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Post-Amputation Side Effects in Dogs and Cats

Amputation. The word makes pet parents nervous, and it’s easy to understand why.

prevent amputation side effects in dogs and cats

There’s the once-unfathomable idea of watching your pet become a “tripod.” And then there are the possible complications that can result from this procedure.

Amputation has risks, like all surgeries. Those risks can range from bruising and swelling to fatal blood clots during surgery.

Thankfully amputation surgery side effects are few and far between, as Tripawd pawrents report. According to the American College of Veterinary Surgeons:

“the complication rate is very low. The most common complications, which occur in less than 5% of cases, are wound infection, wound breakdown, and accumulation of fluid underneath the surgical site (i.e., seroma formation).”

You can do things to lower your pet’s risk of post-amputation surgery problems! First, how to find the best vet for amputation surgery. Then keep reading.

Tripawds Vet Discusses Post-Amputation Side Effects in Dogs

Tripawds recently talked about amputation surgery risks with one of our biggest supporters, Dr. Pam Wiltzius of River Road Animal Hospital in Puyallup, Washington. Dr. Wiltzius not only works with dogs facing amputation surgery, she also has personal experience with the Tripawd life; her beloved dog Tazzie was a Tripawd herself because of bone cancer.

We asked Dr. Wiltzius if she could tell us about the most common amputation surgery risks. Here’s what she said:

Common things to look out for:

Side Effect #1: seromas

A seroma is an abnormal accumulation of fluid that occurs after amputation surgery. When a leg is removed, body fluids can build up at the area of least possible resistance, the surgical site. To encourage fluid drainage, some veterinarians insert a drainage tube prior to surgery (but some don’t). Before surgery, ask your vet if your pet will have a drain.

If you notice a large pocket of fluid building up around the incision, accompanied by some dripping, your Tripawd may have a seroma. Seromas can happen after any invasive procedure but are most common with amputation surgeries. Although seromas look terrible, usually they are harmless and can be often be resolved with a pressure bandage and/or draining in the office.

When to See Your Vet

If a seroma is present, you’ll see a clear to light pink fluid dripping from the incision area. The fluid is clear, without any cloudiness.

The best way to tell if your dog or cat needs an in-office vet visit is to watch how quickly the fluid is dripping. If the fluid is dripping faster than one drop per second, call your vet.

Before calling, take note of the color and consistency of the seroma. If the fluid is viscous or appears as dark to purple in color, your Tripawd may have an infection or an untied blood vessel and your vet should know about this.

When infection is present, the bacteria can destroy tissues around the sutures and cause the sutures to come undone. In a worst case scenario, a second surgery will be required to eliminate the diseased tissue and close up the area.

How to Prevent Seromas

Seromas are often linked to excessive activity immediately after surgery. One of the best ways to prevent them is to keep your pet calm, quiet and confined for a few days. Dr Wiltzius also advises using a pressure bandage after surgery.

If there is any sign of a seroma, call your veterinarian immediately.

Side Effect #2: Phantom Limb Pain

Phantom limb pain is another common amputation side effect in some pets. It’s a controllable side effect and sometimes you can prevent it.

Phantom pain happens when a severed nerve “thinks” that the limb is still attached to the body. The nerve is trying to control a limb that doesn’t exist.

Your Tripawd may have phantom pain if she:

  • Constantly looks behind her to see if the leg is there
  • Attempts to move the area where the limb was
  • Randomly cries out with loud, sharp shrieks
  • Has light muscle twitching in the incision area
  • Shakes or pants (which could also indicate general post-op pain)

Phantom pain is a normal complication and many amputee pets get it. Time is the best thing that can help the severed nerve to heal, but you can take steps to alleviate this pain.

Phantom pain relief for dogs and cats:

Gabapentin is a human drug that is also used in animals. The National Institute of Health says:

“Gabapentin is used to help control certain types of seizures in patients who have epilepsy. Gabapentin is also used to relieve the pain of postherpetic neuralgia (PHN; the burning, stabbing pain or aches that may last for months or years after an attack of shingles). Gabapentin is in a class of medications called anticonvulsants. Gabapentin treats seizures by decreasing abnormal excitement in the brain. Gabapentin relieves the pain of PHN by changing the way the body senses pain.”

Many human and animal medical studies report that if you start Gabapentin just one day before amputation and continue for a week after the procedure, it can eliminate or reduce phantom limb pain.

Even if your pet doesn’t have Gabapentin prior to surgery, the drug can still be used post-op. Most pets take it two to 3 times daily for best results. This drug is available in generic form, which is far less expensive.

Gabapentin is a newer pain relief option in veterinary medicine, and many vets are still unfamiliar with it. If yours doesn’t know about this helpful drug, ask them to consult with a veterinary pain management specialist from the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management.

Side Effect #3: Blood Clots

Blood clots are the least common post-amputation surgery side effect. Thankfully they are rare but it’s important to be aware of the risk. A small number of Tripawds members have died from them.

According to the Merck Veterinary Manual:

“A thrombus is an aggregation of blood factors that may form when the blood flow in the arteries or veins is impeded. It frequently causes vascular obstruction at its site of origin. The thrombus can be classified based on its location and the syndrome it produces (eg, venous thrombosis in large animals associated with prolonged venous catheterization, pulmonary arterial thrombosis associated with heartworm disease in dogs). All or part of a thrombus may break off and be carried through the bloodstream as an embolus that lodges distally at a point of narrowing. Embolization can also occur when foreign material (eg, bacteria, air, fat, catheter piece) is carried into the bloodstream.

Thrombi and emboli can be septic or nonseptic. Poor injection or catheterization techniques and inferior catheter material can all result in vascular thrombosis. However, life-threatening vascular thrombosis is more commonly encountered in patients with underlying disease states that result in coagulopathies, such as systemic inflammation, or endotoxemia. . . .

If left untreated or uncontrolled, these hypercoagulable conditions can result in hemorrhagic diathesis and/or disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC), a life-threatening disorder of hemostasis with deposition of microthrombi with concurrent hemorrhage.”

Unfortunately blood clots can only be diagnosed when a MRI is performed. On rare occasions, they unexpectedly occur. Talk to your vet about your pet’s risk of blood clots during and after surgery.

Many thanks to Dr. Wiltzius for her pawesome perspective on canine amputation and bone cancer.

Read more tips about canine amputation from Dr. Wiltzius:

More Recommended Reading:

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84 thoughts on “Post-Amputation Side Effects in Dogs and Cats”

  1. Hi there, my dog Rebel just had his back right leg amputated less than a week ago. He is on Gabapentin, Rymadol (spelling?), and trazodone as needed. I know it’s common for dogs to suffer phantom pain and Rebel seems to have what we call his “freak-outs” which last anywhere from 30 mins to an hour. It’s very sad to see and is affecting our mental health a bit but this website has brought us some comfort knowing what he is experiencing isn’t uncommon. We are wondering when his symptoms will get better- hoping sooner than later. He is eating when we give him food, and water too. Trying to keep movement at a minimum. Any help or advice would be much appreciated. Thanks!

    • Hi Chase. Sorry to hear about Rebel. Yes it does sound like he is having untreated pain. Please let your vet know and ask to get his Gabapentin medication adjusted, as well as maybe adding Amantadine into the mix. And remember that pain relief isn’t always a one-shot approach, sometimes other methods are needed like acupuncture, gentle massage, etc. Please join us in our Discussion Forums so we can help with more suggestions.

  2. My cat, Jones, had his right hind leg amputated at the end of June, due to an angiofibrolipoma. It was tucked under the muscle and close to his sciatic nerve, and they weren’t able to figure out what it was until post-amputation biopsy. They took quite a wide margin, but fortunately, it was benign.
    Fast-forward to now… nearly 8 weeks out, and he’s still having what appears to be phantom limb pain. This didn’t happen until after his stitches were out. His surgeon told me we could completely stop the Gabapentin, but I opted to taper him off slowly, just in case. I got him down to about 12.5mg every 24 hours, and his sudden attacks seemed to increase in frequency. Now, he’s back on 25mg every 24 hours, but he still has several attacks a day, where he’ll suddenly cry out, hiss, walk backwards, or fall off the couch/bed. I’m not sure what to do — increase the Gabapentin to 25mg twice a day? Should he remain on this indefinitely? Is this common? Most of what I’ve read online is about cats having this kind of issue earlier on, and it eventually subsides. Maybe the severed nerves are still healing? His external wound is completely healed.

  3. My greyhound Beam has had to have his rear limb amputated due to Sarcoma back in feb 2022. he did develop and abscess and was treated successfully. everything has been going smoothly over the past 5-6 months post up fully recovered! about a week ago he started to wince and shrike once standing up. but its only when he lays on the nub side. once up, the amputation site is shacking / trembling for about 10 or so seconds and then he is totally fine. no lameness, limping, slowness nothing. when he lays on the remaining hind limb no issues what so ever.

    i had the vet check the remaining leg for soreness tweeks, etc and its s strong as ever.

    So this leads me to the question, is it possible to develop Phantom Limb pain 8 months after surgery and recovery?

  4. My rescue cairn terrier had her front leg removed 6 weeks ago due to sarcoma. I have learned so much about this procedure – honestly more than I thought I would ever need. Advice – keep the dog VERY quiet. I made the mistake of letting her be the one to decide what is best and they will want to get up and get going. It set her recovery back a couple of weeks, but fortunately it worked out. 6 weeks later she is good finally taking off her cone, no meds, regular bowel movements, eating well, etc. This is MAJOR surgery and it takes time for them to recover and honestly my anxiety did not help I am sure. I think she may have some phantom pain because sometimes she gets up suddenly and runs out of the room, but that’s it. This surgery is a BIG deal.

  5. Hey! My cat had an amputation on 26th of August on his front right paw. He was not yet 1 year old, his 1st birthday was on 27th August. He had to get an amputation because that paw was swollen and the vet near me tried everything they could for a week including giving him IV fluids twice a day everyday. After a week his paw was in a very bad condition and he even started chewing his paw (as if to try and remove it) so the vet said our only option was amputation. His surgery went very well and he was doing very well. His dressing had to be changed every 2 days. But then after 1 dressing change the next day his dressing was wet so the vet said now his dressing would have to be changed everyday because there was an infection in his stitches because of that. The next day when they changed his dressing the infection was gone. The day after that the next day he wasn’t eating anything so I got worried and I took his temperature and he had fever. So they treated him for fever and within a day his fever was gone and after his fever had gone when they were changing his dressing, they informed us that one of his stitches needed to be redone, they said they would do it tomorrow( the next day). That day when wr came back home my cat was acting very strange he kept escaping from his cage and going to the bathroom and laying down there in the water. And the vet had told us that it’s very important that his bandage should not get wet. So we were getting even more worried and it was late at night. The people working at the clinic told us this was normal as this was a period of depression for him.That night he kept drinking lots and lots of water from his bowl. And in the morning I woke up at 5.30am and I found that he has peed on his bandage and it had gotten wet. So I tried to dry it off as much as I could. After that when I had lay him down, he suddenly started moving his paws vigorously and coughing and then he spat some liquid out and just stopped breathing and was just staring at us his eyes were very still. Panicking we called the clincic and asked whether we could come and something could be done to keep him alive and they told us noone was at the clinic at that time. And just at the moment I was on the phone, my cat stretched out his paw and looked at us and after that he just lay still. He passed away at 6.03 am. We just didn’t understand why he passed away all of a sudden. We thought maybe it was because he wasn’t able to suffer anymore? He was a very young cat after all. He was the most beautiful ginger cat with lovely stripes. Do you know any possible reason he could have suddenly passed away like that. I did some research about death in cats and many said it could be a possible heart attack or trauma. I’m just sad after all he went through receiving IV fluids for 3 weeks everyday. In the end he just couldn’t handle it all. I’m very dissapointed that I couldn’t help him. He was a little angel ♡ he was with us since the day he was born.
    I still don’t know alot about cats as I am very young but I would love to learn more so I was looking for a website like this and I am glad I found it. So I was hoping you could help me.
    Thank you! ♡

    • Indu, please know that you DID do everything possible for your kitty, really. We are so sorry, this was such a tragic situation and how I wish that your boy had gone on to live a happy life on three legs. Honestly it’s hard to say what it was that he passed away from, without a “necropsy,” the animal version of an autopsy. Sometimes a blood clot can happen, but again, there are many things that could have contributed to it. I urge you though, try not to focus on the reasons why he passed. You will make yourself crazy. Instead focus on all of the good things you did for him when he was alive. What was his name? Please share more about him in our Coping with Loss Discussion Forum OK? You had such a special relationship with him, and we would be honored to learn more about his short but well-lived life. We look forward to seeing you there.

  6. My gorgeous little 5 month pup had to get his leg amputated last weekend, I did everything to keep him calm and rested but he still split his stitches to the bone , now he’s back in getting re-stitched for the third time as he had split them before he even left the vets the first time. This is so hard to see my gorgeous pup struggling so much, the vet said this time it could lead to complications, does anyone know what that means?

    • Finn and George, I would ask your vet what they meant by that but generally speaking, when a wound doesn’t heal, the tissues surrounding it can die off, get infected and require a more serious surgery than just a re-stitching. Keep the cone on your pup at all costs. Best wishes to you two. Be sure to join our Discussion Forums for feedback from the community!

  7. Hi There!

    My dog Calvin got his poor tailed slammed in a self closing metal door on March 7th. I quickly ran him to the vets and he was able to get sedated and have surgery right away! The vet tried to save the tail but it was almost a 360 wound. Also it wasn’t the full tail just part of the end. So we continued with his meds and follow up appointments after and they seems great. Sadly yesterday he had to get surgery to get some of his tail amputated as that part didn’t end up surviving. The surgery went well but seemed like the tail was leaking a bit more than we wanted so today we took him in again (March 30) and he needed to get some more stitches. He is home now but the tail is cold! Is this normal after an amputation? It’s really freaking me out!

    • Hi Madisan. Sorry to hear about Calvin but glad he’s on the mend. This is a question best left to your veterinarian I’m afraid. Please let us know what they say. Wish we could help you more with that but better safe than sorry right? All the best to you both.

  8. Hiya my 1 year 7 month old Cockapoo, Female decided to prance around and took a fall off the sofa and we had to amputate her back left leg (14th Feb 2020) her recovery was fast and I’m so happy with the results.. However, for the past couple of days I’ve been checking her but I had to put her cone back on as she’s has a very small, reddish lump on her stomp. Its soft but it hasn’t affected her in any way.. She’s just been herself, jumping around, eating, drinking, playing etc etc.. I hope its nothing to worry about but I have now started to put the cone on so that she doesn’t irritate it but it does look like it’s getting better.

    I hope there’s someone out there who is going through the same as I really don’t know what it is or how she got it.

  9. My 5year old Rottweiler berry had Carcinoma in her rear leg and we had to amputate her leg in November! But from February the amputated part has become really hard as a stone and there is a swelling in the part ! She has lost her old charm and is having troubles walking or standing up and tends to drag while she has to get up ! Please help !!

  10. My greyhound got diagnosed with osteosarcoma on January 13th 2020 in the hind limb. The entire week went by so quickly. We did a met check the following day and all was clear, no sign of mets to the lungs or elsewhere. We drew labs and they were incredible. We scheduled his hind limb amputation for that Friday January 17th 2020. All was moving quickly and in the right direction. We consulted with many vets and amputation was the best option as the limb had visible bone swelling and a micro fracture already. My boy wasn’t suffering, he was a retired racer and quite stoic and I had him on gaba and rimadyl for pain. He had survived a lot, including a rattlesnake bite in the past and a heart attack from the venom. It’s heartbreaking to receive this sort of diagnosis with your beloved animal. We brought my boy in for his surgery Friday the 17th and all seemed well. He was stable throughout the procedure, vitals, potassium, everything. I went over everything with his surgeon prior to the procedure. I informed her of his cardiac issues (mitral valve regurgitation, heart murmur, past MI, etc). Apparently everything looked fantastic that morning, ECG, EKG, etc. I got a call that he was waking up from surgery and all had gone well. 5 minutes later I got a call that my boy had endured a massive heart attack and was deceased. Resuscitation efforts, atropine, etc, had failed. It is VERY difficult to make sense of a situation like this. I never once blamed anyone, I work in hospice and healthcare myself, things can go wrong. I just still am wondering what transpired with him. They knew and understood greyhound protocols and abided by them for his surgery. Everything was done right and he was completely stable prior and during surgery. I am not a vet and I’m curious if any vets read this what their perspective is. My boy didn’t have DCM, nothing like that. Osteosarcoma with a stage 2 diagnosis. Underlying cardiovascular issues sure, mitral valve regurg and a grade 2 murmur. I still wonder what happened. Everyone attending said he was coming out of surgery and his respiratory rate increased then his heart just stopped entirely. It’s very sad to lose your pet this way and I can’t seem to find any similar stories anywhere. Vets I know said he must have thrown a clot or had a heart defect that we weren’t aware of and couldn’t have been aware of. I don’t mean to scare anyone into not amputating, I just share my boys story to bring awareness that stuff can go south even when you were on the right path all along. You just never know. Cherish your pets. My boy was just shy of his 8th birthday. He was my therapy dog.

      • Thank you so much. I just wanted to share his story. He had a quick diagnosis that was so acute and out of nowhere and a death that was so sudden as well. The tragic part or the most saddening part is that my birthday was on the 11th and we had hiked 5 plus miles in snow. I had no idea he had cancer. Fast forward to two days later and he was diagnosed then dead by the 17th. It’s amazing what our pets will endure and how well they hide their suffering. Initially the attending vet on the 13th chalked it all up to a soft tissue injury but after radiology looked they determined it was osteosarcoma.

  11. Hi, my cat had his front leg amputated 2 years ago and now i’m noticing that the bone where his leg used to be is ‘more present’, in the sense that when I pick him up i’m feeling it more than I used to. I don’t know whether it’s just my imagination or maybe he lost a bit of weight (although he doesn’t seem like he lost weight as he’s quite chubby).

    Has anyone ever had this problem?


  12. My dog had a rear leg amputated 5.5 weeks ago. He has been on antibiotics since because he has bruising in the area still. After 4 weeks I noticed that the wound site was very firm. I asked the vet and they think that he might have a slight infection and that is why we still have him on antibiotics. In the last week I have noticed that the would site seems to be swelling more and it feels like there is fluid build up in the area. I found your site talking about seroma, is this something that only occurs right after surgery or is this something that can occur in my timeline of 4 or 5 weeks post surgery?

    • Hi Tim. We have seen seromas develop a few weeks later, but since an infection is involved with your dog I would definitely have your vet take a look at it and culture the fluid to be sure the antibiotics are working. Good luck and keep us posted in the Forums!

    • Hey, not sure if I am going to be able to comment or not, i got locked out from forgetting my password. My 3 and a half year old mastiff had his front left leg amputated due to osteosarcoma on wednesday, july 31st.

      The first three days were a breeze, but pretty much as the nocita (local anesthetic injection) wore off, he has been having a really hard time.

      He has been randomly screaming for minutes at a time. Top of the lung screams. I have read everything on her ei can find and we assume its phantom limb pain, but with his sutres still in it doesnt seem there is much we can do.

      It was so bad on sunday night (4 nights post amp) that we took him to the ER, of course when we got him there, he didnt scream at all. They gave him a methadone injulection and then a couple hours later we got his drain out and they added aome opiates to his pain managment system. (He is also on gaba every 8 hours, trazadone every 8 hours, carprofen every 12 hours, and an antibiotic once every 24 hours.) His opiate is codiene and after anothwr call with them today and a video of him screaming they told us to move his dose from every 8 hours to every 6 hours.

      Well were mid gaba and codiene, his carpeofen needs to reup in the next hour, and he just had his worse bout of screaming yet. At first it seemed like the codiene was helping but it seems to be getting worse again and were feeling super desperate, as watching him scream is about the worst thing ever. Any help would be appreciated.

      • Rayla, initial blocks are usually temporary. The fact that you can view the site and comment here, proves you have not been permanently blocked. You can use the Remember Password link on the log-in page, or contact us with your username (or registered email address) and we can reset your password for you.

        Start here for help finding the many Tripawds Resources or call the toll-free Helpline anytime!

  13. My dog Maggie had her rear leg amputated 2 yrs ago. There is still an open wound. My vet said it will never heal because the bone keeps popping out of the skin. She also just told me a week ago that she had MRSA probably from the surgery. Is irt common yo have a none healing wound? Are we in danger of getting MRSA?

  14. My Jaxson is 9 years old and very active. Playful, loves to run, hike and jump fences. He had osteosarcoma in his leg and was in very severe pain. But he just had surgery 3 days ago, amputating his rear right leg. He still has not started using his other rear leg or even putting weight on it. He acts as tho he can’t even feel anything back there. He even drags his butt sometimes. When we take him outside, in a sling, he just drags the leg. He went a long time before having the amputation. I would think he had enough strength to pick his back end up, but no. Is this normal? It sure does not seem that way at all. Maybe we are being too pushy? Trying to see results too quickly? He even seems discouraged and depressed. We are seeing the vet today about this issue. Just thought I’d get a little advice from someone who has been they this. Please, I’d love to hear any experiences. ❤️

    • Best wishes for Jaxson. Every dog’s recovery is different, and overdoing it too soon can certainly cause mobility issues. Confinemnt and moderation are key to a speedy recovery, and proper rehab is important. You will find plenty of tips in the Tripawds e-books or by searching the blogs and forums. And you can call the toll-free Tripawds Helpline anytime! Start here for help finding the many Tripawds resources.

      Our best advice is to consult with a certified rehab vet/tech for an orthopedic evaluation, treatment recommendations and strengthening exercises you can do at home. Visit a CCRT or CCCRP and the Tripawds Foundation can even pay for your first visit from the Maggie Moo Fund for Tripawd Rehab!

  15. I just lost my girl yesterday. Amputation of front leg 7 days ago and was sent home with Prevacox. I noticed her amputated area tremoring, but I assumed the Prevacox would work. Then she developed a huge hole in her front elbow from slamming down on it because of her amputation. It was oozing and I called vet that day, told me to pick up antibiotics there next business day. I could tell there was something wrong with Sissy, but I was in denial. Yesterday will be a day I never forget because my poor girl was dying and in so much pain. I ran out of house to get help and got back in 5 minutes and she was gone. My heart is broken and I’m completely out of my mind right now. I just hate that she died and I wasn’t there for her.

    • Oh wow..Im so sorry. My jack Russel Macy was hit by a car had back leg amputated Friday …im so worried she’s not having BM and the 2 she did have Saturday was dark blood…put in ER call to the vet Sat night…no call back until after they closed last night…the vet only see’s $$ signs..unfortunatly I acted without thinking ran to get her out of the road and she bit me a few times breaking bones and arterial gash in my hand so I was taken by squad and she was taken by Sherrif to closest vet

  16. My Molly just had her back leg removed and died within 24 hours. She was a healthy beautiful lab who has now past away. The vets office didn’t have anyone with her which I wasn’t aware of. I regret my decision but yet she couldn’t continue with the pain. She had been hit by a car early in life before me and it finally gave her to much pain being fused together with nerve all in tangled. Devastated!! Ask questions, I only asked will she be ok and I was assured not to worry and now my dog is gone forever.

    • Rebecca, our heart breaks for you, Molly and everyone who loved her. We are very, very sorry for your loss, what a tragedy. Thank you for taking time to share your experience here. We hope that you will consider posting in “Coping with Loss” so that we can honor your sweet girl’s life and hold her even closer to our hearts. You are in our thoughts.

    • I’m so sorry. I left my girl for 5 min to get help and she died alone. My other two dogs were with her, but I am completely heart broken right now.

  17. I pick up my 7 year old baby boy today at 11:00. This boy, the love of my life is a rottie who rescued me when he was 6 months old. He “had” bone cancer and is now a special Tripawds like all the other wonderful babies I’ve been reading about these past few days. All of you and your Tripawds have helped me so much with your stories. I don’t have to tell you how difficult this decision is with so little “expected”. Thank you for helping me believe its a good thing and understand more why. I’m home finishing this post, Jagen is sleeping. He walked into the vets exam room after crying for me in the kennels as happy and normal looking as if he’d been boarding there. I’m amazed how he can manage. I’ve got to get some weight off of him. It is the right decision. Soooo, I’m on my way with my boy on this Tripawd journey. Never did I ever imagine this. I’m overly blessed by my boy and the support I see for us on this site. All of you and your furbabies have made a big difference in mine and Jagens life. Today, Day 1

    • It’s stories like yours that’s helping me with my sweet girl, Kona 9 year old Rottie, diagnosed last Friday bone cancer back left leg, isolated, no mest, Amp was Thursday, this has been very very hard, she’s healthy and strong, but hasn’t Peed since Thursday, no bm either, these stories have kept me going, without them I’d be lost.

    • Christine please let your vet know about the swelling. Since we don’t know your dog and we aren’t vets, we can’t give you advice. Usually post-op swelling is just body fluids that are working their way around the body since there’s no leg to go to, but to be safe please call your vet OK? And hop over to our discussion forums so we can better assist you in your journey. We’ll be waiting!

  18. My dog Sophie, 4yo, had her front leg amputated after a lawnmower accident. That was about 10 months ago. She still has phantom pain occasionally. But my main question is, whenever she’s standing, she’s almost constantly pulling the stump upward with her shoulder muscles (like a person would shrug with one shoulder). It seems to ache or strain in some way with no leg there to support the shoulder. Any ideas would be appreciated. I have not tried bandaging (like with an Ace) to support the stump or anything…

  19. My rottie Digit had her left from leg amputated 2 week ago after successfully holding on metastasis from Bone Cancer for over a year. We did Stereotactic radiation to save her leg and after 9 months she sufferd a pathological fracture at the tumor site. After a few months of wearing a brace we had no choice as the fracture became worse. Shes done really really well, but now two weeks in and suddenly her rear right leg is swollen at the ankle and while it doesnt seem painful, today she seems less willing to get up and move around. We are going to the vet tomorrow to have her staples removed, however i am always nervous about bad news. Is it common for a large breed dog to suffer some edema on another leg from the added stress of recovery, learning to walk again, etc? Im icing it and keeping her calm today. She is already on anti inflammorty meds, etc. We have covered every base there, so im just curious about this as a physical response to the change in gait. Thanks for any feedback

    • Best wishes for Digit! With the stitches coming out, it’s time to focus on rehab, core conditioning, weight management, balance work and strengthening exercises. (Walks do not build strength, only stamina.) Please download Loving Life On Three Legs for lots of helpful tips and how to videos, or consider consulting with a certified rehab vet/tech for a professional evaluation and DIY exercises you can do at home. She may even be eligible for reimbursement from the Tripawds Foundation Maggie Moo Fund.

  20. Our beloved Rottie, Bodhi, is almost 9 days post-op. He had his front right leg amputated due to pretty serious bone loss from bone cancer. We were completely blindsided by the news he had cancer. We thought it was a sprained ankle because he was only limping a little. I’ve been through a lot of emotion with the amputation and have struggled with knowing if we did the right thing. There was no visible masses in his lungs so we felt like he would have good quality after he healed from his amputation. I’m still not very clear on his life expectancy. I think he is healing well but now he seems to have phantom pains. He has been crying a lot, not wanting to go outside to the bathroom. However he seems to be getting around okay and very affectionate. I noticed his back right leg looks odd when he is hopping along. Maybe it’s hurting? I’m terrified that he is still in some kind of unseen pain. He is really a family member to us and we just are so heartbroken over the whole ordeal.

    • Lindsay I’m sorry to hear about Bodhi. Please come to our Discussion Forums so our whole community can help OK?

      It does sound like he’s experiencing some kind of pain (affection can sometimes be confused with clinginess, which is a pain indicator). Have you talked to your vet? Or a certified rehab therapist? It would really help Bodhi to have that pain managed so he can get along with loving life. Here’s a post that may help explain why appropriate pain management is so important.

      Best wishes to you both. Please keep us posted.

  21. Our Boxer dog “Rocky” was in an accident and had to have his back leg amputated. The accident happen 8 days ago, and they amputated 6 days ago. He has been at the vet the whole time with us visiting daily. Each day they would tell us he could come home the next day, but each day they would say they needed to keep him and monitor him longer. We went to see him yesterday and they said he had nercosis and they were going good to have to do another surgery and replace some stitches. They called me this morning to tell me my dog had crashed during the night…come to find out they wouldn’t let us see him because they didn’t put a colar on him and he had chewed the stitches out and bleed alot..then they only bandaged it but nothing else and during the night he chewed the bandages off and hit his artery and bled out….

    • Oh my gosh you guys, we are heartbroken to read this. Please, if there’s anything we can do to support you, let us know OK? You’ve been through so much, our heart goes out to you.

  22. Have a 8-10 month old pit/mix named Charlie! He had a bad break when we got him so his front leg had to be amputated. He seems to be healing nice, but what’s seems to be a bruise has formed 3 days after his surgery. Took him.back to the vet thinking maybe something wasn’t tied off correctly but was told not to worry. I guess I can’t help it! It is spreading and I’m still concerned. It doesn’t feel like there is any liquid underneath the skin, but I’m not 100% sure what I’m looking/feeling for.

  23. my 3 weeks old puppy broke her leg because it was stuck on their cage so that i will abble to cut her leg. but now it became bloated what are the possible cures that can i apply to her leg?

  24. Kaycee is a chihuahua/terrier mix and was rescued 3/26/16. Previously she was hit by a car and Feb 10, had her left hind leg amputated. We have only had her for a few weeks, but the last week, she has become extremely lethargic, sleeps all day and night, does not want to walk or play and occasionally shrieks when picked up. I am getting no tail wagging or excitement when I walk in the door – except to want and lay by my feet. Her appetite is good and bowels are good. I think she is in pain and our Vet put her on Tramadol for pain and Prednisone for anti-inflamatory. Its only been 3 days of meds, but I see no difference in her sad behavior. Is this behavior indicative of pain for a tripawd?

    • Kaycee is so lucky to have you! It does sound like she’s in some kind of pain and I’m not really sure how Pred will help with that, most vets will give a NSAID for anti-inflammatory. I’m not a vet, so take that for what it’s worth. But, I would definitely want her to see a pain management expert. Here’s a blog post that talks about pain management and how to find a good pain management/rehab vet. Best wishes, and please keep us posted in our Forums, we’re here to help.

  25. My dog Abby had soft tissue sarcoma last year and had her front right leg amputated. She healed really good but till this day she is always licking where her leg used to be. I was wondering if this is normal or what the signs are that she is doing this. Thank you so much!!

    • Justine that could be a pain indicator of some sort. Take note on when it occurs, how often and for how long, what other symptoms if any are happening (tiredness, lack of appetite, cliniginess, etc) and let your vet know.

  26. My Reighnee broke her leg badly as a puppy. Had surgery right away. Then horrible staff infection when they changed her cast 2 weeks later. In 3 days her leg rotted off inside the cast.:( Another surgery. .removed hip etc to stop infection from spreading. . Perfect healthy happy baby for the past 5+ years. . This week she keeps looking at her back side.. walking funny..not eating. .not barking. .playing with her toys. Could her amputation be hurting after 5 year’s? ? Worried Mommy 🙁

    • Oh poor pup. It sounds like she is in pain, I would have her checked out by a vet who understands pain management in Tripawds. Join our Discussion Forums so we can better help you as a community OK?

  27. Recently had to put down our Mini-schanzer after complications following a rear leg amputation. Vet told us he had a severe systemic infection and strongly suggested that we put him down. I feel very guilty that I listened to the vet. I should have given him more time. Should have taken him some food and A leash. If he wanted to eat and take a walk, I should have taken him home. To all those out there. Don’t be so abrupt and quick with your decision
    to put your dog down on the suggestion of a vet Forgive me Jack. I miss you every day!

  28. My dog had his front limb amputated 10days ago. About 85% of his wound his healing fast but there is a hole that is open and keeps draining. He is under vet care. He’s taking antibiotics and we apply sulfadine creAm as prescribed. I’m concerned and the vet tells me that it will heal on its own once new healthy skin tissue starts to form but because of the infection he had pre surgery that was septic is what is causing it to drum and not close. I’m skeptical. Has anyone else experienced this?

  29. my 3 month old puppy recently underwent surgery to remove her left hind leg due to a broken leg the vet couldnt set. she is acting like her puppy self but shivers a lot and im worried about infection its not oozing or anything its swollen still her surgery was march 18th 2014 its really red under the wound dont have a funny odor what things should i look out for other then that

  30. Finn got his rear leg amputated tuesday. He peed before we took him out of the clinic (thursday), but hasn’t peed since (it’s saturday). Pee pads weren’t working, so we built a ramp so he could go in the front yard, still nothing. There is so much snow/slush/mud here yet so there is a really limited area where he can go. He was used to going in the back yard but there is a lot of snow and muck there and I don’t want him to fall. Do you think he is holding out because he is used to going in the back? I am getting really worried that there is nerve damage or something. Do you have any advice, do you think he will just go when he has to go?

    • Hi guys, I’m so sorry that you’re having difficulties. It’s probably nothing serious but at this point you really should go see your vet asap. Usually a dog just needs help getting things moving to get back to being regular. Please call your vet and then come to our discussion forums and let us know how he’s doing. Good luck!

      • Well we had to get him out moving and take him to a more “private” place for Finn to do his business! What a relief!! Now he has kennel cough and is coughing up white foam. The vet tells me the antibiotics he is on should get rid of that. I pray he pulls through this cold and continues healing from the amputation.

  31. My 13 yr.old cocker spaniel has squamous cell carcinoma in his foot the mass was removed 6mos.ago and has returned should I have his leg amputated.I am so afraid because of his age he might die.

    • Hi Louise, we understand your concern. You’ll receive much more advice from members in the discussion forums. Every dog is different, but age doesn’t really matter. If your dog is otherwise fit and healthy, he should do well on three legs. Only you and your vet can make this decision, and while we have heard of it happening, it is very rare for a dog not to survive surgery. You will find plenty of success stories about senior dogs loving life on three legs in the forums.


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