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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I am from the Netherlands and new here. Since 2 weeks my sweet Storm is a tripawd. Storm is a 6 year old Groenendaeler. one and a half year ago he got hit by a bicycle and we tried to save his right front leg with several surgery,s.
Unfortunately due to several infections it was all for nothing and the only option was amputation. 2 weeks ago this happend and ever since then it has been a complete emotional roller coaster. First days were terrible. No sleep and a lot of pain. now almost 2 weeks later it is a bit better but i am still worried about some things and was wondering if this is normal. The surgeon cannot find anything divergent and says it just needs time.
He is still on 3 doses of 200 mg Gabapentin daily but several times a day he is very restless and when he tries to lay down he all of a sudden jumps up while yelping short and searches for a new resting place. This can go on for minutes several times a day. He then has a rapid breathing. It seems laying down is painful. is this normal? does anyone recognize it. Do i just need to be patient and is it still too soon after surgery or can something else be the problem. It is so heartbreaking to watch and not be able to help him.
18 October 2009
Hi Claire, welcome to you and Storm, your future posts will not have to wait for approval.
A few questions:
Does he still have staples or sutures? Sometimes they pull or pinch. We’ve also seen here occasionally one suture gets missed which can cause some issues.
Did the surgery remove the entire leg bone? It’s hard to tell from the pics.
What is his activity level like now?
How much does he weigh?
Two weeks out is very early still but the sharp pain like you describe is usually gone by now. It’s good the surgeon has looked at him and found nothing wrong. Our surgeon told us that Maggie was only allowed short, leashed potty breaks for the first two weeks post surgery. Sometimes too much activity too soon can cause soreness. With my current Tripawd Elly, who lost a back leg to a car accident, she would sometimes jump up when she was sleeping acting like something was stabbing her, this was long after her surgery. I finally decided that she was having some pain and muscle spasms because she had been too active.
By the way, I moved you post to this forum, Adoptions, Accidents, and Malformed Limbs, since you aren’t dealing with cancer.
Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls
Hi Karen thank you so much for your reply.
To answer your questions: Storm weighs 23 kilos. (I think in pounds that is 50. )
All of his stitches has been removed.
They removed the entire bone including the shoulder.
When i read how your Maggie.s activities were the first two weeks there is a big difference i think. Storm is due to the many surgerys on his front leg used to walk on 3 legs. I took him with me the first 10 days together with my other dogs and after 10 min walk i put him into his buggy. But he does not want to lay down in that buggy so he stands for at least 30 min. At home he walks a lot because he wants to follow me everywhere.
You say that you noticed the same reaction from Elly long after surgery when she had been too active. The last days i only take him for a walk for 10 min and then i take him home…but still he has to be in the car for 10 min to get home…also standing. He does not lay down. So maybe even the standing is too much activity…even though he is used to stand on 3 legs.
For the coming days i will only let him go outside in the yard to potty and that.s it. Maybe i will see an improvement.
Thank you so much for your advice. It helps me a lot reading everything on this site. It is hard to watch Storm struggling and not be able to help him. But maybe he indeed just needs more rest. I will let you know coming days how it goes.
Hi Claire, welcome to you and Stormy! I’m so glad you posted and hope that we can help you both find “the new normal.”
Who knew there was a “Groenendaeler” breed! I had no idea. Stormy reminds me of a Shetland Sheep Dog. Is there any connection to that breed?
I’m not a vet, but at two weeks out of surgery, those 10 minute walks are probably way too much for Stormy right now. He looks fit, but still, amputation is major surgery and most dogs, even fit ones, need longer before they can go on longer walks (10 minutes would be a good long walk for an otherwise fit Tripawd who is, say, three or four months out of surgery). Please pick up a copy of our e-book, Loving Life On Three Legs if you haven’t already, for some fitness tips. Our Tripawds Gear blog also has many ideas too.
Oh and yes, standing up in the car is a major workout in itself. Basically Stormy is tightening his abdominal muscles the entire time he’s in the car, like doing a constant sit-up. I can see why he would be tired.
Yes, try the rest for a week, but let your vet know what’s going on. I would also talk about increasing the Gabapentin dose as it may be a little low for him. As an example, our 75 pound Wyatt gets 300 mg Gabpentin, 3 times daily.
22 February 2013
Storm is sich a handsome boy! And very lucky to have such a caring and loving human devoted to do everything possible to give him a quality life!!
To piggyback on the great advice Karen gave you, yes, do start curtailing his activity for now to kist the SHORT potty breaks you mentioned
Storm does definately to be showing pain signals .
To clarify, do these “episodes” happen just when he tries to get up or to lay down??? Mostly just does NOT want to lay down, right? The rest of the time he seems “okay”? Earing, drinking, peeing, pooping, engaged, tail wags, etc?
As Karen said, left behind stitch or staple could cause this kind of reaction. So DEFINITELY talk with her Vet about that.
Can oh GENTLY massage around the incision and see if there is any reaction? Also, do ho mind taking g another photo of the incision so we can better see that “knot”? Is there still a lot of swelling? Hot?
Another thing that comes to mind is a possible tweak with his back, his shoulder, or his spine. A disc issue, or strained muscle could cause bad pain when moving a certain way, such as laying down or getting up, etc. Gently massage all over and see of he shows any reaction or tense spots.
One more thing I’ll throw out for lack of a better term…..a “dangling nerve “. Yes, there is a medical terms but can’t reme what it is. Basically it’s when a nerve is left open and, with certain move, sends out a lot of pain!
If I recall, a dog named Olly (or Ollie) had that and it took a while before the cause was discovered.
A yway, digest some of the support we’re all throwing oit here. Obvioisly we aren’t Vets, but we’ve seen a lot of different reactions during recovery
You’re doing a good job and you WILL get this fig out so Storm can be back to being Storm again!
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!
Thank you Jerry and Sally.
Your comments are so helpful and comforting to me.
I called my vet and we agreed on increasing the mg,s of the Gabapentin. I will add a pic of the incision here.
Groenendael breed is one of the 4 belgian shepherd types. There are 4 varieties. Malinois, Laekenois, Groenendael and Tervuren.
After reading your comments i really do think Storm is being too active. He gets a lot of spasms. I have a video that shows it but don,t know how to upload it here. Every time he has a spasm in the incision area he yelps and jumps up. Stitches have been checked and as far as we can see they are all gone. He eats very well, drinks enough. Everything is okay except for this. These episodes happend when he is laying down for a while and then all of a sudden he gets a spasm and jumps up. And he does this over and over for minutes. Then he can rest for some time, like an hour and it all starts again. It happends the most when he lays down in stretch mode. So not curled. Maybe the wound is pulling when stretched. He is also getting lasertherapy, acupuncture and massages. Just reading your experience and advices gives me hope that this will turn out right….i surely hope so. After 7 surgery,s in one and a half year time and be worried every day whether Storm will get better or not i am feeling dejected and hopeless. Finding this community really supports me. Thank you all so much.
I will give Storm more rest and hope the spasms will decrease. I will keep you updated.
Ooooh thank you for the education about the different types of Belgian Shepherds! I had no idea there were so many different kinds, I love them all 🙂
I’m glad we could give you some ideas to discuss with your vet. Here’s another one: if he is already getting massage and acupuncture (lucky pup, awesome job, Mom!), then I’m wondering if he is having muscle spasms that can be minimized with a muscle relaxer? Our Wyatt Ray takes a relaxer called Methocarbomol to help his muscles loosen up. I’m not sure if that is the name this drug goes by overseas, but you may want to discuss it with your vet to see if there’s an equivalent.
That’s so awesome he is getting physio therapy!
I hope he feels better soon!