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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Hi everyone, it has been a while since I've posted to the forums because Marie has been doing great! It will be 2 years post-op this spring and we've barely had any setbacks. I belong to the tripawd subreddit and I've recommended this site to others, it is so helpful.
Anyway, Marie is a 5lb chihuahua with a back, left leg amputation. She is a senior now, about 10 or 11 years old. If anything, she over does it at times, running and spinning around the house like a maniac. I have to ask her to slow down all the time! About 4 or 5 days ago she became noticeably slower and more lethargic. I just figured she was sore and decided to wait it out. 2 days ago she yelped when I picked her up and she yelped again trying to get comfortable in her bed. This was a clear sign of pain so I took her to the vet. The vet examined her and said that she couldn't pinpoint a direct source of pain. (Marie gets excited at the vet and acts fine... this has happened before in the past.) However, the vet did mention that she seemed wobbly on the one back leg, so she gave us Gabapentin and said to give it to her for 10 days. I thought this sounded like a lot, but it's been a few days and Marie is still not back to herself.
We have a lot of carpets but we do have hardwood floors. I've noticed that she is VERY hesitant to walk on the hardwood floors. She will go slowly and carefully on the carpets, but she stops when she reaches the edge and just kind of stares at me. (So I will carry her when I see this.) She's been getting up to eat, drink, and go to the bathroom but besides that she doesn't do much. I've actually been confining her to a small space during the day to prevent a lot of walking though.
After reading some posts on here, it seems like different types of soreness and injuries are common in tripawds. I guess I'm just looking for any tips or inspiration. It makes me so sad when she isn't acting like herself, and this has never happened before so I'm worried. I guess it's good that the vet didn't see anything glaring during the examination, but I'm not sure if I should just wait it out or try to go back for xrays or a more intensive exam? She did say to give the Gaba for 10 days, so perhaps this type of thing will just take time and rest.
Any advice or stories of your own would be great! Thanks so much!
Marie! It's so good to see you again! I'm happy to know you are doing so well overall.
I belong to the tripawd subreddit and I’ve recommended this site to others, it is so helpful.
Aww thank you! We aren't Reddit people here, just too much going on, so it's a huge help when you get the word out.
I’m not sure if I should just wait it out or try to go back for xrays or a more intensive exam? She did say to give the Gaba for 10 days, so perhaps this type of thing will just take time and rest.
Good move to take her for an exam and restrict her activity right now. Oftentimes R&R does help but if the Gaba isn't working by now, she's likely got some kind of soft tissue injury that needs another method to resolve the pain. When it comes to pain management , it can take a multi-pronged approach that involves medication and physical therapy. Most vets are not pain specialists, so when someone does report an injury like this, we always recommend a visit with a canine rehab therapist. They are experts at treating this kind of thing and use everything from massage to acupuncture for reslving pain issues. We are such enthusiastic about these practitioners that the Tripawds Foundation can pay for your first rehab visit so please take advantage of the program OK?
Meanwhile, have you tried giving her gentle massage? Lightly running your fingers along her spine, neck/shoulders, low back, to see if she reacts at all to any palpation? Even something like a look back when you touch a certain area can indicate where she is hurting.
Also consider Toe Grips for her, which are a godsend on hardwood floors. Her reluctance to walk on them sounds like she's definitely had a negative experience "ice skating" on the uncarpeted surface.
How is her appetite? Is she eating and drinking OK?
Sorry for the delayed response to this- it's been a busy week! Thank you so much for your thoughtful answer and the insights that you provided. Marie has been eating, drinking, and going to the bathroom normally throughout all of this, so that makes me feel better. She actually started improving with some R&R and I discontinued the pain meds for a few days, but today she seemed sore again so we resumed the gabapentin.
Today I checked her paw pads, which I didn't think to do previously, and saw she had two keratomas (corns) on her remaining back leg's paw pad. This is something we have treated in the past with oils and lotions and it improved so I forgot about it! I quickly got the oil out and will do this frequently going forward. I know they can create a painful walking situation, and now that she's a tripawd she has no other back leg to put that weight on! I have no clue if this is the root of the issue but I'm sure it's not helping.
I am going to call the vet when they open on Monday and see if I can get a referral for a canine rehab therapist. Do you have any tips for finding a good specialist for tripawds? It makes total sense to me that you'd want someone who specializes in this area. Thank you so much for the reimbursement information, that's amazing!
Oh gosh no apologies necessary, really.
Today I checked her paw pads, which I didn’t think to do previously, and saw she had two keratomas (corns) on her remaining back leg’s paw pad.
Bingo! Oh wow I hope you discovered the issue. At least you know what to do for them. I didn't even know dogs got corns, so thank you for that bit of education. Keep us posted on how the oil helps. What kind do you use? Does she try to lick it?
Do you have any tips for finding a good specialist for tripawds?
Any credentialed therapist will know how to work with an amputee dog, I believe it's part of the curriculum and I haven't had anyone report that they ran into a therapist who didn't know what to do with their 3-legger. Remember to look for the CCRT or CCRP credentials and you should be good to go. But again, I'm happy to help find one near you if your vet isn't working with one. Keep us posted.
And give Marie some extra smooches from us!