Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat
Tripawds is your home 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.
In her Fully Vetted blog today, Dr. Patty Khuly shares some insight about the need some pet lovers have to allow – and sometimes force – pack mates to say goodbye to fellow pets before at-home euthanasia. Read the post for complete details:
Please share any thoughts you may have about end of life decisions with multiple pets in your pack. And for more information end of life care for pets, listen to the podcast from our informative Tripawd Talk Radio interview about at-home pet hospice care and euthanasia.
Well, I’ll weigh in on this, even though we haven’t done in-home euthanasia.
Before Max became a Tripawd, we had two dogs, Shadow and Max. Shadow became very ill and was in ICU for 4 days before we made the decision to let him go. We did not take Max with us. The next two weeks at home were absolute hell. John and I were wrecks, because Shadow’s illness was completely unexpected. We hadn’t even had time to contemplate the scope of the illness, before we had to let him go. Max was obviously feeding off of our emotions. He looked for Shadow every time we went in the backyard, or when one of us came home in the car from somewhere. When John would take the trashcans out to the curb, Max would be hiding somewhere in the backyard waiting to ambush Shadow (Shadow always “helped” Dad take the trashcans out, and Max would attack and wrestle with him when he came back in the yard). We were informed by the neighbors on either side of our house that Max was howling in the dogrun during the day when John and I were at work. (They weren’t complaining, they just felt really bad for him.) Max basically had no idea what happened to his best friend; he just disappeared one day and never came back, leaving Max all alone. Not a good scene.
When it was Max’s time to go, we made the decision to take Linda with us, because we didn’t want her to possibly go through the same thing Max had. We let Max go on a Sunday, so his regular vet wasn’t available to come to our home. We had to take Max back to the oncology center. I have no idea if Linda would or wouldn’t have had a bad reaction if we had not taken her with us. What I know is that our thought at the time was we were going to go as a family. So, all four of us went, and three of us went back home. We still feel we made the right decision, even though we obviously projected our human emotions and thoughts onto a dog. John & I have discussed it a few times, and we wouldn't do anything differently.
27 October 2010
Thanks for sharing that about Max.. I feel that could be valuable advice in the future.
Coopsdad/ Kenneth Blackburn
the monkeydogs only THINK they have invaded the tripawd state
20 May 2009
I know without a doubt that pet brothers and sisters mourn each other's death. After Emily died Bentley would sit by the gate and watch for her to come home. (When she couldn't walk well at the end she came home through the gate not the front door.) He wandered aimlessly and seemed to be looking for her. We recently had to put our four year old cat to sleep (FKD) and our little dog, Marley, is not the same. He just started sitting on my lap again. (I was the one that walked out of the house holding Lexi.) They feel the loss, I have no doubt.
Debra & Emily, a five year old doberman mix, who was diagnosed with an osteosaecoma. She had a right rear leg amputation on May 19, 2009. On November 10, 2009 she earned her wings and regained her fourth leg.
14 August 2009
Oh gosh, I believe it's better for the other members to know. I don't want them to think that we haul off a friend and they don't come back for no reason!
Snooker died after a knee surgery suddenly at the vet's when Comet was a puppy and we had just gotten Rugby. We had a funeral at a pet cemetery and brought the dogs to see her. Comet shivered but smelled her before she was buried. Rugby sniffed her and took the fresh rose they had on the gurney!
When Rugby died suddenly at the vet's, Comet, George and I went to the vets to see him. We lifted Comet up and she sniffed the inside of his ears and shivered. She understood and knew and never questioned him not being with us.
Surprisingly, Rocket has taken the death of Comet harder than any dog I've ever had. He still misses her. He goes to her bed which he was never allowed to get close to and scratches it to this day. I'm totally miffed by his reaction but in his way, he truly loved her and loved her being here.
When Comet became ill, we all loaded up and went to the ER. Rocket was traumatized. We were traumatized. He knew it was really, really bad. We asked the receptionist to hold Rocket while we put Comet down but she brought him back saying he was too scared without us. So, he had to witness it all. He saw us cry hysterically which he had never seen before. When we left to go home, he scratched at the bedding in the back seat of the car. It was so upsetting. Until Cosmo came, he wouldn't get out of bed in the mornings. His personality has changed since Comet died, he's not carefree and not nearly as annoying! I'm just hoping that one day, he'll forget.
I wouldn't change anything either.
She departed us unexpectedly January 23, 2011 at the age of 12 1/2.
She was born with a deformed front leg and a tripawd all of her life.
Sadly, this is something I know a bit about. We have a large pack, and therefore, have had many of our canine family transition from this world to whatever is next. My experience is that pack members know, and say their good byes, long before we people are even clued in sometimes. And yes, they mourn, although not in the same way humans do. They move on past the death, but for a while after it seems almost as if the spirit of the one who has died continues to be part of the pack and their behavior.
I have witnessed our pack evaluate a sick or older member closely. I have seen their behavior go from concerned and caring, to each dog carefully sniffing the transitioning member, and then after that, they seem to almost not even notice them. As if they have transitioned but their body is still here. The dogs we have had that have moved over on their own (no euthanasia), after the death, the pack howls. Always. And a very distinct howl unlike their normal howls and noises. I have also noticed that transitioning dogs will move so that they face the east before they pass. Sometimes at great lengths as the last effort they give this world. Many mushers I have talked to have observed the same thing. Now, if I need to have a dog euthanized, I insist they are outside and facing east. That somehow seems to make it more peaceful for the dog (and for me too).
I believe they know way more about what is going on than we do. I think they do say good bye and they do mourn. Actually, I know they do.
And sadly, as I am writing this, my pack is saying their goodbyes to my sweet Calpurnia. She started her transition last night. She is very peaceful, and the other dogs are laying in the sun next to her. But she has a far-off look in her eye like she is seeing a trail that I can't see. I am giving them their space to take their time because I think it is very important. I have no idea how long Cali's transition will take her, but am willing to allow her to do things her own way, like she has her entire life. She takes comfort in her teammates, and it is a peaceful scene - them laying quietly in the sunny yard with her. My breaking heart takes comfort in this.
9 March 2010
Oh no 🙁 Sweet Calpurnia. I'm sorry she is not doing well.
I witnessed something similar to what you describe as our old guy began to deteriorate. Since the day we brought Coda our Beagle home, our old guy ruled the roost. She was always vying for his attention and he was always the one to decide whether she'd receive attention or a snark to go away. She could sleep with him, when he decided. They decided when to play, on his terms. Over his last year, and especially his last month or two, roles completely reversed. She became a mini-dictator and he gave up all control. She decided when they slept together, or if they played. She was all of a sudden a very confident queen bee, and he a very feeble follower. She'd give him a very stern 'go away' and he would listen. She never would've dared before. And she at the end, became very uninterested in him. It was really, really interesting to see. I once read as animals get older they relinquish their seniority to the younger, stronger pack members. I don't personally buy into a lot of the pack 'stuff' as far as alpha and training - but this change in our two was undeniable. She did not mourn in the way I expected her to, when he passed. She did become best of friends with one of our cats, but she didn't search for him, or pine for him. I found this odd as any time he had to be away for a night in the past, she was very unsettled and anxious until he returned home. She did become a bit mopey and quiet, I'm sure mourning in her own way, but it wasn't the ordeal I thought it would be. I'm sure she knew he was dying, and had said her goodbyes before it happened.
Our pups I do worry about, as aside from Dante's amputation at 8 weeks, they've never spent a night apart. Even when they had their spay and neuter, the vet kept them in the same crate together. Mina is also incredibly attached to our beagle, and Dante very, very firmly attached to Mina. I know the day will come where one will need to go before the other and I'm not sure how we will deal with it. They howl the saddest of howls when they are separated for longer than they would like, or if one needs to leave the house without the other. Haunting howls. I do think we will bring them to say goodbye. I don't know if it will help, or make a difference, but if there is a chance it could, I'd like to try, and I don't think it could hurt.
Jerry's Mom here.....
All of your stories are so touching, thank you. My eyes are watering up right now.
TC, you have been through this more than anyone I know, maybe more than anyone here (for anyone not familiar with TC's pack, it's not exactly large, it's huge...what, 22 dogs now?!). Please give our love to Cali. As Jerry's one true love, I know they'll be together in eternity. Our hearts ache for her, you and the Odaroloc pack. We are thinking of you all today.
Your comment about facing east surprised Jim and I. Suddenly we remembered...
When we took Jerry on his last ride to the vet in Montana, we said our goodbyes outside on the lawn with the beautiful mountains as a backdrop. As we said our goodbyes, Jerry got up to sniff around, then he gravitated over a pack of boarded dogs in the backyard. He sniffed at the fence for a while, then came back over to us and his Barney blanket.
He chose where he sat, and he laid down . . . facing east.
Weird. I'm glad to know that this helped to make it a peaceful transition for him.
We are getting close to a year since Maggie crossed over.
Maggie was quite a handful her last 3 months with the renal failure and two cancers. Feeding her and getting meds in her was a 30 min endeavor most times, and it happened 2X a day. And there was the sub-Q fluids every other day too. I write this because there was a lot of hands on time with Maggie during those three months or so. And since I knew that our remaining time together was short it was 'her' time. Everything I did with the pugs was something that Maggie liked to do. Walks got shorter, and Tani got fatter!
Maggie had always been the alpha dog, even as a tri-pug, and Tani usually showed signs of being jealous. Usually when I had Mag on my lap Tani would try and get up, when I put Mag down sometimes there was a tussle. But as I think about it now those last three months Tani was really accommodating. When Mag was on my lap for sub-Q fluids Tani just laid at my feet. When I was syringe feeding Mag, Tani just waited for us to get done. Did she know Mag was sick? Who knows, Tani is a hydrocephalus pug so still has a puppy brain, and is not the smartest dog. But she did seem to accommodate my spending more time with Maggie without trying to take it out on Maggie.
When we got to the day Maggie crossed I did not take Tani with me. I had to go to our vet's office- they could not do a home visit when the time came. Tani has always been very disruptive at the vet, and I wanted the time to be peaceful. Tani stayed with my Mom, my dad went with me and Maggie. Did I do the right thing? I'll never know if Tani would have been OK at the vet, but I don't think she would have been. I am glad that Maggie's last time with me was quiet and peaceful.
After Mag was gone Tani was a bit lost. She had only been an only dog for 6 days in her 10 years, and she was with Maggie and me from the time she was 10 months old. Tani was pokey on walks, didn't have much energy. I would find her laying places in the house that neither she or Maggie usually went to. Part of her laziness was because we had not been walking much with Maggie's health failing. I brought Obie home about 5 weeks after Maggie passed, 10 months ago tomorrow. Tani still does not like him much, but she likes having another dog around. They sleep together when I am gone, Tani competes with him on walks. She is much more energetic with Obie around.
And sending strong and peaceful thoughts to Cali and pack tonight. What a survivor and pack mate she has been.
A decision is always right if it comes from the heart. You had Maggie's best interest in mind, and that's what matters.
I can't believe it's almost a year. We can't find it in us turn the page on the 2Dogs calendar to the month of May. Maggie the April Calendar Girl makes us smile every time we see her pretty face. I think we'll leave it there for a while.
25 August 2010
These posts made me tear up too. When my girl Jazzy left for the vets, I think all of her pack mates new what happened. I do know that they didn't lay on her bed for days after she died. (interestingly, she was facing east too, but that is because that is where I was sitting, at her head) Finally my eldest dog, her daughter, took over her bed.
I know that they experience grief. My pack didn't really show it but I have a story about a dog who willed himself to death because his people didn't come home. My mom's friend had this very large, very aggressive spanish mastiff. Her husband and this dog were so bonded, he was the only one who really handled him. The husband died unexpectly at work. My mom's friend tried to go out and feed and water their dog. He refused everything. He was only 5 years old but loved his person and it seemed that the sun rose and set on him. So when he didn't come home, this dog stopped eating and drinking. The dog died 10 long days later. The vet had tried to give him fluids but despite it all he passed. The vet said he was sure he died from a broken heart.
I know this is different than a "pack mate", but it is a story about how grief affects an animal.
To Cali's pack, she has been such an inspiration to me. I have loved her stories and think that she has been a shining star here. My prayers and love are with you.
Elizabeth and Sammy
Diagnosed with osteosarcoma in the right front leg 8/23/10,
leg fractured 8/27/10,
leg amputated 8/30/10
I couldn't begin to say how special Sammy is to us. Living and laughing with and loving this wonderful boy is priceless.
Dear Tripawds Family-
I wanted to give you a quick update. Cali is still with us. She has had several "good" days and seems a bit more alert. We have her on some heavy doses of predisone, and also are having some cool, snowy weather (sorry Rene, but we love the snow) which seems to have perked her up some. In fact, she has been taking herself outside to pee. A slow and difficult journey, but she is at least moving on her own. I am not going to pretend she is "all better", but she IS having a good day today and really that is all that matters.
I have been down this road many times, and with as many furry family members as we have, have only scratched the surface of how many more times we will be here. I don't have any answers, but I do have some thoughts to share on the end-of-life that we ALL will face at some point.
1) There is no "right" or "wrong" here. Each dog, each situation, each day varies. All you can do is what is best for your particular friend on that particular day. Maybe it is allowing nature to do its thing, maybe it is aggressively treating an issue, maybe it is euthanasia. I have gone all these routes (and some others too) based on each unique situation. No one can tell you what is best for your situation. YOU know your animal better than anyone else, and you need to keep their needs in mind.
2) Everyone dies. No one gets out of this contract. Dying isn't something to fret or worry about because it is pointless. We do what we can with the time we have - as long or as short as that may be. Each day is a gift, each moment precious. Make them count.
3) I don't remember being born, but I can't imagine that it was a painless process (certainly not for my mom). In that same light, I think that there is some natural discomfort in dying also. Our bodies are programed to keep fighting, sometimes beyond what they are capable of. That being said, as a pet owner I think you need to closely evaluate what level of discomfort your friend is facing and do what you can to help. I wouldn't be afraid of pain, rather see it for what it is and try to figure out what it is telling you. Go with your heart.
4) Lots of people like to tell you what to do. They don't know. They can't possibly know. YOU do. YOU have to make the decisions, do the hard work, get up a million times during the night, etc. Everytime someone makes a snide comment about your decisions, keep that in mind. And try not to punch them in the neck, that just leads to legal issues.
5) Transition from life to death can sometimes take a long time. It definitely takes a stress toll on you, and pack mates that may live with you. As much as you can, try to keep life as normal as possible. Get out and walk, watch a sunset, make a nice meal, laugh. Do the things that keep your spirit filled. Your energy keeps the pack happy, stable, and feeling secure.
Thanks for all the thoughts. Cali is definitely feeling your energy and she sends her love out to all of you.