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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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Still trying to make a decision
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Forum Posts: 16
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20 October 2020 - 8:50 pm
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I have a phone consultation with Lucky’s current surgeon on Thursday.  I have been reading everything I can get my hands on and working on my list of questions.  However, a few questions I feel would be better answered here.

Has anyone had a problem with a change in attitude?  Lucky is a spunky kitten and nothing holds him back.  I would hate to see that change after amputation.

Do tripawds develop spinal issues due to only having 3 legs? Or are they more apt to get arthrits in the other legs?

I am going to call another veterinary medical hospital that is much bigger than my vet clinic and see about getting a second opinion.  Their description of their surgery and anesthesia protocols are in line with everything I have read on this forum/blogs.  I wish this was more of a clear cut decision.  I keep wondering if I should just wait and see what happens.

Any thoughts would be helpful

Barb & Lucky

The Rainbow Bridge



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21 October 2020 - 10:41 am
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Good for you to get a second opinion! The more information you have the more confident you will feel about whatever you decide. I will try to answer your immediate questions:

Has anyone had a problem with a change in attitude?  Lucky is a spunky kitten and nothing holds him back.  I would hate to see that change after amputation.

Only during recovery when taking pain medications. Generally after the 3 week mark, as long as pain is controlled during recovery and any potential phantom pain addressed, the majority of cats go on to live very hoppy lives on three just as they did before.

When it comes to attitude, the biggest challenge is usually that of the human’s. Being confident and self-assured is the best medicine, and when people feel anxious, scared and nervous all the time during recovery, it makes it that much harder on the Tripawd. 

Do tripawds develop spinal issues due to only having 3 legs? Or are they more apt to get arthrits in the other legs?

Rehab and orthopedic experts have told us that yes, over time a Tripawd is much more susceptible to these types of issues. Since animals aren’t designed to move the way a Tripawd does, over time the altered gait and weight distribution can take a toll. BUT honestly, the changes aren’t much different than what you would normally see in any geriatric animal, it just tends to happen sooner in Tripawds. And, there are many things you can do to mitigate the effects, from weight control to ensuring your cat has a safe home environment.

Also, keeping in contact with a rehabilitation therapist can alert you to any potential problems that might come up. That’s one reason why the Tripawds Foundation can pay for your first rehab visit , as a way to get folks in the door to ensure their Tripawd has the best chance at living a pain-free life.

Hope this helps. Fire away with any other questions!

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




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21 October 2020 - 4:42 pm
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Ditto to everything  Jerry said

Good for getting a second  opinion.  Heck, some here have even gone for three and four other opinions.

Jist want to add that, even with four leggers, there are no guarantees  that they won’t have spinal issues or arthritis either.   

As Jerry said, after proper recovery there is no reason Lucky can’t  be his spunky self.

Continue to do your research  and gain knowledge.  Andnyes, ask any questions  here that come up.

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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21 October 2020 - 8:31 pm
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I have spent the last 3 nights reading, studying blogs, forum entries, the Cool Tips for Tripawd Cats .  I have my list of questions for the surgeon. I would love to share them with you all but I don’t know how to attach them.  HELP!!! I think I figured it out.  Give me any feedback you’d like!!  Thanks

Questions for Lucky’s Surgeon

Is Lucky in pain?

 

Is the amputation recovery going to be easier than living with his stump?

 

Is Lucky a good candidate for amputation surgery? Why or why not?

 

Can he handle the surgery and recovery?

 

How will his condition, size and age affect the recovery?

 

What ramifications / problems could he have if we don’t remove the stump?

 

ASSESSING THE PRACTICE:

Is the clinic accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA)?

 

How often do you perform amputations?

 

How are overnight hospital stays handled? 

 

Is there an overnight employee?    Vet or licensed technician?

 

Are they there all night or do they stop in periodically?

 

SURGERY & ANESTHESIA:

Who makes up your surgery team?

 

How many assistants/techs/

 

Are there any specific conditions or other aspects of Lucky’s health that increases his risk for anesthetic complications?

If Yes, what precautions are you taking to minimize those risks & to deal w/ those complications should they occur?

 

What are the most common anesthetic complications that pets like mine experience while undergoing anesthesia for this type of procedure?

 

Can you describe how Lucky will be anesthetized?

   Pre – anesthesia meds

   Pre-oxygenation

   Induced by IV meds

   Intubated

   Maintenance of anesthesia w/ anesthetic gases (isoflurane / sevoflurane)

   Monitoring on regular basis during surgery and in recovery

 

Who will be monitoring & managing anesthesia for Lucky? 

What is their experience level & are they credentialed?

 

Will Lucky’s anesthetists be dedicated to monitoring anesthesia or will they be performing other tasks during surgery?

 

How will Lucky be monitored under anesthesia?

   Heart rate

   BP

   Respiratory rate

   Temperature

   Oxygen saturation

 

Will Lucky be monitored during recovery from anesthesia?

 

What can I do to make Lucky’s upcoming anesthesia & procedure go smoothly & how can I help maximize his recovery?

   Pre-op feeding / water

   Pre-op medication

 

What pain management protocols do you practice for amputation surgery?

–          Pre-op Gabapentin to lessen likelihood of phantom pain

–          Nerve blocks during surgery (Bupivacaine)

–          MLK (morphine) drip during and after surgery

–          Fentanyl patch

–          Constant Rate Infusion (CRI) – 1-4 different pain meds via IV catheter before, during & after surgery

 

How long can I expect surgery to last?

 

Will you leave a stump or remove the entire area to the hip?

 

Will you use staples or stitches to close the incision?

 

How long will he be in the hospital?

 

What must he be able to do prior to being discharged?

 

What do you do to prevent seromas?

 

Do you use a pressure bandage at all?

 

Will Lucky have a drain?

 

RECOVERY:

What should I expect after surgery?

What complications should I look out for?

 

What if I think something is wrong after hours?  Who do I call?

 

Will the incision be bandaged or open?  Do I have to change the bandage?

 

Will he have an E-collar?

Can we use an alternative?  VetMed Wear – suit for amputees

 

What medications will he go home with?

            Injectables at hospital – Simbadol (buprenorphine) lasts 24 hrs

                        Nocita lasts up to 3 days

            Gabapentin (nerve / phantom pain )

            Amitriptyline (reduces phantom pain / anxiety)

            NSAID (meloxicam / Metacam, Deracoxib, Ketoprophen, Carprophen/Rimadyl)

            Opiods (Tramadol /Tapentadol)      Use benzodiazepines w/ opiods? 

NOT BUTORPHANOL

            Amantadine (pain reducer)      Use w/ Gabapentin & NSAIDS

 

What do I need to watch for that would indicate he doesn’t have sufficient pain management ?

 

What kind of side effects can there be from the meds?

 

What do you do if you miss a dose?

 

How do you deal with phantom pain ?

 

 Do I use ice or heat therapy after surgery? Rotate heat 3 mins / ice 2 mins / always end with ice

   Ice first 72 hours

   Heat after 72 hour

 

Massage therapy?

 

Farablock blanket – alleviates pain by shielding the body from man made & environmental electromagnetic fields (EMF) which is related to phantom pain

 

Are amputees more likely to have arthritis in other limbs?  Spinal issues?

 

Joint supplements?

 

Rehabilitation Therapy

   What are your thoughts on it?

 

   Where do we go?

 

   How do we find a certified canine rehabilitation therapist (CCRT)?

 

 That’s all folks! smiley4



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21 October 2020 - 8:56 pm
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Wow, great work on the questions. 

I’ve skimmed your questions and noticed you mentioned a stump. Based on problems that others have had with a vet leaving a stump I’d recommend no stump. I don’t see the rationale for leaving one and when left some people found problems with it healing properly and needed to get another surgery. Others here may have an opinion on this.

Of course, you may want to consider cost. The longer the cat is at the vet, the more it will cost. Mona was 8 years old when she had her amputation and she went to the vet’s house the first night then she came home.

You ask about a change in attitude – oh yes, Mona came home with more attitude icon_lol She did become the boss of the house, very comfortable at vet clinics and it turns out she likes car rides.

I hope you find a vet who helps you make the best decision for you and Lucky.

Kerren and Tripawd Kitty Mona

The Rainbow Bridge



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22 October 2020 - 2:15 pm
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You are pawesome! I love that you are getting prepared with all the right questions to ask. They’re going to love you too, because great vets LOVE it when pet parents ask questions ahead of time. 

The questions are all relevant and about the only thing I would suggest is instead of asking for a canine rehab therapist, just inquire about an animal rehab therapist since there’s currently no feline rehab certification (yet!). 

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
Latest Tripawds News
Read my story here.

Support the Tripawds Foundation!

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23 October 2020 - 7:52 pm
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Well I finally got to talk to the surgeon today. She does a few amputations a year, anesthesia and surgical procedures are up to par. She didn’t seem too concerned about pain meds. He would come home on Gabapentin and Onsior. She doesn’t think he will have any problem adjusting to 3 legs as he basically is already doing it. She also doesn’t think he will need rehabilitation. There is no overnight staff in the hospital. She said he probably could come home the same day as surgery. She has done a referral to the specialist I want to get a second opinion from and doesn’t have a problem with it. 

Any thoughts?

Virginia




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23 October 2020 - 8:37 pm
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First of all, GREAT list of questions!!

So the second opinion  is an Orthopedic Surgeon?  I would definitely  feel more comfortable  with a Surgeon who does a lot of amputations!  Plus, if possible, you do want to have your sweet kitty stay at an overnight  fully staffed clinic for  one night.  Obviously nof that’s not possible, coming  home the same day is doable, just not ideal.

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!

The Rainbow Bridge



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23 October 2020 - 9:04 pm
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Ditto what Sally mentioned.

Also, a lot of vets don’t think animals “need” rehab therapy, because most people view rehabilitation therapy as something for very physically compromised patients, a patient with an injury that needs healing. Most pets come out of surgery and bounce back quickly, but there is so much to know about keeping a Tripawd injury-free as they age.

We have discovered that even one rehab consultation is so beneficial for us as pet parents, to get a customized evaluation of our pet to find out what their capabilities and limitations are, and how we can keep them strong and injury free for life. 

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
Latest Tripawds News
Read my story here.

Support the Tripawds Foundation!

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26 October 2020 - 6:32 pm
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Got our appointment with the orthopaedic surgeon!!  It is on Nov. 12.  I’m going to keep Lucky on the list for surgery on the 17th until I get that second opinion.

On another front, my husband is now more comfortable with the idea of amputating the stump.  That is a relief.  I didn’t want to do the surgery if he wasn’t on board with it.

Virginia




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26 October 2020 - 8:01 pm
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Good plan!

And glad you and your husband are on the same page now.  We know it’s ja4d to wrap your head around the word “amputation “.  O ce the research is done though and you have the knowledge, ot makes it all less scary.

Keep us posted.

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!

The Rainbow Bridge



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26 October 2020 - 10:22 pm
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I’m so glad you guys could reach an agreement. It’s so much easier that way. Let us know if we can do anything to put his mind at ease, and you too!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
Latest Tripawds News
Read my story here.

Support the Tripawds Foundation!

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