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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

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Phantom pain
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Julie Graef
1
28 August 2008 - 7:52 pm
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My 11 yr old Papillon "Casey" landed wrong from a jump which deadened his radial nerve resulting in his right front leg being amputated last March. He has adapted very well in his mobility and totally healed from the surgery. He does go for a walk, much shorter than usual and when he gets tired I carry him.

The problem is off and on he jumps and jerks around, like he just got bit by a snake or something. My vet said it can’t be phantom pain . I can’t imagine what else it could be. Instead of sitting on my lap, he sits on the floor staring at us and when we approach him, he backs up, then goes and lays by himself in the dark hallway. It breaks my heart. We have gotten a hard foam ramp custom made that extends from the couch so he can get down without jumping. I constantly watch him to keep him from jumping because I don’t want him to injure the other front leg. Any advice, or has anyone heard anything different from vets about phantom pain ?

The Rainbow Bridge



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28 August 2008 - 8:15 pm
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Hi Julie, thanks for writing, we hope you can get some helpful feedback here.

Hmmm, Casey’s issue sounds like a tricky one, maybe partly a phantom pain thing, and partly a fear thing about getting up on the couch.

Have you tried to bribe Casey with some yummy treats, to help him get comfortable getting onto the couch again? 

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Julie Graef
3
28 August 2008 - 8:21 pm
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Hi Jerry!

 Thanks for responding, and I hope too that I can get some positive feedback!  I assure you, Casey’s issue is not fear of jumping!  I have to watch him like a hawk.  He has no problem jumping up and down if I let him.  The vet told me, however, that many times a dog will land wrong if they are missing a leg in the front which results in back problems or hurting the other good leg in the front.  If I guide him to, he will use the ramp, but sometimes he just forgets and jumps up or down the side of the couch.  (And it’s amazing how fast he runs!!)

 Have you heard anything about phantom pain ?  I was surprised when my vet said that wasn’t possible.  He did say that his backing up from us (and not coming to us when we call him) is a sign that he is in pain.  He gave him a shot of cortisone, but that didn’t do any good.  He’s still doing his jerky jump thing and going in the hallway by himself.

Julie

Michigan
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28 August 2008 - 8:28 pm
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Hi Julie and Casey,

I’m not sure that you can totally discount phantom pain .  Sometimes Radar will cry out while laying in the living room for no apparent reason.  I’ve thought about phantom pain as well.  It’s just not something you can "ask" the dog about.  I know that I had my teeth pulled and got dentures 10 years ago and i still occasionally get "toothaches". 

Another thing I’ve seen similar behavior with is static electricity.  I’ve known dogs who got sparked on the nose once and then did anything to keep from having their nose touched again.  So maybe it’s something totally unrelated to the amputation and may take some patience and love to coax casey back into coming back to the couch with you. 

I know this may not be much help.  Please let us know how Casey does.

Connie & Radar

Julie Graef
5
29 August 2008 - 7:46 am
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Hi Connie & Radar!

Thanks for your input!  Actually Casey did sit in my lap for a little while this morning before I left for work.  I know he is not doing that as much because he doesn’t feel comfortable due to the missing leg.  Like you, I don’t think I can discount phantom pain .  I wish I could "ask" him what the problem is!!  It is frustrating sometimes when we want to care for our little buddies that we don’t know what to do.

How do you get your dog’s picture input under your name?  (I am somewhat computer challenged!)

Julie & Casey

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29 August 2008 - 11:14 am
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These may be good questions for Tazzie’s mom since she is a vet. I think she said something about phantom pain in Tazzie’s story.

Heidi and Titan

The Rainbow Bridge



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29 August 2008 - 3:04 pm
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Julie Graef said:

How do you get your dog’s picture input under your name?


Detailed instructions for adding a profile avatar can be found in in the Tech Support forum . Just reply there with any questions.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Julie Graef
8
29 August 2008 - 7:48 pm
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Titan said:

These may be good questions for Tazzie’s mom since she is a vet…


Heidi and Titan,

How do I find Tazzie’s story or contact her mom?

 Julie and Casey

The Rainbow Bridge



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29 August 2008 - 7:57 pm
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Julie Graef said:

How do I find Tazzie’s story or contact her mom?


Simply read all about Tazzie the Mastiff with osteosarcoma, and reply to that thread.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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29 August 2008 - 10:31 pm
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Julie and Casey I copied and pasted what Tazzies mom said she used

Gabapentin is used to prevent nerve root pain and thereoretically can help with "phantom pain". We can’t ask our dogs about that but I think that it does exist! Gabapentin is continued for 2-4 weeks after surgery depending on the dog.

Hope this helps

Heidi and Titan

Julie Graef
11
31 August 2008 - 6:13 pm
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Heidi and Titan,

 Thank you so much!  Maybe this thing Casey is experiencing is not phantom pain after all.  He didn’t and has never had those symptoms of licking where his leg used to be.  Actually, the way he jumps and jerks, I thought he was having a different problem altogether, and had his anal glands cleaned.  (Much to his dismay!!)  I can imagine him saying, Gee Mom, I just had major surgery, lost a leg, and now I’m getting my butt cleaned out?!  What’s next?!

The thing that is so difficult is they give us such unconditional love and we want to take care of them and love them in return and it’s frustrating when we don’t know what’s wrong.

Casey did use his ramp a couple of times today and actually sat in my lap!  I didn’t want to BLINK!  He used to be such a lap dog, and I really miss that.  Oh, well, I should just be glad he’s still alive.

 I’m going to try and figure out how to get his picture posted, although that will be a challenge for me! 

Thanks again, and have a really nice holiday!

Julie and Casey

The Rainbow Bridge



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31 August 2008 - 7:20 pm
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Julie Graef said:

I should just be glad he’s still alive.


Very happy indeed! Life may be a bit different from now on, but it will get better. And just remember every day on three legs is a blessing!

Check out the Tech Support forum for how to add images to forum posts, and if you still need help feel free to send us a photo and we’ll add it for you.

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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31 August 2008 - 9:58 pm
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Julie and Casey

It could be partially a fear thing. Maybe when he does certain things it makes some of his muscles uncomfortable? So he may try to do what he use to because he forgets. Could there possibly be any nerve damage that may make him jerk. Could he be pulling a muscle or tendon? Maybe arthritis? Did he have any other issues (hip? or leg) before the surgery? I would still write to Tazzie’s mom. Where she has gone thru this and is a vet she may be able to think outside of the box than regular vets.

Heidi and Titan

 

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31 August 2008 - 10:17 pm
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Heidi and Titan,

You may have hit on something when you mentioned a nerve issue.  He is not afraid, that’s for sure!!  (Little dogs have a tendency to "think" they are big, and Casey is no exception!!

 He really is exceptionally sensitive and always has been.  It is hard to describe just what he does when he jerks and jumps around.  He tucks his tail and jerks up and jumps backwards (when he was originally laying down.)

We are going on vacation in a couple of weeks and he will be at the vet while we are gone.  I hope they can see what he does.  When my vet eliminated the possibility of phantom pain , he did say that it could be mental/emotional or something internal that’s not even related.  I don’t even what to go there!  I just wish Casey could tell me what it is!!  (And he probably does too!)

Julie and Casey

PS I hope his picture shows up on this; I tried to upload it.

Julie Graef

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31 August 2008 - 10:28 pm
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Heidi and Titan,

Sorry, I forgot – he didn’t have any issues before the amputation at all.  He jumped off my lap wrong, landed on the floor covering you slide your desk chair on, and his right front leg shot out to the right.  We rehabbed him in the tub for a month making him swim, per vet’s instructions.  Finally he started chewing on the joint up by his shoulder and broke the skin.  The muscle on either side of the joint was so atrophied, it caused the skin to stretch and the hole got larger.  The vet said he could not stitch it.  I knew Casey would continue to go after the leg, and the vet said that’s what they do, so we took off the leg.  He has been a very healthy dog; the only issue is cleaning out his anal glands every now and then.  He always has been a very jumpy dog, very sensitive to sounds and movements.  (which is not a good thing now, since the vet said I should not let him jump down anymore, to avoid the possibility of hurting the other good leg in the front.)

Julie and Casey

Julie Graef

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