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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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New Tripawd with Vascular Issues.
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21 September 2009 - 9:17 am
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Our story is long but I will try to keep it short.

I have a 9 year old greyhound, Boo, who broke her FR leg a little over 4 years ago.  After 2 surgeries there was a metal plate and a lot of screws put in it.  Although the 2nd surgery went well and did fix the leg, her paw and wrist area fused together (after being in a cast for SO long) and she never fully used the leg again.  (Just for balance every now and then).    Fast foward to just a few weeks ago – Aug 30, 2009 Boo was lying near the front door – got up suddenly – and broke her wrist, on the already bum leg!  We took her to the ER vet, they did xrays and confirmed the break on the wrist, right at the base of the plate.  They also saw something that looked like Osteosarcoma.  The next day we took Boo to our regular vet and they weren't so sure Boo had cancer.  They sent Boo's xrays and complete file to MSU for a third opinion!  Those folks couldn't confirm or deny the presence of cancer either!  (And they are the experts)!  However, we decided to amputate that leg since a) it couldn't be fixed without an very expensive rare surgery due to the plate that was already there and b) she hasn't used that leg in years.  The fact that there “might” be cancer only further confirmed our decision to remove the leg.  We had a biopsy done on the leg and braced ourselves to hear a bone cancer diagnosis.

Meanwhile, Boo is NOT recovering well from the amputation surgery…  The leg was amputated on Sept 8.  Surgery went well and she was sent home a few days later.  After a few days at home we noticed Boo was retaining a lot of fluid, oozing from her stitches, and had severe bruising.  We took her back to our vet so they could check her out.  They had gotten the biopsy results back and they were completely NEGATIVE for cancer (Yay)!  It was determined that the mass seen on the xrays was due to a vascular incident.  Once it was determined that we were dealing with a vascular issues and not cancer it shed some light on why she wasn't healing as expected.  On Sept 14 Boo had another surgery.  Our vet removed more tissue, re-stitched the area, and 2 drainage tubes were put in.  Surgery went well and a few days later Boo was sent home.  The next morning Boo's stitches had busted open in one small area.  We brought her back to the vet and the they told us Boo had a capillary embolism (clot) that burst and caused her stitches to break open.  (Another complication due to this vascular issue)!  ANOTHER surgery is scheduled for today (Sept 21) to remove more tissue, re-stitch her, and put in new drainage tubes.  

I know we made the right decision to amputate the leg.  But now, I am wondering how many post-op surgeries are they going to have to do before her body kicks in and starts to heal correctly!  Her temp is normal.  She is eating and drinking fine.  (She's even pooping fine)!  She has tons of energy and has adjusted to 3 legs just fine!  (She's been using 3 legs for YEARS already)!  They just cannot get her incission to close properly!  Has anyone ever had anything even close to a senario like this?  If so, how many surgeries did it take and how long was the recovery process?  We are WAY PAST the normal 2 week recovery period!  (To think in normal cases the stitches would be removed tomorrow!  HA!  We're still put new ones IN)!   Help!  A little advice…anyone?!   

Here and Now

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21 September 2009 - 9:46 am
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Hi Amanda, please consider joining the Tripawds community and your posts will appear immediately without requiring our moderartion.

While we do periodically hear about pups having a difficult time with recovery, the vast majority bounce back quickly without problems. And I personally have never heard about the problems you describe.

Sorry to hear about Boo. Did she have stitches or staples? Is she scratching the incision site open? If so, try a t-shirt. Also consider posting your concerns in our Ask A Vet discussion forum. Thank you for sharing your experience, we look forward to following Boo's progress.

Grand Rapids, MI
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21 September 2009
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21 September 2009 - 11:37 am
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Thanks for your suggestion – I will re-post this under the “Ask a Vet” category. 

…And to answer your question, she has BOTH stitches and staples!  And no, there has not been any chewing or scratching.  Just life with a comfycone!

Boo became a Tripawd Warrior Princess on Sept 8, 2009. She crossed over the Rainbow Bridge 2.7 years later on April 29, 2012. Run free Angel Boo!

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