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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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Worried about eating habits
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Martinsburg, WV
Member Since:
3 June 2014
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18 June 2014 - 7:28 am
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Prior to Leland’s surgeries he would eat Blue Buffalo Sensitive Grain Free formula (with added cooked chicken, pork, or beef meat).  He would eat in the morning and evening.  Since we brought him home on 6/3 he has not wanted to eat the dry kibble mixed with meat but he’ll eat the meat only.  I started yesterday cooking up some white rice and mixing it with meat so he’ll have some carbs and he’s completely eaten everything.  My worry is he had such a dramatic weight loss (108 down to 86.5 as of 6/11) and that he’s continuing to lose because of not really eating. 

Right now his hip bone is visible where it wasn’t before the surgery.  He’s on Thyrozine .8 mg for his hypothyroidism and I’m sure this has added to his weight loss.  I’m just worried that he’ll get weaker and will have a harder time getting himself up and around if he doesn’t eat.  And he’s really been taking in A LOT of water.  I assumed this increased water intake was from all the medications he was on (which he finally finished up the last of it on 6/16).

Has anyone else experienced a change in their pet’s eating and drinking habits once they brought them home from amp surgery?  I don’t know if this is normal and things will straighten out eventually or if something is wrong.

Leland will see our local vet this Friday to have his blood work run to check the thyroid function and I’ll check with the vet as well.

Sahana & Leland

Leland

November 17, 2009 - June 30, 2014

May you finally be healthy and running free at the Rainbow Bridge. Until we meet again my sweet boy!

On The Road


Member Since:
24 September 2009
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18 June 2014 - 9:52 am
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Definitely mention it to your vet since he has the thyroid condition going on, but try not to worry, many pups do experienced changed preferences and go on strike against kibble after they get a taste of yummy human food. It’s pretty natural after all to want variety, especially tasty meat, after eating kibble all their lives.

Many people strike a good balance between a combination of home cooking and kibble if that’s something you can do. Check out our Nutrition blog for ideas like these, and these other articles listed below. Let us know what your vet says.

Whole Pet Diet Home Cooking Recipes and Tips for Healthy Pets

Feed Dogs Better with Home Cooking Recipes from the Dog Food Dude

Dr. Dressler’s Free Dog Cancer Diet e-Book

Healthy Pet Diet eBook Offers 245 Homemade Dog Food Recipes

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene
tripawds.com | tripawds.org | bemoredog.net | triday.pet

Member Since:
19 September 2013
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18 June 2014 - 5:37 pm
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Another good idea would be to look at the Blue Buffalo you were originally feeding him and figure out how many calories of that he was taking in per day and then use those numbers to gauge how much you are feeding him now.  Meat and rice are a good option short term to get food in him but that won’t sustain him long term from a nutritional standpoint – you might talk to your vet about starting him on a multivitamin until you can get his diet sorted out just to make sure he doesn’t develop any deficiencies.  Also keep in mind that dogs and cats don’t need carbs at all, so you might consider upping his meat intake.  The rice won’t hurt and if he is having tummy upset, it can certainly help with those issues, but in terms of calories, weight gain, and energy use dogs and cats use protein and fats far more efficiently than carbs.  I don’t recall why Leland lost his leg in the first place, but if there is the potential for cancer involvement, decreasing carbs as much as possible can help.

Boomer went from 67 lbs pre-op to 50 lbs now.  He was very, very muscular before his infection started inhibiting his activity but he probably only put on 3-4 lbs during that period (January-September).  I switched him to an entirely raw diet once we had a diagnosis for him to cut out as many carbs as possible.  His weight is really good right now, he is certainly on the skinnier side but that is best for his current and future mobility.  He is probably about a 4 on a 9-point body condition score and was probably a 6 pre-op.  Talk to your vet about an ideal weight for Leland and ask him about what Leland’s current BCS is (if you Google “body condition score”, you can see a chart to get an idea of where Leland currently is).  While this not eating thing isn’t good long term, his current weight might be more ideal for him as a tripawd, you just have to find good food for him to maintain it.  Everyone who knew Boomer pre-op comments on how skinny he is but all of his vets – primary care, orthopedic surgeon, and physical therapist – say that he is a perfect weight and body condition for a tripawd.

On The Road


Member Since:
24 September 2009
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18 June 2014 - 7:53 pm
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Wow excellent suggestions, thank you for that info. And yes, we get that “your dog is so thin” all the time too, but as iinformed Tripawd pawrents know, a slim Tripawd is a healthy Tripawd!

About the Body Condition Scale, here is a Tripawds Nutrition Blog post that talks about it.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene
tripawds.com | tripawds.org | bemoredog.net | triday.pet

Martinsburg, WV
Member Since:
3 June 2014
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19 June 2014 - 7:37 am
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Thanks for the helpful suggestions!!  I will definitely ask my vet about the eating and what the best lowest weight would be for Leland.

Just to clarify on Leland’s amputation…he had extreme swelling in the knee.  When the surgeon went in to do the original TPLO procedure the mystery swelling appeared to him to be extremely inflamed tissues.  He took out this mass (for lack of better word) and sent it off for biopsy.  It has come back that it wasn’t cancerous but there really is no explanation for what it was or why it happened.

After the TPLO Leland got an infection that the clinic couldn’t get under control and then 2 screws in the TPLO backed out of the meniscus and they couldn’t get them to hold.  So we had to decide between putting Leland to sleep or amputation.  Long story short that’s how he came to be a tripawd.

Leland

November 17, 2009 - June 30, 2014

May you finally be healthy and running free at the Rainbow Bridge. Until we meet again my sweet boy!

On The Road


Member Since:
24 September 2009
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19 June 2014 - 1:54 pm
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Thanks for the details about Leland’s amp. Wow what a complicated situation, talk about ruff!

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene
tripawds.com | tripawds.org | bemoredog.net | triday.pet

New Haven, CT
Member Since:
27 December 2012
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24 June 2014 - 6:22 am
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Hi – I’d also get a recheck on his WBC.  He’s had a lot of complications with infections.  I wonder if something in lingering.  What other foods have you tried?  If you’ve confirmed that your guy is really underweight how about: sweet potatoes, McDonald’s, cottage cheese, sardines, making ground chicken patties stuffed with all sorts of yummy things he didn’t know about (puree peas, sweet potatoes, omega3 oil and add to ground chicken, then cook)???

Keep us posted!

We too went in for TPLO, but found cancer instead.  We didn’t have to decide between life or death, but between 4-legged rehab and amputation/cancer rehab.  Oye!

~ Katy & Jackson

ACL tear in right hind leg 12/5/12 and scheduled ACL repair surgery 12/21/12. Pre-op xrays revealed osteosarcoma. Amputation 12/28/12.  Chemo (carboplatin) started Jan 10, 2013 and ended on April 5, for a total of 5 doses. He handled carbo like a champ!  No side effects.  We started metronomic therapy at his third chemo and have been also doing some holistic treatments.  He's a lively, playful 10 year old huskie-boarder collie and a very proud member of the Winter Warriors!  Our love. Our funny little guy!

Martinsburg, WV
Member Since:
3 June 2014
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27 June 2014 - 9:38 am
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Katy,

Leland went in for blood work on 6/20 and the vet is concerned with the loss of muscle mass in the face and head.  Leland also weighed around 76 lbs (he was 86.5 lbs on 6/11).  The results of the blood work showed his white blood cell count was up, red blood cell count was ok, liver enzymes were up (possibly from meds and surgery), his thyroid was 2.9 (he was on Thyrozine for Hypothyroidism), and his Iron was low.  The vet is suspecting an autoimmune disorder (based on the muscle wasting in the head/neck and blood work) so he prescribed Prednisone, and anti-biotic (to ward off Leland getting an infection while on the Prednisone), an iron supplement, and took him off the Thyrozine.  We go back on 7/7/14 to recheck the blood again and if the numbers are improving then we’ll look to switch Leland off the Prednisone to something he can take longer term.

Since starting the Prednisone his appetite has kicked in and he’s eating all his food.  I’m mixing in white rice with a high protein kibble with whatever meat I’ve cooked for him (chicken, pork, or beef).  I’m trying to reduce the white rice and get more kibble in so he’ll get more nutrients.

Fingers crossed that things go well at the vet on 7/7/14 and that we can transition him off the Prednisone as it does make him drink and pee A LOT!!

Sahana and Leland

Leland

November 17, 2009 - June 30, 2014

May you finally be healthy and running free at the Rainbow Bridge. Until we meet again my sweet boy!

Member Since:
19 September 2013
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27 June 2014 - 12:31 pm
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I don’t know if your vet uses an in-house lab for their blood work or if they send it out, but you might want look into having Leland’s next round of blood work sent to Hemopet in California (hemopet.org and click on the Hemolife Diagnostics tab).  They have done a LOT of research on endocrine disorders and provide a much more detailed analysis than any other lab I have ever found.  I live in Ohio and most vets here use the Michigan State University lab for thyroid panels as there are only a few labs in the country that do full thyroid panels.  MSU looks at basically the same stuff as Hemopet but they just have one standard set of “normal” ranges for each species.  However, there is a lot of variability in what a normal thyroid panel looks like in a dog – age, sex, spaying/neutering, breed, and other health conditions can all impact what an individual dog’s normal should look like.  If your vet is using in-house testing, they are probably only looking at T4 which can give misleading results.  When you send samples in for testing at Hemopet, they have a questionnaire about your pet so when your results come back, they are customized to your specific animal based on much more than just species.  I have been using them for about a year now for Amy’s thyroid tests and I have been very happy with them (plus, if you have questions, you can call them directly and they are very happy to help).  Dr Dodds has some really fascinating research and blog posts too.  (Yes, I am a bit of a nerd when it comes to this kind of stuff! big-grin)  Their costs are pretty comparable to any other outside lab testing, too.

-Allison

Martinsburg, WV
Member Since:
3 June 2014
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27 June 2014 - 1:04 pm
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Thanks Allison for the Hemopet lab suggestion.  I believe my local vet sends his samples to a lab in New York (don’t know the name of it).  The surgeon who did Leland’s amp tested the blood in-house and he was placed on Thyrozine before the failed TPLO surgery because of the T4 result.  It’s scary to think that I may have been giving Leland a med that may not have been needed.  It’s hard to pinpoint one thing that has led us to where we are today with him…the poor guy has had so much thrown at him and his body but he has a fighting spirit.

Hopefully now that he’s eating and taking in a more nutritional dog food (Blue Buffalo Wilderness; high protein food) we can slow down some of the weight loss.  I’m gradually working the kibble back in with the rice and meat I’ve been feeding him since he’s refused kibble for so long now.  I know the Prednisone that he’s on (30 mg twice a day) is what’s boosted his eating but I’ll take it.

I’ll keep everyone posted on the next round of blood work results (7/7/14).  I’m praying for good news!

Sahana and Leland

Leland

November 17, 2009 - June 30, 2014

May you finally be healthy and running free at the Rainbow Bridge. Until we meet again my sweet boy!

Orange County, CA
Member Since:
28 November 2008
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27 June 2014 - 1:30 pm
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Keeping paws crossed for a good lab result next week!  Hang in there Leland!!

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