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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Hi, our 7 1/2 year old Bernese Mountain Dog, Ryder, is going for a pre-surgical (fasting) consult on April 14th. I am devastated by the presumptive diagnosis of osteoscarcoma with a pathological fracture (determined by ER x-ray). His leg fractured Friday evening (we actually heard the loud snap) and he ended up spending the night at the emergency Vet. He came home the next day with a splint on his left front leg. He hops around amazingly well on three legs without putting any pressure on his left side. He has actually tried to sprint back to the house after going potty.
My question is, because he is so painful (came home on pain meds) he basically refuses to let us try to pick him up out of the back of our CRV. He cringes and shakes as far away as he can get. Last evening after visiting his regular vet for a consultation, it took us nearly an hour to get him close enough to the edge of the deck of the vehicle to lift him out. When we were going to lift him into the vehicle before we left home he actually jumped in! He weighs about 82 lbs. Does anyone have any suggestions for what we should do? Should we let him try to crawl up into the back seat like he usually does for trips in the SUV?
Also, we have a rambunctious 9 month old berner puppy who adores him and will try to be all over him. She is the catalyst for the fracture, she raced up to him and jumped on him as usual. We currently keep them separated with baby gates and an X-pen. I am concerned about Ryder’s rehab. Please, if you have ANY insights I would love to hear suggestions. Thank you so very much. I am very grateful to have stumbled onto this site. I have learned so much already.
Hi Georgiana, Ryder and family, welcome. Sorry you had to join our club! Your future posts won’t need approval so post away.
Here are some of my initial thoughts about your situation:
Ryder, is going for a pre-surgical (fasting) consult on April 14th
I’ll be blunt: that’s a really long time to wait for amputation while he walks around on a fractured leg. Even if it is splinted, it’s gotta hurt. What pain meds is he on, and how much? I know that vet clinics are slammed right now but usually when osteosarcoma is suspected, the dog gets into surgery STAT. Did they put you on a cancellation list?
he basically refuses to let us try to pick him up out of the back of our CRV. Does anyone have any suggestions for what we should do? Should we let him try to crawl up into the back seat like he usually does for trips in the SUV?
Well, that’s a tough one, but if I were in your situation I would find a way to assist. Do you have any kind of milk crate or flat step stool you can put next to the SUV door as a temporary measure?
Here’s what I know: even a healthy four legged dog shouldn’t jump in and out of vehicles according to rehab therapists we’ve interviewed, and for a three-legger is super important to prevent that kind of jumping. We recommend the Ruffwear Webmaster or Flagline harness to assist dogs getting in and out of tall vehicles. You can also try training him with a hitch step, or a ramp. Just be aware that unless he’s used one before, many dogs don’t like ramps because they have poor depth perception and the distance between the ramp and the ground can be really scary.
we have a rambunctious 9 month old berner puppy who adores him and will try to be all over him.
Good idea to keep them separate right now, and during recovery. I’ll let members with multiple dogs comment on this one because I’ve never had two dogs at once. But rest assured that eventually you can get them together again without worry! Also, for walks, you’ll want to consider a pet stroller so they can both get out at the same time. Strollers are pawesome!
As for rehab, be sure to take advantage of the Tripawds Foundation Rehab Reimbursement Program!
Hope this helps! Stay tuned for more feedback from others.
Hi Georgiana, Ryder and family, welcome to little and very supportive community. You will be surprised on how many of us have been there and are still here offering our experiences and support.
Can’t imagine what went through your mind in hearing the leg break. Where we live there is no emergency vet with the closes one being about 2 hrs drive once we got our Rottie into the car. My dog would never step on anything to get into a vehicle, if he cannot jump then he is not going in. So, I taught him to, at least put his front paws on the bumper for the vehicle. From there one arm went under his chest area and the other in the crook of both hind legs, then left using your legs. Same thing getting out of the car. If you have a harness, you can hang onto the harness while placing the other under your dog in front of the hind legs trying to let the dog down as level as possible and not letting the dog hit the ground hard. After Koda’s amputation, he really started relying on me to help him even though he thought he knew better. So yes, there were a few grumbles so I told him “no” and that was the end of it.
As far as the puppy is concerned, we let our dogs be with one another while closely supervising the younger one who was 16 months old. She knew something was not good with her big brother. As it turned out she was very gentle with him offering support as best as she could. If he wanted to be left alone he grumbled at her and she moved away from him. For us it was an easy decision initially with the 2 dogs. Of course, there are times when we have to calm the zoomies when around Koda which was no problem either. The other loves balls and is easily distracted when necessary. So the same may help with your puppy. I would highly recommend to use a loud voice with the puppy, let he/she sniff and do what they do. Ryder will certainly teach the puppy manner when around him.
If you can get some cannibus, that is very helpful for keeping Ryder calm and not lethargic; he will have his senses but just relaxed. The cannibus worked much better for Koda then Tramydol or any other prescribed anti anxiety meds. Have you tried a Thunder shirt? They too are very helpful as well.
I hope our experiences offer some different perspective. You know Ryder best. Just listen to him and he will tell you volumes.
All the best and WOOOOFFF,
Catherine and Koda Bear
thank you Catherine for your reply.
We do have a Ruffwear Help Em Up harness that we used for our Emma after her laryngeal paralysis and subsequent tie-back surgery back in 2008.
The problem seems to be getting OUT of the vehicle. He must be deathly afraid of the pain. He jumped into the vehicle before we could stop him, we never let our dogs jump in or out of our vehicles.
Ryder is way too patient with our puppy Grace. They will even share chewing on a bone. If she pushes him too far, he often will grumble and sound like he is growling but he just gets up and walks away from her. He lets her bite him on his tail and even bite him on his cheek and he just endures it. They have been close since she came to us at 9 weeks old. She is now 9 months, around 60 lbs and rambunctious!
I do have Ryder taking CBD oil daily. We do have a thunder shirt but haven’t tried it. I think we will next time we need to take him somewhere for a vet visit.
My biggest concern is that the fracture occurred Friday, 4/2 and I can’t get him in even for a surgical consult until 4/14! He is wearing a brace but it is rapidly deteriorating what with his walking on it and scratching etc. Should I be adamant about finding a surgical appointment with an oncology surgeon sooner? I am so worried about his pain and the seemingly eminent mastication of his osteoscarcoma. Grasping at straws
Georgiana, yes, as I mentioned above, I would call the clinic and let them know your dog is showing pain signals (be sure to write them down and note how often they occur so you can have a good conversation with your vet). Ask if there is any way they can bump up the consult. All vets know osteosarcoma is incredibly painful. If the consult isn’t until next week that could mean surgery itself is another week away. It’s a long time to wait. I would be happy to find another clinic for you, that would hopefully be able to see him sooner.
I am so sorry to hear about the added stress you all are under. I sure hope Jerry is able to help speed things up for you.
Have you tried a form of a restraint for Ryder? I use a leash wrapping it around the headrest of the back seat leaving just enough for my dog to lay down if he chooses.
I truly hope the tides turn for the better for you and the familiy.
Catherine and Koda
I was able to get Ryder a surgical consult appointment for this Saturday at Noon. Much better than next week!
He is hopping around quite well actually. He does have a tether that we use to attach to the seatbelt for car trips. I think our big mistake was to put him into the back deck of the CRV on a blanket (he rides in the backseat, Grace usually rides in the back deck in her crate). He was not familiar with the back deck and is morbidly afraid to go ‘down’ from being up in the deck. I think he will be able to hop into the back seat area (even if it is not on the bench seat, just the floor). We can help support him with the Help Em Up harness (Ruffwear).
Fentanyl patch was removed yesterday and he is on Gabapentin and Carprofen. He only has 4 of the Carprofen left which will get him thru Saturday. His regular vet, Dr. Bausone, practices integrative medicine and put him on 5 different chinese herbs/supplements to help fight the cancer.
I already have him on CBD oil and turkey tail. He remains is excellent, good spirits, has same usual enthusiasm for food. We feed raw and they always act (at every meal) as though they haven’t eaten in days. Silly pups. We feed them in separate areas; Grace eats in her X-pen ‘yard’ and he eats in the kitchen.
Hi Georgiana, I’m so glad you were able to get him in sooner! Which clinic are you going to on Saturday. I noticed you’re in Carlsbad. Are you going to Dr. Ogilve’s clinic, Angel Care Center? If so they are spectacular! As for Dr. Bausone, he looks like a fantastic practitioner, you’re so fortunate to have a great vet like him.
Without the Fentanyl, Ryder may start showing pain signals soon. Let your vet know if he does. I hope Ryder remains comfortable enough until you go on Saturday.
P.S. Just FYI, the Help Em Up harness is not a Ruffwear harness , two different companies. Both make great harnesses, we are partial to Ruffwear though.
Hi Jerry, thank you for your support! Actually we live in Fallbrook. Dr. Bausone is definitely awesome. He’s been our vet since 2008. He practices acupuncture and TCM and is always open to my individual thoughts and opinions.
The hospital we are going to on Saturday is Veterinary Specialty Hospital North County in San Marcos. Ryder will be seeing Dr. Chris Thompson, a board certified veterinary surgeon.
Ryder has been off the patch for 24 hours now and showing no signs of increased pain. Still scrambles up and gets excited for meals as well as visitors. As for the harness, I guess we just call it a help em up, cuz it actually has a handle on the top and we used it to help our Emma get up, it is actually a Ruffwear, just don’t know the style. Will include photos of the harness and a short video of him walking.
Ah sunny Fallbrook, nice!
Ok I’m TOTALLY in love with Ryder. What a sweet, gorgeous boy. He is so stoic and still so sparkly despite his situation. Give him extra lovin’ from us!
Dr. Thompson has rock star credentials I love that he did a surgical oncology fellowship at Colorado State, proof that he’s an excellent cancer vet! We are huge CSU fans here.
The harness is indeed a Ruffwear Webmaster . You are set!
Good luck tomorrow, let us know how the consult goes. Oh you may want to check out Questions to Ask Your Veterinary Oncologist before you go.
22 February 2013
Just catching up on your very handsome Ryder! OMD! Such a stunner!! And that’s a fine looking “seat belt arrangement “..
You have gotten such great support from Catherine and Jerry. I can only add my best wishes for a good consult and good recovery. As you can already see, we are here to support you and help you nav thru recovery and onto watching Ryder being Ryder again!😎
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!
Thank you guys for your awesome support. As you can probably imagine, I am sort of on pins and needles here, waiting for tomorrow. Just the fact that Ryder is so full of life and happy keeps me going and expecting my prayers to be answered. He is just not ready to leave us. Always wagging his tail.
My brain keeps whispering to me that MAYBE the initial x-rays at the ER last week were like a false positive test…I know, wishful thinking! Thank you for the list of questions. We will definitely bring the list with us tomorrow.
We got this harness for our Emma while she was recuperating from laryngeal paralysis and subsequent aspiration pneumonia back in ’08-2013. Our vet, Dr. Bausone, kept her going with acupuncture and TCM’s, laser treatments and even a nebulizer! So relieved to hear that Dr. Thompson has such stellar credentials. It makes me feel more comfortable knowing he comes highly recommended.
I will try to stay calm and breathe…
Our surgical consult appointment went very well. I am positive that Dr. Thomson is going to be a wonderful and kind doctor. Ryder’s forelimb amputation is scheduled for this Friday, April 16th. We will be submitting tumor sample to the BernerGarde Foundation vis MSU. We will also be participating in two clinical trials that Dr. Thomson is working on. We hope to bring Ryder home on Saturday. I am so frightened and worried about him. I need to be able to show Ryder confidence and encouragement but all I can do right now is cry.
We’ve allowed the puppy to spend time (in the house) with Ryder and if she starts to get rambunctious we just caution her and she backs off. I think they both are enjoying being together again. I know that he will be unsteady and very cautious when he comes home and we will again keep them separate until he becomes more confident.
That’s great to hear! Having a surgeon like Dr. T makes all the difference, Ryder is in excellent hands. Very cool you can do the trials. Do you know specifically which ones you are participating in? I’d love to know and share in Tips and Resources. Ryder will contribute to science in a big way!
Of course you want to cry, nobody is ever prepared for this. But you know exactly what Ryder needs from you, and I have all the confidence you and even the puppy will handle this recovery like an excellent team. Go TEAM RYDER!
Holler with any questions as you prepare for the big day.
The clinical trials that Ryder will participate in are:
1. How cancer affects the gastrointestinal health. (Data is derived from collecting stool and blood samples before and after the surgery.)
2. Collect sample of tumor to gain better understanding of genetics of the disease.
We are also going to have them send a tumor sample to Michigan State University for the Berner-Garde Foundation Repository.
Do you know if the presence of fatty lipomas (on his side) have any connection with cancer tumors?
Also, sometimes Ryder coughs after drinking alot of water at one time, is that also a concern (already)? X-rays of lungs do not indicate any presence of cancer at this time.
Thanks for your awesome support and encouragement. Oh, I just remembered that Dr. T said that “dogs are born with 3 legs and a spare “…