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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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Forum Posts: 58
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11 September 2020 - 1:17 pm
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In Ziggy’s case the trauma was below the knee, and I think her intent was to leave a third of his femur for balance, and she also mentioned that some owners find the look of their rumps less upsetting with the stump. I have no idea how removing it will change the look of his booty, as she put it (yes our vet is hilariously adorable, why do you ask? icon_lol) but honestly I don’t even care. I just want it gone if that will fix the issue.

No idea if they cultured it! I’m guessing no as she only had him for a couple of hours before she called us back? She called infection based on the muscle deteriorating and coming off the bone, and the fact that his body has been using that “belly button” to drain fluid. The only source of that kind of drainage would be an infection, as we’re well past the point where the rest of his incision has completely healed up.

I’m taking notes on things to ask her. Antibiotic type is one, and someone on reddit mentioned giving their kitty cosequin supplements, and anything we can do for his joints is worth it in my book as long as it isn’t harmful!

Livermore, CA




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11 September 2020 - 1:34 pm
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It sounds to me like your vet made the best decisions she could for Ziggy, unfortunately you guys are unlucky with the infection.

I think Maggie had about a third of her femur left. You could see it move sort of although it looked more like muscles moving, you couldn’t see that there was a bone left.  You could feel it though.

And it is ascetically a little nicer to leave a bit of muscle wrapped femur but the important thing is that Ziggy doesn’t care!  And he is low to the ground like my two dogs so it’s harder to see the ‘privates’ anyway smiley4

For comparison here is Maggie:

Mag-standing-at-park-1024x766.jpgImage Enlarger

And here is Elly:

G0051193.jpgImage Enlarger

Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls

Tri-pug Maggie survived a 4.5 year mast cell cancer battle only to be lost to oral melanoma.

1999 to 2010

 

              Maggie's Story                  Amputation and Chemo

The Rainbow Bridge



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11 September 2020 - 1:42 pm
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Oh my gosh I’m getting caught up on Ziggy’s latest news, and am so sorry you guys have to go through surgery again! Unfortunately vet medicine isn’t a perfect science, as much as we hope that it will be, and sometimes poopicon happens. Your vet sounds really great and experienced, and I think you’re correct, that infection just messed up her awesome amputation technique. 

I guess what I’m wondering is, at this point, why not just take the entire stump and do the full amputation? Did I miss that in one of your posts?

I’ve been told by vets that when given the option, most people want the mid-femoral amputation, especially on males, because the residual stump hides their male anatomy. But yes, they tend to go back and forth about which type is best and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a study on this. The newest thinking is to leave as much stump as possible, whereas it was the reverse just 10 years ago. Usually, the remaining limb issues we see are with front-leg amputees with stumps. Rarely do we see it in rear ones, and especially cats. 

Once again Ziggy proves he’s one of a kind! I am sending lots of love for a speedy recovery.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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11 September 2020 - 2:44 pm
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Well Ziggy is neutered and he’s pretty fluffy in the pants area, so it wasn’t to hide his junk! LOL I think it was partially just the whole hindquarter area.

But yes, Jerry, that’s the plan now. His hip itself is fine as far as I’m aware so his pelvis should be fine, her intention is just to go in and remove the piece of femur that’s left in there now. If the issue had been infection only I think we probably would have decided to try the antibiotics first, but if we did that and it fully cleared things up we’d still be left with the issue of the bone. Stump in his case is kind of misleading since it’s pretty much flush with his body.

Krun, like you said with Maggie, for the first maybe week or two when Ziggy walked, we could see his muscle working under there but just muscle, you know? And it happened so gradually that I didn’t really realize it, but it’s the most obvious when he lays on his back and stretches his front and back leg out – it’s almost literally the cut end of the bone with just his skin covering it. You can see the shape of the end of the bone moving under there, and the vet’s concern about an aggressive course of antibiotics is that there’s still going to be nothing padding that bone so he would be at high risk of pressure sores.

Incidentally I think that may also be what’s causing a lot of those fits that we assumed were phantom limb pain. We kind of suspect that there are times when he’s playing and lands wrong, or his brother kicks or bites him or he hops down from a low perch. There’s absolutely no padding over that bone other than his skin and whatever fatty layer is under that so he’s basically landing on the end of his femur and that must hurt him, poor baby. So I think maybe he’s just having a little fit until the pain passes, and that right there is enough to make me agree to the surgery option instead. He’s been through enough already, you know?

The Rainbow Bridge



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11 September 2020 - 4:12 pm
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Yeah it sounds like a good plan considering everything that happened, and the fits of pain–you are probably spot-on with that analysis. Makes total sense!

Well, now that you’ve been through one major surgery recovery this one should be a lot easier. Nobody wants to do it again but at least you are smarter now. And, you have a great cone contraption too!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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11 September 2020 - 4:34 pm
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Well, a cone contraption in theory, LOL. We might still have to get a baby shirt or something to put over it, just to make the laces harder to get off. I’m absolutely dreading the cone battle all over again! It should be a MUCH smaller incision and hopefully this one will heal well the first time… Fingers crossed!

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11 September 2020 - 4:41 pm
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Hi Ziggy and family ( I keep thinking Ziggy Stardust icon_lol)

I have attempted several times to read this from the beginning and finally was able to do that today. My goodness.. you have been through it, haven’t you? 

He must be double jointed to get past all of those cones?? Talk about limber! I know you are going to be hard pressed to want to go there again but after what you have been through you are a pro now, right?

If you don’t mind me adding to everybody’s comments about the infection, having an infection for this long that has gone into the bone is a little concerning. I would ask them to culture some of this drainage and see what antibiotic is most helpful. When they do a culture, they actually get a “chart” of the best/worst helpful medications. It shows them which medications the infection is most resistant to and it also shows them the medications that have had the best success rate. 

When they go in, I am sure they will look at all of the surrounding area to make sure it is healthy. Have they done a blood panel on him lately? They may ask to do one, and in his case I would let them. His results may be helpful for them, and on top of all of this depending on what they see, they may have him run a course medications prior, or they may give him special antibiotics during the procedure to help it be successful. 

Fortunately, (if you can call it that) Huckleberry had a clean break to the femur, and basically all they did was cut the rest of the limb off, tie off the nerves and sew him back up. It was a smooth break and had started to heal because he was feral and we could not get our hands on him, so nature took its course. 

I don’t know the medication you are giving Ziggy, but I have long since been out of the field. They have come up with bigger and better since I was a tech. 

I am fairly certain that several kitties here have had the kind of amputation that you are talking about and they have done well. Cats are very limber in general, and evidently yours is even more so sp_hearticon2

Hopefully all of this will finally come to an end after the procedure so that you can go back to enjoying a normal new life. Lord knows you have earned it!!

Hugs,

Jackie and Huck sp_hearticon2sp_hearticon2sp_hearticon2

Hugs,

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

Huckleberry's Blog

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11 September 2020 - 4:51 pm
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Ziggy Stardust is exactly what we thought too! He had those long hairs when he was a kitten so he looked a little fuzzy, like a star!

I’m still at a loss to explain his cone antics. That last time when he escaped the shoelace harness without even untying it, I honestly just think he teleported out.

The culturing is a good idea. I didn’t know they could do that and the more I think about it, it is worrying because he was on Veraflox for so long – from his initial surgery all the way through the suture removal, which was almost 4 weeks later. Maybe I’m remembering wrong and she said the infection got in through that pocket but I don’t think so. At any rate I’ll ask her to call me Monday after I drop him off for surgery. She’s always really open to questions so I always bombard her!

No clue about the blood panel either. They usually do whatever they want with him so she may have and just didn’t mention it. He’s on Veraflox again now prior to the surgery to try to clear things up but at the very least I’m going to ask her if she’s sure that’s the best antibiotic for him and why the infection got to the bone when he was on it/why it should work this time. I really appreciate you guys pointing that out, I was so flustered and upset by the news that I didn’t even get to thinking about that. She gave him a long-lasting antibiotic injection yesterday and she said she’s going to give him a few more in his post-recovery along with the good stuff in terms of pain meds. Hopefully when we get him back this time he won’t be as listless as he was the first time 

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11 September 2020 - 7:36 pm
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I am not a vet,  not a doctor.  Just thinking of things to help keep you on top of this❤❤❤ Sounds like they are  doing a great job!!

Hugs,

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

Huckleberry's Blog

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11 September 2020 - 7:52 pm
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It’s great advice, Paws! I had no idea culturing the bacteria was even something that might be done in instances like this, so you really are helping tons!

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11 September 2020 - 7:53 pm
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I hope it helps 🤗🥰❤

Hugs,

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

Huckleberry's Blog

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11 September 2020 - 8:26 pm
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AHA! I just want to state that my wife is a genius.

I was sitting here asking her if she remembered what the vet said about how and when this infection happened and my intent to ask her why Veraflox should work now when it didn’t before, and she sighed and was like “I don’t know, why don’t you google Veraflox?”

I am not a smart woman, LMAO. Turns out Veraflox in cats is for skin infections, not bone infections – that was what the first antibiotic shot she gave him was for. Right now the Veraflox is to clean up the infection that spread from the bone back into his muscle and that pocket of skin so that everything will be in better shape for the surgery. Basically we’re treating the bone infection by removing the troublesome thing, and then a course of Veraflox for a while afterwards to make sure the skin and muscle stays clean.

So! He’ll actually be treated with two different antibiotics, the Veraflox and then the long-acting one that I don’t have the name of cause it’s injected and injections are not something I want to know about. The fear of needles is real, y’all. icon_lol

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11 September 2020 - 8:37 pm
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That sounds like a pawsome plan,  really. ❤ sounds like they are hitting it hard,  which imho is a great thing. 

We’ll be cheering you on,  you got this❤

❤❤❤

Hugs,

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

Huckleberry's Blog

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11 September 2020 - 9:07 pm
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I can’t ever say enough wonderful things about our vet! They do so much for us, and she’s so welcoming with all of our concerns and questions. This last call she said they were all so upset by this because they really consider Ziggy part of the family since he (and we) have been through so much with this. I can’t even say how much I trust her when it comes to his care, she’s incredible. 

The Rainbow Bridge



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12 September 2020 - 1:06 pm
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Well with the two antibiotics this should finally get him on the right track to healing! Ask your vet about a good probiotic supplement to make sure that all the good bacteria in his stomach isn’t totally stripped away from the medications. 

And give yourself some credit ya hear? You are definitely smart! Look at all that you’ve learned from this experience. Sure, it’s the kinds of lessons none of us want to have, but still. You are wiser and more knowledgeable than ever when it comes to a cat’s surgery recovery smiley_clap This next phase should definitely be easier than the first time around.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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