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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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Brand new amputee - need advice
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31 July 2020 - 3:02 pm
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LMAO, that’s a thought!

Apparently his exploits continue – he’s so mad about the cones that he’s trying to refuse to eat at the vet’s unless they take them off. She had to syringe feed him a little, then he gave up and ate on his own, the little jerk. All’s still well. He has a little bit of a fever but his incision and new stitches/staples look good. He’s staying until tomorrow just to make sure that his fever goes down as she expects it to. 🙂

The Rainbow Bridge



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31 July 2020 - 3:55 pm
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He’s got fightin’ spirit that’s for sure! Yowza! I need some of what he’s got.

Paws crossed that he can come home tomorrow.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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1 August 2020 - 7:41 pm
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Heeeey, Ziggy’s home! His incision looks MUCH better even though it’s stapled for most of the length instead of stitched. He still hasn’t really mastered not peeing all over himself, but I think that might be more to do with the cone than anything else and he’s SUPER mad that he can’t wash himself off after. 🙁 Fortunately we got both cats used to letting us mess with them, so he’s actually pretty okay if I gently roll him over and clean him up as best I can with a baby wipe.

Really, really, REALLY looking forward to when those stitches and staples are out! One of our first questions to the vet is going to be whether or not we can give him a bath, as he’s a little, uh… fragrant at the moment.

Bad news for Ziggy – the only way to stop him licking his incision or removing his cone so that he can do exactly that is to keep him in both a donut collar AND a cone. He’s super mad about that, and he still really hates Yesterday’s News. But he’s home, he meows for attention whenever anyone walks by the crate, he purrs and kneads when we sit down to love on him, and he’s eating pretty well on his own!

The only weird thing that made me call the vet in a mild panic this morning is that he’s started grinding his teeth on one side of his mouth! I sent her a video just to be sure it wasn’t some other freakish thing but she’s not concerned. If you give him a little spray cheese or his wet food and he finishes, when he’s licking his chops he crinkles up his cheek and makes this weird crunchy sound on the left side of his mouth, almost like he’s chewing a kibble. We checked his teeth and there doesn’t seem to be anything amiss… maybe just some weird habit he picked up, has anyone else’s pet started doing something odd like that?

And the requisite pictures! Ziggy in his stylish cone/collar combo and Ziggy given a brief dinner reprieve

Virginia




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1 August 2020 - 8:56 pm
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WELCOME HIME SWEET BOY!!!

Oh Ziggy, I apologize but I  do have to chuckle a bit at the pictures of  you and the coneS!  As handsome as uou look in them, you look quite piffed off!!

Sounds like things are finally  on the upswing and you’ll be out of those silly coneS soon!!  Not soon enough  though, huh?

 No idea about the jaw thing.  Wouldn’t  have anything to do with the cone…the tightness of it….the thickness of them??  Does it seem to be coming  from the bottom and upper jaws “clicking”?  Maybe some sort of misalignment going on?? 

Just so glad Ziggy is home and doing well!!  He’s a very special boy who clearly  is loved and adored!!

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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2 August 2020 - 11:56 am
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My cat Mona did not like the Yesterday’s News. I don’t think it feels good on their feet. I went back to her old litter. I think the concern is dust from the litter. As you probably know there is now litter that is close to dust-free and is not those hard pellets.

Mona had staples right from the beginning. There were also two little drains that I had to snap to clean and I cleaned off any yuckiness with a warm, damp facecloth. Mona did not need to wear a cone and I allowed her to clean herself but when she even considered the incision area I’d put a damp facecloth over it. I realize Ziggy needs his cones but maybe he can have a break to clean himself while you make sure he doesn’t mess with his incision?

Hope you get some relief from his fragrance!

Kerren and Tripawd Kitty Mona

The Rainbow Bridge



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2 August 2020 - 5:41 pm
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Welcome home Ziggy!  That’s terrific news. What a great day for you guys!

That teeth gnashing is interesting. Nope, it’s never been an issue here. Maybe just Ziggy’s way of saying I HATE THIS CONE THING!?  Tell him he’s not the only naughty Tripawd who has to be double coned: our Wyatt Ray is a double-cone dawg himself! In fact he’s wearing his soft cone right now because he’s got some hot spots making him cray cray. 

The pics are adorable, he does look relatively at ease considering what he’s been through. 

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2 August 2020 - 5:53 pm
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It freaked me the heck out the first time he did it, that’s for sure! It sounded like he had a tooth out and was chewing it up or something, so weird that I recorded it and sent it to the vet because I couldn’t even describe it properly. He’s doing it a lot less now so I’m wondering if maybe the cone is making it a little more difficult for him to chew… not that it’s slowing him down on the wet food at all!

Aw hey look, Wyatt and Ziggy have the exact same pattern on the donut collar! Twinsies! icon_lol

And of course it never stops… now the rest of Ziggy’s incision looks fine, but there’s a spot at the very back by his tail that’s looking pretty gnarly. I think it’s because the cones are making it really hard for him to use the box so he ends up sitting in it a lot in protest, so he’s getting some icky stuff in there. *sigh* Going to try to get pics so I can send them to the vet and see what she says in the morning.

The Rainbow Bridge



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3 August 2020 - 11:05 am
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I’m amazed you were able to catch the grinding on camera. You’re quick!

And maybe that IS his ploy to get you to remove the cone and collar? Hahaha! Don’t let him fool ya.

Oh yikes yeah I hope the incision spot is just in need of a rinse and isn’t serious. Ziggy’s sure keeping you busy.

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3 August 2020 - 12:40 pm
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Well it was kinda easy… he did it every time I gave him some spray cheese so I just hit record and then gave him a little more. Took a couple of tries but I got a clear recording! icon_lol

Cones are definitely staying on! We let him have supervised wash time before, but this time he goes straight for the incision and won’t wash anything else if he gets blocked. Did I ever mention that he’s an incredibly stubborn cat?

The vet did indeed want me to bring him back, but once they got him down and got some cleaning solution and gauze to work, it turned out to be just gummy scabbing, no infection! It was just really hard for me to tell what was incision/stitches and what was just gunk that could be removed. Since he’s so well-behaved there and eats for them, she said they were going to keep him a couple of days just to be sure the incision stays clean and isn’t about to start showing an infection. I think he’s just enjoying stirring up a lot of trouble!

The Rainbow Bridge



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3 August 2020 - 3:42 pm
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Oh gosh I’m so glad that wasn’t an infection. Gummy scabbing…yep, that pretty much describes incision ick.

Heh I think Ziggy’s probably enjoying all the attention from his new corral of fans! Enjoy the R&R break from caregiving and hopefully when he comes back the next time he will be all healed up and moving on to his new normal.

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6 August 2020 - 9:39 am
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Belated update – Ziggy is home again! While at the vet’s he managed to get his cone off at night and ripped out a couple of his staples. It was actually okay as the tissue underneath had started to knit together nicely, so the vet was able to place a few more to secure things while she just had the area numbed, since she didn’t want to sedate him fully again.

Apparently one of the other vets, the medical director of the office and a few of the techs were all consulting on how to keep him in the cone and away from the incision. The medical director’s been practicing for something like 35 or 40 years now, and she said she’s never seen a cat as sneaky and clever at getting cones off as Ziggy is.icon_rolleyesThey put him in a kind of sleeve that I think must have been for leg wounds on large dogs and they suggested either a pet surgery suit or baby onesies with the leg tied up. Of course we bought onesies and then realized they were too small, oops.

In the end, out of desperation we tried one last thing we found on another forum – we had to make our own harness of sorts, in our case out of two shoelaces tied together. I started by putting the middle at the front of his neck and took each end around through the loops of his cone until I was back at the front. We took them down towards his armpits, criss-crossing the ends across his chest, under his arms, around his back with a cross again, and then finally through the back two loops of the cone before tying it off with a bow.

This is a diagram that shows kind of what we did.

He’s had several really serious tantrums that involved rolling around in the crate and trying to get it off, but he hasn’t managed yet including for 10 hours while we were sleeping. So it looks like we FINALLY outsmarted him! He’s only got one dose of bupro left and then he’s just on gabapentin and veraflox, and it looks like we’re looking at Friday of next week for the sutures and staples to come out, since he had to have the additional wounds stitched up. 

Other than his tantrums he’s doing well! The litter box is a challenge I think because of the cone and he’s still grinding his teeth a little, but the vet thinks that’s a reaction to the veraflox. He can hop pretty fast now too, as we learned when we had him out for a good baby wipe and lap snuggle session, which he used as an escape opportunity. Our other cat seems to slowly be calming down, I think he just gets frustrated when he gets the zoomies and Ziggy can’t participate like he usually does.

Virginia




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6 August 2020 - 10:12 am
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Holy cats!!  This is crazy!!  Cannot believe  Ziggy has continued  to show those cones whose boss!  Up until now a yway.

Your sketch is priceless  and your ingenuity is brilliant!!

So you think it’s the cone itself that’s  driving him over the edge, or the physical reaction (pulling, sticking, pinching, itching) caused by the staples and the incision  itself.  Or both??   Guess it doesn’t  really matter as the cone is necessity regardless.

Ziggy, leave the stitches alone!!!   And your hoomans get a gazillion  gold stars for tryi to outsmart you!  That’s  quite a challenge!

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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6 August 2020 - 11:00 am
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Definitely not my sketch, I don’t want to take credit for it, but if anyone else stumbled across this I figured the visual would help.

I’m not actually sure what’s setting him off. We tried basically everything – the hard cone alone, a smaller and then a larger soft cone, then the vet tried a donut collar with the hard cone on top. The last time when he ripped out staples, he had the donut still on but the hard cone off, and I’d imagine he didn’t bother with the donut because he can reach the incision perfectly well with it on. His trick thus far has basically been to get his front claws (usually his thumb claws, dewclaws, whatever you want to call them) either in the fabric of the cone if it’s a soft one, or whatever’s holding the hard cone on. Then he pushes with his front paws while leaning the weight of his body backwards, and eventually his big dumb head pops out. He’s a REALLY strong cat and he’s also incredibly stubborn, clearly!

I think the goal is the incision, of course, since it must itch and I think he really desperately wants to wash too as he’s a pretty fussy cat about hygiene and the missing leg plus cone means he’s had a lot of trouble not peeing or pooping on himself. And then sometimes I think he’s just having what we call a Big Boy Tantrum because we’ve been keeping him in a large dog crate in our living room where it’s easy to check on him, but he wants to be out roaming the apartment like usual. So he starts trying to find a way out of the crate, gets increasingly frustrated, and then he starts rolling all over the place trying to yank the cone off. Maybe he thinks the cone is stopping him from fitting through the bars? LOL

We let him have a supervised hop around the living room earlier and man he’s fast already! We’re still in the process of rearranging our kitchen/pantry so it’s a mess, but he enjoyed exploring what I’d let him investigate.

The Rainbow Bridge



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6 August 2020 - 12:40 pm
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I LOVE that design! There’s a market for that kitty cone, you need to start manufacturing it! Can you snap a few photos of Ziggy wearing it? I would love to share it in the Tripawds Gear blog . Of course I’ll credit the source if you can share that.

Honestly I agree with your vets, nobody here has reported that their cat was that determined to get rid of the cone. Ziggy is a magician!

It’s nice to know he’s got that spirit, he’s going to make a terrific Tripawd.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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22 August 2020 - 8:11 am
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Hi again! Sorry I didn’t see this for so long, so here’s a long overdue update.

Anything would work really, shoelaces were just what we had handy. I don’t think I would recommend gauze since it’s kind of stretchy, and the person we got the idea from said she used a long ribbon, and we started our looping at the front instead of the back as she showed in her diagram. I’m not sure if it’s standard but our hard cone had four loops so like I said, the middle of our shoelaces started at the front of his throat (easy since it was two tied together, so the knot went under his chin). Each end went all the way around through all four loops, back out at the throat on the opposite side where it started. Here’s a picture of the cone when it’s off the cat, with the laces ready to be tightened. So you can see that each end comes out on the opposite loop from where it started. From there, we made an X on the front of his chest and looped each end around under his armpits. Made another X on his back, then looped each end through the two back loops of the cone, in towards each other/the center of his neck or his spine. And then all tied off with a bow right there.

Here are a couple of pictures I managed to get of Ziggy in his cone rig. Chest view (sorry about the fluff blocking the view!) and a pretty good view of the finished set-up on his back.

Things we found to watch out for were, of course, the tightness of the loop around his neck. The other big thing was that Ziggy would start tucking his front legs in, especially his elbows, so that we were accidentally giving him room to wiggle out. I will also warn that despite several times of us being sure that the whole thing was perhaps a bit too much on the tight side and leaving it that way because he’s deceptively fluffy… HE STILL ESCAPED THIS. Not even once which I could have chalked up as a fluke, but three different times. Once it was partially tied, once he was trailing the strings which lead to a hilarious few moments of trying to catch him to remove it while his brother was pouncing on the trailing shoelaces and yanking him backwards… and the third time, the whole thing was still tied, with the double-knotted bow at the back. I genuinely have no explanation for how he got out of it that last time.

Fortunately the vet said that he could go without the cone provided that he wasn’t chewing his staples, and he’s shown absolutely no interest in doing that! He washes them gently during normal grooming and otherwise leaves them alone. We’ve still been keeping him in the bathroom at night but without the cone and he seems very happy with that. Only reason we’ve been bothering is to keep him away from the clumping litter box that Herbie uses.

The biggest news is that all of the staples are (finally!) due to be removed this Wednesday, YAY!!!!!! We had to take him back to have one small spot closed up – he has that Y incision because of the necrotic tissue removal, and there was an open spot in the middle that was smallish and healthy but gross. It was leaking like crazy, obviously, and apparently we got to see all of the stuff that the body normally handles internally. They produce fibrin as things knit together and heal, and normally the body just reabsorbs that as things heal. With that open spot, we could see the fibrin which was okay until a couple of chunks started coming out. They were kind of spongy little chunks of… well, meat? I likened it to ground beef when I called the vet and was like OKAY THERE ARE BITS OF STUFF COMING OUT OF MY CAT NOW PLEASE HELP. She had a good laugh about how Ziggy’s just run us through the wringer with everything that’s happened with his healing process – normally someone might see one or two of these, but we’ve had the full spectrum. To recap, we had an initial mild infection that ruptured in the car, then the necrotic tissue that had to be surgically removed, then a lot more leaking, then what we thought were some phantom limb attacks, then the incision opening up slightly at the juncture, and the fibrin which necessitated more staples all while he was escaping every single thing he was put in to keep him away from the staples. She wanted to wait a full two weeks after the last staple placement to give him plenty of time to heal and so here we are, a full month from his initial amputation, FINALLY at the end of his healing process.

The happy news? Ziggy is adjusting absolutely beautifully. He’s had a couple more episodes of what we guessed might be phantom limb pain and oddly he’s a lot more prone to growling when he gets scared, but we figure that’s because he knows he’s not 100% and also possibly due to the gabapentin stoned-ness. When there are people outside our apartment doing renovation work he runs off growling to hide somewhere, other than that he’s fine and he usually comes back out pretty quickly.

He’s figured out jumping onto his favorite lap spot on the couch with only one faceplant, he gets into an extra chair to snooze, he takes over my wife’s footstool at the computer. He shimmies under the couch to sleep under the center console even though we wish he wouldn’t, he’s scaled the cat tree with no mishaps at all, he’s been into the bathroom sink several times, and about the only places he can’t get are the kitchen counters and a side table in our office where we leave a bowl of water for them. It took a few minutes for him to work out using an old CPU as a step to get up there, so we left that where it is instead of throwing it out as planned. We’re not sure if he can get on the bed yet since he can’t go in there until we’ve given him a good scrubbing, as he still smells faintly of pee deep down in his fur, poor guy.

And he is fast! He can just about beat Herbie to the kitchen when it’s time for dinner, and when they’re galloping through the apartment I can barely even tell that he only has 3 legs. Personality-wise he’s just the same as before. He still comes in to smooth my legs when he wants attention, he takes annoyingly long naps in my lap when I’m sitting on the couch, he rolls around on the floor and gives us his belly for rubs and makes vampire teefie faces when he looks at us upside-down. Partially I just wanted to let all of you know how things were going but mostly I wanted to thank all of you so much for the support, concern and advice we’ve gotten along the way!

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