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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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Marie's Long Journey
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Member Since:
6 April 2019
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6 April 2019 - 6:41 pm
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We have had a tumultuous few weeks with our 5 lb., 8-ish year old Chihuahua, Marie.  This is the first time that I am typing everything out from start to finish, and it is still difficult for me to think about.  (Spoiler alert: as of this morning, she is officially a Tripawd!)

I feel like I need to preface this story by saying that Marie is my heart-dog.  I adopted her from a shelter as a 22 year old when I was new to a big city with no friends, and I happened to be going through a rough breakup.  As soon as I met her, we just “clicked.”  She fit into my life so easily, and she enhanced it so much.  It had just been me and Marie for 5 years, until we moved in with my boyfriend this past January.  I have had dogs my entire life, but there has never been a connection for me like the one I have with little Marie.    

A few Saturdays ago Marie was throwing up and showing signs of lethargy.  She wasn’t interested in food, but I called her regular vet and we decided to make an appointment for the upcoming Monday.  However, on Sunday I became increasingly worried and I rushed her to the emergency vet.  They asked me if she had a history of “getting into things,” and I did not think she did, so I said no.  They gave her some fluids and anti-nausea medicine, and they told us to keep our appointment with our regular vet for Monday.  I was fine with that.

The next morning (Monday) she was acting loopy.  She could barely walk, and soon she started to shake and tremor in a way that I had never seen before.  (I was terrified!!!)  We rushed her back to the emergency vet, and they began working on her right away.  We asked for any tests that were necessary, and it was soon discovered that she had ingested a piece of fabric and would need emergency surgery to remove.  (No clue what it was or when she did that!)  At this point she was sick and hypoglycemic, however they stabilized her enough to begin the surgery.  Not long after they started, someone called me to let me know that it wasn’t going well “from a medical standpoint.”  Her blood pressure was low, however the surgeon did an excellent job and was able to finish the surgery.  The next week was a rollercoaster of stabilizing her.  My angst, anxiety, and sadness was unparalleled to anything that I have ever experienced in my life.  I had to cancel a trip and take time off of work; I was barely functioning.  She made slow and steady improvement but occasionally she would backslide.  Stabilizing her blood pressure and glucose were the most challenging, and my boyfriend and I would visit her two or three times a day in the critical care unit.  Eventually, and with the help of many skilled doctors and technicians, she became stable.  It took 8 days.  Her little body had been through so much, but she was finally ready to come home!  I was euphoric!  I spent a few days caring for her, and she was recovering from the surgery very well.  I saw signs of her personality coming back in full.  As the risk from her stomach surgery depleted, the most concerning issue became her left back foot.  It was swollen and black and blue from complications with the IV and catheter.  I noticed that she could not walk on it, and it was painful to the touch. 

Last night her leg became very swollen, so I called the doctors and they asked that I send them a picture.  After they saw the picture, they asked us to come in right away.  Her wonderful doctor gave it to us straight: “Her toes are necrotic (dead) and she needs her back left leg amputated.”  My stomach sank and I nearly passed out.  She had overcome so much and she was seemingly doing so well.  We had been warned at one point that it could lead to this, but I foolishly assumed it would sort itself out.  Last night was ROUGH.  They let us bring her back home, however she was set to have the amputation surgery this morning.  I could barely sleep, but I didn’t want her to think anything was wrong.  (It was surreal to watch Marie comfort me as I cried; she had no clue that I was crying over her.) 

After hours of waiting, we received a call this afternoon that the surgery went “awesome.”  She did very well, and it was a completely different story compared to her last surgery when she was sick.  We visited her and she was alert and wagging her tail, however I could tell that she was experiencing some pain.  She ate from us right away though, and we are hoping to bring her home tomorrow.  I can’t believe she is a Tripawd now!

I know her recovery is still in the works, and I have been reading the forums on here for advice and comfort since we found out last night.  I have so many questions, and I am sure that I will have more when we bring her home.  My main concern now is that she is comfortable and healthy.  I am sure that I will ask questions in the future, but any advice for helping a tiny dog through this would be greatly appreciated!  Thank you all for sharing your stories; I have laughed, cried, or found comfort in them all.           

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Livermore, CA




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6 April 2019 - 8:05 pm
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Hello and welcome, your future posts will not have to wait for approval.

You guys have been through a lot!  I’m sorry it led to amputation, but now that you’ve had to join our club we are happy to help you any way we can.

I’ve had two small rear amp Tripawds.  My first was a Pug named Maggie who lost her leg to cancer.  Now I have Elly, a Pug mix who lost her back leg at 7 months old after a car accident.  She is quite gigantic compared to Marie- 3 x her weight!  Most people here will tell you that small dogs do great (they are usually big dog owners big-grin) but from my experience it is true.  There are some challenges that most big dogs can overcome more easily like stairs, and it is much easier to help a big dog get around with a harness… mine are too low to reach!

The worst of the recovery period usually lasts about 2 weeks, but some pups seem to sail right through.  Some down time is normal though so don’t worry if Marie isn’t herself.  She is going to be extra weak with everything she has been through so the more she can rest the better.  Be sure you come home with adequate pain meds too- most here have gabapentin, tramadol and a NSAID sent home.  Sometimes an antibiotic.

You will want to set up a quiet recovery area for her- with no access to anything she might try and jump on until she is healed up.  I use stairs for my small dogs to get up and down from the furniture they are allowed on.  In addition to Tripawd Elly I have a 12.5 year old quad Pug named Obie.

Our local Tripawd members get together a couple times of year in Mill Valley.  We often see a lady who adopts older small dogs with challenges- she has quite a pack.  A year or two ago she added Rose- a Chi missing her left rear leg, and probably about Marie’s size.

Here is Rose:

Rose-2.jpgImage Enlarger

Keep us posted on getting Marie home and let us know what questions you have.

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

Virginia




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6 April 2019 - 9:48 pm
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WOW!  Just plain. WOW!!!!    That little Marie if a TRIPAWD WARRIOR who clearly is a very strong and determined  little doggy!!!   And good for you for staying  on top of things and getting  this sweet gal immediate  care!

So glad surgery is done and she can finally  get on with being her adorable spunky, loveable self with no more interruptions!!!

Karen has given you great advice.  As she said, It IS major surgery and pain management is crucial Also put down non slip scatter rugs fot traction if you have hardwood floors.

Do keep us posted on her homecoming  and in ANY questions you may have.  The hospital meds will wear of in another day or so and sometimes  there’s a bit of a crash when that happens.  As Karen said though….shhhhhh……..don’t tell the big dogs, but little dogs to sometimes have an easier recovery!

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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7 April 2019 - 9:29 pm
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krun15 said
Our local Tripawd members get together a couple times of year in Mill Valley.  We often see a lady who adopts older small dogs with challenges- she has quite a pack.  A year or two ago she added Rose- a Chi missing her left rear leg, and probably about Marie’s size.

Here is Rose:

Rose-2.jpgImage Enlarger

  

Oh my, Rose looks so much like my little Marie!  So cute!  

Thank you very much for your kind and wise words.  Our girl has been through a lot.  We brought her home this afternoon and she immediately got up and walked a few feet to her pee pads to go to the bathroom.  (I was shocked that happened so fast!  I did not assume that she would walk for a day or two.)  Then she kind of walked around on our carpeted area; we let her do that for a short while, and then I encouraged her to lay down.  She was sent home with multiple antibiotics and a steroid, as well as Gabapentin.  (Some of those meds she was still on from her other surgery, and they are having us finish out those.)  Her appetite has been great!  She is eating her normal portions, and she is also alert and watching what goes on around her with curiosity.  As the night wore on she began experiencing some more pain.  When I tried to move her a bit she yelped, and she doesn’t want to be touched as much as she usually does.  She normally sleeps in a dog bed, however I have a blanket folded up on the floor for her so she can move about easily and not feel trapped or have to jump.

It is hard to see her in pain.  I’m hoping the intense pain decreases in a few days?  We are giving her the Gabapentin every 8 hours, which is the shortest amount of time in between that we were told we could give it to her.  

(Also, your pugs sound so active!  It helps a lot to hear the success stories of other dogs!)

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7 April 2019 - 9:42 pm
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benny55 said
WOW!  Just plain. WOW!!!!    That little Marie if a TRIPAWD WARRIOR who clearly is a very strong and determined  little doggy!!!   And good for you for staying  on top of things and getting  this sweet gal immediate  care!

So glad surgery is done and she can finally  get on with being her adorable spunky, loveable self with no more interruptions!!!

Karen has given you great advice.  As she said, It IS major surgery and pain management is crucial Also put down non slip scatter rugs fot traction if you have hardwood floors.

Do keep us posted on her homecoming  and in ANY questions you may have.  The hospital meds will wear of in another day or so and sometimes  there’s a bit of a crash when that happens.  As Karen said though….shhhhhh……..don’t tell the big dogs, but little dogs to sometimes have an easier recovery!

Hugs

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

  

Thank you so much!  Marie is truly a warrior, and she fought every bit of the way to overcome these obstacles.  The doctors at our local MedVet were amazing and they saved her life.

We brought her home this afternoon and she was already up and walking around!  I bought some rugs to make a path for her on our hardwood floor (she does not want to step on the wood anyway, it’s like she knows it’s slippery.)  You were so right about the hospital meds wearing off… as the night has gone on, I have noticed an increase in pain levels.  Although right now she is sleeping soundly!

I guess currently I am just worried about how long the intense pain will last?  It is so hard to see her hurting.  It is also challenging because in order to help her get around, I have to touch a large part of her body (since she’s so small) and she does not like being touched at all right now.  I’m trying to move and touch her VERY minimally.  We are using an Assisi Loop (electromagnetic therapy) every 6 hours, so sometimes I have to readjust her for that.

Besides the obvious pain factor, she seems to be doing well.  She’s eating great and moving around when she has to go to the bathroom.  Otherwise she is resting and sleeping.  She isn’t really drinking water, but I mixed some in with her food and she drank that.  

Thank you for your support during this challenging time!

On The Road


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8 April 2019 - 11:07 am
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Oh my gosh I just caught up on your and Marie’s story. WOW x2 what Sally said! I am sorry you all had to go through this but we are so glad you found your way here.

Ok, about her pain levels…a dog who comes home from amputation is expected to have some level of discomfort, but not intense pain. Amputation recovery is so dependent on good pain management . So, please call your vet ASAP and let them know what’s going on. Describe her symptoms, how long they have been happening, and request additional pain control OK?

Then come back here and let us know how things are going. We’ll be waiting! 

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene
tripawds.com | tripawds.org | bemoredog.net | triday.pet

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8 April 2019 - 7:10 pm
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jerry said
Oh my gosh I just caught up on your and Marie’s story. WOW x2 what Sally said! I am sorry you all had to go through this but we are so glad you found your way here.

Ok, about her pain levels…a dog who comes home from amputation is expected to have some level of discomfort, but not intense pain. Amputation recovery is so dependent on good pain management . So, please call your vet ASAP and let them know what’s going on. Describe her symptoms, how long they have been happening, and request additional pain control OK?

Then come back here and let us know how things are going. We’ll be waiting! 

  

Thank you, Jerry!  I am so glad to have found this community!

Her intense pain seemed to subside over night, and today she has been seemingly more comfortable.  However, if she seems to be in pain again I will not hesitate to call the vet back!  I had to go in today and get a plastic cone because she figured out to how manipulate the cloth one they gave us for her.  She has a follow up on Thursday that we are looking forward to.  She is VERY mobile, and now I’m finding it hard to keep her still and contained.  I have a small area for her (that she is used to being in) for when we’re not home.  Even though she is walking around very well, she is still trying to do some things she used to do (jump, hop, kick) and she has fallen twice.  I feel SO badly when she falls and yelps!  It’s absolutely heartbreaking.  I am learning along with her for how to keep her extra safe.  She is basically like an infant, and I am watching her constantly when I am home or else she is confined to “her area.”

On The Road


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8 April 2019 - 8:21 pm
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Yay for less pain! That’s a great report. Hopefully this is the beginning of total relief for her. You should know by the time your vet visit rolls around on Thursday.

It is sooo hard not to jump or gasp when a Tripawd falls or stumbles during those early days. I used to have to remind myself to let Jerry be a dog and do what he needed to do to be happy. There are ways to moderate that of course, and it sounds like you are doing a great job of it.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene
tripawds.com | tripawds.org | bemoredog.net | triday.pet

Virginia




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9 April 2019 - 8:46 pm
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Clearly one of THE most adorable avat pictures evvvvver!!

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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10 April 2019 - 9:07 pm
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Post-op day 4 is coming to an end.

Things seem to be going as well as they could be.  Her appetite is still great; however, she isn’t drinking water as much as I would like.  (I’m not positive how much she really drank before all of this though, it never seemed like much.)  I’ve been mixing a bit of water in with her food and she drinks that.  She walks to the kitchen when it’s time to eat, and she walks when she needs to go to the bathroom or wants to be up on the couch with us.  Sometimes she kind of “falls back” onto the leg she had amputated, and that causes her to yelp.  Her stitches look fine though.  Other than that, she spends a lot of time resting.  I’m wondering if some of her other legs/muscles are sore from adjusting to her new gait.

Her 5-day follow up is tomorrow afternoon.  I’m nervous about getting her there by myself, and I’m nervous for what the update will be.  After going through so much the past few weeks, I think I’m just on edge in general.  We were supposed to have house guests next week, but I had to ask if they could visit another time.  We also have a wedding in another city on April 20th.  My parents are going to stay with Marie, and I’m hoping that she’s made some strides in her recovery by then.

We are hopeful that tomorrow’s update is positive!

Virginia




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11 April 2019 - 10:16 am
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Marie is doing amazing  for a dog on day four of MAJOR surgery!  Marie is a very smart dog and knows that rest is so important right now.

It generally takes  avout two weeks to “recover ” from the surgery itself.  And it takes about thirty days for a dog to adjust to the new gait.  And yes, she is using different muscles in a way that were not used before.  She has to build strength, especially  in her core muscles,  her tummy muscles.

Once recovery  is done, you can check with a Rehabilitation  Specialist  about the best techniques  to help keep her strong.

My Hapoy Hannah decided  she didn’t  want to drink water during  recovery.  Eating was no problem.   I ended up adding a spoon. of ice cream in her water, let her take a lick first, then swirled it into the water.

And yes, you are exhausted emotionally and physically.  Plus you are sleep deprived.  So getting too “close to the edge” is a normal phe arou d here.  But we have a solution  ready for our “edge huggers”😎 

See the picture of the lifeline rope below?  One end  is attached to us.  Attach the other end to yourself.  We are ready to pull you back anytime you get too close to that edge!  You are safe with us!

Hugs

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

Screenshot_20190411-103426_Google.jpgImage Enlarger

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!

On The Road


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11 April 2019 - 12:00 pm
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Marvelous Marie, you are getting there it sounds like! Good job. Keep trying, keep taking things little by little and soon you’ll be back to your old self.

It’s funny how all those little things we used to take for granted, like drinking water, suddenly become very important during a surgery recovery. Maybe she wasn’t a big drinker before all this, but who knows. By adding water to her food, you are definitely helping her maintain hydration. You could also try spiking it with no-salt tuna water or a dash of no salt broth to encourage her.

My guess is by the time you have to go out of town, Marie will practically be booting you out the door. She is doing well overall it seems. Let us know what the vet says K?

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene
tripawds.com | tripawds.org | bemoredog.net | triday.pet

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12 April 2019 - 6:55 pm
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benny55 said
Marie is doing amazing  for a dog on day four of MAJOR surgery!  Marie is a very smart dog and knows that rest is so important right now.

It generally takes  avout two weeks to “recover ” from the surgery itself.  And it takes about thirty days for a dog to adjust to the new gait.  And yes, she is using different muscles in a way that were not used before.  She has to build strength, especially  in her core muscles,  her tummy muscles.

Once recovery  is done, you can check with a Rehabilitation  Specialist  about the best techniques  to help keep her strong.

My Hapoy Hannah decided  she didn’t  want to drink water during  recovery.  Eating was no problem.   I ended up adding a spoon. of ice cream in her water, let her take a lick first, then swirled it into the water.

And yes, you are exhausted emotionally and physically.  Plus you are sleep deprived.  So getting too “close to the edge” is a normal phe arou d here.  But we have a solution  ready for our “edge huggers”😎 

See the picture of the lifeline rope below?  One end  is attached to us.  Attach the other end to yourself.  We are ready to pull you back anytime you get too close to that edge!  You are safe with us!

Hugs

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

Screenshot_20190411-103426_Google.jpgImage Enlarger

  

Thank you, Sally, that is so sweet!  You all have been such a relief during this stressful time.  I think it’s especially challenging because I don’t know anyone personally who has gone through this before.  And when I tell people this journey ultimately lead to a leg amputation, I get a mixture of sad responses.  But Marie seems to gain a piece of her usual joy back every day!

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12 April 2019 - 7:07 pm
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Tomorrow is one week post-op!

Marie’s follow-up appointment yesterday went well!  She said the stitches look good.  Marie also has a wound on the inside of her remaining back leg (more complications from her initial recovery) that the doctor said is healing well.  She is due to go back on the 16th for her final follow-up and to hopefully have the stitches removed!  She also finished many of her medications yesterday.  Now she is simply on an antibiotic and Gabapentin.  She seems to be requiring less Gabapentin though; I’m spacing out her doses a little longer, and she does not seem to be bothered by it.  We are still doing the Assisi Loop EMT for 15 minutes at a time, a few times a day, but lately Marie has decided she’s had enough and will get up and walk away mid-treatment, lol.

Her usual personality is really starting to shine through!  She’s super food-motivated and she’s started waking us up at 5:45am to eat breakfast by pacing around the bedroom to both sides of the bed.  (Something she has always done, and it used to annoy us but now we get so excited!)  She also GOT UP to excitedly greet me when I came home from work today!  She’s wagging her tail a lot more in general.

(Thank you guys for the info on how to keep her hydrated!  She is peeing A LOT, so I’m not sure if that’s a side-effect of one of the medications or what…)

Virginia




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12 April 2019 - 9:24 pm
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tinyandstrong said

Her usual personality is really starting to shine through!  She’s super food-motivated and she’s started waking us up at 5:45am to eat breakfast by pacing around the bedroom to both sides of the bed.  (Something she has always done, and it used to annoy us but now we get so excited!)  She also GOT UP to excitedly greet me when I came home from work today!  She’s wagging her tail a lot more in 

  

Seeing Marie return to her normal routine and normal habits is spectacular  news!!😁😁   And yes, what used to be annoying prior to amputation  is the most beautiful  thing in the world now!

Do glad things are progressing  so well for this cutie pie😎

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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