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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 - scared/helpless owner
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Forum Posts: 21
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16 January 2019 - 2:46 pm
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my precious boy Arthur (black lab – 10 months old) had his rear left leg amputated yesterday morning. I picked him up at 2pm today, I didn’t expect much from him after seeing some other posts on here about your dogs being sleepy for days. Even on his medication Arthur is pining to get outside (I live in the UK it’s in the midst of winter and such bad weather) the vet has advised strictly to not get the sutures wet, so I would prefer to avoid going outside for even a couple of days until he finds his balance and confidence. When inside he wants to jump up on the sofa and my bed and I am terrified he is going to either burst his wound or fall and injure his other limbs. I feel helpless, he is such an active dog and used to running around and having complete independence from he opens his eyes in the morning until he goes to sleep, even though I know it’s for his benefit having to keep him confined to a couple of rooms and constantly following him around is taking a toll on us both and it’s only day 1. I have tied to entertain him with the toys he loved pre-op and he’s not interested. What can I do to help my boy 🙁 (also he hasn’t passed urine since we came home over 6 hours ago even though he has been drinking loads – is this something to worry about?) thank you in advance, I know with time he will be amazing again, it’s  just hard to see beyond today 🙁

The Rainbow Bridge



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16 January 2019 - 3:13 pm
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Hi Meghan and Arthur, welcome.  We are sorry about the amputation but so glad you found us. What was the amputation for? Did he have an accident? You’re in the right place because soooo many of us have felt exactly as you are feeling. Try to take a deep breath and remind yourself that recovery is only temporary.

Clearly you’ve done loads of homework in caring for a brand new Tripawd. Stick to your focus as tough love mum in charge, it will go so far for Arthur’s recovery! In the meantime, you may want to ask your vet for a mile sedative like Clonidine/Trazadone, or even a pain-killer called Amantadine that doubles as a sedative. 

Which reminds me, what kind of pain control medications is he taking? Sometimes not having enough (or too much) medication can cause anxious, restless behavior.

When it comes to his lack of urination, don’t let him go more than 12 hours without either manually expressing his bladder (YouTube has tons of videos) and letting your vet know. He won’t eat much for now and thus no defecation, but intake and release of water is key to a good recovery.

I hope this helps!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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16 January 2019 - 4:55 pm
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Thank you for your response. I know he will recover amazingly but it’s hard to watch him struggle. I know the collar to keep him from itching his wound is what’s annoying him probably most – if only they could understand it’s only temporary 🙁 

he is on loxicom pain relief and 2 antibiotics, so I am unsure if they will prescribe any further medication but I will definitely be ringing in the morning to check if there’s anything further we can do to help him. 

Its been almost 9 hours now and no sign of wanting to urinate, I’m worrying about this. It’s almost midnight here in the UK so I’m not sure if it’s worth the emergency phone call to the vet out of hours or should I wait til the morning and see if he passes any urine? 

I really appreciate your reassurance, thank you

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16 January 2019 - 5:07 pm
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I missed Your question –

yeah he was hit by a car on Friday night when I had him off the lead, so I think a lot of my struggles are stemming from guilt knowing it’s my fault :’( 

He sustained a really nasty wound that ruptured a lot of ligaments/muscle which they predicted would heal over a number of months with round the clock care, then on further inspection yesterday found 2 little fractures which wouldn’t heal without the support of the surrounding muscles so there was no option but to amputate. Long term I know in my heart it’s the best option for him, because if it was just the wound he would have been on cage rest for months. But unlike most of the stories I have read on here about it being through illness or associate old age, it is so hard to watch this happen to him through an event that could have been prevented by myself, in a previous boy so young and who had no other health issues. Just this time a matter of days ago he was running around not a Care in the world and now this is his life, it’s devastating. 

About the manual expressing of bladder – he’s still so tender round the area with the surgery only having been done yesterday so unless the vet wishes to try that, I’m certainly not brave enough! For my own peace of mind I think I might take him back tomorrow for a wee check up, I am probably just a worried mother, but it’s hard to watch 

Virginia




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16 January 2019 - 9:12 pm
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Arthur  sounds like quite a spunky fella’.  He’s  probably  still a little high on hospital pain meds, so don’t  be surprised  if he has a “crash” in a day or so.

And P,EASE talk to your Vet about stronger pain meds!  If I read this right. he is basically  on an anti inflammatory. plus the antibiotics.  Here we see most dogs come home with Trama, Gabapentin , Rimadyl (similar to your loxicam)and antibiotic.   He has just had MAJOR surgery  as well as being  quite sore from the accident.  Most dogs here take these pain meds for approximately  two weeks, maybe reducing  the dose amount towards the end of the second week.  Every dog’s  recovery  is different. 

Yes, accidents  do happen and it’s  hard for us, as humans, to accept that and move in.  But you can bet that not many would go to the lengths (and expense) that you have to do whatever  it takes to give Arthur the best life possible!  And based on the way you have described Arthur’s  behavior so far, he is definitely  ready to move on and get back to being  his crazy puppy self!!!   After all this recovery  stuff is behind you, it will tickle  you silly to see how happy and carefree he is!!

Maybe while you are with Arthur,  you can take his cone off…..only while  he’s  under your watchful eye!!

And yes, get with your Vet first th kn morning avout rhe pee situation.   I would  be hesitant also to try expressing  the bladder with him showing  signs of discomfort.   Yeah, just let your Vet handle that!

Let us know any questions  you have about recovery,  ways to keep your tripawd ‘s joints healthy, etc.  Oh, and if you have hardwood  floors, put some non-slip scatter rugs  down  for traction .

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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16 January 2019 - 11:41 pm
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Thanks for your reply.

happy to report Arthur passed urine and stools this morning 😀 it hasn’t seemed to settle him any, but small victories! I hope it eases some of his discomfort

can anyone advise on how to encourage laying down/resting while he’s awake? He just stands even though from sleeping he knows he has the ability to lay down, his remaining hind leg gets weak and I’m so scared of his losing his balance/toppling over completely and hurting his wound.

all help appreciated thank you 

Livermore, CA




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16 January 2019 - 11:47 pm
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Hello and welcome.

I’m sorry about Arthur’s accident, and I am sorry you are struggling with guilt.  Try to set that aside- Arthur needs you to be strong and positive now while he heals.

It sounds like he might need more pain meds.  Most here come home with Tramadol and Gabapentin, sometimes an anti-inflamatory and/or an antibiotic.  Was there any other injuries from the accident?

You might consider confining him to one room without anything to climb on and no access to stairs.  When my Pug Maggie lost her rear leg to cancer our surgeon told us that she was only allowed short, leashed potty breaks for the first two weeks post op.  It was easy to keep her quiet, in fact it took lots of effort on my part to get her out of bed at all.  Of course she was a stubborn, 7.5 year old Pug not a 10  month old labbig-blink

My current Tripawd, a little Pug mix named Elly, was hit by a car when she was 7 months old and lost her right rear leg as a result. I adopted her when she was 10 months old, she turned 4 years old at the end of December.  Elly can do pretty much anything a dog her age and size can do. 

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

Latham, NY
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17 January 2019 - 6:50 am
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We had an issue with Fallon laying down when we first brought her home after the surgery.  She wanted to lay, would circle and circle for a really long time–like 1/2 hour–45 minutes.  At first we let her do it, thinking she needed to figure out how to do it herself.  Then–I think from input we got here, actually, we realized that was too much activity too soon for her.  She was a tall girl but there’s 2 of us here, so we would just support her on down to the floor–one take her front around the chest/tum, the other guiding her down by bending her leg and tipping her a  bit.  It’s hard to describe, but we had to help her for only a couple of days before she felt comfortable enough–or possibly figured out how–to do it herself.  Then she got really good at it.

Fallon  8/28/06--9/6/18.  My Heart.

Fallon's left front leg was amputated due to osteosarcoma on 10/11/17.

Nothing But Love in Her Heart - dawn3g.tripawds.com

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17 January 2019 - 8:37 am
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Hi and welcome!

I am so sorry this happened, and you have gotten the best advise from really wonderful people! I totally agree that if you can maybe get more medication and keep him confined to a room or 2, even if you have to move some furniture around, so that he is limited in his movement/motion. Maybe if he has a nice blanket for his bed, might possibly encourage him to chill out and cuddle. Do you have anybody to help you with him? If you can manually get him laid down it might let him know that he can do it.

There WILL be a light at the end of this tunnel.. you just can’t see it right now. Once he is recovered, he will be doing most of the things that he could do with four. His walks might be for shorter periods but honestly so many do really well and once healed they act like they always had three.

Good luck and hang in there, you are doing a great job.

Jackie and Huckleberryheart

Hugs,

Jackie, David, Mitchell, Bo, Andy, Oscar,and the coolest feral tripawd kitty Huckleberry

https://paws120.....pawds.com/

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17 January 2019 - 9:20 am
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I truly appreciate all your advice, it’s so comforting hearing others stories and knowing you all struggled but are now confidently and happily out the other side. Better days are coming 🙂 

he seems comfortable in terms of pain relief, and I have resorted to leaving him in a room he’s comfortable in that has no harm in the way and just letting him cry for a while (breaks my heart listening to it) before he eventually just lays down. Cruel to be kind and all that, with walking around in circles all the time and with the strong pain med he just gets so tired. I had a closer look at his stitches and they’re really beginning to heal beautifully so I’m relieved that if he was to stumble I don’t think they would open, however enivitably they would definitely still hurt as he’s still swollen/inflamed round the area and I think that’s my biggest fear now – him being fearful! 

This will be our second night home, tomorrow is day 3 post op and from other threads on here I’ve noticed that’s when most dogs really start coming back to themselves so I’m looking forward to seeing more of his wee personality come back. He is only on his antibiotics until our checkup appointment on Tuesday so I’m looking forward to getting discharged from the vet and adjusting to our new normal ❤️

Thank you all again, I will be sure to post if I have any further issues – hopefully not!!

Virginia




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17 January 2019 - 10:50 am
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YAAAAAAAAY  FOR poopicon_pngpoopicon_pngpoopicon_png!!!!! And YAAAAAY, we have pee too!!!

You mentioned “strong pain med” in your last post.  Is he on something  other than loxicam and the antibiotics?

Dont mean to ve repetitive (but here I go).  Actually, sometimes around day three day  there can be a bit of a “crash” also because  all the hospital pajn meed arr out of jis system. And, again, PLEASE check jnto more pajn meds.  The loxicam is about the equivalent  of a human taking an aspirin after MAJOR surgery.  Nope, a human would be on a morphine  drip.  The pain meds, like Gabapentin,  could have a bit of a sedative  effect too  which would help him relax.  His whining  an not wanting to lay down could cert7 be pain related.

Anyway, just throwing  that out there again.  Every dog is different  and every recovery  is different,  so it may be that Arthur is one of the few we see around here who doesn’t  need pain management .  You can check out the link:  pain management

You’re  doing a great job!!!

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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17 January 2019 - 1:45 pm
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I agree with Sally: I’d check with your vet about more pain meds. Dogs are really good about hiding pain, so while he may seem comfortable, that may not be the case. Rocky was on Tramadol, Deramaxx and an antibiotic for 2-3 weeks after his surgery. 

I was also told to limit Rocky’s activity until his stitches came out. So it is probably a good idea to keep Arthur away from furniture or stairs until then. 

You’re in the toughest part of recovery now, but you’ll get through it. 

David and Rocky (and Baxter now too!)

Rocky had his right front leg amputated on Valentine's Day 2017 after being diagnosed with osteosarcoma.

He joined the September Saints on September 3, 2017.

He is the toughest, bravest, sweetest and best friend I'll ever know. 

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18 January 2019 - 1:31 am
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What a difference a day makes. After my last post being so positive I have never felt so low. 

I am leaving my precious boy back to the vets for a couple of days for them to look after him until he’s feeling a bit better because I genuinely can’t cope. Before this happened I knew what every noise he made meant, and now I don’t know what anything means. He’s panting and drooling constantly which a google search tells me shows they’re in pain, he’s so uncomfortable, his wound is weeping a blood like substance which the vet says is probably just serum as the wound starts to heal but it’s annoying him and he’s constantly trying to get at it. His appetite has gone away, he won’t sleep and he’s so so so so weak compared to yesterday almost falls every time he stands.

i feel useless and a complete failure, I hope when I take him home again it’s a different story because he deserves better than this. My sweet baby 🙁

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18 January 2019 - 4:14 am
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Meghan and Arthur,

It is so hard to not sound like a know it all and a drug pusher sometimes in here, lol. You are not a useless failure. You are now your dog’s ADVOCATE!!

Imagine for a moment that somebody took your arm because it was not fixable, then sent you home with a day or 2 of Tylenol for pain to recover with. Not happening, right?

When they are too active (and sometimes not too) it is common for them to get a seroma . It is one of the reasons we try to keep them drugged up and quiet during recovery. I would take a dopey, happy, pain free pup for a couple of weeks any time if it keeps them quiet and recovering smoothly.

These vets make me so angry sometimes. THEY should be advocating a pain free, safe recovery, but they do not. Nsaid, gabapentin, and pain meds are what he should be coming home with this time. Please insist on it. The gabapentin is the go to drug for phantom limb pain. He needs to be on these medicines at least until suture removal, maybe even a little longer. 

The hard thing now with breakthrough pain is getting it back under control, which hopefully they will do at the hospital. 

The anesthesia and pain killers that they give with surgery stay in their system for about 4 days and they slowly wear off during that time. That is why he was so happy and pain free. After they wear off…. well you see what happens. That’s why we advocate for the pain meds and to be given religiously during this time. It’s the crash that Sally was trying to explain. 

You are all going to be ok, just gotta get this under control now and keep him quiet once he comes home. If the seepage from the seroma is severe, they may put a drain in to help drain the fluid… just be prepared in case that happens. You can use puppy pads on his beds to keep them clean, and eventually the drainage will cease. Warm damp facecloth compresses help keep things moving so that it can finish draining and heal.

Hang in there and get some rest while he is at the hospital. Stay tuned in, and let us know how you do please.

Hugs,

Jackie and Huckheart

Hugs,

Jackie, David, Mitchell, Bo, Andy, Oscar,and the coolest feral tripawd kitty Huckleberry

https://paws120.....pawds.com/

Virginia




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18 January 2019 - 10:52 am
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Yes, ditto everything Hackie said,  and ditto all our previous  posts about getting Arthhr the proper pajn management!!

It is the responsibility  of the Vet to ensure he has ADEQUATE  pain medication,  and they appear ro have failed him in that regard, bot you!!!.

Please re read our reply posts and you’ll see that, to is, this “crash” was not completelh unexpected.  Once the hospital  meds wear off and they didn’t  prescribe him proper pajn meds as a follow up….yeah, not a good plan on their part!

So give yourself a pat on rhe back fot handling things as well as you have!!  Having  the Vet keep him a few days  where he will be confirmed and where the incision  can be watched over is a very smart move on your part!!  

We do have ,a favor to ask, okay?  Please call your Vet ,and INSIST on stronger pain meds!!  You will not be the only one who has had to do this when a Vet doesn’t  address the pain properly.   I hope you will do that.  You ARE his advocate and this is just one more step you need to take on Arthhr’s behalf!  And don’t  take no for an answer!!

One more suggestion.  Hou me tioned je qas kn two antibiotics .  That is most likely  causing lack of appetite and probably  nausea.   So ask that the Vet address that. It may be that he only needs one antibiotic and needs an anti-nausea  pill.   Here we use something  called CERENIA for nausea. 

Now, most importantly,  YOU GET SOME REST, okay??  You have veen through  an incredibly  stressful and frightening  time!!  Your emotions are raw, you’re  exhausted  and sleep deprived.  So please take this time to recharge  your batteries.  And be sure and eat lots of CHOCOLATE,  it helps!!!

YOU ARE  NOT ALONE, OKAY?  We are here right by your side the whole way.  Once you get through  this recovery  part, Arthur will be his happy feisty  self before you know it!!!

Extra higs

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!

PS.  Let us know what the Vet says about adding ADEQUATE  pain meds and a nausea  pill.

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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