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.
JUMP TO FORUMS ↓
Join The Tripawds Community
Learn how to help three legged dogs and cats in the forums below. Browse and search as a guest or register for free and get full member benefits:
Get the new book by the Tripawds founders for life lessons learned from their Chief Fun Officer Jerry G. Dawg! Download the e-book, and find fun Be More Dog apparel and gifts in the Be More Dog Bookstore.
Our 6 year old female domestic short hair cat Harley is currently experiencing what appears to be post surgery pain. Harley had a rear right leg amputation from a cancerous tumor and is flipping out (growing, howling, flipping, backing up, rolling over) with episodes of pain that appear out of nowhere for no reason, out of a dead sleep or not and while she’s on her medication (Gabepentin, Onsior & Buprenex). We recently took her off Buprenex. They are very intense, happen in series of three or more and we feel helpless. It’s been 7 days today and the episodes continue. She is doing great otherwise, walking, eating, drinking and using the litter box.
Is there anything you learned that would help us or do you think each situation is different? We don’t really have any good advice from our Vet who is a expert surgeon in this field. Medication and time is the only thing we know at the moment. It’s tough because she cannot be left alone in fear she will hurt herself, even though we have her in a large dog cage with plenty of room (wall padding and all). We let her out of her cage for a short period of time several times a day to stretch, eat, drink and use the litter but these episodes that are seizure-like continue. Will these episodes continue or go away? Is this common with this type of surgery for cats? How long will they continue? Is this nerve pain, muscle spasm, phantom leg pain or medication side affects? Should we not let her out of he cage during the day fearing she is over doing it?
Your responses are greatlyy appreciated.
Thank you . . . desperate Tripawd Mommy and Daddy.
I’m so glad you registered as a member and started a new topic for Harley, and very sorry things are so tough. Here’s what I mentioned in my reply to your post in the other topic:
“You may have the best surgeon in the world that has done a major procedure, an amputation, or whatever, but maybe doesn’t know how to deal with the post-operative pain at home. That doesn’t mean he’s a bad veterinarian, we just can’t all be good at everything,” says Dr. Mike Petty, DVM, CVPP, CVMA, CAAPM, CCRT.
Also, please see our article, “How to Help Amputee Cats Walking Backwards”
If she is still having pain and your vet is not helping, it’s time to find a specialist. We can help find one for you if your vet doesn’t know of one that they can refer you to.
While you are trying to determine if Harley is still having pain you might want to apply ice packs to his surgical site. I would use cold damp facecloths on Mona and she loved it. Cold helps with inflammation. Mona would also lie on her surgical side on a cold tile floor. Some people use ice packs wrapped in towels. Put the pack on for 10-15 minutes two or three times a day. Hope that helps.
Kerren and Tripawd Kitty Mona
22 February 2013
Just wondering how the stitch removal went. Are you seeing the same episodes? Hang in there. We know it’s jard to watch your sweet kitty like this, but this will get figured out.
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!
Stitch removal went great. However, the episodes continue and were up to four today, one really bad. At a total loss. It’s overwhelming because we have an oncology appointment tomorrow so a lot to deal with.
I can’t seem to find anyone who has been through this and was successful in resolving it. I found several cases but there’s no ending. I wonder what happened there??? I hate to go into chemo treatment with these pain episodes. I fear she will be miserable.
Thanks for reaching out. You have no idea what it means to me to be able to talk to someone about it.
Did you discuss these pain episodes with the vet yesterday? Perhaps the gabapentin dosage needs to be adjusted.
It takes a lot of time to research your specific concern on this site. Perhaps read through these searches: https://tripawd…..;include=3
You may find some cats with somewhat similar experiences but not everyone continues on this site. They might not say how it was resolved.
I think its really important to find a vet who knows how to manage pain. It might be worth discussing with the oncologist tomorrow. Acupuncture might help.
I’m so sorry the backward walking is still happening. It’s so distressing for you both.
Yes, I’m also curious what the vet said. A pain specialist is probably needed at this point, especially if your vet doesn’t have any answers. The International Veterinary Assn. of Pain Management veterinarians directory can help locate one of these experts near you. I’m also happy to help you find one.
1 September 2018
Rosalie reached out via private message to me as my boy Lego had this same issue back in 2018. Here’s my reply to her, hope it helps!
I am so sorry to hear your Harley is having the same issues. Every vet I spoke to was unable to give a clear answer. After months of Lego having these episodes, they just stopped. I tried pain medication, neurological meds, psychiatry meds, massage, etc. and nothing helped. It’s so heart breaking and they are so intense. I spoke to a friend of mine who had his own leg amputated to gain some insight. He said that yes phantom limb pain is real and can be intermittent but it seems to decrease as time goes on. He said in the first few months, they’re were “weird” sensations. They happened as the nerves healed and the numbness at the surgical site began to dissappear. Honestly, I believe those sensations combined with the shock of a leg no longer being there attributed to these episodes. It was hard to watch but we started to realize certain things triggered them. A big stretch would almost always trigger it as he finished stretching. And anytime it would begin, we would repeat in a calm voice until it ended, “It’s ok, you’re ok, it’s, you’re ok” and then reassure and love on him after. We kept him in a bathroom most of the time so there was really nothing he could injury himself on during and episode. Today, he’s a totally different cat, no episodes, he runs, climbs to the top of a 6 foot cat tree, etc. Although, he does have a hard time scratching his right ear. Naturally, he’ll turn to itch it and I’ll see his nub fur wiggle so then I’ll scratch his ear for him.
There were times that I felt I failed him, made the wrong choice, and felt his quality of life might not be the best. In, his case, I was wrong to think that. He needed some time to heal and adjust. I had to remind myself that if I had just lost a limb, it would be a huge adjustment. I truly hope, sooner than later, that Harley stops having these episodes. I’m sorry you’re going through it too. Hope this helps!!
Bryanna aka Lego’s Mama
6 July 2017
Hello Rosalie and hi to you also Haley!
Sorry to hear recovery is not going quite as smoothly as hoped. Tuxedo my baby lost a rear leg and partial pelvis due to an incident with a dog several years back. He also had some mild backward scooting/hissing episodes early on in his recovery, not to the extent you described. They would last maybe 5-10 seconds three to four times a day. During his recovery I let him have full roam of the house because he is very vocal and the extended duration of his recovery. So I got to observe him in many different places around the house. I noticed Tuxedo’s episodes always happened when he was trying to get to his feet when he was on a soft/cushiony surface. So I stiffened up places where he liked to hang out and it seemed to help a bit. My vet attributed them to a combination of frustration and relearning how to do stuff that used to be second nature. Best as I can recall they ended around 3 months after surgery. Tuxedo was never on any specific medication for the episodes. Like Bryanna said in her case, Tuxedo’s episodes gradually ceased.
Hopefully the same holds for Haley. I know it is difficult, but try to keep positive. Haley has been through a major physical change and needs time to find her new norm. Perhaps try keeping a record of the episodes you see, note the circumstances/location, etc. Maybe you will find a common thread that you can assist with in some fashion.
Hugs and best wishes,
-Dawna, Tuxedo, Lilly, and angel Dazzle