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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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Amputation surgery scheduled for next week
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Forum Posts: 92
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27 January 2014 - 5:26 pm
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I am new and just posted the other day about my Beagle’s diagnosis of a mast cell tumor. She had ultrasounds, x-rays, and lymph node checks today and everything came back clear. The issue is that the only option to treat the MCT is to amputate her front right leg. The tumor is located on the upper part of her right leg and it wraps completely around the bone and involves the joint. So removal of the tumor is definitely not a option. She is 12 years old and just had ACL surgery on her back left leg a year ago.

I have so many thoughts and concerns going through my mind right now. I worry about her recovery time, how she will adapt, how my other two dogs will react to her, how I’m going to handle it…the list can go on and on and on. Is it strange that I worry about what she will think when she comes out of surgery and tries to stand on all four legs.

I am scared to death. This dog has been with me for 12 years and has been through a lot with me. She really is my baby girl. I really do not think the reality of it has sunk in for me yet. If anyone can give me advice or just encouragement I would appreciate it!

Thanks

Danell

The Rainbow Bridge



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27 January 2014 - 5:43 pm
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Hi Danell, I’m so sorry you are going through this. Please know that you are not alone, that many of us here know that head-spinning, stomach-punching fear that you’re feeling right now. It IS scary! But you know what? your girl doesn’t know anything is different right now (please tell us her name). So it’s really, really important to be a strong pack leader and show her that you believe she will overcome this challenge (and boy, will she!).

We always recommend starting with Jerry’s Required Reading List and if you’d like hop on over to the Tripawds e-books library where you’ll find our books that answer all of your questions. And of course more folks will chime in here too so be sure to check back often.

Remember, the good news is she checked out fine with the tests and it sounds like she is a good candidate for surgery. Yay! This is the time to rejoice over all those little victories. Believe it or not, cancer teaches us how to celebrate those ordinary moments and realize that every single day is a gift. You’ll get there. Hang tight and let us know how we can help.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Forum Posts: 92
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27 January 2014 - 6:00 pm
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Thanks Jerry, her name is Kasey smiley

Virginia




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27 January 2014 - 6:04 pm
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Oh heah, being scared to death is something we ALL understand! And it IS scarey! Notto our cats and dogs, but to us!

Your sweet girl has been assessed by yoir surgeon and he feels she’s a good candidate…passed all her pre-op exams and clearly has a very loving pawparent to help her through this.

As you’ve already seen from researching this site, your girl will amaze you at how quickky she adapts to three legs! It scared the heck outof me too…wondering how on earth my big “plus sized model” could possibly walk on three legs! I cried tears of joy when she walked into the waiting room, wigglng and a waggn’ the day after surgery!

We have many dogs here…Murphy…Daisy…and many more whohad “other leg” issues in addition to the need for amputation.
Read all of Jerry’s books and downloads so you can feel better prepared.

You’ll want to get skid proof scatter rugs if you have hardwoods. Do you ave a lot of stairs for in and out? You may want to consider building a ramp. Goingup and down stairs, jumping on beds, etc……you want to prevent that especially during recovery.

Recovery is no picnic..-some dogs recoer faster, some slower. But boy oh boy! Once recovery takes place and the sparkle comes back you will be so happy! The “anticipation” is actually ne of the hardest part of the journey. It’s just somjard to “visualize” how well your dog will do!

She will get alg just fine with her other dog buddies. Some “buddies” kind of keep their distance while the other is healing…some will lay by their sied. They’ll work it out among their own pack. I f they’re bugging her, she’ll let them know!

When she comes outof surgery, she will be high as a kite for awhile and seeing pink elwphants and polka dotted hippopotamuses (or is it hippopotami?).
All she’ll kmowis she has to adjust her walking style and work on her balance because somethingis “different”. She won’t dwell on it…..she’ll just get on with living her life and adjusting as she needs to.

When yo go pick her up, don’t even look at her cisin, just look to her eyes and hug her and praise her and tell her what a good girl she is! She’ll be so hap to be going home!

YOU ARE NOT ALNE! We are all here to supplrt you and help in anuway we can!

When you can, PLEASE post some pictures of your sweet bavy! We would LOVE to see her!!

Now go hug her, watch her tail wag and no that all is well!!

Sending you lots of hugs!

Sally and Happy Hannah

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!

Los Angeles, CA
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27 January 2014 - 6:59 pm
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My girl, Shelby, is 13 and had her rear left leg amputated almost 3 weeks ago (wow – time flies). I know others here will have much better advice but trust me, it was the best decision for Shelby. She’s had so many issues over the past 7 months and it was her 3rd major surgery and she came through like a champ. The first couple weeks are hard – no doubt about that – but she is finally turning around and I am seeing her. She’s my baby, like yours is. She’s been w/me through the last 13 years of her life and it was a hard decision. But post here, come here for advice. This place is amazing. So supportive. We are here for you! 

 

Hugs!

 

alison and shelby

Shelby Lynne; Jack Russell/Shiba Inu mix. Proud member of the April Angels of 2014.

October 15, 2000 to April 8, 2014

Our story: Broke rear leg in June 2013 - non-conclusive results for cancer so leg was plated and pinned. Enlarged spleen in September 2013 and had it removed and was diagnosed with Hemangiosarcoma and started chemotherapy. Became a Tripawd January 8th, 2014 and definitive Hemangiosarcoma diagnosis. Three major surgeries in 7 months and Shelby took them all like a champ only to lose her battle to cancer in her brain. We had 8 amazing extra months together and no regrets. #shelbystrong #loveofmylife

Westminster, MD
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27 January 2014 - 7:48 pm
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Hi, just want to say that I completely agree with everyone here with their wonderful advice. Like Jerry said, the important thing is that all her tests came back clear, and I have no doubt in my mind that your sweet Kasey will do great with her amp. It takes a little time, but they bounce back so much faster than you can possibly imagine. Keep us all posted, and remember you have the best support system ever right here.

Best wishes
Bonnie & Polly

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27 January 2014 - 7:52 pm
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Hi Danell. I just want to add to the chorus here that you are not along! And Kasey will do great. My dog Winnie is on Day 11 after amputation and, while there are plenty of ups and downs, this is doable. Honestly, the worst part was making the decision and waiting for her to come home. Once it was time to work on recovery, you’ll be amazed how your emotions evolve. Hang in there. We’re all here for you.

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27 January 2014 - 8:20 pm
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Thanks everyone! I’m glad I found this group and have people that can relate to my issue. I’m glad her results came back good and hopefully everything was caught in time. I know we have a rough road ahead of us, but I have plenty of friends and of course this spot to go to when I need. It’s just me, Kasey and two other dogs. I teach and I’m working on my doctorate in education. My mom is going to fly in (from Illinois) to help me and Kasey next week. She will stay with her while I am at work, so that is great! My boyfriend, that is military and just moved to FL (I live in NC) is going to come up this weekend and be here for the surgery. So much to think about and do before the surgery.

The vet wanted to schedule it for Wednesday, but due to the snow we may get here he suggested Thursday or Monday. Yes, it was 70 degrees today and we may get 4-6 inches of snow, which is a big deal in NC. I wanted to do it on Monday so I can spend time with her this weekend. It’s supposed to be warm on Saturday so I thought we could go for a walk with the other two dogs (Gadget and Pebbles).

Thanks again for your advice and kind words!

Danell and Kasey

Los Angeles, CA
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27 January 2014 - 8:43 pm
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That’s awesome that you will have some extra help! Trust me – the first weekend I had Shelby home, I wanted to take her back and leave her (single parent here and was desperate for sleep). The drugs made Shelby really whacky and we had a couple sleepless nights. But you and Kasey will do great! 

 

Shelby had her surgery on Wednesday and came home Friday so I had a weekend with her before I went back to work. But dogs are amazing!!! Keep us posted and let us know how she does. She’s adorable (if that’s her face in your avitar). 

Shelby Lynne; Jack Russell/Shiba Inu mix. Proud member of the April Angels of 2014.

October 15, 2000 to April 8, 2014

Our story: Broke rear leg in June 2013 - non-conclusive results for cancer so leg was plated and pinned. Enlarged spleen in September 2013 and had it removed and was diagnosed with Hemangiosarcoma and started chemotherapy. Became a Tripawd January 8th, 2014 and definitive Hemangiosarcoma diagnosis. Three major surgeries in 7 months and Shelby took them all like a champ only to lose her battle to cancer in her brain. We had 8 amazing extra months together and no regrets. #shelbystrong #loveofmylife

Livermore, CA




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27 January 2014 - 9:44 pm
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Two good things: clear tests and a supportive family!
This is a scary time, but you can take some sense of control by preparing your house for Kasey’s homecoming, and enjoying a nice weekend together.

My pug Maggie did not do well at all with changes to her routine, I worried that she would have trouble adapting. And I was right! No medical complications, but she was an unhappy slug for about six weeks. I was really regretting the amputation, I was sure I had made a horrible decision. But Mag was just being true to her nature, she took her time but she did adapt and hopped happily through life for almost 4 years.

Since you’ve been through ACL surgery with Kacey you will do fine with the amp. My quad pug Obie had knee surgery last year and his recovery from that was way longer than Maggie’s recovery from the amp, even including her 6 week slug period.

Let us know she the surgey date is sent so we can send all the positive vibes from the Tripawd nation!

Karen and Spirit Maggie

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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27 January 2014 - 11:31 pm
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We’re post-28 days from Boston, our Great Dane, having his rear leg removed and his recovery is remarkable. You will suffer from guilt – a kind of “how could I do this to my beautiful friend” thing, but the reality is the amputation is removing a serious and constant source of pain for your pet. The first week or so, while they adjust weight and balance (and often look a little shaky on the single leg) can be painful for YOU to watch, but then you will begin to marvel at how the dogs teach themselves how to adapt.

Boston is now doing all the things he loves, like sleeping on his back or laying on the front verandah keeping watch over “his” world (and for ill-advised rabbits and the neighbour’s chickens)… all pain-free and comfortably. That’s what we all wanted for our furry kids, right?

Graeme and Lisa

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28 January 2014 - 4:00 am
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Hi Danell

Sounds like you have gotten lots of good advice from everyone 🙂  I just want to add my words of support!

It sounds like you have researched your options and have made a great decision……remember you are doing this for Kasey not to her.

It is wonderful that you have the support of your family during the surgery and recovery period too….that will help a lot during the stressful times.

Enjoy your weekend with your beautiful girl….but remember that after her recovery period there will be lots more weekends to share with her.

 

Keep us posted.

 

Linda and Tucker

 

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28 January 2014 - 4:16 pm
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Thanks everyone!

I spoke with the vet today and her surgery is scheduled for Monday. I will take her in and go to work. I know I won’t be worth much at work, but I am going to take Tuesday off. My mom with stay through Saturday to help me and her. I will feel better knowing my mom is with her while I am at work. I wanted to do it at the end of the week but the vet was pushing for Monday. He said if we do it on Monday, she will go home on Tuesday and then if something should happen with her stitches or whatever I can bring her back in that week versus if we did it at the end of the week I would have to wait through the weekend or go to a emergency vet and he would feel better seeing her if something should happen. I have tomorrow off due to the fact that we could get 4-6 inches of snow here in NC. I am from Illinois so snow is snow to me, but that is a lot for NC.

What are some of the things I should do to prepare the house for her? My boyfriend is going to make a ramp for the deck in the backyard so she can go outside, I plan on carrying her up and down the stairs at my house, what else? My worry is the fact that she has slept with me in bed for 12 years. She usually stays in bed and does not jump down, she will not sleep on the floor or maybe she will.

If you can share with me ways you prepared for your dogs homecoming I would appreciate it.

 

Los Angeles, CA
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28 January 2014 - 4:29 pm
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How much does she weigh? Shelby was a special case as she was already limping quiet a bit and had stopped sleeping on my bed back in July when I saw her jump down and then start limping again after we had fixed her leg. Since Shelby hasn’t been able to get up on my bed since then, it isn’t an issue. My concern, now, is that Shelby can and will get on the couch unassisted so that is blocked when I am not there. My apt is pretty tiny so there isn’t a lot of trouble Shelby can get into. They advised that I keep her calm and not roaming so if your baby would tolerate a crate, that might be safe if you’re not there.

 

Otherwise, we didn’t have to do much as far as home prep. Shelby has tons of beds/blankets (none of which she uses now as she prefers my bathroom and the bath mat). I do have a lot of stairs and Shelby is about 22 pounds so I did carry her up and down for 2 straight weeks but some people have suggested slings, etc. One thing I have helped Shelby with (and still do) is to poop. Shelby is a rear amp so when she squats, I kind of support her amp side so she can really go. It’s not as bad as it sounds (she’s my baby). Otherwise, keeping her calm and relaxed will be key. 

 

She will be pretty druggy, I expect, so prepare for that. It can be startling to see as it makes them a little crazy but we’re here to support you. Lots of good advice here! 

Shelby Lynne; Jack Russell/Shiba Inu mix. Proud member of the April Angels of 2014.

October 15, 2000 to April 8, 2014

Our story: Broke rear leg in June 2013 - non-conclusive results for cancer so leg was plated and pinned. Enlarged spleen in September 2013 and had it removed and was diagnosed with Hemangiosarcoma and started chemotherapy. Became a Tripawd January 8th, 2014 and definitive Hemangiosarcoma diagnosis. Three major surgeries in 7 months and Shelby took them all like a champ only to lose her battle to cancer in her brain. We had 8 amazing extra months together and no regrets. #shelbystrong #loveofmylife

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28 January 2014 - 4:57 pm
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Hi Danell,

When Tuck went in for his surgery I purchased carpet runners for my hardwood floors so that there would be traction on the floors for him.  As he is a front leg amp, elevated food dishes were also recommended and have been very helpful over these past few months.

A “sling” or bag or towel that can be used to support Kasey in and out of the house for the first few days on “bathroom breaks” is also very helpful…..and though some dogs resist it, Tuck seemed to be glad to have help for the first few days.

Now…when you pick her up…..focus on her eyes…..not the incision….Kasey needs you to be the strong pack leader and will not understand if you are upset!  It might help to look at some pictures of new surgical incisions on this site so that you are prepared.

Take care of yourself – get lots of rest (even though you are a doctoral student smiley) and try to relax.

 

Linda and Tucker

 

 

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