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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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Front leg recent amputee fell off couch, hasn't walked or stood in days--need advice
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Forum Posts: 19
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1 January 2019 - 8:59 pm
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Hello there,

Our 11 yo pit bull, Boon, underwent amputation surgery on November 28th for histiocytic sarcoma in his joint. He (we) went through a very stressful and scary recovery period in which I was worried he would never walk again, but he finally turned a corner around Christmas and really got moving on his own volition, playing, and finally we saw his spirit return. We were deeply reassured, felt we finally got our dog back (and cancer free!); I had very much appreciated the perspective offered by several of the posts here in the forum to help get us through it.

Unfortunately, Boon tried to get off the couch the other night (Dec 28th, exactly one month post-op), and fell with a hard crash. I was in the other room and didn’t see exactly how he injured himself, but he immediately would not stand or walk, and hasn’t in several days. It appears that his right hind leg is the one that is most troublesome, he holds it at a weird angle when we prop him up. This leg had a successful TPLO surgery about 5 years ago. However, he completely folds all legs when we stand him up-it’s as if his whole body seizes up and he’s either too afraid or too uncertain and still adjusting to having 3 as opposed to 4 legs. It makes it very difficult to tell where the pain is coming from. When he lays on the couch on his side and we try to adjust him or move him, his back legs move like crazy as if he is trying to get balance or very bothered or scared. Obviously it’s painful when we move him, and he wimpers and yelps a bit, which is heartbreaking. One strange thing, though: when we massage or do range of motion exercises with his legs, even pressing up under his paw a bit to simulate how it might feel to put weight on it, he doesn’t seem to mind or make any indication of pain.

Boon is somewhat of a nervous, anxious dog, and might there be a sense of pain, but also a huge burst of confidence that he was just starting to gain just a mere 4 weeks after major surgery? He also has arthritis and a touch of Wobbler’s disease, which makes him already a little unsteady on his feet.

We took him to the vet the morning after the fall and a doctor did a basic orthopedic examination but couldn’t tell us much more than there was nothing broken or fractured (whew), and it was likely a soft tissue injury. She suggested lots of rest, and pain meds (he is currently taking 75mg Rimadyl 2xday and 100mg Gabapentin 3xday).

My questions are:

Do we try rehabilitation with a specialist if he isn’t even walking or standing? We are ready to explore all integrative treatment options such as acupuncture, chriopractic care, etc.

Do we wait it out with rest and meds and see if he gets better? What about muscle atrophy if he isn’t using his body at all?

Have others had experiences in which their dog was injured right after amputation surgery but was able to recover and walk again? What helped?

How do you emotionally cope and put the best face forward for your dog, even when seeing his pain is breaking you up?

We are quite distraught and concerned that he won’t recover long enough to even live out his cancer prognosis (which was 12-18 months). Right now he is himself more or less, eating happily everything in sight, suckling on stuffy toys, but he simply can’t/won’t move his body. We fear we saw as much walking as he is ever going to do again.

Any help or advice is very much appreciated,

K, W & Boondog

Livermore, CA




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1 January 2019 - 10:15 pm
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Hello and welcome, your future posts will not have to wait for approval.

I’m sorry Boon is having trouble.

Can he sit on his own?  If you help him to a sit can he hold it? Is he knuckling his paws at all? Is there any improvement at all since the accident?

I’m wondering if he has hurt his neck or back, that would make almost any movement painful.  If you move his head, or feel along his spine does it elicit a response?  It is common for front amps to tweak their neck or back. 

Was the vet who examined him a ortho specialist?  It sounds like he does have an injury somewhere- finding the injury is key to helping him recover.  A ortho specialist might help pinpoint the source of the pain.  You could call a rehab specialist and see if they will see him as he is now.  They would probably help identify the source as well. 

Another thought- what are your floors like? Any slippery surfaces? Traction is critical for Tripawds so any slippery floors need traction like throw rugs or yoga mats.  When you try and stand him up be sure it is on a rug or a place with secure footing.

My little Pug Maggie was somewhat cautious- when she tried something and failed she would rarely try again.  She lost a back leg to cancer and had issues with more than a couple stairs.  I think she tried early in her recovery, failed, and she never really tried again.

Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls

Tri-pug Maggie survived a 4.5 year mast cell cancer battle only to be lost to oral melanoma.

1999 to 2010

 

              Maggie's Story                  Amputation and Chemo

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1 January 2019 - 10:30 pm
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Thank you for your reply. He doesn’t sit on his own, really. It’s like he just refuses to use his body and goes completely rigid. He could definitely have back and neck issues as well, but when we massage there isn’t an obvious signal of pain.

The vet was not an ortho specialist, just the on call doc at the ER. It would be good to set an appointment with an ortho, it sounds like, to get a better sense. I will call the rehab place tomorrow in case they will see him.

Our floors are fully covered with rugs and yoga mats–a good tip I got prior to bringing him home from surgery.

Wish there was an easier way to diagnose!

Virginia




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1 January 2019 - 11:16 pm
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Geez, sorry Boon is having these new challenges  after doing so well.  

Want to ditto Karen’s suggestion to see a Rehab Specialist  and Ortho Specialist.  And I  would do it asap.    ER Vets are good, but your Boon needs a Specialist. A good Rehab Specialist  can diagnose things that slip by regular  Vets.

Clearly  “something ” happened  when he got off the sofa…something was tweaked, pulled, strained, a disc may have been jnvolved… any number of things.  It may be that more pain meds will be described, or a muscle relaxer, or trazedone yo help with his anxiety.  While he’s  apparently  in some pain, it may be that he has some “anticipatory pain” that makes him tense up.  We’ll be interested  to hear what the plan is.

It IS good that he’s  eating and enjoying his stuffies.  You’ll get this figured out and get him on rhe right treatment  plan.  I know it’s hard to be patient on this journey, but Boon will recover and get walking  again!  

(((((((((((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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2 January 2019 - 10:05 am
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Hi there,

Thanks–I think your point about anticipatory pain also makes a lot of sense. He’s a sensitive boy who is easily shaken up by unusual events. We are going to call into a rehab specialist today and see if we can make an appointment. I’ll update later–hopefully with good news! Fingers crossed we can find what he needs to help him…

K, W, and Boon

The Rainbow Bridge



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2 January 2019 - 10:10 am
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Hi I see you’re online? I’m in the Tripawds Chat right now if you want to talk. More in a sec.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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The Rainbow Bridge



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2 January 2019 - 10:21 am
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Boon sounds like he’s been doing so well! I’m sorry about this current situation but have all the confidence in the world that you can figure this out with your vet team. You’ve gotten some great insight from others, I’ll try to answer your questions as well:

Do we try rehabilitation with a specialist if he isn’t even walking or standing? We are ready to explore all integrative treatment options such as acupuncture, chriopractic care, etc.

Yes, absolutely! Make the appointment now so the therapist can help pinpoint the pain and alleviate it. Once the pain is under control, then therapy can begin. They may use a number of modalities (pharmacuticals, massage, acupuncture, etc., all combined to help him feel better).

Do we wait it out with rest and meds and see if he gets better? What about muscle atrophy if he isn’t using his body at all?

R&R will help but make the appointment now with the therapist. The sooner you can get him in, the better. Muscle atrophy just depends on each situation so that’s a hard question for me to answer. I know that it took our Jerry a couple months before he showed it in the leg he wasn’t using before the tumor in it was diagnosed.

Have others had experiences in which their dog was injured right after amputation surgery but was able to recover and walk again? What helped?

Absolutely! What helps is making the appointment with the rehab therapist to learn what exercise is helpful, what isn’t, and what we can do to help our Tripawds stay injury-free. Our e-book, Loving Life On Three Legs , has lots of tips for this too.

How do you emotionally cope and put the best face forward for your dog, even when seeing his pain is breaking you up?

It’s not easy. We try our best to Be More Dog , and know that we are doing our best to help make the situation better. Get the pain under control asap, and you’ll start to feel less distressed about the situation. Just do what you can do to get him to a specialist and take each day one at a time. Super Boondog and you can get there!

Keep us posted on how today goes.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
Latest Tripawds News
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2 January 2019 - 7:32 pm
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Update on Boon:

We had an intake appointment with Dr. Richter and he got an acupuncture treatment and a script for cannabis. We were dismayed that he could tell us very little about the source of pain or the reason Boon is not able to walk. We will go back tomorrow to meet with the rehab specialist and do a session of rehab in the water tank, which will be good I think to get him moving without stress on the joints. Plus, free bath. Haha. I wish I could say I felt hopeful and consoled but I keep running over the worst case scenarios. It’s not feeling good to have a “medical mystery” on our hands while our dog is wasting away, unable to stand. I wish I knew of other dogs who came out the other side of this just fine! More later…thanks

K, W, & Boon

Virginia




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2 January 2019 - 8:01 pm
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Sorry if you’ve  already said, but who is Dr Richter?  Is he an Ortho specialist?  Also, what type of assessment did he do?

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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2 January 2019 - 8:21 pm
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Hi there–sorry for the confusion, Jerry and I had a little chat this morning in the chat room .

Dr. Richter is a Bay Area (Oakland) holistic vet who came recommended from our oncologist. He has written books and there was an interview I think that Jerry posted on the site somewhere.

He took a history and did some touching to see Boon’s response (none signifying obvious pain spots), and did acupuncture. Really not too much of an assessment if you ask me.

Virginia




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2 January 2019 - 9:20 pm
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Oh, okay.    You might be able to get a better “exam” from the Rehab Specialist and, hopefully some answers.

One thing that stood out in you post was that he helped if you “moved” him, as opposed to it hurt him when you did ROM on his legs.  Maybe indicating  disc, spjne….maybe

Another thought.  Is it possible he hit his head and this is some sort of neurological thing?  I’m  just throwing  weird stuff out there.

This WILL get figured out.  He just has to be evaluated by the right Vet in the right comprehensive  way.  

Extra 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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2 January 2019 - 9:34 pm
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Thanks…trying to stay positive!! You’re right–it could be spine or neck as well. I would hope the rehab specialist can have more definitive answers. 

The Rainbow Bridge



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3 January 2019 - 10:41 am
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Sorry you didn’t feel like you were getting the best evaluation. Did he have any tips for helping Boon get around better until this is figured out? Exactly how mobile is Boon today? Can he stand to eliminate? Eat? How much walking can he do in your  house?

Let us know how it goes with the rehab therapist OK? I know this is frustrating and scary. We have seen many other dogs here who have encountered similar challenges and recovered so try to stay positive. Sometimes it may take a few visits to see visible progress but by taking the steps you have already, you and Boon are on the way to feeling better.

Acupuncture is something that takes time, at least 3-4 sessions, but it is a good step forward. You may want to listen to this podcast with a fantastic acupuncture vet in Portland Oregon, Dr. Ostermeier.

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

Support the Tripawds Foundation!

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3 January 2019 - 8:36 pm
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Thanks, Jerry. Well, the update about the visit with the rehab specialist…she was very thorough and did an entire body evaluation, letting us know the places that appeared particularly painful (had a good sense for subtle signs, since Boon is very stoic in terms of expressing pain), and did a round of acupuncture based on those points.

She also went over a TON of good information for rehab, suggesting 2-3xweek sessions of work along with an acupuncture session, upping his Gabapentin (she thinks the dose is too low and that he needs more regular pain meds administered in addition to just the Rimadyl), getting the cannabis script formulated for arthritis pain, anxiety, and cancer, and sending us home with a very interesting device called an Assisi Loop https://www.ass…..ealth.com/ for pain and inflammation, as well as lots of good tips for massage and short exercises at home, as he gets more ability. We did not do the water treadmill today, but maybe will build up to that as we go forward. Her thoughts were that he was in a lot of ortho/arthritic pain and it needed to be relieved and managed better in order to get him standing and walking again. The injury/accident of falling off the couch was probably painful but also really knocked out his sense of confidence and security that may have been building or present after the amputation. I guess I was just surprised how immediate the shutdown was, thinking the injury was severe. But, maybe it was a combo of feeling bruised and sore, and also pretty shaken up.

I wish she could have reassured me he would walk again, but she didn’t. She was conservative where I was hoping for more…hope. But, we are committed to trying all her suggestions and following them to the letter. At least we now have a plan to follow, which is better than nothing.

Here’s a run down of what meds/at home supplements we are doing for him, in case this info is helpful to anyone:

Rimadyl 75mg 2xday

Gabapentin (working up to) 300mg 3xday

Adequan injectable glucosamine regularly https://www.ade…..anine.com/

Assisi Loop 15 min each time over painful/inflamed parts of his body http://www.assi…..health.com

denamarin 425mg daily (herbal vitamin for liver support due to regular chemo treatments)

Cannabis oil specifically formulated from https://rightratio.com/

Virginia




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3 January 2019 - 9:06 pm
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For whatever it’s  worth, after reading this, I actually feel quite optimistic about Boon’s ability to walk again. 

And this is why.  Boon had a thorough  assessment, pain areas were identified.  Her insight into how this fall could cause sore muscles,  exasperate the arthritis, etc, made sense.  I’m  sure all of his muscles tensed up tightly  as he fell, and have continued  to do so as he remains anxious about moving. And all that combined would definitely shake his confidence.

The Assisi Loop was recommended by the Rehab Vet for my tripawd who has arthritis  and has had inflammation  from surgery.  We see it used on here  often.  The Adequan   injections, the meds, etc sll shoild help Boon. While Ivd not used acupuncture  or  CBD oil, many here swear by them.  The liver supplement  makes sense too.

So yeah, aI think you have every reason to be hopeful!!  Now, being patient  may be the biggest hurdle you have!  This is going to take some time to restore him physically and mentally, but you are definitely on a good treatment plan!

Extra 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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