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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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Uncontrollable twitching in 8 week amputee
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Member Since:
11 January 2013
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11 January 2013 - 11:15 am
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I wish we had seen this place a few months ago, when we were wrestling with the decision to amputate or euthanize! It would have made the decision easier, I can tell.

Cookie is a 9 year old Shepherd mix, ideal weight was 55-60 pounds, and had a fast-growing fatty tumor in her rear left leg. It was so intertwined with bone and soft tissue that removal of just the tumor at any stage was impossible. After amputation the vet weighed the leg, and guessed the tumor at 7 pounds (8 pounds with the leg). She is happier, has adjusted well, and I really feel like I got my dog back.

We went away for a week, leaving the care of the dogs with a housesitter. When we returned on Wednesday, I saw her stump and to an extent, her entire back end twitched almost violently. She is stiff upon initially getting up, and now defecates almost sitting on the ground (trying to help freaks her out a little). Last night the twitching was so bad it made her good leg shake to the point it woke me up, as it was striking the wall in the next room.

I think it may be related to adjusting to three legs. Yesterday and today I took her out for 15 minute walks and they seem to stop the twitching for a few hours. I just don't want to do too much, it's not like her good leg was that strong either as mobility was limited for several weeks while we debated our course of action. :(

Anybody else had this much twitching? Otherwise her recovery has been nothing short of amazing, she has even figured out how to jump into the passenger seat of my Jeep again (needs help after our walks, she opts to get in via the floorboard and needs assistance yet). We used to take long hikes together when i had more time, and she has always gone with me everywhere.

Wish the vet had given us as much advice as I have read on this forum already - I am going to tell them about it so other pet owners can have more information. She had said nothing about how much exercise, or when to start - we have just been playing it by ear.

On The Road


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24 September 2009
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11 January 2013 - 11:32 am
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Hey there thank you so much for joining us.

I'm sorry you went through the amputation ordeal without us, but thank you so much for the kind words about the community. Everyone here is so great, I know folks will have some good insight for you.

Take my thoughts for what they're worth, since I'm not a vet, but it does sound like your dog might need more time. Muscle twitching is normal in the affected amputation site, but is her leg twitching at all? If so, it sounds like it's weak and needs time to strengthen.

Your instincts are right; she does need more time to get used to things so take it slow. Eight weeks out isn't a long time. It takes a while for dogs to build more muscle strength in those weaker areas. Have you checked our Gear Blog for some tips for getting stronger? I think you'll find this post helpful:

Best of Tripawds Gear and Fitness Tips for Three Legged Dogs

Although she used to go on long hikes and such, something to consider is that walking and running doesnt build strength, it only builds endurance. You'll find the tips and exercises in that link above will help you. Also check out Sir Nesta's new blog post about core strengthening games he's doing. Fun!

We'd love to see some pics of Cookie! Thanks again for joining, your future posts won't require moderation.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene
tripawds.com | tripawds.org | bemoredog.net | triday.pet

New Haven, CT
Member Since:
27 December 2012
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11 January 2013 - 2:25 pm
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Perhaps try putting a cool or warm compress on her stump.  The nerves are clearly firing and by giving them a sensation (temperature), they may calm down.  When Jackson's stump twitches, I'm able to calm it by just resting my hand on his stump.  He seems to get relief from it.  Good luck!

ACL tear in right hind leg 12/5/12 and scheduled ACL repair surgery 12/21/12. Pre-op xrays revealed osteosarcoma. Amputation 12/28/12.  Chemo (carboplatin) started Jan 10, 2013 and ended on April 5, for a total of 5 doses. He handled carbo like a champ!  No side effects.  We started metronomic therapy at his third chemo and have been also doing some holistic treatments.  He's a lively, playful 10 year old huskie-boarder collie and a very proud member of the Winter Warriors!  Our love. Our funny little guy!

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