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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

Tripawds is your home 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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Amputation may be upon my dog
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Member Since:
7 February 2024
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7 February 2024 - 2:28 pm
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Hello!

So glad I found this forum. My dog had a previous leg that was broken when I got him. He had just turned one when I got him, and he will be four years old this year. 

I took him to my regular vet since he kept holding the leg he had broken that the previous owners said that had healed (it’s his right front leg) and apparently, he has a “lateral humeral condylar fracture that does not look like it was ideally reduced when it was repaired” (this is exactly what the orthopedic reported after he saw the x-ray). The emergency vet had put a screw in his leg when he broke it.

We saw the orthopedic in 2022. He also had luxating patella but both legs had surgery and they are fine now. The orthopedic took out the screw in his right front leg, hoping to alleviate some of the pain. But, how the orthopedic explained it to me, he has no elbow/very little elbow. He has also been on Gabapentin since 2022. He is now on Tramadol, Gabapentin, Meloxicam, and Cosequin.

We saw the orthopedic today and they said they want him to lose 3 pounds (he said it should be easy to lose that in 2-3 months) and to also get HA injections (scheduled in two weeks). He doesn’t think the HA injections will work, but if they work, and he loses the weight, then he said he recommends amputating the leg. 

There were too options for this leg: taking what’s left of his elbow out and fuse the rest of his bones together in that leg (he doesn’t recommend it) or amputating the leg. I definitely decided amputation when needed.

I’ve known since 2022 that amputation would probably eventually happen, I just didn’t think it would be this soon. It’s very hard to take in.

Sorry for the long post. If you have any advice, please let me know! 

Virginia







Member Since:
22 February 2013
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7 February 2024 - 2:58 pm
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Hello and welcome to you and your sweet pup. What's his name?

While lI'm sorry you find yourself here, it is definitely the best place to be for support, information and understanding from  all of us who have gone the amputation route.

No, it's not an easy decision. Based on everything you have said and the advice from the orthopedic surgeon parentheses (who seems excellent ) amputation is the best choice  for uour brave pup..

It will free him from pain almost immediately . Obviously, there's about a two-week recovery time that he'll need his pain meds, rest, short least potty breaks , but recovery doesn't last forever. The surgery is one and done! Unfortunately we see a lot of people who come here only after going the route of trying several surgeries, confinement, infections, Etc to save a leg only to amputate anyway. 

Actually, as far as losing the weight, I bet he can lose those two to three pounds faster than in 3 months. Plus, a lot of dogs lose a pound during recovery after surgery. This is because, in some instances, during the first week or so they may not feel like eating a lot due to pain meds etc.

He's on a lot of pain meds now and I hope they are doing the trick to keep him comfortable. The other good thing about amputation is that it most likely would only need pain meds during the recovery period after that he will be paying free and ready to get on with a quality life that he deserves.

No, your post was not long at all! We appreciate you sharing as much information as you can so we can help support you.

Although I know the amputation might not be for another couple of months, let us know if you have any questions or concerns at all  all regarding recovery, good pain management during  recovery, tips on how to prepare the house for a tripawd, etc

You are not alone in this and we are here with you by your side the whole way! You truly will be amazed at how well dogs thrive on three legs, especially when they are pain free!

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:
7 February 2024
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7 February 2024 - 3:08 pm
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Thank you so much for the reply!! I’m really glad I found this place. My dog’s name is Max! I felt so bad for him during his leg surgeries- we did one of his legs affected with luxating patella at the same time they took the screw out of his front leg. he did pretty good with that! 

I just hate he’s in so much pain. I already limit his food so much, and I don’t know what else to do. He’s always hungry, he doesn’t like to play because he’s in so much pain (sometimes he’ll play at night), and he just sleeps. I have steps for my bed so that helps and he uses them all the time. 

He doesn’t yelp in pain really unless he moves it the wrong way. He mainly just holds it up standing and now sitting, when he’s sitting in my lap I can tell he’s not putting a lot of weight on it, and a lot of times when he’s sitting and he has the leg down it just quivers and shakes.

I trust this orthopedic with my whole heart. I just don’t want Max to keep being in pain. He’s gaining weight like crazy because he’s not very active because of his pain. He’s gained 3 pounds since 2022. I don’t want to restrict his food even more but I guess I’ll have to. I’m just in a hard place and don’t know what to do. 

Virginia







Member Since:
22 February 2013
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7 February 2024 - 4:00 pm
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Awww.....Max is mighty lucky to have you as his caring and loving hooman.

While being an overweight tripawd is not good, neither is having a dog in constant pain.  Maybe you could jave a heart to heart with your Surgeon  and explain the degree of  that pain is in.  Dogs are very stoic, so the very fact that he is holding his leg up and using it as little as possible is showing a lot of pain.    We've certainly had overweight  dogs go through amputation that was needed quickly due to extreme pain from bone cancer.   Waiting another two to three months for Max to have his surgery would be hard on Max.

My front legger tripawd is overweight (as my Vet reminded  me the other day yet again!) and I've been tossing him frozen broccoli  florets and he loves them!  Try mixing green beans in Max's meal to help him feel full.

Also, check out puzzle games for dogs to help keep him from being bored

So yeah, let the Surgeon  know how Mich pain Max is in and see of he's open to surfery sooner.   Curious, how much does he weigh now and what "breed" is he.?

Hang in there!  

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:
7 February 2024
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7 February 2024 - 7:05 pm
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Sorry for just now responding!!

I think I am going to call his surgeon tomorrow and just have a talk with him (although they only do surgeries on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and closed Fridays, so I may not get a call back until Monday from the surgeon) as well as call Max’s regular vet and ask to see him about how Max could lose some weight. He has stomach issues (he saw a GI doctor and they thought he may have IBD, but they think he’s allergic to lots of food) and so he’s on Royal Canin Hydrolyzed Protein. I can tell it’s really rough on Max because I can see he isn’t as lively as he used to be.

He weights 10.7 pounds (I only know that because I remembered his weight today lol) and he is a “Morkie” (half Maltese, half Yorkie) but he looks like a full blooded Yorkie! 

He’s my world and I’ll do anything to help him!

You’re so kind!!! Thank you for all the help and tips!! 

Edited to add: I’m thinking of not doing the HA injections. i’m thinking i’d rather save the money that it’s going to cost (the doctor said it’s a shot in the dark if it’ll even work) and put the money towards his amputation when he needs it.

The Rainbow Bridge



Member Since:
25 April 2007
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7 February 2024 - 11:12 pm
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Hi Heather and Max, welcome. What a tough spot you are both in!

It does sound like you have a good vet team looking out for his needs, but I agree that based on the pain signals you're describing, you might want to get this done sooner than three months. Weight loss is tricky but not impossible. Losing weight is more of a matter of cutting back food than exercise, at least for dogs.

The not eating might be related to his dislike of that food (our Wyatt felt the same way, he was on the same brand for a while). Or, it is most likely related to him being in pain from the bad leg. Either way, ask your vet about a new diet approach that can help speed weight loss up but safely. One pound of excess weight on a dog is the same as 5 pounds on a human, so it's a lot of impact on a tiny leg that's already compromised. I'm glad you guys are on a plan to get the weight off.

Hyaluronic Acid injections are helpful in some dogs but not all. Our Wyatt also had one, but we didn't think it did much for him. 

Max is a small guy, and should get around well once the weight is off and the leg is gone. Have that convo with your vet and see what they say, then let us know. 

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7 February 2024
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8 February 2024 - 7:32 am
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Thank you so much for the response!!

I called Max’s regular vet this morning, and he will call me back today or tomorrow (he has a lot of surgeries today) so we can discuss a plan for his diet and then I’ll call the orthopedic vet on Monday. 

I am at the point where I am ready to get it amputated, because I see how much pain he is in and it breaks my heart. 

The Rainbow Bridge



Member Since:
25 April 2007
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8 February 2024 - 10:50 am
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Way to be an advocate for him!

I don't think I shared these weight loss articles for you, there are some good tips in there and things you might want to discuss with your vet. 

Was also thinking that part of Max's depression signals could be a sign that he's just bored because he can't do too much. One great way to not only help with weight loss but keep his mind busy, are interactive brain games . Check 'em out and try some with him, you'll be surprised at how much he can do and how much they can mentally tire him out (which is more effective at keeping him happy than physical tiredness).

Keep us posted!

Member Since:
25 January 2024
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8 February 2024 - 4:49 pm
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Hello Heather and Max,

This is Julie here in the UK , 9 days post op with our 10 year old puggle Daisy following Right front leg amputation.

My words are to share empathy with you not to give advice , as the decision for amputation is absolutely a personal choice.

I wanted to share with you though that Daisy has always been a little “ round “ so I hear your worries about weight. Our vet has encouraged us to help her lose weight post op so we have halved her food . I’m sure I need to try harder swapping treats for more healthy ones ! but she’s been such a trooper that we will concentrate more on that once her sutures are out next week.

The people on this forum have been so supportive and ,like you ,so glad we found it too, recommended by our vet.

If you do choose amputation, I would say one of us has been sleeping by her every night … not sure what more experienced owners feel about that .. but we felt more relaxed with situation by doing that …possibly till sutures are out … but she surprises us every day in what she can do ..

Wishing you much support in whatever decision you make…

Don’t forget …Look after yourself too … 

Daisy sends support and empathy to Max x

Virginia







Member Since:
22 February 2013
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8 February 2024 - 7:47 pm
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Love.y feedback Julie.  Thank you for sharing where Daisy is in her recovery.  I'm sure it was very reassuring 

Higs

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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