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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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Just came home....I'm pretty scared
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Forum Posts: 25
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26 July 2018 - 9:47 am
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Nilla, an almost 13 year old yellow lab, came home last night, two days post rear leg amputation secondary to a mast cell tumor. She seems pleased to out of the hospital (she was in the hospital a total of 9 days – 6 prior to surgery), but she is far from happy.  She has no appetite – has not had any appetite since the tumor appeared almost 2 weeks ago.  The many many meds she is on are making her sleepy, but are also leaving her with some excessive panting, occasional tremors, and some lip and tongue smacking, not to mention no appetite.  She is hobbling around with the support of a sling and a harness, but gets very fatigued after 3-4 steps.  Prior to surgery her rear quarters had lost a lot of muscle mass due to aging, so the surgeon was unsure if her surviving rear leg will ultimately be strong enough to support independent ambulation.  I’m happy she’s home and out of the pain the MCT was causing her, but it breaks my heart to see her struggling. It is hard to envision what her life might look like two weeks or two months from now.  She should be a 65 pound lab.  Prior to entering the hospital she had dropped to 58 pounds (the poor appetite had been going on for several months).  Upon discharge she weighs 50 pounds.  I know the amputated leg accounted for 4-5 pounds, but even so, she is skin and bones.  I worry that we put her (and us) through so much without a happy bright future at the end.  The generic positive statements I keep hearing from well-meaning friends and colleagues are not much comfort.  I’m usually such an optimistic person, but I’m having trouble seeing the pot of gold.  I’d like to believe my brilliant mud-loving squirrel-chasing girl is still there in the shell of a dog, but it’s so hard to find her.    

The Rainbow Bridge



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26 July 2018 - 10:02 am
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Jill, we understand how scary this is, and hope that there is some way we can help you feel better about things. 

First, know that she has been through a lot. Most humans would be in much worse shape if they were in the same situation. 

Also, keep in mind that the pain medications and all that she has been through will definitely have an effect on appetite. This is the time you’ll need to really get creative with her food. Normal kibble won’t cut it. Are you trying any of these appetite tips from our Tripawds Nutrition blog ? What about an appetite booster like this recovery supplement drink? Feed her pretty much whatever she wants at this point, scrambled eggs, steak, you name it, and see what she will eat.

Lastly, the most important tip I can give you is to focus on today. Right now, not six months or a year from now. This is the time we learn how to Be More Dog and live in the moment just like our animals do. She is out of the hospital! YAY! Celebrate that huge accomplishment! She’s moving with help? That’s great too! Don’t forget to acknowledge this little victories, they all add up to big gains in the long run.

If your gut instinct finds yourself worrying that something isn’t right, don’t hesitate to let your vet know OK? Nilla’s situation isn’t the usual recovery so it’s important to stay on top of anything that concerns you.

You always have us to talk to as well. Please don’t hesitate to call the Tripawds Helpline anytime. 

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Livermore, CA




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26 July 2018 - 10:19 am
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Is Nilla on any kind of stomach meds like pepcid?  When MCTs are disturbed they release a lot of histamines and can cause stomach upset and even ulcers.  Whenever we even did a FNA on one of the girls MCTs they were on something like pepcid.

That being said she has been through a lot.  And it is not uncommon for pups not to want to eat after amp surgery.

One of the frustrating things about dealing with pain and pain meds is that pain and side effects of pain are sometimes similar.  Some of the behaviors you describe, especially the tremors and lip smacking sound like it could be pain.  It often takes some changes in dose or dosing schedule to get the best coverage.  Sometimes a change in meds helps.  Keep working with your vet to get Nilla as comfortable as possible.

Even the most fit dogs will sometimes have trouble getting around after amp surgery.  Hopping takes a ton more energy that walking.  Rest is the best thing for her right now so it’s OK if she doesn’t get far.  Our surgeon said only short, leashed potty breaks for the first two weeks post op.  My little Pug Maggie, who also lost a rear leg, could hop on her own the day of surgery but she didn’t get far.  She would hop two or three times then sit down.  It took weeks before she could stand for a significant amount of time without her rear leg starting to shake.  Maggie wasn’t an athletic dog by any stretch, but she was regularly walking 2 miles before her surgery.

I was right where you are now- I was sure I had made a terrible mistake by choosing amputation. And I was in that place for 6 weeks (Tripawds wasn’t established yet).  All the vets said was most all dogs do fine on three- I was sure I had the one dog who wasn’t going to cope.  We didn’t have the extra challenges that Nilla has had but Maggie was stubborn and hated change.  It was 6 weeks before she started playing again.  Most here see their old pups come back in two to three weeks. 

It’s hard when you are tired and stressed but be sure you are upbeat and positive around Nilla, she looks to you for guidance. I wasn’t with Maggie – I think we fed of each others grumpiness.

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

Virginia




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26 July 2018 - 12:47 pm
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DITTO JERRY AND DITTO KAREN!  Twke some deep brewths and read those two posts a couple of times, okay?  You WILL feel reassured and not so frightened. 

Your Nilla really jas been through  a lot.  Just the ordeal of being  at the Vet for nine days is exhausting  mentally  and physically.  Add  MAJOR SURGERY  on top of all that all while trying  to adjust  to three legs AND on meds!!

Did the Vet have her on fluids during  any of this time to help stimulate  her appetite?  You might ask about giving  her SubQ fluids at home rather than take her back to the Vet.   

What pain meds is she on now, the dose amount, the frequency?  

As Jerry said, try ANY yummy food you can think of.  Warm chicken,  warn cheeseburgers,  scrambled  eggs and bacon with cheese, cheese pizza, stinky  liverwurst, etc.  As Karen said, check with the Bet about Pepcid or some other pill to coat the tummy like Sucralfate.  Not sure they can be used together.   Maybe also ask about an appetite  stimulant.

Soooo glad to hear Nilla is home.  Now the heal really can begin.   But again, keep in mind, this is MAJOR surgery and so don’t  expect her to act like she wants to pawty just yet!!  Humans  would still be in the hospital  on a morphine drip!

Drinking  and peeing  are important , and keep on working  on the appetite. Just let her rest and recover. 

Stay connected  and YOU try and get some rest too, okay?

Extra 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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26 July 2018 - 4:11 pm
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Thank you all for your honesty and understanding how daunting this feels right now.  Reading these responses made me cry a little – it is so amazing to have this kind of community to help Nilla and me through this really difficult time.  

The good news is that I went to the supermarket and loaded up on tasty food to entice Nilla to eat.  She actually did not need too much enticing, which was great to see.  Slices of salami really got her interest, and I was able to wrap some smoke turkey cubes in the salami.  She ate about 3 thin slices of salami and about 2 dozen 1/4 inch turkey cubes.  I’m happy with that!  She peed outside, and even stared out the sliding doors to the back yard, so I carried her out there where she hopped around for a few minutes before panting in the heat and humidity (we’re in New York – 91 degrees today with really high humidity).  It seemed to me that she was weaker today in getting up on her own than she was yesterday and I had to put more support on the sling than I did yesterday.  

Her med list is huge.  I had to create a spread sheet to keep track of the times of day she gets what.  She is currently on Vitamin A, Misoprostol, Sucralfate, Mirtazapine, Benadryl, Pepcid, and Tramadol.  We still have a few Trazadone pills left from the hospital (doggy Xanax) but I don’t see the need to use them.  The surgeon also wants me to use an ice compress for the first few days and then switch to a warm compress, all to prevent swelling.  I have seen her drinking, although she is definitely struggling to find the right position to drink.  She can take three to four licks of water at a time before having to change position, but she continues to go back to it.  

Her tail continues to hang down and she didn’t show any spark when my husband or I came home.  She did, however, react to being scratched behind her ears.  Nilla is a very sensory dog and loves to be pet, rubbed, cuddled, and scratched.  Often when someone is scratching behind her ears, she will lose muscle control in her neck and relax her entire head into that person’s hands.  She didn’t do that at all to me during her time in the hospital, but this afternoon when I was scratching her ears, she seemed to melt ever so slightly into my hands.  I’ll take the little things as they come!  

We have a guy who works at our vet’s “doggy daycare” coming by this evening to meet Nilla and for us to talk about having him come over mid-day to take her out and give her mid-day meds (hubby and I both work full time).  He’s been referred to as a “dog whisperer” by others who have used him for boarding and walking, so hopefully that will work out.  I’ll feel better knowing she can go out for mid-day pee, can get a little exercise, and can spend some time out of the x-pen.  

Thank you for helping me to see the little successes and progress she is making and not to focus on her losses or worry about the future.  Changing my thought patterns will ultimately be best for Nilla, and for me.  

Livermore, CA




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26 July 2018 - 8:33 pm
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Thank you for helping me to see the little successes and progress she is making and not to focus on her losses or worry about the future.

Good for you! Around here we say: Be More Dog .  Our pups really live in the moment.  It is a hard skill to master but just one of the many lessons I learned on this journey.

I love the spreadsheet!  I had to do that several times with my last two Pugs- I even resorted to pill boxes big-grin

One of the things that helped Maggie show a bit of spark was to have my parents visit.  Not for too long but it helped get her back in the swing of things.

Do you have Nilla’s dishes elevated?  If not it might help her drink easier.  I tried raising dishes for Maggie but she just sat and looked at me like I was insane.  She ate and drank just fine with her dishes on the floor- that stubborn Pug thing I think.

Keep adding up those little victories!

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

Virginia




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26 July 2018 - 11:33 pm
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WOW!!!  I see a lot of good NEWS here!😁

Standing  ovation to you for staying  strong during this REALLY stressful recovery  period!!  Good job!  And you still have some rough times ahead as to be expected for a couple of weeks.  But we’re  here with you the whole way, okay?

NILLA ATE!!!  YAY!!!😁

NILLA MELTED A LTTLE BIT IN YOUR HAND!!!  YAY!😁

NILLA IS MOBILE…AND EVEN WITH A SLING, THAT COUNTS!!! YAY!😁

YAY FOR YOU FOCUSING ON THE VICTORIES!!   AND NILLA IS HAVING VICTORIES!😁

We often find  that after around day two or three, all the hospital  meds are out of their system  and they seem to do worse than when they first got home.  And then add high humidity  and high temperatures into the mix, of course NILLA wasn’t  up for running  a ,marathon!

I know you keep hearing  this from us, but just really, really short potty breaks and then more rest.  Amd lots of dogs do need sling help when getting up during recovery  Not unusual  at all.

I haven’t  looked up  Misoprostal, but it looks like the only pain med she is on is Tramadol .  Many dogs  here  are on Tramadol, Gabapentin,  Rimadyl and an antibiotic.   These  all help with pain (excluding the antibiotic).  Glad you aren’t  doing the Trazadone.  It doesn’t  seem  like she needs a sedative  at all.   Just stay on the look out for any pain signs .

We’ll be watching  for more updates!  Cheering  for this sweet girl!

Extra 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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27 July 2018 - 7:30 am
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We are only 2 weeks post amp, but one bit of advice I can offer is that drinking fresh whey was something my dog really enjoyed, and it was a great way to get extra fluids in him as he didn’t like water much after surgery. And the probiotic component may help his belly. Good luck, this is so hard.

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27 July 2018 - 1:09 pm
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I can’t believe I’m excited to post this, but this morning Nilla hopped on her own from our kitchen (where she has been sleeping) into the living room and pooped on one of the area rugs we put down!!  We were so excited that she hopped around unassisted on her own and that she squeezed out a nice big poop that we didn’t even care that she pooped in the house!!

This afternoon she hopped around quite a bit in our backyard, first assisted and then unassisted.  I can’t figure out how to add a video to this post, but I posted it on my FB page with #tripawds so I think it is viewable on the Tripawds FB page.  

I spoke with the hospital this morning about two odd behaviors – not sure if they are med related or pain/anxiety related.  She has been making a jaw smacking sound quite frequently.  It almost sounds like her jaw is slamming shut, but her mouth is not open.  They said this could a side effect of the Tramadol and suggested that we cut back to twice per day instead of three times per day.  The other behavior occurred last night as we were going to sleep.  I put her in an x-pen in our kitchen, and she engaged in a repetitive behavior where she would lick twice from the water bowl, look to the right, look to the left, and then look straight, and then repeated this cycle over and over again.  I watched for about 5 minutes before breaking the cycle by tugging at her harness and moving her to the middle of the x-pen.  She never barks, whines, cries, or makes any sound, so I don’t know if this behavior was anxiety over being in the x-pen or was related to meds.  Since Nilla is not usually crated or penned in, they suggested that perhaps I move the x-pen to my bedroom at night.  I’ll try that tonight, and I’m not even sure I would need an x-pen.  

Nilla ate a few more slices of salami, a scrambled egg, and some shredded brisket.  She’ll beat the cancer but wind up other problems from the high fatty proteins!!  Just kidding.  I cooked some hamburger this afternoon so as soon as it is cool enough I will see if that interests her.  

I’m continuing to enjoy the small successes.  I sent everyone I know the video of Nilla hopping around the yard.  I think I’m prouder of her than when my children took their first steps!!

Virginia




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27 July 2018 - 10:53 pm
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WOW!!!  WHAT A GREAT UPDATE!!!!😥

AND WE HAVE poopicon_png!!!  AND YES, WE CELEBRATE  THE FIRST. poopicon_png NO MATTER WHERE IT LANDS!!clap

AND NILLA  IS WALKING IN HER OWN!!!  YAY!!!clap

Interesting  about her behavior in the X pen.  Could be the Tramadol  or could be because  she’s  not ised to the pen .   And the teeth chatter/jaw snap sound could be pain maybe?? Just make sure she has some pain meds in her in a consistent  basis.  If the Vet thinks  she is having  a weird  reaction to the Tramadol , then he needs to prescribe a replacement.

AND YAY FOR EATING!!!  You can focus on good nutrition  later.  Right now, whatever  she will eat is the best choice!

Hope you get some rest tonight.  And ueah, if she’s  ised to sleeping  in the bedroom with you,  I would definitely  try that tonight.

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!

Here and Now


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28 July 2018 - 11:46 am
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Jill said
I can’t figure out how to add a video to this post, but I posted it on my FB page with #tripawds so I think it is viewable on the Tripawds FB page…
 

The easiest way to share videos here in the forums is to upload them to Youtube (or Vimeo) first, then you can just paste the Share link in your post to auto-embed the movie.

FYI: You must tag the Tripawds Facebook page using @Tripawds, for posts to appear in the page’s Visitor Posts section. Using #tripawds will only include the post in the trending for that hashtag.

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28 July 2018 - 6:01 pm
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We’ve noticed that Nilla is keeping her 12-inch tail down when she hops around. We’re trying to figure out if keeping her tail down between her legs helps with her balance or is because she’s just so miserable and has nothing to wag about. What is your experience with long tailed Tripawds?

Montreal, Quebec
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28 July 2018 - 6:31 pm
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Hi Jill, i am reading and learning from your brave girl…my hero is coming home tomorrow after amputation, so everything is new for us as well.

Happy to hear of her improvements, and our girls are not puppies so i understand it can take longer.

My heart is with Nilla and will include her in my prayers for a speedy and full recovery.

I am interested on what other experienced parents have to say about your question regarding Nilla’s tail.

Cuddles for your hero girl and hugs,

Yael (Belle’s mama)

Virginia




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28 July 2018 - 8:32 pm
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Jill said
 We’re trying to figure out if keeping her tail down between her legs helps with her balance or is because she’s just so miserable and has nothing to wag about.

Jad to chuckle  whenmypu asked if it was because  she’s  just so miserable shenhas nothing  to wag about.  I’m sure she doesn’t  feel like partying yet!

I really cant remember  whether my Happy Hannah  was wagging her tail that early on or not.  I’m  thinking probably  not though.

How ’bout when she’s  laying down and you give her a little butt scratch?  Are you seeing any tail movement  at all?

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!

The Rainbow Bridge



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29 July 2018 - 6:07 am
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I’m so happy to hear things are looking better and better for her!

Regarding her tail: our Wyatt Ray also has a long tail. We joke that he looks like a kangaroo.

20100127w_slabcity09.jpgImage Enlarger

Does her tail seem to be painful at all? What happens when you gently play with it? At times I see Wyatt’s tail and think that he’s using it as a rudder for balance. This could be the case.

As for Nilla’s odd behavior…yeah, that could be pain medication side effects making her feel loopy and goofy. Let us know what happens after following your vet clinic’s suggestions. 

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