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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

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Post-amputation: At First, Good mobility, now painful
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Member Since:
31 March 2023
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21 April 2023 - 6:01 am
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Hello! 
Our 12yo shepherd mix had her right front leg amputated on April 4 (osteosarcoma.) Around April 12 was the peak of her mobility—she was getting around as well as can be expected and she seemed quite happy. Sutures were removed on the 17th, and surgeon said everything looks great and she doesn’t seem to have any pain near incision area and we could begin weaning pain meds. Starting around April 18th, Rolo became more reluctant to move around, and yesterday it became apparent that her remaining front leg is giving her pain.  She pants heavily, periodically, tail is often tucked, and besides going potty (a set of stairs is required to do this) she doesn't want to go outside. Has anyone had this experience? I am worried that the cancer has spread to her other front leg. Or might it be soreness/weakness in that remaining leg? And has anyone done rehab for their tripawd? 
Thank you! 

Livermore, CA




Member Since:
18 October 2009
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21 April 2023 - 8:44 am
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Hello and welcome, your future posts will not have to wait for approval.

While some dogs are able to wean off pain meds in two weeks or so some need them longer.  She sounds like she is painful- you should talk with your vet about what you are seeing.  We often see here too that the more 'mature' pups take a bit longer to recover.

Also keep in mind that her new gait is very taxing and she will take time to build up strength and for her body to get used to her new movement. It's pretty common around here for new Tripawds to seemingly go backwards in recovery as they get used to their new normal.

Which leads me to:

We are big advocates here for rehab!  We even have a program that might reimburse you for your first visit.  Not all vets are advocates for rehab yet- including mine!  My little rear amp Tripawd (car accident) hurt her remaining hip last summer and my vet was not opposed to rehab but not a advocate either.  After Elly got treatment and we started an exercise program and a muscle supplement my vet was really surprised and pleased with how well Elly was doing!  She even took down the Rehab Vet information so she could pass it along to other clients.

I know that when you get the cancer diagnosis it's hard not to assume everything is cancer.  It is really unlikely that she has OSA spread to her remaining leg at this point, but it's another good reason to talk with your vet about her pain.  You need to be comfortable and confident so you can be a good leader for Rolo.  Don't hesitate to contact the vet with any questions or concerns.

 

Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls and Boy

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

The Rainbow Bridge



Member Since:
25 April 2007
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21 April 2023 - 9:09 am
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Hi Christine and Rolo, welcome! I will x2 to everything Karen suggested. Older dogs will generally take longer to bounce back, even after they appear to be doing fine, and that is totally normal. Usually it's not the worst case cancer scenario going through our minds, but rather a pulled muscle in the shoulders or back. Getting around on three can take a lot out of a dog at first, their bodies just aren't used to moving that way but they do get there.

If you can get her to see a therapist that would be super helpful. It's so educational to learn what our dogs are capable of doing now and in the future. I am also happy to help you find a therapist too, just message me your town and I'll do a search.

Meanwhile do let your vet know what's going on so they can get her back on some pain control. Gabapentin, possibly Amantadine at night, and sometimes adding a muscle relaxer like Methocarbomol can help a ton to bring the pain down. Once that happens it's ideal to get her into therapy (but call around now because many places have long waiting lists for appointments). Keep us posted OK?


Member Since:
31 March 2023
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7 May 2023 - 9:53 pm
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Thank you for responses.  We did start rehab, but we are still really struggling with mobility.  It has gotten to a point that her front shoulder is so painful (what might the cause of this pain be? Soreness?) that she bares her teeth and snaps at me when I put a little pressure on it. She has never acted like this, even when we put pressure on her tumor on her now amputated leg. Could this pain be a product of the osteosarcoma metastasizing? Or is it likely just intense soreness/pain from walking on three legs? Any ideas? Also, she is back on the Gabapentin. She also started refusing her kibble so we’ve switched to Just Food recipes. If anyone has any ideas as to what is causing this pain, I’d really appreciate your input. Thank you. 

The Rainbow Bridge



Member Since:
25 April 2007
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8 May 2023 - 10:11 am
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Ohh OK glad that she's in rehab. Have you discussed the shoulder issue? If not you need to asap. What I've learned is that when a front leg is missing the other leg does all the heavy lifting so yeah, it's sore and tired. But baring her teeth and lack of appetite usually means there's uncontrolled pain of some sort. Can't say if it's mets or not (which is pretty rare so try not to think the worst). What is her Gabapentin dosage and frequency?

Member Since:
23 March 2023
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8 May 2023 - 11:15 am
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Hello Christine and Rolo,

You're in the right place as the community has been godsend for us dealing with something similar the last month. 

Our Saint Bernard had an amputation surgery a month ago and we had similar issues with aggression/behavior and appetite post surgery. Luckily Jerry pointed out that it could be due to insufficient pain management which turned out to be true. Switching his pain meds made a huge difference and he was back to his loving self quite quickly after. We are also still weaning off the gabapentin a month later. 

As Karen and Jerry mentioned, you should talk to your vet to make sure Rolo is getting the right pain meds. 

As they've also mentioned it does take some time for them to get used to their new gait. Our dog Tyson still gets quite tired from moving around on three legs but every day gets a little bit easier as they get stronger. 

Virginia







Member Since:
22 February 2013
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8 May 2023 - 4:50 pm
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Just catching up on Rolo.

Definitely a visit to the Vet is the next best step.  If for no other reason, to put your mind at ease.  Also, and this is just my two cents, I would hold off on any Rehab exercises  until you can get to the vottom of this.

And she HAS to do stairs to go potty,  right?  Will she allow you to help her or is it to painful?  Have you seen any difference eith the pain meds yet?  Any tension arou d her back and neck muscles when massaging  (assuming  you can massage away from her shoulder  area)?.

P,ease keep us updated.  We're all cheering for Rolo.

 ((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((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!


Member Since:
31 March 2023
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11 May 2023 - 7:04 pm
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Thank you, All, for your thoughtful and caring responses. I took Rolo to vet today, and the X-ray revealed a tumor, confirmed by the surgeon and oncologist. In 6 weeks, the osteosarcoma metastasized in what was her healthy leg. It is not common for osteosarcoma to spread to bones, but I wanted to share this so that future dog owners know that while uncommon, it certainly is possible. 
All the best to you and your sweet dogs. 

The Rainbow Bridge



Member Since:
25 April 2007
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12 May 2023 - 10:49 am
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Ohhhh no I'm so sorry! icon_cry Thank you for being so courageous and coming here to let us know. What an awful shock. 

If there is anything we can do to comfort you during this tough time, we are here for you. If you want to share Rollo's life story and all the good times you had together, when you feel up to it consider posting a Tribute so we can celebrate your sweet girl, and all you did for her.

Lots of love and huge hugs coming your way.

Virginia







Member Since:
22 February 2013
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12 May 2023 - 9:40 pm
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Stunned, absolutely  stunned.  This is such a rarituand this is a reminder that it does happen. As you can tell from our earlier responses it wasn't really on our radar as a possibility. 

It had to ve ha4d ro share this update, but it is a reminder that this vicious  cancer is cunning and sneaky and brutal.  In spite of everything  the medical professionals  can offer, it often hides under the radar and has already plotted it's barbaric course  that just can't  be detected  or stopped.

You gave Rolo the best chance ppssible  at extended  quality  time.  She knew you loved her enough  to TRY every  possiblity  on her behalf.  You left no stone unturned and you have no regrets.  .I'm just so sorry you are dealing  with this unexpected  outcome.

Yes, please do share more of Rolo when you can.  You and Rolo  are part of our family.. If you need any help posting pictures we'd be glad to help

Surrounding you with Rolo's eternal love

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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