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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

Tripawds is the place to learn how to care for a three legged dog or cat, with answers about dog leg amputation, and cat amputation recovery from many years of member experiences.
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Be More DogWhat does it mean to Be More Dog?

Find out in Be More Dog: Learning to Live in the Now by Tripawds founders Rene and Jim. Learn life lessons learned from their Chief Fun Officer Jerry G. Dawg! Get the book and find fun gifts in the Be More Dog Bookstore.

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22 years old but newly tripod: 7 days out
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Member Since:
15 June 2021
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18 June 2021 - 12:21 am
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First post! Our cat Harriet was diagnosed with a squamous tumor in her front right foot in February. Our regular vet said H wasn’t a surgical candidate due to her age (22) and renal disease (stage 3, but with varying numbers up and down over the last 6, yes 6, years) so we were basically sent home with pain meds. We made multiple oncology appointments with some difficulty, unable to see our chosen one for months…but H needing treatment, we went where we could get in. 

In March, her tumor seemed like it was visibly growing - like, every day. This despite oral chemo. She had kind of a “clown shoe” foot. We realized she would need the tumor surgically removed or we might have to choose euthanasia, as the tumor would continue to grow. Given COVID protocols and vet appointment shortages, we made multiple surgical consult appts, set out through Spring and Summer, hoping her foot would make it to the first available appt in late April.  By early April, her tumor had burst / imploded in two places.  We woke up one morning to blood everywhere - apparently, extremities bleed a lot even when the bleed is small. Our vet set us up with bandages and silver sticks to stop any uncontrolled bleed. We did ok wrapping it daily at home for a couple weeks but honestly felt like we didn’t have the medical skills to ensure we were doing it right. We got her antibiotics in the meantime, as well as the pain meds. Thankfully, a vet tech acquaintance agreed to stop by our house three times a week to change H’s bandage and clean her wound. 

In late April, we got to our first surgery consult, which was with a locum (visiting) surgeon, not with the highly-recommended surgeon at that office. By this time, the tumor had grown such that they were concerned about getting good margins and warned if it grew much more, there may not be sufficient tissue to close it and have it heal. Her kidney values also, unfortunately, spiked after being on an anti inflammatory prescribed by an oncologist (not our first choice oncologist, as we were still waiting for the first available appt with our first-choice oncologist, who had treated our elder statesman Yorkie many years ago and who we trust implicitly). So we were to do fluids every other day and come back 2 weeks later, which was the next available surgical date. 

On her surgery date, her tumor had grown such that they would have to take multiple digits (rather than the 1 they originally estimated) and they were very concerned the margins would be bad, the tumor would return, and that healing would be difficult. Then the kidney tests - kidney values were such that the locum surgeon advised against surgery. He recommended we take her home and figure out a euthanasia date. 

We continued with pain meds, antibiotics, and every-couple-days changing her bandage. She was still mobile, but limping on her bandaged foot. Other than her foot, she seemed to us to be “normal” - her usual stubborn, sweet, regal self. We engaged a hospice vet who did house calls. She really helped us tune in to H’s signs of pain, and she had us keep a journal to track H’s good and bad days. Then H’s surgical consult with the highly-recommended surgeon came around.

The good news: Harriet’s kidney values had improved to the low side of high. The bad news: the tumor had grown, and imploded more, and basically eaten away at H’s foot such that removing the tumor material would not leave her with enough foot to walk on. This surgeon recommended removing H’s front leg if we chose surgery, and euthanasia if we didn’t.  The oncologist would send the tumor material out to make a “vaccine” of sorts to teach H’s immune system to fight the squamous cells if they come back. We made a surgery date for the next week.

We started researching limb amputation.  We couldn’t find any info about it for elderly cats. We didn’t find this site, yet. We asked ourselves if it was fair to ask Harriet’s body to do this much more. The day or two after that second surgical consult, H was very tired seeming out of it. We had a Zoom appt with the hospice vet and decided to set a euthanasia date for the following week.

Well, Harriet then was back to her old self.  Other than her disintegrating foot, she was as she’d always been. Eating, using her box, playing with her favorite ribbon, tolerating our little dogs. We kept the journal up. The day before the appt, we let the hospice vet know we were undecided again and wanted to talk it through. When she came, we reviewed our Harriet journal and pretty much every day had been a “good” day. The vet examined Harriet on the front lawn, and H was so insistent in trying to follow a bird she saw in our hedge that she kept walking away from the doctor. We decided that maybe our girl was showing that she wasn’t ready to go yet. We called the surgeon and if her kidney values were stable, we’d do surgery in two weeks.  We discovered this page, and I read about Pittens, who was 18 when transitioned to tripod and that gave us hope.  

A few days later, we got a call - a surgical opening that day, could we bring Harriet in right then? We could. We did.  We sat home anxiously for the phone call that she made it through - which she did with flying colors.  Her kidney levels stayed stable and her blood pressure did too! She stayed in the hospital two nights, to stay on IV fluids, and we brought her home on day 3. We know the limb removal is basically a palliative measure - her kidneys aren’t great, she’s the oldest cat we know, and her cancer may or may not be gone. But we just didn’t think she was ready to go, and she couldn’t stay with her ever-disintegrating foot.

Today is day 7. Until today, every day she seemed to be doing a little better. Standing up, and taking a couple steps. Evidence in her nighttime playpen that she’d moved from her bed to her box and back again. All her food eaten overnight. Fully formed poops!

We have been thrilled, but also cautiously optimistic. Today, though, she's seemed really sleepy all day, even though we are cutting back a bit on her gabapentin (which knocks her out). She has eaten all her food (but intermittently, not all at once), and did stand up a couple times and take some steps, and has peed when we take her to the box.  But she seems so very tired today that we are worried this is a backwards slide or a sign that her kidneys aren’t happy (we give her subq fluids every day). But, she also gave herself a one-armed face wash today for the first time post-surgery, so that’s a good thing, right?

If anyone can talk a couple of paranoid cat moms down off the ledge of worry, or if you have any tips for how we can help make this process better for Harriet, please comment! We’ve had Harriet her whole life.  She’s our oldest furry child who doesn’t look or act her age, and she is really something else. We love her so much and only ever want to do what’s best for her. Thank you!

On The Road


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18 June 2021 - 10:30 am
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Awwwwww smiley_clap Wow! I'm so impressed at everything you have done for Harriet, and just awestruck that you were able to find hope through Pittens' story. It's situations like yours that prove again and again that the internet ain't all bad 😉

Thank you for joining, your future posts won't need to wait for approval so post away. It sure sounds like Harriet is getting some amazing care by you and your vet team. That is so pawesome!

If anyone can talk a couple of paranoid cat moms down off the ledge of worry, or if you have any tips for how we can help make this process better for Harriet, please comment!

Of course we can, that's why we are here! I'm going to put a call-out to some of our kitty members to make sure they see your post. In the meantime, although I'm not a cat mom, I can say that yes, her face washing is a GREAT sign! And so is her appetite strength, and mobility. As you saw with Pittens' story, recovery doesn't happen in a straight line and there can be many ups and downs. We call it a roller coaster around here! So yes, some slowdowns are not uncommon at all, for cats or for dogs. We see it all the time. Remember, the body is working extra hard to get around and some days, there's more soreness than others. I would definitely let your vet know your concerns, and take a deep breath. This is par for the course for recovery at this stage, and a cat her age. She has everything on her side for a total recovery, but keep the vets in the loop.

I'll put that call-out for folks. Stay tuned. Oh and if you want to share photos we would love to see them.

This is how adding images to the Forums works.

  • Upload pics to a photo sharing site like imgur.com or your own Tripawds blog (https://tripawd...../supporter). Pictures and video have to be hosted (live) somewhere other than in the forums.
  • Once the photo is uploaded somewhere, right click and copy the Image URL or just copy the image if you’re on a phone
  • Return to your Tripawds Forum post and paste the image URL (or the image itself) in your post. It should automatically appear. 

If you’d like help figuring out the process let me know.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene
tripawds.com | tripawds.org | bemoredog.net | triday.pet

Member Since:
15 June 2021
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18 June 2021 - 10:50 am
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Thank you, Jerry! Harriet seems more awake today, and…she had an enormouspoopicon this morning so perhaps her constipation was also getting to her yesterday?! All the pain meds do bind a kitty up. Thank you for doing whatever you can to attract cat parents to this thread; I’m excited to hear from others. I’ll try to figure out the photos!

Virginia




Member Since:
22 February 2013
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18 June 2021 - 12:06 pm
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HARRIET IS A ROCKSTAR ON SO MANH LEVELS, BUT ESPECIALLY AS A SENIOR TRIPAWD ROCKSTAR !!

I applaud you for giving sweet Harriet the best care possible.   You did a great job of consulting  the professional and especially  contacting a Hospice Vet.

Yes, there are "extra" challenges Harriet has to deal with, the kidneys, etc.  And while we say age is just a number around here, there does come a time when we are all in our sunset years (hopefully we get to that point) amd the ebb and flowing our earth life has a natural process.

Now, regardless of the "other" challenges, Harriet's recovery is well within the "normal" range at this early  point in recovery.  .  In fact, she's  a bit ahead of the curve by pottying, eat, drinking  and be somewhat mobile.  And rest is very impor to healing.  She's such a smart kitty!!  YAY HARRIET!!!

I know that bum leg had to be so annoy and so painful.  As tough as this surgery is, I bet she actually  feels better than before the surgery...or will very soon!

We're  all cheering for Harriet, so update as you can.

Hugs 

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!

Happy Hannah had a glorious additional bonus time of over one yr & two months after amp for osteo! She made me laugh everyday! Joined April's Angels after send off meal of steak, ice cream, M&Ms & deer poop!

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18 June 2021 - 12:59 pm
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Hi,

I am the mom of an older cat.  We were told she was 8 when we got her in 2008. She could have been younger, however. So while she is younger than Harriet, she is definitely a senior girl.  She also gets Sub Q fluids (every other day).

She had her leg removed in February. I was a basket case and wondered if I was putting her through too much -- pain meds shoved in her mouth three times per day, every other day fluids--was I being fair? She slept A LOT! 

Fast forward to now . . . she still gets fluids and a few supplements for kidney failure: Renafood, Azodyl (from the vet, which Rita eats out of the bowl), and Renelix  (Renelix | Kidney Disease | Detoxification (askariel.com)) I have an energy worker work on Rita every other week. We are hopeful that Rita's kidney values may get better not only because of the fluids, supplements, and energy work, but also because her body no longer has to deal with the infection (which is why she lost her leg in the first place). Could getting rid of the cancer help Harriet's kidney values?  I don't know.  But it's a nice idea, right? 

Since her amputation surgery, Rita no longer sprints through the house like she used to do. But she has mastered using stairs to get on the couch and into bed.  She loves lap time and in my mind still has a nice life. I felt like the surgery aged her overnight because she was sleeping so much.  But now she sleeps like a normal (senior) kitty. She is awake regularly and doesn't seem too different from my other cat (who is probably 15 or 16) with all four legs.  So . . . Harriet has been through an ordeal and will be sleeping a lot to recover.  This is good. But if she's like my Rita, it's not permanent. 🙂 

Big hugs to you. 

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18 June 2021 - 1:01 pm
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oh and here is a video of Rita if you want to see another senior tripod girl who now moves around. rita_photos | Kimmurdock.com



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18 June 2021 - 4:33 pm
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Harriet and Mama,

I am so glad you found us!! I'm sorry it was under these circumstances, but I can't think of a better place to find resources and support than right here sp_hearticon2

H seems to be doing amazingly well considering her age, and that proves a point that we tell so many cat and dog owners... age is just a number. Just like Sally said and says... there is no timestamp on their back end... go ahead and look... you won't find one 🙂

There are older cats, larger dogs, older dogs who have been told at some point that they were not good candidates for amputation. There are more furbabies than I can count here that prove that wrong every day!

22 years is amazing, magical even. My oldest kitty lived to be 23. He might have been older but he was a rescue so only the forces above know Sylvester's true age. The important thing here is that you have a kitty full of life and love, and she obviously is not ready to be anywhere else. 

The next couple of weeks, give or take, may be stressful and worrisome. It is part of recovery that most go through whether they are 2 or 22. You have taken amazing care of Harriet so hang in there, ok? Her discomfort may very well been because she needed to poopicon and the anesthesia and beautiful hospital drugs that they give them can take a toll on their ability to poop. 

You are giving her fluids so dehydration should not be an issue. It's one of the things we watch closely for with kitties. She will have some ups and downs just going through the process of healing. Sleep is your friend right now because they do the most healing when they sleep. Her little body may take longer with her age and kidney issues but seriously... it sounds like she is rocking recovery!

Keeping an eye on elimination is important. Eating is important. Drinking is too but less worrisome with sub-q fluids. Keep doing what you are doing, Harriet is so very lucky to have you. I can't wait to see photos!! We are all big photo hounds here.. it really personalizes things. You can also upload video to youtube and then its a simple copy and paste the link here and we can see her in action. 

The most important thing here is that she is recovering, no doubt feels better without that bad leg, and she has the chance to spend her golden years happy and pain free with her family sp_hearticon2

Please don't see the glass as half empty! Just the fact that she is 7 days in and doing so well is a true blessing. 

We are here to help in any way that we can sp_hearticon2

Big hugs,

Jackie and Huckleberry sp_hearticon2

Hugs,

Jackie, David, Bo, Andy, Oscar, Phoebe, and the coolest feral tripawd kitty Huckleberry

Huckleberry's Blog

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19 June 2021 - 2:36 pm
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Hi! My cat Pittens had surgery at age 18 exactly one year ago in August! She is still here with me and active and happy to no longer be in pain. She became my hero through the process and through it all we became closer. I know how hard this is. I have to tell you,  you came to the right place. Everyone on here walked me through every minute , checked in on me....I never felt alone because of everyone here. I felt strong. 

Sending you love. You will both come out of this. and win! 

Sumi and Pittens

On The Road


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24 September 2009
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19 June 2021 - 3:42 pm
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Just thinking of Harriet and hoping all is well. Sending tons of Tripawd Power your way! smiley_clap

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene
tripawds.com | tripawds.org | bemoredog.net | triday.pet

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19 June 2021 - 5:20 pm
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We are so thankful for everyone’s support! Both of Harriet’s moms are pretty tired - it’s like taking care of a newborn! - but in the last couple days we have: Been able to cut down a bit on Harriet’s gabapentin, while keeping steady on her buprenorphine…so her pain is well-controlled but she isn’t so knocked out all the time! Observed her to tell us when she wants to be taken to her litter box, by her standing up from wherever she is (on a lap, etc.). Started putting her in her playpen (which has a modified litter box in it, as well as a bed and food and water) for a while here and there, and we’re thrilled to see she gets up herself and hops into the box, and she has peed and pooped there on her own, then hops back to the bed (sometimes falling over, sometimes not!).

We are also grateful folks here talked us down regarding being worried about how sleepy she was on day 7. Thank you all for the reminders about rest and healing. We were tempted to take her to the ER (to say “she’s extra tired today” I guess?) out of concern it was unusual, and as you all probably know during these times, an ER visit is many hours sitting in the parking lot waiting (and so that many hours of kitty waiting, either in the car or in the hospital without us). So I’m glad we spared her that.

I’m still trying to figure out how to post photos, but when I do, I will, so you can see her in her onesies (I’m sure she’d be like “don’t show them me wearing my jammies!”) and maybe even standing up!

Harriet’s other mom also found a new renal diet food online, made in Iceland I think?, and we got it shipped to us. After years of refusing to eat any renal diet-specific food, Harriet actually eats this one enthusiastically! Here’s hoping she doesn’t change her mind on that after a few days, as cats are prone to do. 

Also, for anyone who has to give their kitty fluids - we were pointed to lactaided ringers fluid by a great blog, and after years of any attempt at fluids ending in Harriet screaming and projectile vomiting, we can now give her fluids, daily, without any trauma or drama for any of us! I cannot believe, after years of explaining to our vet that we couldn’t do the fluids because of her vomiting, I had to learn about alkaline and pH differences causing vomiting in cats from the internet. Honestly, we were pretty furious about that, especially when we were agonizing about whether to risk surgery given Harriet’s kidney issues. We thought, what difference might have been made if we’d been told about lactaided ringers years ago, and if her kidneys had been fortified by subq fluids for the past few years? Another reason, in addition to this site, to be thankful for the internet!

Finally for today - Harriet licked at her catnip cigar today, unprompted! Yay!  Xo, H’s moms. 

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15 June 2021
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19 June 2021 - 5:22 pm
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pittens said
Hi! My cat Pittens had surgery at age 18 exactly one year ago in August! She is still here with me and active and happy to no longer be in pain. She became my hero through the process and through it all we became closer. I know how hard this is. I have to tell you,  you came to the right place. Everyone on here walked me through every minute , checked in on me....I never felt alone because of everyone here. I felt strong. 

Sending you love. You will both come out of this. and win! 

Sumi and Pittens

  

Reading about Pittens helped us so much regarding surgery for Harriet!!! We were agonizing over the decision even immediately afterwards. Thank you so much for sharing! And we are thrilled to hear she is still with you!sp_hearticon2

On The Road


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19 June 2021 - 5:40 pm
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Ooooh! Thank you for the update! This sounds like everything is on the right track. WHEW! SO glad to hear it. You are both doing an OUTSTANDING job caring for Harriet. Yes, share photos when you can, we would love to see her set-up in the recovery ward. And oh do share the blog link, I'd love to pass that along to future Trikitty moms.

Yep, it's definitely like brining home a newborn! But this is "only" a couple of weeks, not several months, so at least you can take some comfort in that right?! 

Keep up the great nursing. If you'd like help with adding images just holler. Keep us posted when you can.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene
tripawds.com | tripawds.org | bemoredog.net | triday.pet



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19 June 2021 - 5:41 pm
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Whew,  yay!!!smiley_clap So glad to hear H is up and about,  getting used to her new normal ❤

Huck is a rear amputee and I think in some ways they gain their equilibrium a little easier.  When he lost his balance he simply sat.  With the front leggers they tend to face plant a bit while they are learning their new mobility.  

I'm so glad you posted,  silence can be worrisome on this end of the conversation with newly rehabilitating amputees.  

You gals are rocking this recovery,  I'm so happy that everything is going smoothly ❤❤❤

Hugs,

Jackie, David, Bo, Andy, Oscar, Phoebe, and the coolest feral tripawd kitty Huckleberry

Huckleberry's Blog

Virginia




Member Since:
22 February 2013
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19 June 2021 - 8:21 pm
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AMD let me join on on the chorus as we all say YAAAAA FOR HARRIET!!!    Getting up on her own....hopping to her litter pottying....eating....drinking...enjoying  a   bit of cat nip ..SPECTACULAR  NEWS!!!!

So glad you found the proper fluid and a good renal diet.   

And here's  a link that may help with pictures:  adding images

Someone  more techie than I can 'splain in better details.

AMD.....shhhh.......we won't  tell Harriret if you sneak in a picture with her jammies.  I bet she is adorable!

Great job!!!

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!

PS.  I joined this site on day six exclaiming  that I had surely  made a mistake doing amputation  surgery  on my Happy Hannah.   Like you, I was talked off the edge and held on tightly  to thos community.   In a matter of a couple  of weeks I was sooooo glad I did thos FOR her!

Happy Hannah had a glorious additional bonus time of over one yr & two months after amp for osteo! She made me laugh everyday! Joined April's Angels after send off meal of steak, ice cream, M&Ms & deer poop!

Member Since:
15 June 2021
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19 June 2021 - 10:06 pm
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Attempting to link to a photo of Harriet standing up (with a little help from a mom):

https://www.ins.....=copy_link

And a video of her in her playpen, hitting the catnip in cigar form:

https://www.ins.....=copy_link

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