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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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General Questions about Post Op Recovery
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Forum Posts: 19
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29 April 2019
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4 May 2019 - 7:08 pm
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Hello all! 

My baby girl had her rear hind leg amputated 4/29 and since then has been a back and forth between the vet, 40 min car rides, and home. I’ve been trying to research more information about this whole process whenever I have the energy, and have also been meaning to check out the various kitty blogs on the site and learn more about everyone’s experience. 

Since everyone’s experience is different, I would really like to hear more about: 

1) How many days post op did you take off their sutures? What was it like after they were removed for them? 

2) How long until you let them roam other areas besides their recovery room?

3) How many days post op did you let them try to climb furniture, stairs, etc.? 

and most importantly… 

4) Did you taper them off their medications? How? And what were those medications? 

My baby girl currently has a fentanyl patch (put on way too late, frustrating!smiley7) and she finally seems more comfortable. She’s also on gabapentin every 8 hours. My vet has given me instructions for these but I would like to hear varied feedback. Thanks. smiley4

~ Vanessa + Mew ~ 

Virginia




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4 May 2019 - 8:58 pm
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What’s  your sweet girl’s name and the reason for the amp?  How old is she?  What was the reason you’ve  had her back and forth to the Bet?  Sounds like it was pain related  and she wasn’t  given enough pain management from the start…maybe?

Is she eating, drinking, peeing?  Sometimes  pooping takes a few days vecause  of rhe meds.  Is she in an antibiotic  too?

Oir kitty experts will chime in, but “generally” stitches are in for approximately  two weeks or a little less. “Generally” their sparkle starts to ,come me back around this time, slowly  but surely.  Every recovery  is different though.

Our kitty experts will chime in with better answers for your questions.   We do see a lot of cats given buprenorphine…or something  like that….for paun.  The length  of time can be anywhere from ten days or less,  or longer.  Just depends  on the individual  kitty.  And generally a ,little tapering is involved, but your Bet can advise you.

They will also chime in on when to give them free roam, all about climbing,  etc.

Sounds like you are doing an excellent  job of researching  everything possible  about giving  your kitty a smooth recovery.❤

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!

Forum Posts: 19
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4 May 2019 - 10:47 pm
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Hi benny,

her name is Mew and she’s 8 years old. She’s a tiny little 7 pounder. She had formed a lump on her knee that was continuing to get bigger and the poor thing had started to limp to avoid putting weight on it. The vet I was seeing at the time thought maybe she had pulled something and gave her an anti-inflammatory and sent me home. When the limping continued, I took her to the vet I used to see before I moved and she immediately knew something was wrong. We took x-rays and she said she believed it was osteosarcoma. I got a second opinion from a specialist and he said he believed it was a tumor and it was hard to tell whether it was “growing out of the bone or into the bone.” Because of the placement and the size, he recommended amputation especially since it had not metastasized. It’s never easy choosing amputation, and sometimes it’s still hard to see her wobble and learn how to balance herself but I know it was the right thing to do. smiley6Phew story time icon_razz

Thankfully she’s eating and drinking but is going through a little watery spell in the bathroom department. She’s not on any antibiotics though. I have the suture removal scheduled for 11 days after surgery so I’m worried this might be too soon icon_question

~ Vanessa + Mew ~ 

Michigan


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5 May 2019 - 3:14 am
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Hi Mew and Mom,

Sally has given spot on input! Glad to hear Mew is eating and drinking for you.

Was the leg sent off for pathology to know what the C was Osteo or otherwise?

I’m so sorry on the lack of pain meds that is infuriatingsmiley7, and it should never happen. We see it too often! I’ m glad you advocated and got Mew what she needed.

Purrkins is a front leg amp he will be on three legs this July three years post op he had a soft tissue sarcoma on his wrist. He had his recheck in March and still cancer free.🙌🏻🎉

To answer your questions

1) How many days post op did you take off their sutures? What was it like after they were removed for them? 

 Purrkins stitches were taken out in 14 days. He was a FREE KITTY and usually once those stitches come out the majority get their sparkle back if they haven’t already. The average for stitches or staples is 10-14 days.

2) How long until you let them roam other areas besides their recovery room?

We had instructions for restricted activity for 14 days until the stitches were removed. We stayed in a spare room “recovery room” 14 days. We brought a few things back into the recovery room day 3 Purrkins tried his foam pet steps. Day 9 he was learning the other pet steps and back up into a window seat all supervised of course. We wanted him to relearn in that room where we had exercise foam pads down so he wouldn’t get hurt as he relearned his new body.

3) How many days post op did you let them try to climb furniture, stairs, etc.? 

Purrkins was free to do all kitty things after his stitches were out – he had free reign of the house on that 14 th day. He did all the house steps, and you name it that day he was so happy to be out of that room he had to check every ounce of the house to make sure everything was as he left it.;)  We have kitty steps to any area he frequents to protect that remaining front leg there is no jumping down. He uses his pet steps.

4) Did you taper them off their medications? How? And what were those medications? 

Purrkins was on Fentanyl, and I’m not sure what else in the hospital he came home with Buprenorphine and Gabapentin. His med duration was 12 days Buprenorphine and 14 days Gabapentin & then to acupuncture to help get off those meds with no pain.

As Sally has said all kitties and recoveries differ and what we are sent home for how long differ. What I know now I would have had Purrkins on both meds for 14 days. We did not have instructions to taper off the meds and believe we should have. Do ask your Vet about it. We have learned since that Gabapentin is supposed to be tapered off; however, I am unsure if that depends on how long they are on it or not? We didn’t have any issues, but again we went for acupuncture.

The meds might be giving Mew loose poop, or we might be back to the original topic from the Ask the Vet forum. A food allergy? I would look into adding a probiotic and see if that helps along with the diet change.

Shout if you have other questions that is what we are here for.
Scratches and smooches to your little Miss Mew!
Holly & Purrkins❤️

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5 May 2019 - 12:35 pm
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Hi Holly, 

I’m glad to hear Purrkins is still cancer free, he’s such a cute boy! I also learned a lot from your posts/blog, thanks for putting the time in so the rest of us could learn a thing or two. smiley4 We did send the leg off for pathology so I’ll be expecting those results around Monday or Tuesday. Yes it’s very frustrating to see pets not get the pain management they need, and also in my girl’s case, medicine they can withstand the taste of. I was told that it was normal for her to be drooling after giving her her liquid medication icon_rolleyesBut clearly not since she was drooling her medicine out causing my baby to be in pain for longer than she needed to. I finally got better flavored Gabapentin for her (we switched out the marshmallow flavor for chicken) and she’s muchhhhhh more calm when it comes to administering time. I couldn’t blame my girl for turning into a cat tornado but I feel like she should have been given a different flavor as soon as I brought up how much she was drooling and how difficult she was to give medicine to. Which I feel is the result of playing vet roulette and talking to a different person every time I called since this is a specialty hospital and not my usual vet. smiley13I also wish I had started her on Gabapentin prior to the surgery as I read on this site previously. 

1) Did you stay home with Purrkins the day he got his stitches out? 

2) + 3) That is definitely a great idea having the steps to make everything easier! I’m currently browsing Amazon for some as we speak 

4) That’s interesting that you also did not receive instructions to taper off. I plan on asking my vet ASAP but I’m glad acupuncture worked! I will definitely have to look more into that as well. 

As for Mew we finally had a non-watery incident today poopiconFollowed by me quickly scooping her up and away because she is still wobbly so a possible face plant worries me a bit… I don’t know if that’s cheating. icon_lol

~ Vanessa + Mew ~ 

Michigan


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6 May 2019 - 4:06 am
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bluemoon said rnrnI’m glad to hear Purrkins is still cancer free, he’s such a cute boy!

Hi Vanessa,

Thank you! It is an enormous relief when we get the all-clear after those checkups they are nervewracking.

I also learned a lot from your posts/blog, thanks for putting the time in so the rest of us could learn a thing or two.

Your welcome that was what we were hoping to do when we documented Purrkins journey. Glad you have found some downtime to dig around on the site we have loads of information on here.

We did send the leg off for pathology so I’ll be expecting those results around Monday or Tuesday.

We will keep our fingers and paws crossed for the best! I remember waiting on the pathology report and nervously waiting to hear back. Let us know, please.

Yes it’s very frustrating to see pets not get the pain management they need, and also in my girl’s case, medicine they can withstand the taste of. I was told that it was normal for her to be drooling after giving her her liquid medication

It is maddening! I want to see these docs have the same surgery and go home with nothing or something they can’t tolerate in their mouth for pain. It would never happen, and it should not happen to our animals. GRRR! Drooling or frothing at the mouth is likely normal for anyone to have something bitter and nasty in their mouth right? BLAH 🤢Cats drool if the medicine is bitter or gross, but it is not IMO necessary ok “normal”!! It’s not pleasant for them, and they should not have to endure when we have so many options these days. I mixed Purrkins Gabapentin (his was a capsule). I opened it up and mixed it with tuna water and syringed it back up to give it to him. Tuna water masks a lot of bitter meds.

But clearly not since she was drooling her medicine out causing my baby to be in pain for longer than she needed to. I finally got better flavored Gabapentin for her (we switched out the marshmallow flavor for chicken) and she’s muchhhhhh more calm when it comes to administering time. I couldn’t blame my girl for turning into a cat tornado

I would have been a tornado too! I’m sorry you guys had to go thru that. Its no fun for either of you! I am relieved to hear she is calm that means pain-free! Gaba has a sedating effect at first which is helpful! I’m glad you got something she likes and its working for you both.

When does she get her patch removed?

but I feel like she should have been given a different flavor as soon as I brought up how much she was drooling and how difficult she was to give medicine to.

I agree that is why they make compounded meds patches and long-lasting injections. There is no need for the drooling.

 Which I feel is the result of playing vet roulette and talking to a different person every time I called since this is a specialty hospital and not my usual vet. I also wish I had started her on Gabapentin prior to the surgery as I read on this site previously.

We can’t go back, but I hear you I would have also liked to have started the Gaba before the surgery, but we learned of that after the fact along with the tapering off.

1) Did you stay home with Purrkins the day he got his stitches out? 

Yes, I was home with Purrkins. It was a day I won’t ever forget as a lot of this journey is! He was so ready to be FREE and be a cat again! We were terrified for him to try the house & go back to his new normal to see how he managed. He did brilliantly; We were in Awe! We didn’t need to worry as much as we did. Purrkins showed us how capable on three he was.rnWe did see areas in the house we had to adjust or block off we didn’t anticipate would be an issue. If you are not home that day and you get the all free from the vet. Have Mew stay in the area where she has been recovering until you can watch and see how she does and what possibly might need changes.

2) + 3) That is definitely a great idea having the steps to make everything easier! I’m currently browsing Amazon for some as we speak

Fantastic on the steps did you find some? Measure the areas where you want to place them.

It will lessen the stress on the remaining leg. It will help Mew get up easier. Purrkins took to using his steps right away I used treats to show him one time, and that was all it took, placement is vital we have them in front of areas he would have been jumping up and down from. We added things in as we could and when we saw something needed to be adjusted in some manner. Think long term on three.

4) That’s interesting that you also did not receive instructions to taper off. I plan on asking my vet ASAP but I’m glad acupuncture worked! I will definitely have to look more into that as well.

Please do ask and let us know what they suggest. Acupuncture helped immensely on all counts. Purrkins continues to go for acupuncture and Chiropractic adjustments for his “tune-ups” our Vet calls them;) 

As for Mew we finally had a non-watery incident today Followed by me quickly scooping her up and away because she is still wobbly so a possible face plant worries me a bit… I don’t know if that’s cheating.

Yay for formed poop! smiley_clap👏🏻🎉Nope, I don’t think it’s cheating! 😁 If we can prevent a face plant, by all means, do “cheat”

Mew will appreciate it.

It’s never easy choosing amputation, and sometimes it’s still hard to see her wobble and learn how to balance herself but I know it was the right thing to do. Phew story time

No, it’s not an easy decision! It is the hardest decision we ever had to make, and Mew WILL get her hop down and become more steady every day you will see improvements! It was the right thing to do you did this for Mew, not to her. Keep healing Mew rest is best! Keep us posted, please!

Holly & Purrkinssp_hearticon2

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7 May 2019 - 4:36 pm
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Yeah I’m really glad she’s taking her medicine without much protest now. I always worried about her taking medication in the future because she never needed to in her life but it just takes some getting used to for both of us. 

I’m taking Mew’s patch off tomorrow, and her 10 days of Gabapentin are up on Friday. I called the specialty vet hospital that prescribed the medicine/did the amputation and they said that she should not be in pain after taking the patch off tomorrow but if she is that I could re-start her on the leftover Hydromorphone. I also asked about tapering her off the Gabapentin and the vet technician told me that they “do not recommend it”. I wasn’t comfortable just taking her off it so I asked her if I wanted to, what she would recommend. She said for Gabapentin they really don’t do it and don’t recommend it because there isn’t a right dosage to do it? Strange, and disappointing.smiley13 I reached out to Dr. Petty on Twitter and will try calling my regular vet for her opinion as well. 

That’s great to hear the Purrkins was ready to go as soon as he got his stitches out. I can’t wait to see that for Mew, I feel so bad she’s been cooped up in her room for so long. I would have gone crazy by now smiley5 I bought the Zinus foam steps and the Armakat steps to place in front of my bed and next by our couch since those are her favorite spots but like you said, I’m sure there’s going to be adjustments for this trouble maker! 

Thanks for the insight! 

~ Vanessa + Mew ~ 

The Rainbow Bridge



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7 May 2019 - 4:52 pm
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Mew is making pawgress, that’s wonderful!

I was surprised to read about your vet telling you not to taper the Gabapentin, but I’m not surprised. They’re right, there are no set dosages to do so I’m guessing because this is an “off-label” drug that isn’t officially used for pet pain relief, so all vets do it a bit differently. Our own have told us to stretch out the dosage timing since we can’t split the capsules for Wyatt Ray . I’ll be curious to hear what Dr. Petty says, I think he’s pretty good about Twitter. You may also want to ask our Fairy Vet Mother.

Would love to see photos of the new steps when you have a chance. Mew is one lucky kitty. Good job!

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Virginia




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7 May 2019 - 6:51 pm
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An aside:  Holly while I’m  certainly sorry you had ro join rhis community, it’s clear that the impact you and Purrlins are having here is truly invaluable!  You selflessly give your  time, your humor and your knowledge and all encompassing  expertise that takes a lot of fear out of the equation for new kitty members.

And Mew, you are clearly adored  and in getting the best care possible!

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!

Livermore, CA




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7 May 2019 - 8:51 pm
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A few years ago I was researching gabapentin which had been prescribed for my quad-Pug Tani to help with her arthritis.  It was originally developed as a drug to treat seizures and for that it is given in much higher doses than for pain.  Everything I read for those high doses said you must taper off or seizures could happen.

There seems to be quite a bit of differences in how vets approach the question of tapering off gabapentin and I wonder if it has to do with the dose and the time on the med.

I always try and taper off any pain meds my pups are taking.  For one thing it helps gauge if they are ready without letting the pain get ahead of you if they aren’t ready.  Also my own personal experience with stopping an opioid pain med suddenly (I had only been on it for 5 days and was following Dr. instructions) caused some unpleasant side effects. 

I’m glad Mew is doing OK post op, stitch removal day is almost here!

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

Michigan


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8 May 2019 - 3:41 am
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Watch for pain signals today. Feline Acute Pain Scale and don’t hesitate to phone your Vet if you need something more or an easier med to give Mew. I hope you don’t need to! All cats, dogs, and humans are different. We needed meds longer and acupuncture for Purrkins.

Let us know what Dr.Petty says please. I still wonder if it’s not because they are on the Gaba for a short duration as Karen has also mentioned. I will ask our Traditional Vet when we see him next too.

Great on the steps. We have several of the Armakat steps they are nice and wide and have the depth to them. We have the 4 steps.

Yes, 14 days was a long time in a spare room Purrkins & I were both stir crazy. Mew will show you if she needs assistance to places and we know trouble here toosmiley2 Purrkins doesn’t act like he is missing a limb he knows no limits. That’s where the “trouble” comes in.

Mew will get there soon I promise. Does she go for stitch removal or are they dissolvable?

Keep us posted and good luck today!

Thanks, Sally
Right back at YOU 😘❤️

Scratches to Mew, please!
Holly & Purrkinssp_hearticon2

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8 May 2019 - 4:14 am
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Wishing you luck with Mew as you remove her patch and she continues to recover. Sorry I am late, you have gotten the best from the best advice and support sp_hearticon2what a story!

I just wanted to reiterate that they all have their windows of time for healing. Some take longer than others, and that is ok. No different than us. Huck ended up on meds for about 3 weeks post surgery before I weaned him off. He was in his “guest suite” for a lot longer though, because he was feral and so we were multitasking with recovery and domestication.

I am sorry you have been through the works with medication and pain management . We were there too. Everybody seems to think that just because you have a cat that does not show pain that they are not in pain, sheesh. I would like to see their reaction to having a limb removed with a couple of doses of Tylenol for painsmiley5

I have nothing special to chime in with, you have already gotten awesome information. I am just here to support and welcome you. Like Holly said, if you think Mew is becoming uncomfortable, call your vet and let them know.

Mew is a very lucky kitty to have you sp_hearticon2

Hugs,

Jackie and Huckleberry sp_hearticon2

Hugs,

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

https://paws120.....pawds.com/

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9 May 2019 - 9:39 am
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Thanks for the support everyone smiley4sp_hearticon2I took advantage of Mew being chilled out after pets and removed the fentanyl patch yesterday with a tiny bit of vegetable oil and tossed it securely in the trash. Mew seemed happy to get rid of it too as it was itching her like crazy and she doesn’t seem to be in pain, so far so good! 

I haven’t heard from Dr. Petty but I did call my primary vet and explained how I wasn’t comfortable cutting her off the gabapentin. She said I could give it to her once a day until I see that she’s doing okay and doesn’t need it anymore. So I went from 3x gabapentin daily to 2x daily and starting on Friday when my 10 days are supposed to be up, I’m going to continue her on 1x daily and go from there. I think I will do it every other day when I want to wean her off completely. 

I actually re-scheduled her suture removal for Monday so she will have the two full weeks before removing them, just to be safe, and then I’ll get to spend the rest of the day with her before going back to work on Tuesday. Which to me is too early, I wish I could stay home with her every day especially since she’s so attached to me! My mom will be visiting her for a few days though to help us both transition back to our normal lives. 

I’ll definitely upload some photos of the steps once I re-arrange my furniture (HOW to re-arrange it is a different issue).

A side note, I noticed that as soon as I stopped giving her Onsior her stools started to harden up. I was extra prepared with pumpkin waiting on hand but I never needed to use it. She also goes to the bathroom the exact same time every morning which helps me pick her up in time to avoid any more “smeared on the e-cone, chasing her around the room” accidents icon_lol

~ Vanessa + Mew ~ 

Michigan


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10 May 2019 - 2:16 am
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Great to hear Mew is comfortable fingers crossed she remains pain-free!

Sounds like a brilliant plan on tapering the Gaba as well!

It does seem like they are healed more at the 14 th day stitch removal. I think the people who did not get the FREE to be a cat at stitch removal where 10 dayers. The surgeon will let you know one way or another. We will keep our fingers crossed for all the ALL free!!

Excellent your Mom can come and check on Mew that will take some worry away for you. 

We look forward to seeing pictures we would love to see MEW she is a cutey in her avatar picture.

We rearranged our furniture and made things closer together, e.g., The sofa and the coffee table are really close together just enough for use to walk thru. Purrkins has stairs to the coffee table, and from there he hops to the sofa. Use the furniture as tiers if you can.

I have the nightstands closer to the bed then they used to be because Purrkins goes on those from the bed.
We have steps at the bed — steps to Purrkins window seats.

I quit using any furniture polish, so Purrkins doesn’t slide around on the furniture. Things are clean but not shiny and most importantly not slippery;) We care more about Purrkins safety.

I don’t know if Mew is a counter surfer or not but Purrkins loved hanging out on top of the kitchen cupboards!! Well two days after stitch removal guess where I found Purrkins! YEP scared us to death. smiley3 See i told you we know trouble heresmiley2 
IMG_1090-2.jpgImage Enlarger

We were NOT prepared for that 👀- and it never occurred to us he would head right back up there. He had stopped going up there before his surgery.  Never underestimate a three-legged cat;) Purrkins being a front legger jumps the same way he always did and has no issues whatsoever – it’s the getting down part that is concerning to us to protect that front leg. We put a door on the kitchen entrance to keep Purrkins safe while we are not home and night — just a forewarning. 

Have any questions shout we would be happy to tell you what works or hasn’t for us. We all do things a little different here. We do the better safe than sorry approach and try to protect that remaining front leg. We also added rug runners, rugs and stair treads for traction

Keep healing Mew we will celebrate on your stitch removal! 🎉Did you hear back on the pathology? Has the scooting improved at all?

Keep us posted, please.

Hugs,

Holly & Purrkins❤️❤️❤️

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12 May 2019 - 11:27 am
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I did have a scare with Mew on the 10th, her incision area was twitching the same way it was when she was in pain/needed more medication. By the time I prepared her a syringe of Hydromorphone the twitching had stopped and she was moving around and talking to me like normal so I just kept a close eye on her from there. 

For the first time last night, at around 3 a.m. she started to have a moment of shock/distress at not being able to move her leg anymore and while I knew this was bound to happen, it’s still tough to see her go through that. Thankfully it only lasted about a minute! 

It’s been just about two weeks since the surgery and I have still not heard anything regarding the pathology report. How long did it take everyone else to hear back? I called the first time, they told me only the surgeon that performed the surgery can speak to me about the report and he wasn’t working that day. I called back the next day (11 days since surgery) and they tell me that they don’t see any sign of the actual report and that they’d update me later that day (they didn’t). I plan to call tomorrow and hopefully get some answers. 

Haha Purrkins definitely reminds me of Mew in that sense, she would loooove to climb on top of the cupboards! I have a “window” looking into the kitchen which I’ve made sure there isn’t any room for mew to try to jump up onto the ledge there, and will definitely have to put a gate of some sort at the kitchen entrance because like Holly, I would rather be safe than sorry! 

As for the scooting, I switched out her chicken grain free dry food for the salmon instead, and also started to put neosporin on the base of her tail that she was licking too much (making sure she couldn’t lick it afterwards with a loose self adhering bandage and small piece of gauze). Perhaps it was the stress/pain from beforehand, but I haven’t seen her scoot since so fingers crossed this continues! I plan on switching her to a better quality food as soon as the healing process is over because it seems the healthier the food is for her, the less she wants to eat it. 

Mew has also been going CRAZY trying to lick her incision. Per the vet’s instructions I’ve been putting neosporin on the incision and hydrocortisone around the outside of the incision (only). I was wondering if I could put another ointment on her incision after the stitches come out to help with the itchiness/flakiness. 

I’m not sure how to post pictures on this site but here is a greeting from Mew!

~ Vanessa + Mew ~ 

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