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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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New and needing advice - pre-surgery
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Forum Posts: 5
Member Since:
12 September 2020
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12 September 2020 - 8:11 am
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Good morning,

We received the diagnosis and are now considering amputation.  My brain is mush, so advice would be greatly appreciated.

Dogdog is an 11 yr old mixed breed.  We live on a farm, far out in the country.  His mother (still alive) was a starving dog who found her way here and proceeded to deliver 6 fat puppies a week later.  Dogdog has lived his whole life here, along with his sisters.  He is neutered and weighs about 85 lbs. (So much bigger than tiny mama!)  The dog yard is approximately 500′ x 500′ and filled with holes he and his sisters have dug.  There is a ramp from the back porch to the dog yard, but it is a little steep maybe?

So, anyway, in April we noticed a raw spot on the bottom of Dogs right front paw.  We did the standard first aid stuff (vets were closed due to pandemic), but it didn’t get any better.  Around June, we noticed he started licking and chewing on it and it started getting bigger.  By August, it was very large and he started to limp just a little.  Was finally able to get into a vet (actually out in the parking lot).  The vet took one look, said cancer and amputation and recommended a specialist.

Got to see the specialist this week and they recommended amputation.  After xrays and so on, the diagnosis is:

Expansile, ulcerated, necrotic mass involving the palmar aspect of the right manus – suspect neoplasia (soft tissue sarcoma, fibrosarcoma, etc) vs other.

This tells me that it is getting bigger and rotting his paw – correct? Geez, rambling here, so sorry.  Trying to get my thoughts in order.

They will amputate the whole leg.  He will stay overnight and go home the next day.  They didn’t say anything about medication, care afterwards, etc..  Just that Dogdog would bounce back in a couple of days and magically adjust.  Not buying that part.

So, I found this website and have spent the last couple of days reading and trying to learn. Dogdog is a happy, loveable, not a mean bone in his body type of dog.  He has never snapped at his sisters, gotten into a fight, and so on.  So, we are trying really hard to make sure we are doing what is right for him and not for us.

I have severed scoliosis, three back surgeries to date and so on.  I am having doubts as to whether I am up for the job or not, but that doesn’t matter.  I will find some way to do what is needed.

So, any advice, recommendations, would be greatly appreciated.  I am kinda worried about going down the ramp in the back – really not enough room for two and gets a little slippery when wet.

I am sorry this is so long, my brain is jumping all over the place.

The Rainbow Bridge



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12 September 2020 - 12:59 pm
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Hi Dogdog and family, welcome. We are so glad you decided to post, and completely understand what a tough time this is. Your doggies are so lucky to have you looking out for them. Your love for Dogdog shines through.

It sounds like your vet feels that Dogdog is a good candidate for amputation surgery, which is fantastic! Even senior dogs like him can go on to have a great quality of life. 

Your vet is correct, dogs do really well on three. But they do need time to recuperate, and good pain management is essential. I would want to know what kinds of pain medication Dogdog will come home with. The latest pain main management after amputation surgery typically involves 3 drugs: a nerve pain reducer like Gabapentin, an anti-inflammatory like Meloxicam or Carprophen, and another type of pain drug like Tapentadol. 

When it comes to outdoor dogs, they can certainly do well after amputation surgery. But if there is any way at all for him to be inside while recuperating, that would be ideal and in my non-vet opinion, necessary. You’ll want to keep the amputation site clean from dirt and debris, and ensure that he has enough pain management while recuperating. It’s also a way to minimize his activity so that he heals and doesn’t damage the incision. Can you keep him in your home during the 2-week recuperation?

In the meantime, the ramp is probably OK but before surgery I would definitely put down some non-slip traction strips to help him. Front leg amputees have a harder time going down stairs than up, and you don’t want him to fall when the ramp gets wet. You’ll also want to make sure your home’s interior flooring is no-slip. Carpet runners and yoga mats come in real handy.

If you haven’t already checked out Jerry’s Required Reading List , now is a good time. Our Tripawds e-books library is also full of helpful tips, and so is our community so stay tuned for feedback from others!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Virginia




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12 September 2020 - 9:56 pm
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As you can tell from Jerry’s reply, you have come to the right place for support and information AND understanding!  We certainly understand the shock of all this.  We also understand  there is a weird sense of relief  once you make the decision  to proceed KMOWING you are giving  DogCog a chance at a painfree quality life!

Can’t  really add much to what Jerry said other than ditto.

I’ll also me tion that Vets don’t  go home with the dogs during g recovery  and it’s not always the pic ic they portray.  It is  MAJOR surgery and does involve “recovery time” that usualkymlasts about two weeks.  Just short leashed potty breaks and back in for rest.  Yes, inside recovery is the best way to going at all possible. 

I know the challenges you have with your back will make it hard to use a harness to help him up and down the ramp, plus it’s  a narrow ramp.  All we can do is the best we can with the circumstances  we are given.  So just be careful and don’t  hurt your back any further!

 BTW, your pack sounds delightful!  Thank you for giving  that sweet mom dog and her pups such a loving home.

STAY CONNECTED  and let us know how we can help.

YOU ARE NOT ALONG!  We are right by your side the whole time!

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!

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14 September 2020 - 7:36 am
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Good morning,

We are in the process of installing a new, longer and less steep ramp with rails! Got carpet runners ordered and waiting on delivery. Got a schedule worked out with hubby and grown children on helping with potty breaks for Dogdog.  Sent off a list of questions on his medication, overnight stay and everything else I could think of.  LOL

I have been looking at the harness on this site – can this be used to bring him home after surgery?  Or is it only for when he has healed?  I am concerned about how we are going to get him into the truck and out of the truck and into the house after surgery.

Dogdog is definately a house pet, along with his siblings and mother.  They have their own room and dog door that leads to the backyard.  (This is also my computer room!)  During the day, Dogdog will stay in the livingroom with me and once school is over, we will head back to the dog room.  We compromised – he will be restricted during the day and his siblings will be restricted at night.  I am just uncomfortable leaving the dog door open all night in case he decided to try to go outside by himself.  Hopefully, this won’t be forever, but at least for a little while.

So, any advice on getting him in and out of truck after surgery would be greatly appreciated! Also, please don’t hesitate to bring up anything I might be missing.  I know there are things that I am not thinking about, so any pointers or advice are welcome. 

Will his siblings and mom treat him any differently? Should I keep him separated from them? So many questions, so little time!

Thanks so much for your help and support.  Food! What about feeding him? Anything different? Feed him alone? They have a community feeding room now.

Livermore, CA




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14 September 2020 - 11:36 am
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They didn’t say anything about medication, care afterwards, etc.. Just that Dogdog would bounce back in a couple of days and magically adjust.

Yeah, I fell for that…. which led to me being sure I had made a terrible decision by choosing amputation for my rear amp Pug Maggie.  I think for the most part vets are well meaning on this topic- trying to re-assure.  But while recovery from a major surgery is normal for vets it is not something most of us have dealt with before.  The truth is most all dogs do bounce back and adjust but what we see here is that it tends to take two to three weeks.  I’m glad you have asked about what meds he will come home with.

Most people here report that their dogs seem to do fine with the new amp dog- but I had a different experience.  My parents keep my second Pug Tani for the first few days after Maggie’s amp surgery.  When I re-introduced them Tani attacked Maggie!  There had always been a bit of tension between them but for the most part they were inseparable so I was shocked when Tani’s immediately jumped on Mag who was in her bed.  Before I could intervene Maggie had put Tani on her back and that was the end of it, luckily no damage to the surgery site.  There were times later when Tani would knock Mag over while playing, not intentionally, and once when Tani knocked Mag off balance on the stairs at my parents and Mag rolled down a flight of about 8 stairs. 

While getting as close to normal as possible helps recovery in my opinion I think keeping the pack away from Dogdog until he is healed is a good idea- mostly so he doesn’t get jostled.  I would think supervised visits or saying high though a dog gate would help bring some normalcy.  You know your pack though- so I think you have to see how the healing progresses.

As far as a harness- ask your vet if it is OK to use one right after surgery.  Some vets are OK with it with a tee-shirt underneath for protection.  And the fact is lots of people are in your situation where they need to be able to assist their dogs and a harness is the best option.  You can also consider a sling- if the vet doesn’t have one you can make one out of a cloth shopping bag- Here Are Instructions.

As far as feeding he might be more comfortable with a raised food dish- it helps front amps keep their balance.  You can try a box or stack of books to see what he does.  My Maggie would not eat out of her bowl when it was raised, only if it was on the floor! It’s not uncommon for dogs to lose their appetite right after surgery so you might need to entice him with special treats to get him to eat- and in that case he may need to be separated to eat.

Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls

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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18 September 2020 - 7:46 am
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Finally heard back from the vet on my questions and now I am more disturbed!  Am I making mountains out of molehills here? Being too unrealistic?

They said Dogdog would be prescribed pain medications (wouldn’t name them) and a short course of antibiotics.  Said he did not need any medications before surgery.  Said they do not use drains because dogs cannot go home with drains.  Said they have had no dogs experience phantom pain and would not be prescribing medication for it, unless it can be medically proved that Dogdog is experiencing so-called ‘phantom pain ‘.

However, they are a 24/7 care facility and a qualified vet or vet assistant would be in charge of night time care.  We would be expected to leave Dogdog on the morning of his surgery and pick him up the next morning.

Long term care recommendations will not be discussed until the tumor has been evaluated and classified.

So, am I getting upset for no reason?  A little disturbed they don’t seem to want to discuss medications, long term care and rejection of phantom pain .  However, every vet I have been talking to says this is really the only place they recommend for this procedure. Getting so stressed over this that I am having nightmares!  LOL

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18 September 2020 - 7:51 am
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By the way –  thanks so much for the instructions on making a sling!  That relieved some of my anxiety on getting him in and out of the truck.

New ramp is installed, carpet runners installed, food bowls raised, dog gate installed.  On a sour note, the dog ramp for the truck did not work – evidently back doors do not open wide enough.  So, using son’s car to transport since the dog ramp works on his hatchback.  LOL

The Rainbow Bridge



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18 September 2020 - 11:36 am
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Finally heard back from the vet on my questions and now I am more disturbed!  Am I making mountains out of molehills here? Being too unrealistic?

No you are not. If a veterinarian won’t have a conversation about the exact types of pain medications your dog will come home with, and believes that phantom pain is not real, it’s time to find another one. Trust your gut. Is this the only 24-hr clinic within a decent amount of drive time for you? Search the AAHA-hospital locator to find an AAHA-accredited clinic near you. If you can’t find one, I’m happy to help see what we can locate, message me your location details.

Check out our Dr. Downing videos about modern vet care and pain management, especially this one, about working with vets who are more current in their practices (and better at communicating with clients!).

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
Latest Tripawds News
Read my story here.

Support the Tripawds Foundation!

Virginia




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18 September 2020 - 12:07 pm
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Geez, so sorry for the responses  you have been getting, especially  about pain management !!    Naaah….something ‘s not right!.

Not all dogs need drains, or come home with drains, so that’s  not unusual there.  Regrettably,  sometimes aftercare is not always fully addressed either which is one reason this site is so invaluable!   We know a lot about recovery  aftercare, that’s  for sure!!  

It may be that their reference  to “long term care” was more about chemo suggestions and stuff like that, as opposed to recovery  care.

IF you are unable to find a better 24/7 clinic more up to date on pain meds, you can  maybe still take him there and get the other meds and guidance  you meed from uour regular  Vet.

And yes, the problem  you had with the ramp and the car door not opening  far enough is one I’ve also faced.

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!

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18 September 2020 - 7:07 pm
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First of all, I would like to say THANK YOU to everyone here.  I cannot stress that enough.  Yall have given me the tools and information that I desperately needed. My family likes to think that “Mom’s the general”, because I always seem to know what needs to be done and the best way to do it.  But, I have to admit – this diagnosis threw me a curveball.  I didn’t know what to do, but now I know a little more.

There are several AAHA vet clinics within two hours of where I live, so I will be checking with some of them for another opinion. I am more than willing to drive even longer, if I need to. Thanks so much for that piece of advice!

I worked in a hospital for years and know that phantom pain is a real thing, so why wouldn’t it be real for our pets also?? That one comment, more than anything, raised my hackles! LOL

The Rainbow Bridge



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19 September 2020 - 4:44 pm
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Awww you are so welcome. I’m so happy we could be of help and I’m thrilled you’re looking into AAHA clinics. Let us know if you’d like help with anything at all. We’re cheering for you guys!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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