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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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Forum Posts: 26
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13 December 2019 - 8:30 pm
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Monday at 7am I will be dropping off my 7 year old Labrador Odin to have his front left leg amputated. Looks like he has a nerve sheath tumor on his armpit. I have so many questions but have been utilizing this site for help. I do however have a couple of questions regarding stairs and walking.

Wondering what you all have had for experience with your tripod going up and down stairs? I have a few small stairs heading outside and then stairs to our basement. Will he ever be able to go down/up them again? Also what do you all see in regards to walking? All video’s I’ve seen the dogs seems to be running or getting momentum built up when they are outside. What about him following us around the house? Will he be able to do that without running?

Thank you all for any help.

The Rainbow Bridge



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13 December 2019 - 10:36 pm
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I’m so glad you decided to post. It was nice talking with you in the chat today. I’m sorry to be brief but I’m on my phone now. I will tell you that stairs are fine as long as you are there to assist. For now…

Play it safe and block off any more than say 3 stairs with a baby gate if possible. A real staircase is a hazard until he gains confidence. You can help with that though. A harness with a handle like the Ruffwear Webmaster or the Flagline harness will allow you to help guide him.

Yes, Tripawds do have a faster gait than four leggers! It’s normal and you just need to keep up with it, you’ll get used to it.

I will share more soon! Stay tuned for feedback from others. 

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Virginia




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14 December 2019 - 11:38 am
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Hello to Odin and his hooman!  Sorry you find yourself here, but as you can see it is  the best place to be  for support and information and understanding.  We know this is not easy getting to this point.   We also know it gets easier and easier once recovery is done and Odin gets to be Odin again, pain free!!

I know you got lots of good info from Jerry in chat, as well has from her post here. Just continue  to stay connected and let us know as questions arise. 

When you go pick up Odin from surgery,  don’t  even bother to look at his incision.   He just wa ts yo see you looking into his eyes with a great big smile telling him  he’s going home and he a cery good boy!!

Keep things chunked down.  Just focus on recovery and have Odin take things slow and easy for a couple of weeks.  Short leashed potty breaks and then back in for rest.

He may not want to eat right away (all the meds can make them off food sometimes) and he may not poop for a few days.  Peeing and drinking  are important  though.

He’ll most likely come home with Rimadyl,  an antibiotic,  Tramadol  and Gabapentin. It may take some tweaking to find the right dose and frequency. Every dog is different  and every recovery  is different. 

If you have hardwoods or vinyl ise non slip runners for traction .

We’ll ,look for your update Monday.  Is he spending  the night a 24/7 clinic?

Deep breaths….eat chocolate!!

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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14 December 2019 - 3:49 pm
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Thank you both so much for your help. We have been trying to get the house ready for him. We have a baby gate on our the stairs that head to our upstairs. Lucky us our master bedroom is on the first floor so he can still stay in our bedroom. Jerry you mentioned more than 3 stairs to exit our house for him to use the bathroom there are 2 stairs, will he be able to make those stairs on his own eventually? We live on 3 acres and he has always had the run of the property no leash (we have invisible fence). We added a baby gate to his favorite room and that is where he will sleep with his toys, pillows and blankets. He usually sleeps on our bed with us so hoping he can return to doing that soon. I purchased the Ruffwear Summit Trex boots to help him with the floors in the house. Our main rooms are carpet but there is some hardwood in about 80% of our house. I also got him two harnesses both what you recommended Jerry to see which one he likes the best. Looks like the Flagline harness may be the best since we don’t need to have him step into it. 

This is a crazy thing that is happening to him. I never thought this would be the answer to the problem we were having but I am just so glad he will be coming home with us. I am sure you’ve all felt this way too. I am going to try hard to look at his face when we pick him up. I don’t want him to get upset because I am upset. He is staying at a hospital for two days after the amputation. He will be there Monday and then we will pick him up on Wednesday night. We are glad they wanted him to stay to make sure he is doing well. It is a 24/7 operation. He has been taking Gabapentin now for the pain. 

Anything else you think we will need to get him/ be aware of/ be prepared for? Will he always need help in and out of the car? Do you believe the harness is something we will always need to use or eventually will he just be back to the same? I want to make sure he can jump on and off our bed in the future. Has anyone ever worried about them breaking their one good leg because of the amount he is using it?

I am also interested in what supplements he should be taking after this. I will of course ask his doctor but any advice you all have is always helpful too.

Thank you everyone for the help and advice. It means a lot and truly helps. 

Livermore, CA




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14 December 2019 - 4:31 pm
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Hello and welcome.

This is a crazy thing that is happening to him. I never thought this would be the answer to the problem we were having but I am just so glad he will be coming home with us.

It does seem crazy- and I can totally relate to this feeling.  When I was told my Pug Maggie would lose a back leg to a mast cell tumor I couldn’t believe the best solution for a bump in her knee was to remove the leg!  You are so right to focus on the good part- that he is coming home with you!

I’ve had two radically different experience with stairs with my two small, rear amp dogs.  Maggie could never go up more than two or three stairs after her surgery although I always suspected that part of it was her stubbornness smiley4.  She would go down anything (stairs, furniture…). It was OK then as I lived in a single story house then but she did spend time at my parents split level house, she just got carried up the stairs. Fast forward many years and now the split level is my house and I have another small rear amp Tripawd who has to do stairs daily.  Elly lost her leg to a car accident at 7 months and she flies up and down the stairs.

Once Odin is healed up my guess is that he will be able to do the 2 to 3 stairs on his own.  In general front amps will have more trouble going down than up (rear amps are more challenged going up). 

As far as jumping up and down from furniture- he will probably be able to do that on his own too.  I’ve had small dogs for years so I have stairs or stools by all the furniture they are allowed on.  I’ve encouraged my 4 leggers to use them too to save wear and tear on the joints.  With Elly I try to limit the amount of strain she puts on the one back leg- if I ever had a front amp I would be cautious about the one front leg.

As far as traction goes- I’ve only had one dog who would tolerate any kind of booties- and she was a quad!  I use rugs where I can on our tile and vinyl floors. The stairs have carpet treads taped down to help with traction there (helps my 13.5 year old Pug as well).  Elly has learned to take it slow on slippery floors and sticks to the rugs when she can.  I would do more rugs but I live with my elderly father and he tends to trip on them. If you want to leave something on his feet you might look into Dr. Buzbys Toe Grips. I haven’t used them but there have been some recent positive reviews here.

And if you have any questions about nerve sheath tumors you might contact Pofi’s mom Lisa, she posts as hesterPofi’s Tripawd journey was way to short (they think the cancer was there for at least a year before his amp) but Lisa is quite knowledgeable about this type of cancer.

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

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14 December 2019 - 5:03 pm
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Thank you so much for the response and information. Let me explain a little bit more of Odin’s journey. We noticed a small limp and immediately went to the Vet, they prescribed Rimadyl. We spent 3 weeks on Rimadyl with no change, an X-ray was taken and we were referred to a specialist. The specialist immediately entered us into cold laser therapy for 6 sessions within 2 weeks. No improvement and we went to stem cell therapy for 1 session. Following the stem cell therapy we noticed that Odin was starting to not use the leg and knuckling. This prompted the specialist to conduct an MRI on his shoulder, where we found the nerve sheath tumor on his arm pit. When he goes in on Monday we will know if it has spread or not. This whole process has only been within 2 months. 

Monday is his surgery and we will find out all details whether it has spread to the spine come Monday. 

The Rainbow Bridge



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14 December 2019 - 11:52 pm
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It sounds like Odin has a great team looking out for him. I’m so glad they found out what is going on so that he can start to feel pain-free again.

Be sure to ask about post-op PT so Odin can have an easier recovery and quickly get his strength back. Don’t forget that the Tripawds Foundation may pay for his first rehab visit as a Tripawd!

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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15 December 2019 - 4:26 am
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Hi. I also have a lab with front left leg amputation. Brownie is 12 years 8 months of age. He can go up a few steps fine, but going down is a bit of a challenge. We use the flag line harness and it works great. If Brownie can manage at his age Odin should do just fine after recovery. Non skid rugs work great. We use the supplement K9 Immunities. It comes in a powder you add to food or in treat form. Plus we use a joint supplement. You can find the information on this site in the nutrition blog. Omega 3 is also important.  I add caned sardines to Brownie’s food a few days a week. Brownie was diagnosed 10 months ago and doing fine as a tripawd. He is having some senior issues.

Best wishes for a speedy recovery. We are sending good thoughts your way.

Virginia




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15 December 2019 - 6:20 pm
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Sending  lots of pawsitive  energy  to Odin.  You are to be commended  for doing an outstanding  job in preparation  for Odin’s recovery.  He’s such a well .oved boy❤

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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16 December 2019 - 10:34 am
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Hoping everything goes well today for Odin! Thinking of you guys today. 

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16 December 2019 - 7:31 pm
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Thank you all for your thoughts for Odin. I am going to be placing an update in the recovery section. I think it will fit better there.

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2 January 2020 - 4:56 pm
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Hello Puffer – our dog (9 years old) lost his front leg due to a nerve sheath tumor in his armpit too that was back in May 2019.  It took 6 months and so many tests to figure it out.  When I read what you guys had gone through I could totally relate as we did the exact same things.  When they told us it was a Nerve Sheath tumor I cried but I cried because we were able to make decisions and we finally had an answer.

We do not let him upstairs int he house we do not let him do the stairs to the upstairs as we just don’t want anything to happen to that one good front leg he has he can however do up to 4 stairs with no issues in fact he will jump down all four steps which FREAKS me out.  We do have alternatives to the stairs in case he is too tired like a ramp.

It did not spread to his spine for which we are so grateful and there is a 30% chance it will come back.  We will take it as it comes but for now we have a beautiful boy with us and we celebrate everyday.

He is doing great, it took about a week for us to start seeing our boy back but I think the meds had a lot to do with that, week two he chased a cat out of the yard and was back to barking at the postman/woman so we know he was back.  I was a challenge to get him to eat, a couple of times I sat down with him and hand fed him but I wouldn’t change a moment of that

Our house is wood floors thoughout so we have runners everywhere he needs them so I would stock up on those if you have wood floors.

We do take him for walks which are really more like a cardio workout because his gait is faster.  We have found a few parks we can take him to and let him off leash so he can run and sniff at leisure.

Either one of the harnesses will work we have the like the Ruffwear Webmaster  we didn’t start using it until the incisions heals.   

Wolfie spend 3 days in the hospital and I will be honest the incisions was brutal to look at, my husband was totally freaked out so I had to do everything, a suggestion I do have is buy some compression shirts and sew up the arm holes, measure where his remain front leg is and cut a new hole.  These were great and kept him from trying to lick the incision.

I will be anxiously awaiting to hear how Odin is doing and I am not an expert but I do know what you are going through so please ping me if you think I can help

Terry

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4 January 2020 - 6:06 pm
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Hi Terry,

Thank you so much for your post. I haven’t seen many people that know about the nerve sheath tumor diagnosis. I am sorry it took so long for you to find out what was wrong with Wolfie. We don’t seem to know too much about the percentage of it coming back. Maybe that is better. I do like your 30% and would take that as a win. It was a stage 2 tumor and the doctor said he got somewhat good margins and didn’t see it in his spine. We are trying really hard not to worry too much about what the future will be. We are just so glad he his back with us and seeming happy. He finally got one of his toys today and that made me so happy. I almost cried when he got his toy because he is a toy dog and hasn’t played with them for almost 3 weeks now. You did a lot for Wolfie and I love your suggestions too.

Anytime you want to talk let me know. It seems we have a lot in common with our loves 🙂

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