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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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great at first, but now trouble
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Seattle
Forum Posts: 14
Member Since:
22 February 2009
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22 February 2009 - 10:07 pm
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Hello everyone–I must first express my extreme gratitude for this site. As you all know, when you first get the diagnosis of cancer, there is that horrible shock. I found this site that very day (January 5), and have been informed and comforted many, many times. Thanks!! Because of this site and especially Jerry, we amputated Willy's left front leg. Willy is a 100 pound (slim) German Shepherd who turned 10 years old in November. We first tried the radiation treatment for palliative results, but decided that he deserved more of a chance. His surgery was January 28. At first he seemed great. He walked the very next day. We brought him home and he was a bit wobbly, but he was hopping around. At 10 days after surgery, we took him in to get the stitches taken out. Everyone at the vet's office marveled at how well he was doing. He slept lots and was perky only some of the time, but we assumed that his body was recovering after such a major surgery. At that point, we were sure that we did the right thing. About the time we would have started the chemo, he was getting much perkier and happier, and we just couldn't bear to put him through another major procedure. So we decided not to do the chemo. We bought the K-9 immunity and transfer factor (thanks again to Jerry's pawrents), and we decided to go natural.

But now, almost a month after surgery, his hind legs are giving him problems. Last week, his left rear leg was lame (he wouldn't put much weight on it), and we were instantly devastated, thinking the osteosarcoma made it back to that leg. But we kept him quiet, and he seemed to pull out of it. He started putting weight on that leg again. So–everything was great for 2-3 days, but now both hind legs are giving him problems. And he has yelped in pain a couple of times (once when he was just laying down). The other hind leg seems wobbly. 

We are hoping that the strain of trying to manage his large frame with only 3 legs has tweaked those hind muscles. We are going to call the vet tomorrow, but our vet hasn't had much experience with these amputations, and so I thought that I would reach out to this community to see if others have had any similar experiences. 

Thanks again for being such a great community!

Willy--diagnosed with osteosarcoma January 5, 2009 (amputation January 27, 2009) left us just after his 11th birthday on December 2, 2009 to join all the other brave tripawds. We'll always love you!

Forum Posts: 132
Member Since:
11 February 2009
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22 February 2009 - 10:29 pm
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I'm not one of the more experienced members here…my Rottweiler had his left front leg amputated on Feb 13 and what you describe is what I'm seeing wityh Cooper…lots of sleeping, occasionally getting perky and happy, hopping around and having a pretty OK time.

Just a thought…your dog is having to use his whole body is such a different way I think it's entirely possible that it's just muscle strain or perhaps his back getting tweaked out by the different gait and movement? I don't know if any physical therapy is indicated. The ortho vet I went to has a physical therapy suite and pool with underwater treadmill, and my regular vet does acupuncture so these are two things I'm going to ask about. Also maybe canine massage? Just some ideas if this is a fairly normal occurence….perhaps he had some underlying arthritis that's kicked in now that he's having to move differently.


Forum Posts: 2000
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22 August 2008
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22 February 2009 - 10:33 pm
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Hopefully the cancer has not come back in his spine.  This would affect both rear legs.  He also could have strained an ACL ligament while overdoing it.  I would see what your vet says and consider lung and lumbar spine xrays to rule out metastasis.  Sometimes only an MRI can see spinal mets but if your vet suspects this then you can try prednisone .

Shepherds are also prone to degenerative myelopathy which is a degenerative condition of the spinal cord but this rarely causes pain, just disuse of the hind limbs.

I wish you the best,

Pam and Tazzie

Edmonton
Forum Posts: 428
Member Since:
16 February 2008
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23 February 2009 - 1:14 am
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Willy's Mom, like Pam & Tazzie said, I hope the cancer has not spreaded to his spine. 

Slightly over 6 months post-op, on Apr13 last year, I noticed Genie was favoring one of her hind legs.  Like you, I was devastated, I thought right away that it had gone to the bones.  Three days later, chest/lumbar/hips/hind legs' x-rays came back clear, except that she had lumbar spondylosis.  As Pam has already pointed out, spinal mets can only be seen with higher tech scans, this x-ray result had given me false peace of mind.  She had continued to do ok for the next three weeks, until May16.  Her condition had drastically deteriorated in 2 days to a point she was paralyzed from hips down.  Sadly, I sent her off to meet the Lord on May20.

Co-incidentally, around the same time when I first noticing her favoring one hind leg, Jerry was having similar symptoms.  Luckily, his problem was only because of over-active, and might have injured an ACL ligament.  After a few days of “bed-rest” and warm/cool pack, his condition had improved.

I really hope that it is nothing more serious than a strain of an ACL.   Please keep us posted on how Willy is doing!

Forum Posts: 729
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23 February 2009 - 1:35 pm
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Just a note to let you know that we are thinking of you and sending as much hope, love and pawsitive energy as we can muster! Please keep us posted.

Many, many prayers…

Love

Heather and Zeus

Heather and Spirit Zeus - Our life changing journey…from the earth to the heavens…one day at a time…always together

Here and Now


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23 February 2009 - 4:32 pm
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Thank you so much for the kind comments. It really means a lot to us that you found the site informative and helpful during that terrible time of doagnosis. That's exactly why we did it!

It sounds like Willy was doing great, and I'm sincerely hoping that he is jus experiencing some recovery pain as he rebuilds the strength he needs to compensate for the missing limb. You have our most sincere wishes. Please keep us posted, we'd love to see a picture.

Here and Now


Forum Posts: 12280
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25 February 2009 - 5:21 pm
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Thanks for sharing Willy's photo. What a sweetheart!

Three Legged GSD Willy 1 Month Post Amputation

We hope he's feeling better. Looking forward to an update …

Edmonton
Forum Posts: 428
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16 February 2008
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25 February 2009 - 8:40 pm
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Yay! that is really really awesome news!  He likley had overworked his body for the new way of walking. It might also help to give Willy lots of gentle massage especially after his playtime or walk.  Hugs!

Edmonton
Forum Posts: 428
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25 February 2009 - 8:42 pm
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Yay! that is really really awesome news!  He likley had overworked his body for the new way of walking. It might also help to give Willy lots of gentle massage especially after his playtime or walk.  Hugs!

My heart lives at Rainbow Bridge
Forum Posts: 3754
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28 November 2008
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26 February 2009 - 7:36 pm
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He looks awesome.  As I watch Trouble, I think some days are better than others for her.  There is so much adjustment their bodies go through, a new walk (or hop), new muscles to use in different ways. Hopefully, this is just an adjustment period for Willie and all will be well soon.   Good thoughts coming your way from Trouble and I.

Shanna & Spirit Trouble ~ Trouble gained her wings 3/16/2011, a 27 1/2 month cancer survivor, tail wagging. RIP sweetheart, you are my heart and soul.  Run free at Rainbow Bridge.
The November Five - Spirits Max, Cherry, Tika, Trouble & Nova. 11/2008 - 3/2013 An era ends as Queen Nova crossed the Bridge.

Forum Posts: 84
Member Since:
2 October 2008
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26 February 2009 - 11:36 pm
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How is Willy doing? (he's a gorgeous boy!)

Christine & Sophie

Seattle
Forum Posts: 14
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22 February 2009
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27 February 2009 - 1:49 pm
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Hi everyone–thanks so much for all of the support. I'm delighted to report that Willy has been fabulous all week. The limp is gone from the left and the wobble is gone from the right. And the best news of all is that he is incredibly perky–looking for the ball, trying to get us to play with him, excited to greet people when they come over. We have our happy boy back. I think that we sometimes don't even quite appreciate how much change has occurred until they get better. We are now thinking that the seemingly uncaused yelps were phantom limb pain (which he hasn't had for a week)–and that, as many here said, he was just getting used to managing his body in this new way. He probably strained a muscle here and there.

We sometimes dream that he is cancer free (there is a 10% chance!), but even if he is not, we are going to appreciate every single minute we have with him. Thanks so much for all the good thoughts!

Willy--diagnosed with osteosarcoma January 5, 2009 (amputation January 27, 2009) left us just after his 11th birthday on December 2, 2009 to join all the other brave tripawds. We'll always love you!

The Rainbow Bridge



Forum Posts: 27443
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28 February 2009 - 1:28 am
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Oh that’s a wonderful update! No more limping, no more wobbling…yeay! And you sound a lot better too. What a relief for you, I’m sure.

Nothing wrong with visualizing the cancer cells going away for good! Why not?! The power of pawsitive thinking has a lot to do with healing. We’ll send some good thoughts your way….

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Forum Posts: 132
Member Since:
11 February 2009
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28 February 2009 - 8:52 am
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I love his face! And so glad to hear he is doing better. Cooper has “good days” where he motors about well, and greets me at the door, and “bad days” where is's sleepier and seems as unwilling to get up. But it's not been as long…his staples come out tomorrow. Yesterday he even went for a walk down the block and schmoozed with the neighbor.

Keep on appreciating those good moments and give Willy a head-scritch and hug from here!

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