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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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Feeling anxious about Jake losing his front leg due to cancer
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1 April 2020 - 3:42 pm
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I’ve been chatting with Jim.  I found out 5 days ago my 3 year old dog Jake must lose his front leg due to Soft tissue sarcoma in his elbow.  So many emotions going through my mind….I so want to do this for Jake to help him and we love him so much but I’m feeling scared! 

The Rainbow Bridge



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1 April 2020 - 3:54 pm
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Hi Jake and family, welcome to the club nobody ever wants to join. I’m sorry you had to, but we are here to put your worries to rest. What kinds of questions do you have? 

Anyone who has been through amputation knows the fear and concerns you have about going forward with the surgery. Almost every time our dogs and cats prove to us that our fears were for nothing. They handle this situation so much better than we do! 

Jake is so young and he sounds healthy otherwise. The odds of him having a successful recovery are incredibly high, he has everything on his side. 

I encourage you to check out our “What to Expect” series of articles to wrap your head around things. And ask us whatever you want, we are here to help OK?

Have you scheduled surgery yet? 

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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1 April 2020 - 4:09 pm
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Surgery is scheduled with a great surgeon but Jake will be alone from 7pm to 7:30 am with the staff gone.  I can cancel that surgery and go to another surgeon with evening veterinary care for 2500.00 more.  They are both good surgeons.  The oncologist said the after care is so important.  So the place with the veterinary evening care charges $5,500-6000.00.  My vet with the surgeon that comes on sight then Jake is alone for the evening charges $3,200.00.  I don’t know what to do….My husband thinks the cheaper one is ok but I worry about Jake being alone and want to do the right thing.  So stressful and we need to be strong.  

Thanks for writing back.  We want to do the right thing.  this is the most glaring decision right now…

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1 April 2020 - 8:17 pm
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The surgeon with the 24/7 care it is.

Virginia




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1 April 2020 - 9:58 pm
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Hi Jake and family.  I’ll come back later but just wanted to assure you we will be here for you every step of the way.

We understand  finances can carry is only so far and we can only do the best we can.  That said, I AM glad you are able to go the the 24/7 staffed cljnic.  With any surgery, human or dog, u forseen things can pop up related to the surgery that need immediate  medical attention to take care of the challenge.

You are making a decision  out of love and that is always the right decision❤

Recovery  can be a little rough for a week or two, so let us know as questions arise, okay?  Managing  the pain, keeping him quiet, we have lots of tips on tripawd recovery and how to move forward to a happy life  with your Jake!

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!

The Rainbow Bridge



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2 April 2020 - 11:51 am
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Hey it sounds like you and your hubby reached an understanding, that’s terrific. I know it’s a ton of money for the surgery, but if you can swing it, you will have the confidence knowing that he has excellent 24/7 care for one of the biggest procedures an animal (or human) can ever go through. May I ask what clinic you chose and when the surgery will be? I’m nosy! 

Meanwhile, let us know what else we can help with OK? I know this is scary but we are here for you. How is Jake doing today? How are YOU doing today? 

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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3 April 2020 - 1:26 pm
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Hi.  Dr Stuart Bliss is the surgeon out of Port City Veterinary Referral Hospital in Portsmouth, NH.  He is also a Certified Rehabilitation Practitioner and explained the toll on the body for a 3 year old dog.  I felt he was very compassionate yet spoke truthfully about all of the ramifications.  He said as Jake got older he’ll have some issues that we can then deal with.  He also said that there are some dogs that aren’t happy with the limitations placed on them.  I liked that he was honest.  Jake was adopted and had a lot of emotional issue that we have worked through and he is a love now.  I just don’t want to have him be so jarred from it all that he reverts back to his old real aggressive behaviors, or is unhappy.   A behavior therapist vet that knows Jake is calling me soon to let me know how she thinks Jake will do with 3 legs.  

My husband thinks I’m way overthinking this and that we just have to have the operation and Jake will adjust and be happy.  

I have never had a dog that can stay busy digging holes in the woods all day, etc.  I just so want him to be happy.

My husband says it’s like this:  Imagine Jake were hit my a car and one leg was destroyed.  Would you put him down?  NO.  So this is just like that.  I wish I could just feel totally good about it all but I keep wondering if Jake will be happy.  He is so energetic, etc.  I don’t care if he is compromised at all, I just want him to be happy.

Dr Bliss said he can help with Jake next week for sure so I feel good about that.  If we do this I feel we should next week because I don’t want the cancer to spread.  

Thanks everyone for sharing.  It so helps me!

Virginia




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3 April 2020 - 3:31 pm
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jake3 said

My husband thinks I’m way overthinking this and that we just have to have the operation and Jake will adjust and be happy.  

My husband says it’s like this:  Imagine Jake were hit my a car and one leg was destroyed.  Would you put him down?  NO.  So this is just like that.  I wish I could just feel totally good about it all but I keep wondering if Jake will be happy.  He is so energetic, etc.  I don’t care if he is compromised at all, I just want him to be happy.

  

It’s good to share your thoughts and concerns.  We all understand fears and uncertainty. 

But I do wa t ro gice uour husband a STANDING  OVATION for sharing his wisdom!  He’s apot on

Now, clearly you two know Jake and all the challenges  you’ve overcome.  I.’m not a “behaviorist” or Vet.

As far as the comment about some dogs “not being ‘hapoy’ with their ‘limitations’, I can only say I have never seen that here on the years I’ve been here.  And we’ve seen athletic agility dogs, multi miles hiker dogs,  all sorts of “working dogs’, etc love full happy lives on three!!

Are their adjustments?? Of course!!  Instead of jumping high off the ground to catch frisbees, you throw them .ow to the ground to avoid high impact.  Hikes, of course. just with resr stops inbetween to take time to stop snd smell the roses.   Dogs “adapt and accept”, or “accept and adapt” (I think they happen simultaneously) far easier than hoomans!   You get the point.  

Ghe implrta t rhing is to always show a strong, confident upbeat energy, especially  during recovery.   I didn’t  even look at the incision  when I picked Hapoy Hannah up.  I didn’t  want her to see me draw attention to  it.  I just smiiled and praised her and told her what a good girl she was.😎

Now, that’s not to say that during tecovery and ion pain meds that dogs don’t  act a little out of sorts.  A dog may want to withdraw, may be a little grumpy, or a bit frustrated at first as their adapting to their new gait  and have to pre like a girl!!….none of that would be considered  “abnormal” with a dog…or human…recovering  from MAJOR surgery while in pain meds!!   And especially  if their pain isn’t  managed  consistently  or adequately. Some are actually more cuddly whereas they were aloof before.

I can only tell you about the numerous experiences here snd I don’t recall a  dog EVER living out his life UNhappy!   And many were rescues with “issues” .

Anyway just wanted to throw that out there as you coontinue fo process things.    We know this is an emotioal time.  So stay connected, we are here for you!!

Hugs

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!

PS.   My Frankie is a tripawd front legger adipted thst wau.  Digging is no probelm… chewing a bone no problem. The figure it out!  I’ll try and find some video.  Oh, there’s another front legger named Meg.  Will try and get her video of digging, swimmjng…..loving life to the fullest!

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!

The Rainbow Bridge



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3 April 2020 - 3:50 pm
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Hey there! Thanks for filling us in. I looked up Dr. Bliss’ bio and WOW! smiley_clapHe’s got outstanding creds and his credentials in rehab therapy tell me that he is one vet who is always staying current on the science. Jake is in GREAT hands with him and the clinic team. It looks like a terrific place.

I think your husband and you are both right. There’s nothing wrong with investigating all potential outcomes of a major life change like this. Yay for speaking with a behaviorist! Now, on the other hand, your husband’s insight is also correct; Jake will adapt and get on with life because that’s what dogs do. 

I remember when our Jerry had a few stumbles during his first few days on three legs. I panicked, freaked out and cried each time. Finally my husband (Admin Guy here), said “Just let him be a DOG. Look at him; he’s not upset.” And reluctantly I had to admit he was right. I was making a bigger deal out of things than Jerry. He really taught us the value of adapting and going with the flow in life. Jake will teach you too!

Whenever you think of questions just holler, we are here for you!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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3 April 2020 - 4:02 pm
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Oh, Thank you so much!!!  My behaviorist Vet that worked with us to calm Jake said she thought he would do great and that the work we’ve done with him will not be lost.  I feel so much better.  Jake love us so much, and we him, and we will shower the love onto him and I know he’ll be happy!  I think I’ll do what you did, not even draw any attention to the stitches area.  I think I’ll sleep in the living room while he recuperates.  Will he eventually be able to jump on the bed, that’s one of his favorite spots!

Thank you so much for writing!  I am so happy to hear you say how you have seen so many dogs with 3 legs be so happy!

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3 April 2020 - 4:13 pm
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Thanks Jerry.  I’m so glad you checked Dr Bliss out!    Please thank your husband for all of his help!  He was so patient with me (:

Virginia




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3 April 2020 - 4:39 pm
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uou!, I have a very, very, very stubborn hard headed tripawd Hound sog.  I call him “do-it-my-way-Frankie”.  Just so you’ll  know, in addition to being a front legger  tripawd, he had a crucite knee repair aurgery kn ine resr lev, and then a year later, a cruciate  surgery (TPLO) on the other rear.  Then, a couple of months ago he had surgery  to remove the apparatus stuff from the first surgery.  I say all this to say he is soooo happy and just deals with whatever hurdles are put before him.  Just deals with it!  

So yes, he still counter surfs, he still gets up the bed, he still jumps up on trees of he sees a squirrel,   Now, does that mean I want him to do all that stuff??? No!  Now, the bed is such that he puts his front leg up and then pulls his rear up, one leg at a time.  If I can beat him to it, I’ll “try” and help him, but he prefers to do it himself.  I did put a pallet  tyoe rhing for him to sort  of step on and then “step” up on the bed.  He won’t  use it.  If I used a harness to try and help him, or try and use a harness to get him in and out of the car, he pulls away from me and does it his way. 

Not saying  this is “wise”…..not sure why I’m saying it …….just saying a dog’s personality  does not get “amputated” with the leg!😉😎..

I’ve  emailed Clare to post some of her video of her front legger living lofe ti rhe fullest!

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!

The Rainbow Bridge



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3 April 2020 - 7:25 pm
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Admin was happy to help! You sound so much more confident today, that’s pawesome.

Will he eventually be able to jump on the bed, that’s one of his favorite spots!

If you can get him trained to use pet steps, that is ideal. See:

Three Tripawd Tips for Pet Steps and Ramp Training Success

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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3 April 2020 - 7:59 pm
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Hi Jake and Family,

Just want to say hi, we are going through the same thing (pretty much exactly the same dates..). We are looking into a front leg amputation due to an osteosarcoma, we are sorting out the details now for the surgery. I know exactly how you feel, it is such a stressful moment with so many questions. 

In the end I believe we are making the right thing for them, especially after reading what everyone says on this group (amazing people and dog!)

We will be thinking about you and Jake, wish you a speedy recovery. 

Patricia & Arktik

London, UK


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4 April 2020 - 6:38 am
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Hi there, Jake and family! (And thank you lovely Sally for alerting me to this thread),

I totally understand your concerns re facing amputation with an active dog. My Meg is also highly active and loves nothing more than digging, swimming, tearing around after squirrels, deer, and generally getting in trouble. Like Jake, she was a rescue, and came to me aged one, with a list of issues as long as… well let’s just say I was no dog novice but I truly had no idea how monstrous a monstrous dog could be. When she was faced with amputation, I was also really anxious about how such a lively, high-spirited dog would cope and whether she would be able to enjoy a decent quality of life (especially as exercising her to the point of near coma was really the only reliable way of getting some peace and quiet). She’s now been on three for just over four years and truly she’s had every bit as much fun as she ever did before her amputation. She still has every bit as much spirit, and actually the gusto with which she has always embraced life has been her greatest asset. Nothing stops her, nothing holds her back. Every challenge she faces is just an opportunity for more fun, more learning, more treats lol, and a strength of bond between us I would never have imagined possible. She’ll be twelve this year and with increasing arthritis now less mobile than she was, so she now uses a buggy when she gets tired. I would never have thought my wild young Meg would adjust to a buggy, but she’s embraced it as she does everything, and loves nothing more than parading around soaking up the attention.

I love the sound of Jake and I just know how much fun he has ahead of him once he’s got rid of that bum leg.

Thinking of you and sending love,

Meg, Clare and Angel Pie xxx

And here she is this morning…

Gorgeous-Meg-1-of-1-2-scaled.jpgImage Enlarger

Meg, Mutt, aged around 11, adopted 31/12/2009. Sudden explosive right elbow fracture 06/12 (caused by IOHC), diagnosed with End Stage Arthritis 03/15, Total Elbow Replacement 08/15, problems with healing leading to skin graft & skin flap surgery, Chronic Infection leading to implant breakdown. Became a Tripawd 9th March 2016. 
Lives with Mum, Clare, watched over by Angel Pie and Angel Billie
My life as a MEG-A-STAR 


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