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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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Tripawd recover w/small children-advice???
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Forum Posts: 42
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20 January 2009
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23 January 2009 - 1:39 pm
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Hi. So we saw our oncologist last night and are seriously considering amputation of our 12yr old shepherd's front leg. Among many others, one of my concerns is the recovery period and the close proximity in which this WONDERFUL gentle animal lives with our two very small kids (infant and a 2yr old). Polly is an absolute angel with them, but our home is quite small and Im trying to figure out how Im going to give her the space she deserves during her recovery period. She is incredibly tolerant of our toddler (puts up with petting, screaming, running child, noise — our daughter pets her very gently and never hits her — occasionally there is experimentation with pulling her fur but we put the brakes on that ASAP. Bottom line is our daughter is barely two and we are still in the process of teaching her how to be kind to animals. She is doing well for her age, but shes two and she is unpredictable, though closely monitored) I dont think its fair to my dog to expect her usual level of patience while she is recovering from such a major surgery.

So does anyone have experience with this? Im anticipating needing to crate our dog (who has not been previously crate trained) or set up a makeshift barrier with baby gates in our laundry room off the kitchen possibly (easy access to outside door for pottying – the area is about the size of a kennel run). Im guessing im going to need to do this for a week or two to give our poor dog isolation from the toddler so she can rest comfortably but still be close to me when she needs me (for pottying, pain meds, whatever). Does this sound reasonable to those who have been there?

Any advice would be appreciated. Im also a little worried about whether or not this is going to affect Polly's tolerence of the kids in general in the long term. She is so patient and gentle. Im a little nervous that she will become somewhat self-defensive after this, that she will FEEL more vulnerable and therefore less likely to tolerate the unpredictability of small kids. Any advice on this??? (We arent sure, but she may have been feeling this way towards other dogs at our local park – she has always played well but recently started growling at select other dogs. We dont know if this is defensive of her leg or if maybe she was defending our newborn???)

Calpurnia
2
23 January 2009 - 2:33 pm
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To be clear, we do NOT have children, so I can't speak directly to that (and I realize that you can't really compare dogs and kids).  That said, we have a large pack (17 dogs) and a small house (with a big yard).  When we were trying to decide about amputation for our husky Calpurnia (who was 11 at the time, now going on 13), we had many of the same concerns:  how will we protect her from other dogs, will her personality change, will the pack sense her weakness and pick on her, etc.

We did set up a crate and a corner of the house that was her recovery area.  Other dogs, cats, etc were not allowed in that area, and we had to be the ones to enforce that rule, since dogs don't understand “don't go over there”.  She quickly learned that was a safe place, and would go there if she wanted to be left alone.  Maybe an area with baby-gates would keep a toddler out?  Do make sure that there is good footing wherever it is so she does not slip.

Calpurnia's interactions with the other dogs and with her human family did not change with her amputation.  We made sure that OUR reactions did not change either – still had the same routine, expectations, etc.  None of the other dogs have ever picked on Cali for her missing leg, and she learned within a week or so to laydown if there was wild play going on so she didn't get bumped or knocked over.  She did (and still does) take some good spills, but that is part of the learning process.  It is hard to watch, but don't make it a bigger deal than it is.

I think your dog will suprise you and remain the same sweet loving dog that you know.  It will be up to you to educate the kiddos, but I would say that in a month or so everything will be normal again.

Michigan
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23 January 2009 - 2:37 pm
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hi kty8,

The time you would need to be most concerned about this is while polly is recovering and while on pain meds.  They can really mess with her moods and reactions to things.  I don't have children but do have younger playful dogs and I put a baby gate across the entrance to my office and kept Radar in with my while he was recovering.  The he could choose to go to the gate and socialize when he was up to it.  It may be difficult with the baby but your older child can be told to be very very gentle with Polly.

Keep us posted.

Connie & Radar

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23 January 2009 - 6:22 pm
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Thanks for the advice from both of you. Im thinking a couple of yoga mats over the tile floor, with a comfy soft bed in the corner (eggcrate?)and a baby gate  would make our laundry room a tripawd-friendly recovery area?

Its good to hear that things return to normal after a month or so. I dont want Polly to have to be isolated from us or the kids long term. One of the reasons this dog is such a gem is that she always has been so great with kids – nieces and nephews first and now with our own. She actually seems to enjoy them (even before ours were born she would try to approach kids herself at parks on walks, if we allowed her to).

Thanks for the input. its helpful

Calpurnia
5
23 January 2009 - 8:32 pm
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You can also try getting some of the DAP diffuser stuff.  Dog Appeasing Pheromone Spray (sp?) – it is supposed to simulate the pheramones that a mother dog uses to calm nursing pups, and keeps dogs calm and happy without drugging them.  We use it on our old, confused dog and it really seems to help.  Might be a soothing thing for recovery.

Michigan
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24 January 2009 - 12:36 pm
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I think your laundry room plan sounds good but I did notice with Radar that while he wanted to be left alone – he didn't want to be alone, if that makes sense.  He wanted to be in the same room that I was in and if he couldn't follow me got a bit anxious.  That's why I kept him in my office.  I think if Polly is as close to the family as you say she is then this might be an issue for her as well.  If your laundryroom is someplace where Polly can look out and see you and know you are there then that should be fine.  Maybe you could take down the gate in the evenings when the kids go to bed and she will venture out to you when she is ready.

Connie & Radar

Here and Now


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24 January 2009 - 1:17 pm
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Calpurnia said:

… try getting some of the DAP diffuser stuff.


Thanks for the tip Calpurn! We had never heard of Dog Appeasing Pheromone Spray but just found it at EntirelyPets.com along with a DAP Collar. Interesting…

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26 January 2009 - 5:30 pm
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Thanks for the input. If we kept her in the laundry room w/a baby gate , she could still see, smell and hear the kids and I throughout the day. We would probably either take the gate down at night or as the oncology tech suggested, carry her upstairs with us at night (she usually sleeps upstairs outside the kids' bedroom doors – guarding our “puppies” – is that sweet or what?) We already have baby gates at the top and bottom of the stairs for the kids, so Polly cant get to the stairs by herself. What have been your experiences with stairs? Will she ever be able to go up and down again by herself? Its about 12 carpeted steps. The leg she may lose is in the front – im thinking she may be able to get up the stairs but that she would fall if she tried coming down? (and good advice on the DAP – Ive used a similar product for one of our cats who freaked out when the human babies came home!)

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28 January 2009 - 12:23 pm
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So sorry to hear about Polly's diagnosis. We definately had to keep Ember separated from children as she was very snappy for about a month. She even bit my two year old nephew – of course he DID hit her with a toy, and he was not a family member – I don't believe she would have bit one of us. Still we had to be very careful – she was in a lot of pain and very unstable on her feet.

The good news – now she is in a better mood than she has been for a long, long time. She is more tolerent of our other dog than she has ever been (can't say about children as none have visited). She falls or is knocked over by Prince, our Sheltie, without complaint – just picks herself up and gets back to playing. I see now she was in pain for months before her diagnosis. Ember can go up and down the concrete stairs we have outside with no problems, but she does not like our slick hardwood stairs. (rear leg amp)

Remember that your children are learning so much by your care for their beloved pet at the end of her life. They are watching and learning from the decision making process and these life lessons will be invaluable for them as they continue on their journey. I have two teenagers and they have participated in the decisions, vet visits and care for Ember.

Jane and Ember

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28 January 2009 - 5:01 pm
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Thanks Jane. I hope so (re children learning from this). Though ours are only 2 and 4 mos! I dont think they will remember the details. But our older one will certainly remember Polly in years to come. We can tell her the details when she is old enough to understand.

We have hardwood floors throughout our house. It just occured to me yesterday that these may be difficult to navigate for Polly. Do people just use carpet runners or what??? Our kitchen is tile – we will probably need something there as well. Any suggestions from others?

Edmonton
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28 January 2009 - 5:16 pm
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kty8 said:

We have hardwood floors throughout our house. It just occured to me yesterday that these may be difficult to navigate for Polly. Do people just use carpet runners or what??? Our kitchen is tile – we will probably need something there as well. Any suggestions from others?


You can place carpet runners or area rugs on the tile/hardwood slippery surface.  If covering them all is not feasible, just work on the paths which Polly usually takes, and the area she hangs around most.

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28 January 2009 - 5:31 pm
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Thanks. We will have to look into that. She actually limped this mornign on her walk pretty significantly. and she fell once today…I was hoping we could put this off for a while, but maybe not…

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