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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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Maddie's tripawd story... so far!
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28 March 2021 - 12:10 am
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Apparently amputation turned my dog into rubber. She is pointing in so many opposite directions. How is this comfortable?!?

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Haha, silly dog! ❤️

The Rainbow Bridge



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28 March 2021 - 8:18 am
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Impressive! Is she doing yoga when you aren’t watching?

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




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28 March 2021 - 3:19 pm
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OMD!!! HILARIOUS!  Yes, she’s turned into a rubber pretzel doing yoga🤣😂

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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2 April 2021 - 9:48 am
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Something is happening with Maddie and we aren’t sure what it is, but it sure is freaking us out. A few days ago we felt like she was showing a bit of resistance to walking and was faster than usual to sit or lie down. No signs of discomfort, pain, whining, teeth chattering, welts, lumps, etc. We assumed she tweaked something so decided to reduce her activity to give her a break and we would keep an eye on it. We also recognized we might be hyper sensitive and so noticing something that wasn’t actually anything. But Maddie is a pretty lazy dog so no harm in letting her be her couch potato self for a few days.

Unfortunately things have not improved and only worsened.  She became more unstable on her feet, going down stairs, in particular. Then she actually tripped going down the short stairs to our yard. Then we noticed instability on her feet basically all the time. So we decided it was time to call it in.

We called her oncologist last night. They recommended radiographs to see what is going on (mentioned arthritis, soft tissue injury, etc. as common potential issues), and that we start with her regular vet for those. The earliest appointment her vet has is Monday.

Well this morning I heard Maddie get up. Shortly after I heard a big thud and she started whining. She was laying down where she fell and was now chattering her teeth. Jeremy took her outside and had to carry her down the stairs. She was able to do her business, albeit wobbly, but then wouldn’t let Jeremy pick her up to bring her back in. She hasn’t settled and is clearly very uncomfortable. It’s really upsetting to see.This has changed so quickly. Really concerned about what could be going on and what actual options we will have for her to feel okay.

We called the vet and there is no way they can get her in today, so we are about to head off to the emergency vet. Thankfully the place Maddie does oncology has an emergency department, so at least they’ll have all her records already.

The last time she had a limp and we took her to have it looked at, they told us she had cancer and amputated her leg. Loathe to think what news we have awaiting us now.

Virginia




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2 April 2021 - 10:01 am
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Yes, , soooo glad you are getting her seen today!!   She needs to be evaluated quickly and get her pain managed.

While this is scary, it is quite likely it’s a spine tweak….disc tweak, etc.  And if you’ve ever had a back disc issue, it sou ds a lot like what she is experiencing.  FWIW, osteo “usually ” does not go limb to limb.

Okay, sending  ton  of pawsitive  energy and so glad you’re  getting her in.  You’ll get this figured out and get her back to being Maddie!!

Update as soon as you can catch your breath after the appointment. 

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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2 April 2021 - 10:35 am
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Awww Maddie. I’m sorry she is hurting, and hope with all my heart that pain meds have kicked in to give her some comfort while the diagnostics are done. Yes, it’s a real blessing that the oncology clinic has an ER department too! That’s awesome. I hope by the time you read this you have answers and it’s something totally treatable. Maybe Maddie just needs more couch time and snuggles? 

Breathe, you can handle this. Please keep us posted OK? We are sending tons of pawsitivity across the miles.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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2 April 2021 - 3:45 pm
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No substantive info yet. We spent a few hours waiting in the parking lot before they were able to see her. Once she got in, the doctor did an initial exam and recommended a neuro consult. Given the progression of her symptoms, we were not surprised by this recommendation. Her symptoms have felt eerily similar to how Barley was last year before crossing the bridge, so it has been weird to feel all that too. Anyway, we left Maddie there and came home to wait while they do the neuro exam. I expect they will then have additionally recommended stuff to do. But for now we wait.

The Rainbow Bridge



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2 April 2021 - 4:54 pm
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Wow what a long day. I’m so sorry. I’ve heard that ER clinics all over the place have long wait times. That’s good she’s in now and being seen.

It must be so hard to not have Barley flashbacks right now. I know I would pretty much be thinking the same thing, how could you not? But try your best to think the worst, there are so many things this could be that are treatable. We are all keeping our fingers and paws crossed for good news, so keep us posted.

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

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Virginia




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2 April 2021 - 7:55 pm
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As Jerry said….and we know it’s hard to   ot think   ad things…. it this could be soooo many treatable things.  

I’m sure they’ll do.or have some,  blood work to rule out any crazy tick borne disease, any toxic stuff,  etc.

Of course you ate worried.but right now she’s in the right place for good care, good diagnostics,  etc.

(((((((((((((Hugs)))))))))))

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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3 April 2021 - 5:31 pm
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I’m sorry to say we don’t have great news. Actually, we have sad, bad news.

After the neuro consultation, the ER vet theorized either a cancer spread, disc injury/disease, or a stoke-like event in the spinal cord. To get a clearer diagnosis and assess a surgical plan, they suggested doing advanced imaging, including an MRI, an ultrasound, radiographs, blood work, etc. To do that, they wanted to keep her overnight. Jeremy and I tried to ask all the questions we could. When we asked about potential next steps with each of the various diagnoses, the options were all really either invasive spine/back surgery or extreme crate rest for 4-6 weeks to see if there is any improvement. Recovery and rehab for the potential surgeries would be slower and harder than her amputation. Also, she now has minimal to no mobility in the back and only one front leg, which when considered with her age (almost 9) and weight (almost 100lbs) would make recovery and care extremely challenging for her and us. Difficult for us we can handle, but miserable for her we cannot.

Throughout her cancer journey, we have tried to make our decisions for her care with a lens of prioritizing her quality of life — extending her life as much as possible, so long as she will have opportunities to enjoy that life. Given that, we were not prepared to make her go through that back/spine surgery and recovery process. This left crate rest as the most likely potential next step, regardless of diagnostic result.

We elected to do just radiographs and then reassess. At that point our thought was we would do the X-rays and then bring her home, keep her comfortable, let her rest up as much as possible, and hope for any improvement in her condition. While radiographs may not give us all the potential information, we figured we could decide after whether we wanted to pursue other diagnostics. We didn’t want to miss time with her or put her through medical trauma for next steps we weren’t planning to take.

A couple hours later they called to discuss the initial results from the X-rays. Preliminary results show not one, but two different concerns. The ER vet saw a “whiter” questionable area on a vertebra that could be consistent with osteosarcoma spread. They also saw a possible pulmonary nodule. When they compared the X-rays to Maddie’s December scans, it looked like a definite change. Because we didn’t do the more extensive imaging, other diagnoses are not necessarily ruled out. The ER vet also made very clear that she is not an oncologist and that the scans were still awaiting radiologist review which usually happens in a day or two.

We decided to proceed with the plan of bringing Maddie home and having her rest through the weekend. We would then consult with oncology on Monday (they aren’t there on the weekend) to discuss the results and options for next steps, and go from there. Thankfully she hasn’t shown any real signs of pain (the ER vet noted that Maddie also didn’t seem to be in any pain during the exams), but we are giving her gabapentin to help make sure she is as comfortable as possible. 

When we picked her up from the ER vet last night, she was unable to stand on her own without support and use of a sling, but she seemed to be able to put some weight on her back legs with support. When we got out of the car at home, she even tried to go bunny hunting in the front yard — we just wanted her to pee, but she tried to go hopping/hunting while Jeremy was supporting her back end. Unfortunately a few hours later, we saw further marked deterioration. She was unable to put any weight on her back legs and had no control of their movement, with super stiffness in her back legs. She also seemed very uncomfortable and anxious about our efforts to help her move. All we wanted is for her to pee! It became very difficult to even get her back end up, even using the sling. By the time we went to bed, we were not feeling good about waiting until after Monday to make a plan unless we saw today some signs of stability in her condition. To be clear, we didn’t expect an overnight miraculous recovery, just a limit to further deterioration.

This morning was rough. Back end stuff seemed at least as bad as last night, and we suspect worse. More critically, her discomfort and anxiety with her state of being were clearly worse. Intellectually she is all there, but physically not at all, and that is severely impacting her mental happiness. If she tries to do something normal and cannot (such as move to get water/food, sit up when we walk in, get up to greet someone, etc.), we see lots of anxiety from her at not being able to. We see lots of signs of anxiety when we try to have her move or help her move. Still no signs of pain — thank goodness. When she is lying down, she appears very comfortable and resting well, but she isn’t doing anything other than just lying there unless we are trying to make her, and when we move her she is miserable. Yesterday, she would try to get up for things. Today she isn’t even trying. This is not a quality of life for her that is fair to her.

This morning we decided to set up an in-home euthanasia appointment for tomorrow and that waiting for Monday to talk to oncology was not likely to be best for Maddie. If things seemed to improve/stablize throughout the day, we could always cancel it and make a new plan. In the meantime, we invited over Maddie’s two favorite people to give her allllll the treats, snuggles, and ear scritches. One came earlier today, and it was so sweet to see Maddie smile at them (although it also came with anxiety that she couldn’t get up to say hi as she wanted). Her other favorite person is coming tonight.

Sadly we haven’t seen anything yet that makes us want to change our course, unless something dramatic changes between now and tomorrow. To say we are devastated is putting it lightly. This has happened so quickly and we weren’t ready for it. Five days ago, she was living a full happy tripawd life. Five days later she has no mobility at all in her back legs and no ability to hold her weight up. We are so sad, disappointed, and heartbroken to get the dreaded news that her cancer is still there. That being said, we were both surprised to also acknowledge a small amount of relief that this seems to be her cancer rearing its ugly head, as opposed to a new thing. It seems extra unfair for her to have another problem on top of cancer. Also, we’ve been preparing ourselves for the possibility that cancer would take her life for six months. Doesn’t make it easier or better.

We think it important to say that we do not for one second regret our decision to amputate her leg. Over the last six months, she has had a great quality of life. She recovered so quickly from her surgery and became a very happy and capable dog on three legs. She gave up her bonus leg and has had a wonderful extra bonus six months of life.

But now it is her time to cross rainbow bridge . I’m sure Barley is already there waiting for her, where they can run together and never get tired.

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3 April 2021 - 5:38 pm
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3 April 2021 - 5:44 pm
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sp_hearticon2Barley and Maddie the first night they met each other. sp_hearticon2

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The Rainbow Bridge



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3 April 2021 - 7:51 pm
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I am speechless. Laying here crying my eyes out, just feeling so awful for you guys and sweet, beautiful Maddie. It feels so unfair and I wish the news was better. Or that I had something to say that could help make this easier.

You have been stellar in your care of her and this sudde crappy situation, leaving no stone unturned and making every decision with her best interests in mind. No living being could ask for more. Truly selfless and loving!

Please know I’m keeping you in my heart and sending love and kisses to your sweet girl for a peaceful transition. I hope some miracle happens and she gets her mobility back. If not, please tell her our Wyatt and Jerry and all our Tripawd heroes are waiting.

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

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Virginia




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3 April 2021 - 8:18 pm
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My heart literally aches reading this.  I am speechless.   Not that there are ever any words anyway.

It took so much courage  and strength  to update so thoroughly  and with a clarity that is driven 100%  by your love for Maddie.♥️

And perhaps Maddie may have a sparkle come back tomorrow.  Afterall, she went thru a lot at the Vet.  You have a plan either way, that can be changed either way.

What is clear and rock solid true, is your love for Maddie will guide you.  The bond you have with her her truly at a Soul deep level…..and that can never be broken..

Maddie is with you now.  You are together.  She is home and surrounded by soooo much love and treats. And it is such a blessing that there is no physical pain.

So much more I want to say, j8st can’t  find the words right now.   So I’ll only say we love Maddie dearly….and we love being a part of her family and celebrating the joy and love you share with her, and she with you.

So much love in those pictures……two way love💖

With love and surrounding you with peace♥️

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie 

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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8 April 2021 - 2:01 am
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With a heavy heart I share the sad news that we said goodbye to Maddie early Sunday afternoon. Maddie drifted off peacefully in our backyard while being snuggled by her people and told she was a good girl. Although most of the day was overcast, the sun came out while Maddie crossed rainbow bridge .

Despite our hopes, Maddie did not make any physical improvements from Saturday and remained completely paralyzed in her back legs: no ability to stand up, no signs of movement, no signs of feeling anything, no tail wags. No tail wags is just not Miss Maddie! She was a dog who was very expressive with her body (circle tail wags, butt wiggles, smiles with her teeth, kisses, play bows, pawing or nosing you for attention, head tilts, to name just a few of her more loving ones) and it was so strange to see half of her body limp and inexpressive. 

How quickly this all happened is pretty devastating and the full weight and permanence of it is still catching up. If you had asked me last week, I would have said she was kicking this thing’s ass. While she was moving a bit clumsily on Thursday, she was moving independently and enthusiastic about going on her short evening hippity-hop, which was just long enough to give her a chance to do her business. On Friday morning, after her fall, she was still able to move on her own, albeit unsteadily. By the time we went to bed that evening, Maddie had all but complete paralysis in the back legs. The timeline of her decline still shocks me at how rapidly things changed.

I wish I had a more concrete answer about what caused the paralysis, although I don’t believe it would have changed our course of action for Maddie. We opted out of the advanced imaging so knew we were going to be limited in confirming/ruling out potential diagnoses with just xrays. The ER vet called after the radiologist’s review. The radiologist didn’t see areas of concern on the spine but confirmed a nodule in one lung and suspected another in the other lung. They also saw something on Maddie’s remaining front leg that was suspicious, which was new info. While the cause of paralysis was not confirmed, I do know that she couldn’t move, couldn’t do her business without us, couldn’t do any of the things she enjoyed, and wasn’t particularly happy with her limitations. 

Maddie joined our family about eight and a half years ago, full of puppy chaos and love. She quickly wheedled her way into our lives and hearts and was a firecracker of a dog who lived every day full of sass and love. This didn’t change after her amputation or after her back legs started to go. Even though her body was failing her, she was mentally her stubborn, loving, sharp self to the very end. She sang along to a siren while laying in the back of the car on Friday. She barked hellos at the neighbors from her side in the grass. We arranged for visits from a couple of her favorite people, and she greeted them both with smiles and kisses, while laying on her side. She ate alllllll the treats with gusto. She tried to go bunny hunting in our front yard less than an hour before she passed. The fact that Jeremy was holding 100% of her back end up with a sling didn’t impede her efforts one bit.

I’m so disappointed the cancer stuck around and spread, but I am darn proud of Maddie and how she handled cancer, and her grace and willingness to fight it. I’m proud of how she bounced back from her amputation and how she committed to enjoying her life in her new body. 

The last year of pandemic has certainly been challenging, but it also meant we have been less busy and spent much more time at home than usual. For her last year, her life was full of lots of family time and cuddles, which made it the best possible year for her. This was one of the last photos I took, right after she had her fill of a fancy breakfast of bacon, eggs, and waffles — I was trying to take a family selfie and she just would not have it. Somehow the photo perfectly encapsulates her — all the sass and certainly all the love. ❤️

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Thank you for this community. Despite our unfortunate outcome, it has been so wonderful to feel support and be reminded that the path we have been on the last six months is one others have taken and that we are not alone. 

❤️

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