be sure to visit Dr. Waldman’s incredible facility and see how her staff can help your Tripawd dog stay strong and live hoppy!

Check out Tripawd Daisy and her Eddie’s Wheels Cart:

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For more information about rehabilitation therapy, wheel chairs and wheel carts for three legged dogs, please see our previous news stories:

Tripawds Recover and Relax at Canine Health Resort

If you think that getting care for your Tripawd at a long distance medical facility seems logistically impossible, think again: there may be a Canine Health Resort type of facility near that provider.

Canine Health Resort is a healing center for dogs who are recovering from major medical procedures at Colorado State University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital (and other local providers).

Founded by Connie Fredman in 2006, this specialty facility provides rest, relaxation and rehabilitation in a down-home environment for dogs who live too far away to commute back and forth for care at this world-famous institution.

Not Your Vet’s Recovery Ward

Set among 75 pastoral, fenced acres with shade trees, a pond, places to explore and a cozy farmhouse where dogs rule, Canine Health Resort is dramatically different from the sterile cages, cold floors and fluorescent lighting found in veterinary recovery wards.

Patients spend days or weeks with Fredman while recovering from conditions like paralysis or amputation surgery. Some are receiving chemotherapy treatments or getting daily rehabilitation therapy. Others have come from as far away as Alaska for the care that Fredman, a 25-year veteran in animal health care, provides.

She’s a regular Florence Nightingale for dogs, handling everything from picking up patients at the airport, to giving daily medications, to driving them to their appointments. Patients of all ages reside in her fully carpeted, handicapped-equipped home and receive all the care they need for a great recovery.

Patients are Loved, but Not Babied

While residents are given lots of TLC and 24/7 care, they are also expected to adhere to the rules of the pack, and quickly learn to fit in with the other patients. Fredman is strict about house rules, which include no free-feeding, and no chasing after the resident cats.

Fredman runs her facility like this because doesn’t believe in babying or humanizing dogs. Doing so can hinder recovery, she says.

“They don’t think the way we do, we can’t baby them,” she advises canine pawrents. “The sooner they’re up, the better they’re going to recover.”

While many pawrents want to sleep on the floor with their Tripawd after amputation surgery, Fredman advises against it.

Just as when human patients have back surgery and are made to start walking the next day, Fredman says this kind of approach is also the best way to get Tripawds to start living life on three legs.

“The dog has to become independent again,” she says. Live your life as you normally do, and if you think you need to sleep on the floor because you’re worried he will have to eliminate in the middle of the night and might need your help, sleep in your own bed but set your alarm clock and then see if he has to go.

The Secret to a Good Recovery

One of the secrets to a good recovery is to find out what motivates your dog to walk and feel good again, and use that as much as you can during recovery.

From car rides to ice cream, the things that lift your dog’s spirit will also help speed up healing, Fredman says.

She also advises Tripawd pawrents to explore rehabilitation therapy, and says that Cosequin and Dasuqin can help prevent and alleviate arthritis related to a Tripawd’s physique.

We hope that more providers like Fredman will pop up around the country, so that more dogs can have access to a higher level of veterinary care when they need it.

Until then, if you’ve ever considered having your Tripawd treated at Colorado State University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital but thought you lived too far away, think again; Canine Health Resort can help make that dream a reality!

How Do Canine Siblings React to New Tripawds?

If you’re part of a multi-dog pack and considering amputation for your Tripawd, you’re probably wondering how your other dog will react when the Tripawd patient returns home to recuperate.

Will your quadruped take advantage of your Tripawd? Is there a chance that your three legger can get injured?

Rest easy. Not once have we heard of a Tripawd being injured by a four legged sibling, at least on purpose. Not to say that it can’t happen, but usually the quadruped in the family senses that his Tripawd packmate needs extra loving care and some space. They usually react as Cooper did when Guinness came home, as shown in this video:

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The biggest risk for most new Tripawds when they come home is getting too tired from rough play with their pack mates.

Do your best to keep your patient in a separate area where he can see what’s going on but feel safe enough to rest.

Here’s what 35 month bone cancer survivor Dog Darcy Deerhound’s rest area looked like. Darcy’s mum, Bev, says:

“We sectioned off an area of the living room for Darcy so that everyone could see her and she could see everyone, but nobody could irritate her or accidetally step on her in those early days after surgery. . .

Nobody ever tried to ‘break in’ to Darcys bed space but they could lay beside it if they wanted to.”

When Nova came home from surgery, her sibling Emmy reacted with care. Nova’s mom Sue says:

“What was really amazing is that Emmy (the 4-legged one) almost instantly knew something was wrong with Nova (Tripawd), and “knew” that she should be treated with care. For the first week or so she just was a little stand-offish, and they did not snuggle up as usual. She could tell Nova wasn’t feeling herself, and gave her space.

Now they are back to snuggling, but Emmy is cutting Nova a lot of slack in many ways. She lets her eat first and is patient with her when she plays with her toys, even if she just stole a toy or bone! And she no longer roughhouses with her.”

Be sure to carefully observe your other dogs for signs of feeling left out. You may be so focused on the patient that you forget to notice that they aren’t getting enough time with you. They may not want to eat or revert to bad puppy behavior.

If this happens, be sure to carve out extra time with your other canine kids. Even just 15 minutes of ball playing or walks with you alone can alleviate any feelings of being left out.

If you have a multi-dog household, how did your other pups react when your new Tripawd came home?

Share your experiences here or in the Discussion Forum topic to help put nervous new Tripawds pawrent’s fears at ease.

Nobody ever tried to ‘break in’ to Darcys bed space but they could lay beside it if they wanted to.

Tripawds “Ask a Vet” Chat This Weekend: Saturday, 7/10 8pm EST, 5pm PST

Get your rehab and general canine health questions ready! Dr. Jessica Waldman from California Animal Rehabilitation Center is dropping by. Dr. Waldman can answer just about any canine health questions you have: amputation, surgery recovery, exercise, mobility, alternative medicine, diet, aging and more.

Saturday, July 10

8:00 PM Eastern / 5:00 PM Pacific

In the Tripawds Chat Room

Jessica H. Waldman, VMD, CVA, CCRT

Dr. Jessica H. Waldman

Dr. Waldman is co-founder of California Animal Rehabilitation Center, one of the few rehab centers in the country with both a doctor and a physical therapist on staff, both of whom are certified canine rehabilitation practitioners. Dr. Waldman speaks at veterinary meetings on the subject of Canine Rehabilitation and she has a special interest in neurological rehabilitation and in nutrition for all life stages. She loves to see her patients’ quality of life improve, and she counsels in nutrition utilizing a combination of Western Medicine and Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine for the best possible outcome.

Dr. Waldman completed a certificate program from the Canine Rehabilitation Institute to become a Certified Canine Rehabilitation Therapist. She is also a Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist through the Chi Institute. She is one of the founding members of the American Association of Rehabilitation Veterinarians.

If you haven’t already watched our blog post series with Dr. Waldman, check them out:

Canine Rehabilitation: Exercises and Stretches with CARE

Canine Rehabilitation: Amputation Recovery Advice with CARE

Canine Rehabilitation: Pain Meds and Supplement Tips from CARE

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