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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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Member Since:
19 January 2012
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21 January 2012 - 7:55 am
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jerry said:

I'm so sorry she got diagnosed, but what a lucky pup to have a Mom with a background like yours! I'm sorry you are going through this experience, but to think of how many folks you will be able to help and relate to when you start practicing, is just super cool.

This is definitely one of the positive aspects of this whole experience that I'm trying to focus on. Like I said before, I truly believe my precious boy at the bridge sent Jazz my way not only because he knew she would help my heart to heal from his loss, but also because he knew she'd have some special needs that I would attend to just as I did to his. We talk about there being a vet student curse here, because it seems we are predisposed to having all kinds of things go wrong with our pets. Duncan was diagnosed with his autoimmune disease the week before I started vet school, and now here I am in my second year and facing my second battle with a difficult diagnosis. Just like I fought with Duncan, I am ready to fight hard with Jazz to beat this cancer, and to keep on proving that giant breeds can thrive post-amputation. I am studying at Washington State University, a little far away from Fort Collins unfortunately. We were hit with the same snow/ice storm that hit Seattle, which has been the source of all my stress about the weather. This morning we woke up to nice, normal nonfreezing rain though, so hopefully the snow will be melted in no time.

Winston's Mom: Jazz was about 135 pounds presurgery (I suppose she's a little less now...) so we are definitely in the same boat. I love Great Pyrennees, they are such beautiful dogs!  Is Winston battling osteosarc too? Sending lots and lots of positive thoughts your way for Winston's upcoming surgery. Try to get lots of rest this weekend, I can already tell after one night with Jazz post surgery that I am going to be quite sleep deprived for some time.

-Heather, Jazz, and Harmony

Member Since:
23 September 2011
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21 January 2012 - 8:35 am
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Hi Heather,

Welcome to the site!  I can give you a perspective from a giant breed point of view.  Fergus, my Irish Wolfhound, was 130 pounds prior to his rear amp due to OSA.  I think the main difference for a giant breed is the amount of assistance you can offer and the amount of strain put on the incision.  As I have posted in other giant breed queries, you can't just lift them up and carry them, you need to be a little more creative!  We found using a beach towel as a sling was the best.  The split cloth grocery bags just weren't large enough.   I also constructed a ramp to help Fergus get on and off the back deck.  The pre-made ramps at the pet store were not wide enough for him to feel comfortable.  Mine was 4 feet wide by 11 feet long and I bought all of the supplies at Home Depot...pretty easy to construct.  Feel free to PM if you want some guidance.  Fergus' recovery was longer then average which I believe was due to the amount of pressure put on the incision.  Having 130 pounds hopping around and learning a new gait can put strain on the wound.  So, it just took longer including a second surgery to re-close the incision.

Fergus was in one snow storm of about 5 inches.  He did very well in the snow.  The ice was a different story.  I bought the pet safe ice melt and carried the sling with me whenever he went outside with ice.

Fergus was on a carboplatin regime.  The only side effects we noticed was he was a little more picky when eating.  Keep in mind, which I am sure you already know, for 48 hours post chemo, you need to dilute his urine in the yard with a bucket of water.  The urine can be toxic to his pack mates.

Eventually, he was getting around really well.  His IW brother Shamus adjusted to Fergus's limitations.  Eventually, they were running around the yard again.  They no longer slammed into eachother, but he had a great time.  I think packmates can see eachothers limitations and adjust accordingly.  They are extremely sensitve.  When Fergus developed OSA in a second limb, I believe Shamus was the first to know.  He became more protective of Fergus (who was the alpha).  He was sleeping next to him most of the time.  Dogs are truly incredible.

Good luck as you begin your journey and this site will be able to help you along the way,

Tara & Spirit Fergus

Member Since:
22 August 2008
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21 January 2012 - 4:56 pm
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Good luck with Jazz!  I am in the Seattle area and my Mastiff Tazzie did pretty well on 3 legs. Let me know if you have questions!

Pam Wiltzius DVM

Columbia, MO
Member Since:
10 December 2011
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21 January 2012 - 6:20 pm
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Glad to hear Jazz's surgery went well and she's back home with you.  Stairs is the only way into my house, too.  Doesn't matter which door, they all have stairs.  Daisy did just fine when she came home the day after her surgery.  I took someone with me because I thought I was going to have to carry her (I didn't really know what to expect).  She hopped right up the stairs and into the house like she had always done it with three legs.  I think maybe it's because she had basically quit using her leg anyway because of the pain so she adapted quickly.

Best of luck with the recovery!

Marla and Daisy

My Two Tripawds...Biscuit and Spirit Daisy

Member Since:
1 February 2011
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21 January 2012 - 8:15 pm
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We're Washingtonians, too. In fact, one of our pups had surgery at Wazzu's vet school a few years back, and you guys ROCK!!!

Rio handled the snow just fine. She seemed to know that she should go a little slower than her usual hopping speed. And I'm sure our Jazzy will adjust to getting around in no time. You are wonderful for giving Jazz the chance to fight! She'll reward you with so much love and loyalty, beyond what you ever thought possible. Facing something this difficult together definitely gives you a special bond.

Welcome to the family,

Rio's momma

the Woo

~ ~ Rio ~ ~
Forever in my heart...

April 2000 – January 20, 2012
Diagnosed with Mast Cell Cancer in June 2007. Left rear leg amputated Feb. 8, 2011.
Mets discovered Aug. 31, 2011. Read more of Rio's story here.

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