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How long on pain meds after amputation? | Treatment, Recovery, Oncology and Ongoing Care

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How long on pain meds after amputation?
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Franklin, WI
Forum Posts: 13
Member Since:
9 May 2010
19 May 2010 - 6:36 am

My Harley had his left front leg amputated a week ago Monday.  He is doing better and better every day.  I think his incision is starting to get itchy now (I'm wondering if I should get an e-collar from the vet).  The vet gave me enough Tramadol for 2 pills twice a day for a week.  And enough Rimdayl for 1 pill twice a day for a week.  I had another supply of Tramadol because he was taking it for his tumor pain before surgery, so I was giving it to him three times a day last week.  Then twice a day starting this weekend.  Now I am starting to run out.  I gave him one pill twice a day yesterday, and one this morning.  Should I get more?  I've got about three left. (I have plenty of Rimdayl, my other dog takes it for arthritis, so I can continue to give him that).  I can't tell if he's in pain.  He's always been a heavy breather, so I'm not sure if panting means pain in his case.  How long were your dogs on pain meds after surgery? 

Forum Posts: 710
Member Since:
14 April 2010
19 May 2010 - 7:28 am

Congrats on your first week, trust us, it just keeps getting better. I had Gus on Rimidyl for probably three weeks and Gabapentin for the same, although I didn't know how long he needed it, I had it so I figured it wouldn't hurt. I tried to take him off gabapentin but went back for about another week since Gus had some phantom pain. We are six weeks today and he has been off all meds for about two weeks. Gus didn't get along with Tramadol very well, he would be restless at night, not much appetite and he did pant quite a bit, but I won't say that is why Harley is panting so heavily.  Our vet had given me some spray that supposedly taste bad so he wouldn't lick the incision, I knew Gus wouldn't have anything to do with one of those collars, but we never used it. the only time he would lick was when he had a spell of phantom pain, and he would usually just lick the bottom part of the incision. I knew Gus was really starting to not have pain when he started laying on the side they amputated, and he has just gotten better right along.

My buddy Gus had a left front amputation on April 7, 2010 and lived a great life until July 26,2010
knoxville, tn
Forum Posts: 1736
Member Since:
12 February 2010
19 May 2010 - 8:29 am

our gayle would't tolerate the e-collar, (right front amputation) so we just put a t-shirt over her (extra front arm hole tied up on top) and it totally kept her from messing with her stitches.  i don't remember how long she was on tramadol, i think about 10 days...but we didn't have phantom pain to deal with either...  glad to hear harley is recovering more each day..the first two weeks are the hardest! 

Life is good, so very, very good!!! Gayle enjoyed each and every moment of each and every wonderful day (naps included).  She left this world December 12, 2011 – off on a new adventure. Love Never Ends http://etgayle
Forum Posts: 696
Member Since:
28 September 2009
19 May 2010 - 8:50 am

 My dog Tasha a left front leg amputee was on her pain meds for 9 days. She didn't need any meds after that but all dogs heal a little differently and have different pain tolerances. Tasha did want to lick her incision so she had to wear the collar, sometimes a tee shirt and we also taped a sock on her left rear leg to keep her from getting to her incision. Tasha did not have phantom pain. Good luck with Harley, things should start getting better and better very soon!


Jo Ann & Tasha

Tasha 8 years old, First cancer diagnosis 6/26/09, Last cancer diagnosis 9/26/09, Amputation 10/01/09, Loving our girl moment by moment. Tasha lost her battle and became my Angel on May 4 2011. Forever in my heart….
Forum Posts: 931
Member Since:
26 November 2008
19 May 2010 - 9:15 am

Lori and Harley,

First, congratulations making it through the first week. Do not take these milestones lightly but use them as a cause to celebrate. There already is much behind you and you should acknowledge that accomplishment.

Both Dan (Gus's Dad) and Charon (Gayle's Mom) have posted excellent advice and suggestions. Both Miss Cherry and Emily did not tolerate Tramadol at all and we had to take them off days after the amputation. I would suggest that you use the pain-killers that were prescribed for the amputation and then see what happens. You have removed the greatest source of the pain - the cancer - and if the incision is itching, then you are probably beyond the pain of the surgery. The pain-killers have a disorientating effect on our companions, so you will probably see Harley trying to do more and trying to return to "normal". This sometimes leads them to do too much so try to keep it down until the stiches/staples are removed. Then, let it all come out.

Miss Cherry also was a left fore-leg amputee and we used the t-shirt very successfully. Standard Poodles have very small waists and narrow chests, so I had to tie up the waist around Miss Cherry's waist, but it worked very well. Another method I have used in the past is to get one of the "socks" that are used when setting human leggs. They are elastic tubes that come in various diameters. Just cut to length and then make an incission in the tube for the remaining right fore-leg. I would suggest a hand knit TriPawd sweater like the ones that I made Miss Cherry, but they will take too long to make. These sweaters actually were more for keeping her warm after the chemotherapy. (This was a real problem.)

Hope that this help! Pawsitive Thoughts and Prayers

Spirit Cherry's Dad - Bob


The Rainbow Bridge

Forum Posts: 17331
Member Since:
25 April 2007
19 May 2010 - 10:24 am

Great question!

I was prescribed about 10 days worth of Tramadol and really didn't need it after that. But all dogs are different. The only way to really know if the pills are helping or hindering is to stop giving them to him. You can always try it for a day and see what happens. Maybe you might want to get a refill and have them on hand just in case. Heck, they're cheap and even if he doesn't use them now, they may come in handy later for him or you (did you know they're also a human pain drug?).

Dr. Jessica Waldman had some good advice about managing post-surgery pain here.

Three legged dog t-shirt

As for an e-collar. Yes, stitches do get itchy, but T-shirts and sweaters worked for me, another front leg amputee (hey, maybe something like this cool Tripawds one?! 😉 ). If he's not bothering them I would hold off on an e-collar and just stick a t-shirt on them.

Good luck. Keep us posted and let us know what you do.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Franklin, WI
Forum Posts: 13
Member Since:
9 May 2010
19 May 2010 - 10:37 am

Thanks for all the great advice.  We have been using a t-shirt, so I will just continue with that instead of using the cone of shame.

Dodge City, Kansas
Forum Posts: 6
Member Since:
17 May 2010
19 May 2010 - 12:27 pm

Noah wasn't sent home with any pain meds. In fact, the vet asked me to sign a form saying he could have pain meds after the surgery. When we visited Noah about 5 hours after surgery he was almost unresponsive so I don't think the meds agreed with him or he was over dosed. At home Noah did seem to have some pain but I think it was mostly from his remaining front leg. Maybe I didn't think to ask the vet for more meds because I don't like to take them myself. He will be 2 weeks post op tomorrow (it seems like forever) and is starting to get around. Yesterday I had him lay in a bath of tepid water for about 20 minutes to soften his stitches. This really seemed to make a difference in his comfort.

Leatha & Noah
Here and Now

Forum Posts: 9496
Member Since:
25 April 2007
19 May 2010 - 12:46 pm

Glad to hear Noah is getting around better. Just curious, was the bath something your vet recommended? We haven't heard of that.

"Dogs are born with three legs and a spare."
— Jerry G. Dawg (10/98-10/08)
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Los Angeles
Forum Posts: 845
Member Since:
2 November 2009
19 May 2010 - 12:49 pm

Congratulations on getting through this first week.  As Spirit Cherry's Dad said, this is a very big milestone too.  Prior to Mackenzie's surgery, she was on tramadol, garbapatin and metacam.  Then following her surgery, she was on the same medication but lower dosages.  Then it was about 10 days following her surgery that we weaned her off all the pain meds. They really did affect her physically and mentally and it wasn't until we took her off the meds, that she made a complete turnaround (but she did need them up until the 10th day or so.)  It was a real balancing act with the pain meds because it's difficult to tell whether they're in pain or whether they're being overmedicated (seems to exhibit the same kind of side effects for both.) But like Jerry said, I would have some extra tramadol on hand just in case since they are so cheap (Target pharmacy is amazingly cheap!)

And as for the t-shirt, highly recommend it vs. the cone (which I see you've already done this.) I had Mackenzie wear a t-shirt until her stitches came out - it really helped her incision heal and she didn't try to scratch it at all.  That was one of the best tips I got during her recovery.

It sounds like Harley is doing well so far which is always great to hear.  We weren't so lucky during Mackenzie's recovery time but I can proudly say that Mackenzie is doing fantastic now and it's been over 6 months since her surgery!

Wishing Harley a smooth and speedy recovery - he looks like a big love!smile

Kami (Mackenzie's Mom)

My sweet golden Mackenzie.  She became my angel on Dec 29, 2010 at the age of 8 1/2  although she was always my angel from the time we brought her home.  She was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in Sept 2009 and officially became a tripawd (front leg) on Nov 5, 2009.  She will be forever in my heart and now she's running free with all of our other tripawd heroes.  I love you Mackenzie!
Forum Posts: 731
Member Since:
1 January 2010
19 May 2010 - 1:41 pm

Holly was on Tramadol and Deramaxx for about 12 days after her amputation.  I'm not sure whether we could have taken her off earlier than that - but she did fine without them when we stopped giving them to her.  Our vet gave us a spray to help with the itching - but we only used it a few times.

Congratulations on making it through the first week - Harley sounds like he's doing great!  Keep giving him lots of love and plenty of treats and this will be behind you before you know it!


Holly and Holly's mom

Holly joined the world of tripawds on 12/29/2009. She has a big little sister, Zuzu, who idolizes Holly and tries to make all of her toys into tripawds in Holly's honor. And she's enjoying life one hop at a time!
Forum Posts: 398
Member Since:
22 December 2009
19 May 2010 - 2:51 pm

Our Harley was on pain meds for about 2 weeks (I think, as this was 6 months ago … should have kept that journal Bob suggested).  He took Previcox and Tramadol the first 4 or so days when home … and then just Tramadol the rest of the time (but at a very low dose, as the dose prescribed would cause him to pant and stare and then pace and then stare some more and then want to be outside where he would stand and stare and pant).  We started Gapabentin after a month or so, due to phantom pain (he took one pill at bed time for several months).

Wasn't there a discussion about itchy stitches a while ago?  If I remember right, someone had bought a cream to put on to stop the itching.  I'm sorry I'm not of more help, as we were past this stage when it was brought up and I didn't pay full attention.  Maybe someone else will remember?

Amputation on 11/10/09, due to Histiocytic Sarcoma in left elbow. Angel Harley earned his wings on 06/24/10.
Here and Now

Forum Posts: 9496
Member Since:
25 April 2007
19 May 2010 - 3:15 pm

Hopalong Harley said:

Wasn't there a discussion about itchy stitches a while ago?


Not sure exactly which topic you're referring too but perhaps these search results for "stitches itch" may prove helpful.

"Dogs are born with three legs and a spare."
— Jerry G. Dawg (10/98-10/08)
Please Support Your Tripawds Community!
Have you started a Tripawds Blog yet?
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My heart lives at Rainbow Bridge
Forum Posts: 3768
Member Since:
28 November 2008
19 May 2010 - 3:43 pm

Trouble was prescribed tramadol and rimadyl for 14 days after surgery.  The vet had me stop the tramadol after the first week.  She still seemed to have some pain, so a phone call confirmed she could have them for the remainder of the two weeks.  When the 2 weeks was over, she was good to go.  As several folks pointed out, all dogs will respond differently.  If you think he still needs meds, give the vet a call and tell him/her your concerns.  They are there to assist you.

Shanna & Spirit Trouble ~ Trouble gained her wings 3/16/2011, a 27 1/2 month cancer survivor, tail wagging. RIP sweetheart, you are my heart and soul.  Run free at Rainbow Bridge.
The November Five - Spirits Max, Cherry, Tika, Trouble & Nova. 11/2008 - 3/2013 An era ends as Queen Nova crossed the Bridge.

Wesley Chapel, FL
Forum Posts: 1104
Member Since:
13 September 2009
19 May 2010 - 5:07 pm

Jake was on Tramadol and Previcox when he broke his leg and we were waiting on path results and his amputation (almost 2 weeks). After the amputation surgery, he was on Tramadol and meloxicam (Metacam) for about 2 weeks, and continued on the meloxicam after that. Lucky for Jake, he tolerated the pain meds quite well... but not every dog does. Guess they're just like people when it comes to pain meds... some need it longer than others after surgery.

Angel Jake's Mom

Jake, 10yr old golden retriever (fractured his front right leg on 9/1, bone biopsy revealed osteosarcoma on 9/10, amputation on 9/17) and his family Marguerite, Jacques and Wolfie, 5yr old german shepherd and the newest addition to the family, Nala, a 7mth old Bengal mix kittie. Jake lost his battle on 11/9/2009, almost 8 weeks after his surgery. We will never forget our sweet golden angel… ….. CANCER SUCKS!
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