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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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Forum Posts: 384
Member Since:
28 March 2015
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29 March 2015 - 5:18 am
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I’ve been lurking here since late summer but I haven’t yet introduced ourselves: Bill, Denise (me) and Eloise, who became a tripawd on Sep 18 of last year. Her story….

Ellie is a rescue Pyr mix, about 100lbs. Aside from socialization issues, she had always been very healthy. Boy, could she move! No bunny hopping or stiff gaits for our girl. Last summer (2014) she started to slow down a bit and seemed to be off her food. Nothing alarming. But she’s 10+ (we’re not sure of her actual age), so we made an appointment to see our vet. Literally 2 days before the appointment, she ended her walk with a severe limp in her left rear leg. It came from no where. 
The vet diagnosed a probable cruciate tear and referred us to the orthopedic surgeon for evaluation for a TPLO. The surgeon agreed it was a classic cruciate tear presentation so we scheduled her for a TPLO on 9/8. The morning of the surgery he called and said he’d had a second look at the x-rays and was a bit concerned. He thought there was 50/50 chance he’d get in there and find disease and if so, he’d simply biopsy the leg and close it up. Wow. Not what we were expecting.
You can all guess what happened next….yes, the cruciate was torn, but it was torn because of underlying disease. The week spent waiting for the biopsy was a roller-coaster ride to say the least! Our first thought was that she would have to be put to sleep. OSA is aggressive and there is no cure. She’s a big girl. We had stairs. She had anxiety issues. But we spent the week doing our research, knowing that odds were very good (bad!) that the diagnosis would come back OSA. 
During that week we found and read this site, among others. We learned so much that allayed our fears. We talked to our regular vet. And we just knew that she wasn’t ready to say goodbye. So when the surgeon called with the diagnosis, we scheduled surgery for the next day. 
So Ellie had her left rear leg amputated on 9/18. She had a real rocky couple of weeks post-amp. The surgeon did a beautiful job and she healed really nicely. But she did not tolerate Tramadol at all—-it made her extremely anxious and noise-sensitive, like she was having a bad acid trip. She had a lot of trouble getting up and about. She could hardly walk 10ft before the right rear leg would just buckle under the strain. We worried worried worried—weren’t they supposed to be up and running circles? I slept next to her crate downstairs for the month.
The absolute worst was that she just wouldn’t eat. She was nauseated all the time. While she didn’t vomit, you could see the waves of nausea wash across her face. She’d drool—not a ‘oh that looks good to eat’ sort of drool but a ‘get it away from me’ sort of drool. We tried to feed her everything under the sun to settle her digestion. She went from 100 lbs pre-amp to 80 lbs over that month. 
Things finally turned around once we got her off Tramadol and all the antibiotics and got her nausea under control using Cerenia. What a joy to have her eat again! It was so so stressful when she wasn’t eating. We never really questioned the amputation decision because she wasn’t in pain, but she did feel rotten and that was very very hard on us.
She finally started chemo (carboplatin) on 10/16 and I’m happy to report that chemo was 95% drama free. She got sub-cutaneous fluids and a Cerenia injection after the chemo and a followup of 4 days of Cerenia here at home. We did this just as a preventative, since we didn’t want to get her back behind the eight ball. While her appetite and energy level did dip after chemo, she pretty much bounced right back. She had 6 rounds of Carbo total.
For all the folks who come her in the same state we were in, I wish you all the best while you struggle with the choice to amputate or not. For us, amputation was the clear choice. Of course we don’t know how much time we still have with her, but the majority of the time we’ve had so far has been really good, quality time. She’s not in pain. She clearly still enjoys life. What more could you ask?


I’m going to try to share a link to a little google album I made. Hope it works!

Ellie’s Album


Denise, Bill and Ellie

Active 10+ Pyr mix suddenly came up lame with ACL tear in left rear leg. Scheduled for a TPLO but final pre-op x-rays indicated a small suspicious area, possibly OSA, which could have caused the ACL tear. Surgeon opened the knee for TPLO but found soft bone. Biopsy came back positive for OSA. Became a Tripawd 9/18/14. Carbo6 with Cerenia and Fluids. Pain free and living in the moment. Crossed the Bridge on 7/12/15 after probable spread of cancer to her cervical spine. A whole lifetime of memories squeezed into 10 months. Here's her story: Eloise

Westminster, MD
Forum Posts: 1398
Member Since:
31 August 2013
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29 March 2015 - 9:05 am
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Hi Denise, Bill, and Ellie
Welcome to Tripawds, and so sorry you are dealing with the “ugly c” in sweet Ellie, but you have definitely found the best online community in the world. We are all so thankful for this wonderful place, where we can share our stories and journey together.

Ellie surely looks like one beautiful girl from her avatar pic! And the best news is, she got rid of her bum leg, got through chemo like a champ, and her days are great…. you are right, what more can you ask at this point?! The best news is, she IS doing well after all this, and hoping she keeps kicking cancer to the sewer. My own sweet angel Polly lost her front leg to another awful cancer, hemangiosarcoma, and I ultimately lost her to it a year ago, February 16. But she fought it tough, and lived more than double the life expectancy, so I will always consider my girl a success story.

Thank you for sharing your story of Ellie with us, and keep us all updated on her progress……and try to post some pics of her when you get a chance…..we all love pics around here!

I am going to check out Ellie’s album now……!!
Best wishes,
Bonnie, Angel Polly, and new crew

Westminster, MD
Forum Posts: 1398
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31 August 2013
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29 March 2015 - 9:23 am
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I tried to get into Ellie’s Album, but couldn’t…… I am not to efficient on my computer so it could be my fault so I will keep trying…..

B & AP and crew

Livermore, CA

Forum Posts: 3969
Member Since:
18 October 2009
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29 March 2015 - 10:23 am
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Hi Denise,

Thanks for coming over and sharing Ellie’s story.  Tramadol did the same thing to my little pug Maggie- I gave her a dose once and she didn’t sleep for 12 hours, and for a pug that’s like 3 days!

It doesn’t always go well right after surgery, Maggie took awhile to come around too.  I think it is really important for people to see that not all dogs bounce right back- but they do get there.

And I could get to your album just fine.


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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