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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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The right decision???
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Forum Posts: 11
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25 March 2009
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25 March 2009 - 3:25 pm
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First of all I want to say this site had been a true blessing for me…I only wish I would have found it sooner…Most of the situations I am reading about deal with dogs with cancer…My situation is a little different…

I have a 13 yo Lab named Brandy…About 9 years ago she got into a fight with another dog and injured her shoulder…She received medical treatment and it healed itself…A few years later she got onto the trampoline with my kids.  After I got her off the trampoline, I noticed she was limping (same shoulder)…I took her to the vet and from then on we've basically been dealing with a very severe case of arthritis…She had been on Metacam, Rimadyl, glucosamine, etc…Nothing worked and she stopped walking on the leg completely…Lastly, I tried aspirin and she began to walk (with a limp) on the leg for a about another year or so…

She is now on 2 aspirins a day, liquid glucosamine and Tramadol (as needed for pain).  She has not even attempted to walk on the leg in almost 2 years…She gets along very well with an occasionally fall here and there…The occasional falls are the big problem…They usually happen on short walks or getting in/out of the car (I now have a ramp)…If she falls or overextends the leg she is in soooo much pain and it takes a good week of being on the Tramadol to recover… Which includes her not wanting to eat, panting all night in pain and basically lethargic…

I'm sure everyone know exactly what I mean…I am now looking at having the leg amputated…I basically want to alleviate the “on again/off again” pain for her and let her live painfree…When she is not on the Tramadol and not in pain she had soooo much life and energy in her…Its breaking my heart to have my baby in this much pain…

I had a consultation with a surgeon last week and really think after the 2 weeks of the hellish recovery she would be happier…I would appreciate any feedback anyone might have about this…I know she can walk fine on 3 legs because she is doing that now…But how do “senior” dogs do with the recovery??…

And do they require around the clock care (I work a full time job)??…Has anyone had a dog with arthritis have an amputation??…The vet gave me of course worst and best case scenerios but I would love feedback from someone that's been through this…2 weeks ago when she was doped up on Tramadol and miserable I was 100% about the surgery and now that she's painfree (for the most part) and off her Tramadol I start with my doubts…I would love any feedback anyone may have…Thanks


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25 March 2009 - 4:21 pm
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Have you considered an injection of steroid into the shoulder joint?  The dog has to be sedated for this but results can last for months to a year.  A new treatment is stem cell therapy.  A certified vet will harvest fat from your dog, it is sent to a lab for stem cell extraction, then your vet injects the cells into the affected joint.  This has worked wonders for some dogs and costs only a bit more than some clinics charge for amputation ($2500). 

I would make sure that a recent xray has been taken to rule out cancer of the humerus (arm bone) first.

Pam and Tazzie

Forum Posts: 11
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25 March 2009 - 6:50 pm
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Thanks for your reply…Yes she has had an injection before…The shoulder as well as her lower leg joint is completely useless right now…She can't even straighten it out anymore…Both my regular vet and the surgeon I spoke with agreed that its not repairable…I really do feel my only options are for her to continue the way she is or for the leg to be removed…I am just concerned with the recovery in a dog her age…I surely don't want to make things worse for her.

Here and Now


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25 March 2009 - 9:12 pm
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I’m no vet, but it seems like if the leg is getting in the way and causing falls or other pain, and brandy is otherwise healthy, then amputation should help. She won’t need 24 hour care and within a couple weeks she’d be well on her way to recover. But like I said, I’m no vet. Listen to Dr. Wiltzius (Tazziedog).

Also, be sure to review posts in the Size and Age Matters forum. Also search the blog for Senior Dogs, Sami is one amazing old girl.

Forum Posts: 62
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25 March 2009 - 11:03 pm
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Hi Brandy,

I am a senior lab/shephard with moderate to severe hip dysplasia and had a rear leg amputated nine months ago. We originally thought my limping was due to the dysplasia, but discovered it was bone cancer. After the first two weeks post surgery, I have had my ups and downs – mostly ups fortunately! I started limping a couple of times, but keep springing back usually after a week or so. Lately I am as happy as ever chewing squeak toys and happily howling which again has been off and on. My pawrents are sort of amazed at how well I am doing and hope it continues. I am taking a few expensive supplements daily, but no pain meds at the moment.

My regimin consists of K-9 Immunity , Triple Strength Joint Max, EVO food, Rx Vitamins MegaFlex and Canine Whole Body Support. We are not sure which or all of these is working, but the fact is I am a pretty happy tripawd right now!

Hope this helps. Good luck,

Max

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26 March 2009 - 11:23 am
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Hi Max,

Thanks for the post and words of encouragement…I think my mom is gonna opt for the surgery…I too am on the Triple Strength Joint Max and it seems to help some…My leg has been tested for cancer in the past and luckily it was negative…I will have another test before my surgery to double check…I guess a couple weeks of pain will be worth the rest of my life basically painfree…Thanks to every word written (typed) on this forum…It has really helped my mom make this difficult decision for me…

Love, Brandy

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26 March 2009 - 2:03 pm
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Cherry's dad here,

We are very sorry to hear about Brandy's condition. Cherry turned 11 the day before her amputation and started chemotherapy treatments literally hours after the surgery. For a Standard Poodle, 11 is quite senior but she was in excellent health except for the cancer. The chemotherapy was far worse than recovery from the surgery. She had an additional surgery the week after her last chemotherapy to remove two growths within the mouth. These turned out not be be cancerous. After that the recovery was quick and remarkable. The month of February was nothing short of great. Her spirits were sky high, her mobility was very good, the sparkle was back in the eye, and the zeal for life had totally returned.

We are battling intestinal problems at the moment which are proving to be rather persistent. She has good days and not so good days, but we are optimistic for a full recovery from this issue and her quality of life still remains good. However, even if we never fully return to the quality of life experienced in February, that month alone had made Cherry's journey worthwhile. The final decision for Brandy's treatment will be yours, and no one can know Brandy better than you. Trust that what ever decision you make, it will be the best decision for Brandy, stay as optimistic as possible throughout this journey, and remember to treat the spirit as well as the body. It is all about their quality of life.

Bob & Cherry

The Rainbow Bridge



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26 March 2009 - 7:16 pm
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Cherry said:

remember to treat the spirit as well as the body. It is all about their quality of life.

Bob & Cherry


Well said, Bob! Thank you.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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26 March 2009 - 7:30 pm
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Hi Brandy – I totally and completely understand where you're at right now.  My black lab Smokey is going on 12 years this year and last June I discovered he had a malignant melanoma on his paw pad and after hours and hours of research and thinking, I made the decision to amputate.  It's his front right leg that was removed.  I agonized over it and the main concern for me was his age.  How in the world was he going to recuperate and get around on three legs?  This website helped me more than I ever thought a website could and the surgeon put me in touch with someone who had recently gone through this with their 11 year old lab.  After listening to that owner's voice on the phone telling me that she would do an amputation again in a heartbeat and hearing how well Winston recovered, as well as family and friends, and our vet, telling me that he wouldn't be in any pain, that cinched it for me.  And we're going on 7 months and he is better than ever!

As far as Smokey's recovery time, I was lucky enough to be able to take him down to his grandpawrents house and stayed for 2 weeks while working remotely.  I was too worried so I didn't leave his side really for the first three weeks afterwards.  After the first two weeks, my mom came back home with me to watch him while I went back into the office.  The first week I slept on the floor with him because I didn't want him to overdo anything.  But the day we picked him up, he was doing as well as he could given all the medication he was on.  I look back now and think – oh my gosh – what if I didn't decide to do that?  I may not have him with me now so I am forever grateful to Jerry and the other pawrents on this site.

Anyhoo… I don't want to ramble on anymore but just wanted to share my experience.  Going forward, I know that if I had to make this decision again, I would be able to.  Smokey is the strongest dog I've ever been around and I thank him every day for being with me :).  He can run better than he can walk now ;).  We're battling a little weight problem at the moment 🙂  But otherwise, he's fabulous.  I never imagined a dog being able to do so well with only three legs. 

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27 March 2009 - 8:38 am
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Thank you for sharing Smokey's story…This forum has given me sooo much encouragement…As I watched Brandy hoping around last night and almost tripping two times (over the bad leg) it made me see that she is basically a “tripawd” with 4 legs…And that 4th leg is just in the way…I am very confident after reading everyones story that she will make it through the surgery and healing process just fine…I'm the one that's going to have the problem…lol…I like how you mentioned sleeping with Smokey so he wouldn't overdo anything…I just told my kids last night that I was going to get an air mattress for Brandy and I for the same reason…I also love the comment made by Bob & Cherry about treating the spirit as well as the body…Thanks so much for that comment…It is all I have been thinking about since I read it…Again I am so thankful for all the comments and stories shared…It has really made this whole process easier for me…Funny how the dogs are the ones going through the procedures and us pawrents are the ones needing the reassurance and comfort…Our furry companions are definately stronger than us…Thanks again for all the stories and keep them coming…I look forward to reading them…

Kristen & Brandy

Here and Now


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27 March 2009 - 11:35 am
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brandy13 said:

This forum has given me sooo much encouragement…


We're so happy to hear this, because that's exactly why we put all our efforts into this site. Don't miss our latest post about how you can help us continue to help others faced with the same difficult decisions.

Best wishes for a perfect procedure and speedy full recovery for Brandy! Just follow her lead and you'll make it through this easily.

My heart lives at Rainbow Bridge
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28 March 2009 - 11:20 am
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Brandy, I think you will find there are many of us who slept with them.  Trouble had always slept with us, so we knew it was bad enough she would have to make physical adjustments so we didn't want to force her into mental ones as well.  We took the bed out of the bedroom and replaced it with a pallet on the floor. 

Trouble healed, and we replaced the bed when we felt she could handle getting off without injuring herself.  Don't feel silly making sacrifices, we all have.

Shanna & Spirit Trouble ~ Trouble gained her wings 3/16/2011, a 27 1/2 month cancer survivor, tail wagging. RIP sweetheart, you are my heart and soul.  Run free at Rainbow Bridge.
The November Five - Spirits Max, Cherry, Tika, Trouble & Nova. 11/2008 - 3/2013 An era ends as Queen Nova crossed the Bridge.

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18 April 2009 - 5:52 am
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I wanted to thank everyone again for their stories and words of encouragement.  Brandy is going in for her surgery on April 21st.  Thanks to this forum I do feel 100% confident about my decision.  Thanks again to you all…

Kristen & Brandy

The Rainbow Bridge



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18 April 2009 - 9:56 am
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Kristen, thank you for coming here. We are here for you if you need anything, and will keep you in our thoughts on the 21st. Good luck, and drop by with an update when you can OK?

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Forum Posts: 11
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22 April 2009 - 6:57 am
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Well Brandy had her surgery yesterday and so far so good. We had a few potential problems in the beginning…high temp and anemia…Then she was given a shot to “relax” her some and it completely knocked her for a loop…That was scary to see and a very unexpected reaction for both me and the surgeon…Nonetheless, she came through the surgery well…Didn't eat afterwards or even get up (which I understand is normal).  However, this a.m. I called to check on her and was told she ate lastnight and was up walking around first thing this a.m.  She had even gone outside and gone potty…YAAAYYY!!! Her leg was filled with “green stuff” which is being sent off for further testing…Not too sure what that means??? She is coming home today unless and unexpected problems arise.  I'll post more on her progress laterLaugh Kristen

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