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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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Forum Posts: 14
Member Since:
6 December 2008
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19 January 2009 - 3:42 pm
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Coda, our 9 yr old shepard/husky mix had her front right leg amputated on 12/29/08 for chondrosarcoma. It's now been 3 weeks as of today.

Last Monday, 2 weeks post op,  she started whining and crying out while sitting up and would immediately lay day and not want to get back up. I contacted our vet and he recommended giving her some Rimadyl for a week and then take it from there.  She had finished her post surgery meds which were antibiotics, metacam and tramidol. He felt she should only need those for about 5 days post amputation.  She didn't whine or exhibit pain after she finished her post op meds until she started, 2 weeks after surgery.   We started her on Rimadyl 2x/day and we noticed she would start whining about 10 hours after her dose.  Giving her the next dose has been pretty much stopping the whining within about 20 minutes or so. 

Today will be her last dose of Rimadyl and I'm concerned if she should really be needing medication at this time or is 3 weeks post surgery normal to still have some pain.  My vet stated that she really shouldn't be in pain now, however, if she is let's give her meds. Also, 2x in the past 24 hours I've found her licking the carpet where her amputated leg would probably be if she still had it.  Then still start licking the remaining leg.  She hasn't been whining while doing this however. I've read a bit about phantom pain and I'm wondering if this might be what she's experiencing.  I don't know if she's just having phantom pain , other pain or both.  Are my expectations too much for her at this time in her recovery? 

What's really heartbreaking is she never whined or cried while she had her cancerous leg.  I'm feeling that for her to whine now, she must be in some serious pain.

Thanks for any insight you may have.


Forum Posts: 2000
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19 January 2009 - 4:55 pm
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This sounds like classic phantom pain !  If Rimadyl is helping and your dog isn't getting an upset stomach from it then you can continue for the anti-inflammatory effects.  A better drug is Gabapentin, because it works at the nerve root which is the cause of the problem.  Ask your vet but the dose for her should be in the 200-300 mg twice daily range.  It is cheap and works great.

Pam and Tazzie

The Rainbow Bridge



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19 January 2009 - 10:19 pm
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Hi Karena, we are sorry to hear that Coda is having pains. But like that wonderful Tazzie says, it sounds like phantom pain .

Our friends TC and Calpurnia wote a paper about Phantom Pain, here's a link to it.

We know it's really hard, but try not to beat yourself up about the amputation and her crying out right now. The pain she was in before her leg came off was excruciating, but her dog instinct demanded that she hide it from her pack. This is just our guess, but we'll bet that now that she is on different medications that affect her brain, her natural instinct to hide pain has decreased, making her more likely to show pain now. Just a guess though.

Hope all of this info helps. We send our healing thoughts your way.

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Forum Posts: 14
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6 December 2008
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22 January 2009 - 9:11 pm
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Thank you Pam for replying to my post.  I spoke with Coda's Dr. about the Phantom Pain . I'm not sure he's really convinced that this is what's going on but for now I'm not pushing it. I asked him what his thoughts were regarding Phantom pain and he stated that humans get it so he supposes dogs could as well but “they are unable to tell us”. The Rimadyl seems to be doing the trick at keeping her out of pain while she's taking it. If the Rimadyl stops working for her pain, I'll definitely push for Gabapentin. We did discuss attempting to ween her from Rimadyl and we will probably do that in the next week.  She's shown remarkable improvement just days aftermy post here.  Yesterday and today she started really acting like her old self again and there's been no whining today. 

Thanks again for everyone's support.

Karen and Coda

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