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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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rear leg amp on dog, hit by car
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Caitlyn
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14 December 2021 - 1:47 am
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My sweet Bear was hit by a car tonight. He is about 2 years old and 70-80 lbs, some sort of staffordshire terrier mix. His left rear femur was snapped in 2. Thankfully the life threatening injuries (internal bleeding, fluid/air in abdomen and chest) seem to be resolving and he has a much better chance for survival. Now it is time to worry about his poor leg.

I was faced with the choice between euthanasia, surgery to try to repair the femur (with plates and pins and all that), or amputation. When the vet first mentioned amputation it was a punch in the gut. But no where near as bad as not knowing if he would survive. Since he remained stable and would most likely pull through, the only reason for euthanasia would be the cost or not wanting a 3 legged dog. The surgery to repair the bone is almost 5 thousand more and the recovery would be uncertain. His leg would never be the same and would likely have issues down the road.

There was no way I was putting him down when he could recover without much suffering. So the option I've arrived at is amputation. Most posts on here are dealing with animals with cancer, which have helpful knowledge but aren't quite the same. This morning I had a high energy, athletic, strong + fast, 4 legged dog. I quickly had to make the decision and now in 2 days (he\'s staying at 24 hour vet until surgery), I will have a baby with a missing limb. rnI\'ve been at a loss all night and have struggled with this choice. I am thankful I stumbled onto this website. I feel so guilty deciding to take his limb away and have had a hard time accepting it. He is the sweetest baby boy and I worry about his quality of life. I\'ve read a ton about dogs who are just as happy and playful once adjusted. He is a very athletic dog with showmans muscles and the ability to easily get over 8 ft fences. All his favorite past times involve running and hiking and jumping. I know there are other things to work his mind and keep him happy, I just worry he\'ll be depressed not doing his favorite things like he once could. I have read lots of posts saying that the people mourned the lost limb more than the animal. rnIs there any different info for recovery when it trauma based amputation? Or any helpful advice?rnI would love to hear from anyone that has gone through anything similar. It is such a sudden change and I just want to make the right choice. I almost feel selfish for keeping him here and making him go through this recovery.rnI love this dog so much, and even when we initially got him to the vet he was wagging his tail and giving kisses to the nurses. Everyone falls in love with him because he\'s the biggest sweetie, as one nurse helped get him into the car for transport she kissed his head and whispered \"I hope you\'ll be okay, I love you\" to him. He is a fighter and has had to go through recoveries before, this is just such a huge change.rnI guess I\'m feeling unsure and overwhelmed and would appreciate any advice!

The Rainbow Bridge



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14 December 2021 - 11:38 am
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Hi Caitlyn, welcome. We are so sorry about the accident, that must have been terrible to go through! I'm so glad that Bear is going to be alright.

You've come to the right place. While the majority of dogs do join us because of cancer, the second most common reason is trauma so you are not alone there. In fact here's a good story about Luca, who lost her leg after jumping off a roof while chasing a cat!

You are not being selfish by wanting Bear to enjoy his years pain-free and happy. Yes, a plate and pins might have worked to save the leg. But quite often members join us because that repair didn't work out, and they had to amputate anyways. So don't beat yourself up for going that route. 

Is there a difference in how a dog who survives trauma goes through recovery? Actually I don't know. Anything is possible, especially since neither you nor Bear had a chance to prepare for this. But the struggle to wrap your head around amputation is tough no matter what the cuase. And as you read, it's always worse for us. Losing a leg is losing a leg and it sucks when it happens.

BUT, like you are about to see, Bear will handle this much better than you will! Yes he can do all the things he enjoys once recovery is over, although you will have more responsibility to monitor his activity so he doesn't overdo things and hurt himself.

An important thing to remember is that your energy sets the tone for recovery. The more pawsitive you are, the more he will be too. Dogs really do mirror our emotions so try to keep upbeat and look forward to the day that Bear will be himself again--promise, it'll happen!

I encourage you to get a copy of Three Legs and a Spare , which is more focused on life after amputation, health and fitness. Also, consider having Bear evaluated by a canine rehab therapist. The Tripawds Foundation can pay for your first rehab visit so you have nothing to lose. Being that he was hit by a car, his recovery may be a little more up and down than the average dog and any extra support crew you have in place will be helpful.

Also check out our What to Expect articles too. And please feel free to call the Tripawds Helpline anytime, jump into the Tripawds Chat (I'm there off and on M-F during business hours, Pacific time), and know that you are not alone.

Keep us posted and let us know how he is doing!

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




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14 December 2021 - 9:15 pm
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Can only ditto every single word and sentiment.

And to reiterate we often, so very often see legs that were tryi g to be "saved" end up requiring multiple surgeries, I fections, repeated confinement, etc.  Ultimately  amputation  becomes the solution and dogs get in with living their gest life!!!

And I am soooo glad you found us too for all sorts of reasons, but especially  because you realize euthanasia was not warented....and most cert not what your Warrior Bear would want!  He wants a chance to keep on being loved and spoiled and told how adorable he is!!   And giving him that chance is NOT selfish...it's called LOVE and it's called a deep bond you have with Bear!

And even some dogs who come here with that piece of crap "c" disease are playing full oit the day before with no hint of a problem and then BAM....a diseased leg fractures out of the blue and they instantly  become a tripawd with surgery.

There is an amazing tripawd o here named Ari who does agility work.  We have a precious tripawd named Elly who does nosework.  We have a competing  tripawd who does dock diving....and on and on.

He can still be "athletic things", but without bringing harm to his joints, etc.  And that's  true with three or four legs.  

You have been throughh e double ll the past 24 hrs.  And we're  not say recovery  is a picnic at first, but all this will  soon be behind you.  In the meantime, we are all here for you to support you and answers any questions.

TRY and get some rest.  Bear is in good hands and pr seeing a few pink elephants 2hile on some good drugs.

(((((((((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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14 December 2021 - 10:14 pm
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We brought Bear home tonight from the 24 hr animal hospital. His amputation is in 3 days, on Friday. We are keeping him as comfortable as possible and medicated.

Most his meds are in capsules, but he doesn't want to eat the wet food we mixed them into. One med in particular even I can smell in the food. Any tips on getting unappetizing meds into his system? One side of his mouth is still all swollen from getting scraped up on the road so I really don't want to just make him swallow the pills.

I'm also having trouble distinguishing between him being in pain/depressed and him just being doped up on his pain meds.

It hurts my heart to see him in distress. At first I really didn't like the idea of having him home for multiple days with a broken leg, but it has made me feel more confident in my choice to amputate. He is already doing a good job of getting around on his 3 good legs, even when having to hold his broken leg up. We only have him on his feet when necessary, but it is encouraging to see him already adapting. 

I never imagined I would be in a situation like this, and I definitely never imagined that my baby boy would have to go through this. I'm still struggling to accept the reality and permanency of it. I'm hoping and praying for more encouraging signs from him. I know there is a very long road ahead of us and that is pretty discouraging, but I know pushing through it with him is far better than the other option of giving up on him, and choosing to make him give up too.

I'm trying to stay positive for him because I know it is important, with him looking to us for encouragement and support. Really I feel like I'm getting my encouragement and support from him. Even all banged up and hurt, his eyes are bright and I feel he is telling me he's got this.

The Rainbow Bridge



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14 December 2021 - 11:15 pm
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Thanks for registering as a member Caitlyn! Real quick 'cause it's late here:

Any tips on getting unappetizing meds into his system? 

Yep! See our Tripawds Nutrition blog posts. Whatever you do, stop mixing pills into his regular food. Doing so will cause him not to want to eat anything at all. You want to give them separately, touching them as little as possible.

I'm also having trouble distinguishing between him being in pain/depressed and him just being doped up on his pain meds.

Is he ambulatory? Can he go outside to potty? If so, he's probably OK and just seeing pink elephants from the meds. That's a good sign that's he's comfy if he isn't anxious, or unable to walk unassisted. Still, it can be challenging to distinguish the two different behaviors. What pain meds is he on, how often, and what's the dosage?

I know there is a very long road ahead of us and that is pretty discouraging, 

Not necessarily. While all recoveries are different, most are over within a couple of weeks and the sparkle returns. I have a feeling Bear will fall into this group.

Hang in there, you can do this!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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17 December 2021 - 5:40 pm
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He got the amputation today and is resting at home. He is still coming off the anesthesia and seems generally confused. The vet said he was having trouble figuring out how to lay down. He is able to be mobile enough to go potty. 

He is on gabapentin (300mg every 8-10hrs) and carprofen (150 mg every 24 hr). This is what the vet who amputated prescribed. We will see if it does the job. 

The emergency vet who saw him the night he was hit sent us home with meds to get him to his amputation appointment, so all week he has been on gabapentin (300mg every 8 hrs), carprofen (50 mg every 12 hrs), and tramadol (75 mg every 8-12 hrs).

Vet recommends laser treatment for incision. What do people think of that if they've had experience with it? Any tips on keeping incision clean? It's all pretty bruised right now.

The Rainbow Bridge



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17 December 2021 - 7:30 pm
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Oh I'm so glad he's home. Coming home the same day can be tough, so don't be surprised if it appears the meds aren't working. Most dogs are pretty unsettled the first 24 hours. His medication sounds good, but as always, there may need to be adjustments. The fact that he's already been on Gabapentin is a huge plus. You already started controlling the pain before surgery, which prevents wind-up pain post op that is much harder to control.

Laser therapy can be very helpful to heal incisions, I'd go for it. Bruising is normal. What the laser does is help the tissues to heal and mend. It also helps prevent scar tissue build-up.

As for keeping incision clean, all you need to do is occasionally dab a warm washcloth if you see that it's dirty. Otherwise it's OK to just leave it alone. Watch for signs of infection (stinky discharge and fluid that's more bloody than watery), and swelling (which could be a seroma , something totally normal).

Hang in there, it gets better!

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

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Virginia




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17 December 2021 - 8:01 pm
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Welcome home Bear!!  The fact that he is mobile enough  to go potty already  is amazing.  So glad  this ordeal will soon be in the rear view mirror and you can focus in with getting on with life!

As Jerry said, coming  home the same day can be a bit daunting, but better than leaving him unattended. 

So just rest, rest, rest and short potty break and more rest. Drinking  and peeing are important,  but may be off food and not pooping for a few days.  

The hospital meds will be out of his system in a other day or so and that's  when yptweaking pain meds may be necessary.   It sounds like you have a pretty good handle on it for now though.

Let us know how things are going.  We are here for you.

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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20 December 2021 - 9:39 am
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Small update, we are on day 3 post amputation, Bear is doing very well and I'm very relieved to see him being his usual goofy self. He doesn't seem to be in pain, and is eating and going potty alright. He's getting around pretty well, we're actually having to make him chill out and lay down often because he thinks he can play and run and be really active like usual. I'm not sure if he knows he's missing a leg, he seems to just be going about things like usual. Sometimes he slips up and tries to lean on his missing leg and loses balance, but I have very high hopes for his abilities after he's healed.

The bruising looks very scary but I'm trying to reassure myself that that's expected and normal. 

Bear's positive attitude has been very reassuring. It seems to be more of an adjustment for me than him. He seems to be happy as is, I just can't wait for him to be all healed and pain free.

The Rainbow Bridge



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20 December 2021 - 1:04 pm
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That's a HUGE update! smiley_clap Especially for a dog just 3 days out of surgery. Everything you mentioned are things usually seen in dogs who are several days to one week out, so he is making tons of progress. 

Good job keeping him chilled out right now. You can help make it easier on him and you by playing some interactive brain games to tire his mind. We love games around here, they are so good for the mind and just as tiring as running around, even for dogs who are all healed up.

Yes the bruising is expected and it may look worse before it gets better. If you're ever concerned send a pic to your vet of course but yeah, it happens to all new amputees after so many blood vessels are severed.

Bear is showing you how to Be More Dog and it's clear you are a great student! He WILL get to the place where he needs to be in time!

Thanks for the pupdate!

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

Support the Tripawds Foundation!

Virginia




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20 December 2021 - 1:42 pm
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So happy to read this!!!  Thisnis eaxactlynwhy we do what we do aroundnhere!.  Bear is such a shining  example of no need for the "spare".

Thanks for the good news.  Mr Bear still needs to take it easy though!  And yes, the balance, etc will come.

Higs

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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