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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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new tripawd with existing FHO
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Taos, NM
Forum Posts: 85
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12 June 2010 - 10:41 am
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Hi all, this is my first post.  My heeler/pit mix is named Tshuvah (that’s Hebrew) and she is about 9 years old.  After limping for about 6 weeks and not responding to various interventions, she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in her left front foreleg and that leg was amputated on Thursday.  She is still recovering at the vet and will likely be home tomorrow or maybe Monday.

 

On top of all the usual worries (which I certainly have!), there is one specific concern.  When I found Tshuvah 8 years ago on the side of the road, she was starved and injured; her rear right leg was nonfunctional and atrophied.  We found that an old injury had popped the hip joint out and the only possible repair was a femoral head ostectomy, in short, to create a false joint.  She’s done great all these years, she’s had full use of that rear leg.  Of course, that rear leg is the one opposite to the newly amputated leg.

 

I’d like suggestions for what to do to help her, as I know her compromised rear leg will be very much more stressed with the amputation.  We don’t know how long she will live given her diagnosis, but want to keep her as happy and comfortable as possible.  She is on a mixed diet of grain-free homemade cooked food and Weruva grain-free canned and takes gluc/chon supplements.  What kind of veterinary specialist might we consider consulting with, an orthopedist?  Should we consider a continuous dose of tramadol and/or NSAIDs?  I will put the ruffwear harness on her as soon as the incision site is healed in order to assist her, thankfully she’s only 40# and is strong as a horse and has an unbelievable spirit. 

 

Thank you for any and all thoughts and suggestions.   I will be posting more as she comes home and we begin the recovery from amputation (and treatment for the OSA).

 

Beth in Taos

Beth with my beloved Tshuvah, 10 year old "TaosDog". Provisional diagnosis osteosarcoma on 6/10/10, amputation of left foreleg same day, firm diagnosis of hemangiosarcoma 6/24/10. Set free on 9/9/10.  Treasured forever.

http://labrador.....ipawds.com

My heart lives at Rainbow Bridge
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12 June 2010 - 12:37 pm
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Sounds like that pittie spirit is alive and well.  You just about can’t get them down.  I can certainly understand your concern with the hip. Surely your vet has some treatment plan in mind.  You should chat with him and let him know your concerns.  He/she may be able to put you at ease.  There are many older dogs who are on daily NSAIDS and do well.  I’ve read of some who use Tramadol ongoing, but because it is a narcotic, I think most would choose not to use it long term.  I use it sporadically when Trouble is having a day where it is hard getting about, or after a fall to keep her from being sore.

The one thing I would recommend is to get him started on a good joint supplement.  There is added stress on the joints with the tripawd hop.  Welcome to our group, you will find many faithful friends here.

Shanna & Spirit Trouble ~ Trouble gained her wings 3/16/2011, a 27 1/2 month cancer survivor, tail wagging. RIP sweetheart, you are my heart and soul.  Run free at Rainbow Bridge.
The November Five - Spirits Max, Cherry, Tika, Trouble & Nova. 11/2008 - 3/2013 An era ends as Queen Nova crossed the Bridge.

Las Vegas, Nevada
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12 June 2010 - 1:22 pm
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What a  pretty princess Tshuvah is!  I’m so sorry about her diagnoses.  But oh my gosh – what wonderful pawrents she has!

 

I had to look up her name and I love it!  I hope I got the meaning correct: Tshuvah – “It is the power than enables this world to be our platform for growth, for development, and for change.”   I’m not going to tell Comet since she may feel slighted with her name  – ‘Rock around the Clock’ by Bill Hailey and The Comets doesn’t exactly have deep meaning!  (I’m kidding – she was already named when I got her wink)

 

Okay back to your questions…I wouldn’t worry about the femur head removal too much.  Chuy, one of our tripawds had it. And this doesn’t look like a dog that is disabled!

 

I’ll let Chuy fill you in!

 

I had a chow that had both femur heads removed and did just fine.  She wasn’t a tripawd but she was fat!  (my fault)

 

And my Comet who is a front left leg birth defect tripawd has had both back knees goes out and she did really well.  She’s almost 12 now and has a tough time but her little body has been through hell for 11 1/2 years hopping all of her life.  I think her back and legs get sore now.  She is on Rimadyl 75mg a day every day with no problems (always give with food! It’s sorta like us  humans taking 4 Advils on an empty stomach.)

 

But just so you know, the immediate problem is going to be the recovery from the amputation.  It’s going to be a very ruff two weeks!  It’s major surgery but it will get better.  Just plan on playing nurse for a bit.  And be sure to contact your vet if she has pain.

 

hugapitbull wrote:

 I’ve read of some who use Tramadol ongoing, but because it is a narcotic,

 

Actually Shanna – it’s a non-narcotic (no opium) so it okay to use long term.  BUT – it can make the doggies goofy!  It  blocks pain impulses from reaching the brain and even though it’s not understood exactly it’s more like an antidepressent.   I bet Sadie’s mom could tell us exactly since she is a pharmacist – they are so smart when it comes to drugs!

 

I would think Tshuvah will need an ocologists and perhaps a orthopedic if her mobility is off.      

 

Best of luck to you guys, keep us posted!

Comet’s mom

Her Retired AvatarComet - 1999 to 2011

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.

Here and Now


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12 June 2010 - 2:05 pm
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labradorim said:

I’d like suggestions for what to do to help her…

What kind of veterinary specialist might we consider consulting with…

Should we consider a continuous dose of tramadol and/or NSAIDs?

Be sure to bookmark Jerry’s Required Reading List for lots of links to helpful Tripawds posts from the past couple years.

You’ll also want to check out our three-part video interview with California Animal Rehab, for tips on exercises and stretching, as well as Chuy Maloney’s blog for advice about coping with issues in remaining limbs of three leggeddogs. Hydrotherapy and controlled swimming are some of the best exercise you can provide for Tshuvah. (What does her name mean?) We also have a recent Tripawds Health Video explaining benefits of hydrotherapy for Max, a three legged Rottweiler.

Be careful about long term use of NSAIDs. Metacam was the best we found for Jerry, he had no issues taking that for nearly two years. Others, however, can cause serious intestinal damage. Consult with your vet and watch for any signs of bloody stools etc. when starting new meds.

Thanks for joining. We’re sorry to hear about the diagnosis, but glad you found us.

The Rainbow Bridge



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12 June 2010 - 3:30 pm
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Beth, welcome to you and Tshuvah. I just wanted to add here that if you’re in Taos, you’re near one of the GREATEST specialty centers in the country, Santa Fe Vet Cancer Care and Specialty Center. It’s where I got treated and the docs there are GREAT! We just wrote a post about them:

Dr. Hady Demystifies MRIs and CT Scans

Stay tuned for more posts from our visit there (and you can click on the links in the story about them to read more about my own experience there).

Give them a call and tell Dr. Kelly we sent you.

Meanwhile, as you can see, there IS hope. Tshuvah will amaze you, I know it.

Keep us posted OK?

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Taos, NM
Forum Posts: 85
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12 June 2010 - 6:34 pm
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Thank you, everyone.  Tshuvah’s name is related to the holiday of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.  It is when one makes amends for errors of the year past and commits onesself to “returning” to the path of holiness.  the word “Tshuvah” is the Hebrew word for this kind of spiritual return, as it is said ‘to make tshuvah”.  She returned to us on Yom Kippur 2001 (its a long story about my husband not wanting to keep this mutt I had just found on the road but I wont’ diss him publically, LOL!), hence her name.  OK, Jewish educational dissertation now complete!

 

A little relevant background; I’ve had three wonderful labs in my life, two of whom I’ve now lost to cancer and who had orthopedic issues so I have some experience with the NSAIDs and tramadol.  My Yesha was on tramadol for a number of months continuously after metacam gave him bloody stool and he was unable to tolerate any other NSAIDs without major gastric upset.  My Tzav couldn’t take the NSAIDs at all and I was always afraid of them anyway, with the research on retreivers dropping dead after one or two doses of rimadyl.  So I am VERY cautious of their use.  I had my lab boys on Yucca Intensive, salmon oil, and high quality joint supplements as well as a raw diet.  I’ll work with my vet on what to use for Tshuvah; not being a lab is, in this case, both good and bad.  Good in that she might not be as susceptible to NSAIDs side effects, bad because she’s not a Hoover who will ingest anything, is hard to pill and picky about her food.

 

I found the videos, thank you, and will watch them later.  I’m eager to see the ones about post-op care and massage.

 

As it happens, Tshuvah is being cared for at the Vet Cancer and Specialty Center in Santa Fe, 90 minutes south of us in Taos.  That’s where her amputation was done, although with a very new orthopedist who I’m guessing you wouldn’t have met.  I am highly impressed with the tech staff.  I’m not sure if its ok to say this, but my vets up here have mixed feelings about Dr. Kelly and suggested we see an oncologist in Albuquerque, which is 2.5 hours away.  I will make the trek to ABQ if necessary for Tshuvah’s well-being but I will say that, with a 5 year old human daughter and my work, it would be much preferable to see oncology in SF.  I’m not really sure what to do about that decision.  I mentioned the FHO issue to the orthopedist prior to Tshuvah’s surgery but he didn’t give it much attention and no plan for it in the future.  Maybe he thought my local vets would step in for that?  I don’t know.  I’m glad to have your input on that clinic.  We really had no choice given our circumstances, poor financial situation, and being so remotely located.  I feel better about having Tshuvah there, knowing your experience was so positive.  Maybe we’ll use their oncology center after all.  We always took our lab boys up to Colorado for their surgeries, but that was when we had much more time and money.  It would be impossible now.

 

I admit to be very nervous about caring for Tshuvah post-op.  I know there was no choice as we could not control her pain otherwise.  Certainly she has the pit spirit even though its hard to physically see the pit in her.  She has been the most incredible athlete, bounding through the sage like a gazelle catching mesa jackrabbits even with her FHO hip.  She is, btw, a beautiful princess as mentioned above.  When I found her all those years ago, I had my two big gorgeous purebred yellow lab boys, and Tshuvah immediately became our friends’ and families’ favorite for her personality-plus.  She is the funniest dog I’ve ever known.  We’re heartbroken, knowing the outlook for her diagnosis.  We are spending July and August in Chicago with family and had planned to leave Tshuvah and Nir (our black lab) with a good friend here in Taos, but now, of course, she’ll be coming with us.  Having her there will give us more treatment and therapy options, at least for 2 months!  I hope she’s ready to travel by June 28…is that possible?  I’m driving, its two long days to get from Taos to Chicago.

 

many thanks again,  Beth

Beth with my beloved Tshuvah, 10 year old "TaosDog". Provisional diagnosis osteosarcoma on 6/10/10, amputation of left foreleg same day, firm diagnosis of hemangiosarcoma 6/24/10. Set free on 9/9/10.  Treasured forever.

http://labrador.....ipawds.com

Forum Posts: 398
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12 June 2010 - 9:05 pm
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Hi Beth and Tshuvah!  Welcome to our little club no one wants to join … but you will find great information and even greater support here.

Harley had a terrible reaction to Rimadyl after 3 days on it (violent bloody diarrhea and vomit), so I completely understand your reluctance to use NSAIDs (although, yes, I am aware most dogs do fine on them … had to add this disclaimer before I get jumped on.winklol)  Anyway, they scare me terribly now.

I wanted to let you know, since you will be in Chicago this Summer, Gerry is throwing a Tripawd Pawty in Madison on July 10th.  There are some other Tripawds from Chicago who are planning on being there.  You are so very welcome to come and join in the fun!!smile

Wishing you the best!

Amputation on 11/10/09, due to Histiocytic Sarcoma in left elbow. Angel Harley earned his wings on 06/24/10.

Here and Now


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12 June 2010 - 10:38 pm
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labradorim said:

OK, Jewish educational dissertation now complete!

Thank you. We’re intrigued because Jerry’s first online girlfriend – and international penpal – after launching Tripawds was Lalla, from Israel. We’ve aso written about Star, a three legged Israeli special forces dog. Tshuva is a beautiful name.

The Rainbow Bridge



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12 June 2010 - 10:39 pm
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Oh Beth, I can’t believe you’re going through cancer again, I’m so sorry. Ugh, I hate cancer! You are an awesome dog Mom, thank you for making the world a better place for these pups.

Ok, so on to business. I have no idea what iffy things the vets in Taos could say about Dr. Kelly, but perhaps it’s because she is really into cutting-edge, experimental oncology treatment and clinical trials that most vets aren’t familiar with? Just a guess. We haven’t covered some of the new work that she’s doing at her clinic yet here at Tripawds (though we will soon), but my suspicion tells me that maybe some traditional family vets aren’t comfortable with this kind of experimental treatment? Also, I know the other vet in ABQ has been around longer than she has, and I don’t know much about him, but I think maybe some vets are more comfortable with his history?

Dr. Kelly puts nearly every cancer patient on the Metronomic Protocol almost immediately after amputation and even during IV chemo. This is a very aggressive approach that I know most oncos aren’t doing yet. But I will say that when I was put on Metronomics back in 2008, that therapy was almost unheard of, even by many oncologists. If it wasn’t for Dr. Kelly, I am certain that I wouldn’t have lived as long as I did after lung mets were discovered. Also, she told us that currently because of her metronomics approach, she has three dogs who have lived over two years with osteosarcoma, which is unheard of. Her approach is incredible, and it’s working.

Ok, I’m biased. I can’t say enough good things about her and her staff, they helped me out tremendously. I hope you will feel as comfortable there as I did (and as my pawrents feel recommending others to the clinic).

Don’t be nervous about caring for Tshuva, she should be fine. You have a lot of experience with dogs, your instinct will serve you well. Traveling, she should be OK as long as you don’t let her overdo it from the excitement of new places.

Hang in there!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Taos, NM
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13 June 2010 - 11:34 am
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I wanted to let you know, since you will be in Chicago this Summer, Gerry is throwing a Tripawd Pawty in Madison on July 10th.  There are some other Tripawds from Chicago who are planning on being there.  You are so very welcome to come and join in the fun!!smile

Wishing you the best!


 

Thanks, we might take you up on that depending on how Tshuvah’s doing by then.  We have friends who live in Madison, it would be nice to see them too.  thanks for your good wishes.

 

Beth

Beth with my beloved Tshuvah, 10 year old "TaosDog". Provisional diagnosis osteosarcoma on 6/10/10, amputation of left foreleg same day, firm diagnosis of hemangiosarcoma 6/24/10. Set free on 9/9/10.  Treasured forever.

http://labrador.....ipawds.com

Taos, NM
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13 June 2010 - 11:35 am
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jerry said:

Ok, I’m biased. I can’t say enough good things about her and her staff, they helped me out tremendously. I hope you will feel as comfortable there as I did (and as my pawrents feel recommending others to the clinic).


 

Thanks for that.  We will definitely pursue this avenue, probably next week.

 

Beth

Beth with my beloved Tshuvah, 10 year old "TaosDog". Provisional diagnosis osteosarcoma on 6/10/10, amputation of left foreleg same day, firm diagnosis of hemangiosarcoma 6/24/10. Set free on 9/9/10.  Treasured forever.

http://labrador.....ipawds.com

Madison, WI
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13 June 2010 - 3:52 pm
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labradorim said:  

Thanks, we might take you up on that depending on how Tshuvah’s doing by then.  We have friends who live in Madison, it would be nice to see them too.  thanks for your good wishes.

 

Beth


 

Ooooo, that would be sooo cool!  No pressure, of course, only do what you feel comfortable with.  Both my tripawds were good to go back to the park a month (or less) after their amputations, but results can vary.  We might have another very new tripawd from the Madison area come too.  Her mom isn’t a Tripawds member (I don’t think) – not yet anyway – but she was very interested in joining us on July 10th and her dog had her amputation a couple weeks ago.

Details on the “pawty” are here: http://tripawds…..rea-party/

By the way, my Yoda (tripawd before Gerry) was a front-leg amputee due to osteosarcoma and also a big rabbit catcher.  He caught probably four in our yard before his diagnosis and amputation.  Jackrabbits sound like a much tougher job, but I should warn you, Yoda also caught one more in the last week and a half of his life.  (Looked like a healthy one too).  Might have caught more, if I had assumed he couldn’t, and not kept up my attempts to warn the rabbits before letting him out.  So, not only on three legs did he accomplish this, but with quite a few mets in his lungs.  No FHO though.  Still , there could be more caught bunnies in your future. laugh

Gerry has been a tripawd since 12/16/2009.

He was a shelter dog with a mysterious past and an irrepairable knee injury.

Videos and pics of Gerry's pawesomeness can be found at: http://gerry.tripawds.com

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