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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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Max: Eight Year Old Husky/Lab Recovers from Amputation
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Forum Posts: 182
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6 December 2008 - 3:12 pm
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Maximutt so glad to hear that you are doing so well.  The first month will be a little bit tricky for everyone but after a while everybody will get the hang of it and forget that it ever happened.  Man I wish I had know about that Braunschweiger deal so that my mom could give me my pills in some of that good stuff, stinky or not stinky.  I guess I can be nice and let my mommy in the secret so that my wonderful brothers (yeah right!) can take advantage of the trick with their supplements.  Like your mommy mine also slept on the floor with me so yep it was funny to see my pawrents in that air mattress trying to get some zzzzzz’s while I was snuggled up in my comfy bed..oh well don’t you just hate when that happens..Wink!!!!  As for the survival time, buddy, like Jerry says NGU (Never Give Up)……look at that old man Jer…he did pretty good himself and lots are living mawvelous and great lives.  Lots of lickies your way!!!!!

Kellie

The Rainbow Bridge



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7 December 2008 - 2:38 am
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Cool Ramp! Is that a waterbed? If so, how does Max handle maneuvering around once he gets up? And who’s that other cute pup?

homemade ramp for three legged dog MaxImage Enlarger

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Forum Posts: 182
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7 December 2008 - 2:11 pm
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Max…..fancy!!!!!!  I love it.  I am like Jerry trying to figure out what you do once you get on the bed…..do you go TIIIIIMMMBER and find a great spot?  Is that lovely pup Linda?  You both are a very good looking pair.  Here is to you and your sister.  This ramp is a great idea and I bet will be very helpful to other tripawds to put on their" wish" list after they go through surgery.  Thanks for sharing.

Kellie

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8 December 2008 - 11:11 am
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Wow, that IS a great ramp design!  We’re curious, too, that if this is a waterbed, how does Max handle getting up once he wants to leave?  Does that cause him problems?  We’d hate to see him fall off the bed, but knowing how caring your family is, you’re probably right there for him when he does get up.

And, a special note to Kellie:  We know you just lost your battle with cancer and you have no idea how much your great "spirit" is appreciated on this site.  I’m just another contributor, but you, for a very long time now, have always been so supportive of all the other tripawds on this site and I think you deserve an award for being so kind and thoughtful.

Love, Blazer, Kitty Kimber & Mom (Vicki)

Orange County, CA
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8 December 2008 - 3:25 pm
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Yes, it is a waterbed.  Max has been sleeping on it since he finished crate-training as a pup.  The ramp was completed and put to use Tuesday evening; prior to that, I was sleeping on an air mattress on the floor with him.  He took to the ramp right away.  At first he had to "think" about moving his front leg to and from the ramp to get on and off the bed.  He figured it out really fast.  He hasn’t had any problems maneuvering around on the bed.  He does his regular "circles" until he finds where he wants to be (always on my side,usually at my feet, but sometimes in between John and me), then lays down.  He still can’t lay on his left side yet because it’s still sensitive; I know he’s looking forward to the day he can!  And yes, we stand right next to Max while he’s using the ramp, "just in case."  But, he’s already a pro at it.  The other dog is Linda.  She lunged at John just after this photo was taken; she doesn’t like the flashing lights on the camera!  She’s pretty funny.  Glad everyone liked the ramp; John is not really a handy-man, but he did a really great job on it.  It is extremely sturdy, and doesn’t wobble at all.  If the ramp didn’t exist, I know Max would try to jump on the bed!

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8 December 2008 - 5:31 pm
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Hi Diane, John & Max!

Well, if John isn’t a carpenter, he should think of becoming one!  That is so cute that you let your two rather large dogs sleep with you, but I would do the very same.  Right now I own a miniature poodle, but it wouldn’t matter to me what size the pup was; they’d be right there with me.  I used to have two basset hounds and a waterbed and they always chose to snuggle next to me, so I’d have Brenda between my legs and Brewster under one arm and a kitty under the other.  I was a back sleeper for years because of that and really still am to this day.  You guys are doing such a great job with Max and now that I look at the picture again, I can see that Linda seems like she was ready to do something to that darned camera!  Haha! 

Thanks for sharing your stories,

Vicki, Blazer & Kitty Kimber

Orange County, CA
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23 December 2008 - 6:52 pm
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Hi all.  I haven’t posted in a couple weeks, so here’s an update, along with a couple of (probably dumb) questions.  Sunday (12/21) marked the 4-week anniversary of Max’s amputation. He is doing much better, his wound is completely healed, but he still yips every now and again. We’re not sure if it’s "phantom" pain, or if something is really bothering him.  Which brings me to my questions. 

I’m very freaked out about the extra pressure being put on his remaining front paw/leg. Everytime I see him walk, I get a visual in my mind of the ankle bone snapping in half. We are now able to use his RuffWear vest (which works great, by the way). My question is, should we be using the vest at home, when Max is randomly walking around, peeing/pooing, etc., or only when we’re doing some type of physical activity with him (walking around the block, random exercise, etc)? 

I know his remaining front arm will build up muscle to compensate for the missing arm, but it just seems like there’s so much weight falling on that one paw! I almost can’t stand to see him up and getting around, which is actually something I should be really happy about.

So, here’s the other question: am I being a total dork, or will this all work out and I’m freaking out prematurely? Any and all opinions/personal experiences are welcome.  Thanks again.

The Rainbow Bridge



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23 December 2008 - 8:22 pm
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Hey thanks for the update, Max sounds like he is doing great!

No, you aren’t a total dork, your fears are entirely justified. Dogs naturally put sixty percent of their weight on their front legs. When they lose one, it will take time for a body to adjust and build muscle in the remaining leg, as well as shift some to the back. It just takes time. Be patient. Don’t let him walk too far, be aware of when he might be getting tired. My walks in the weeks after surgery lasted about 15 minutes at most, compared to at least a half hour before. It took a long time to build up enough muscle to give me the energy to handle longer walks and playtime.

Now, about those catastrophic visions….you need to change that negative vision to a pawsitive one. Picture Max gracefully hopping along, with a smile on his face and loving life. Shut those negative images out. It really helps! Try it. While it’s normal to worry about us injuring our remaining leg, it rarely happens. But, it IS up to you to make sure he doesn’t do things that can potentially cause an injury. That doesn’t mean that you have to be super cautious, it just means don’t throw the frisbee too high, watch how he jumps on and off things and if it seems like it’s too high, then don’t let him do it for a while.

We are glad the Ruffwear harness is working out. My people always said that the times they thought I didn’t need it were exactly when I did need it, so I always wore it. When you least expect to need it, that’s when you will. It’s a big help even getting up off slippery floors or up from bed. The only time I didn’t wear it was at night, but first thing in the morning, Mom and Dad put it on me. I kinda liked that, it made me feel important!

Don’t worry too much, OK? Four weeks is a HUGE milestone, but he still needs some time to build up strength. Hang in there! Let us know how things are going.

Hoppy Howlidays!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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23 December 2008 - 9:58 pm
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The only thing I have read about with some dogs who are fron leg amputees, is that they can sometimes develop pressure sores on the opposing foot.  That’s where a nice padded bootie would come in handy, if it happens.  I think our vet, Pam (tazzidog) mentioned this on one of the forums. 

Love, Vicki, Blazer & Kitty Kimber

Orange County, CA
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24 December 2008 - 5:03 pm
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Jerry & Vicky, thanks very much for the advice.  I think part of my problem is that simply, I just want my dog to be well and not hurting.  We’re part way there, but it seems like it’s a long road to get to the light at the end of the tunnel.  As for exercising Max, we’ve pretty much limited him to walks around our block, and the grounds at our local nursery.  There’s lots of good things to pee on there.  He seems to be doing well with the exercise, but I keep a close eye on him so he doesn’t overdo it.  Max will have his second round of chemo this Saturday (12/27); unfortunately, we’ve been guaranteed he will have diarrhea from this medicine.

I’ll keep updating as we go along.  For right now, I’d like to wish everyone a very Happy Holiday, and thanks again for answering my questions/concerns.

The Rainbow Bridge



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24 December 2008 - 5:18 pm
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Walks around the block are great. Heck, I couldn’t even make it halfway around the block for at least the first month after surgery.

Since you know Max is going to have side effects, be sure to stock up on pumpkin puree. It really helps control runny poo. If Max won’t eat it directly (most dogs do like it), just put a bunch on a tablespoon, open his mouth and stick it down the hatch. It truly helps. So does Immodium, check out this post about it here.

Good luck. Happy Chrismahanakwaanza to you too! 

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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25 December 2008 - 10:07 pm
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If Max should develop diarrhea from the chemo, definitely try the pumpkin puree, or try the immodium.  I also understand that carafate helps if there is stomach upset.  Good luck on the 27th!  We’re pulling for Max!  And, let us know if you need more info on some booties.  I could do some reasearch and check out the various types available to dogs.

Love, Blazer, Kitty Kimber & Mom (Vicki)

Here and Now


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25 December 2008 - 10:21 pm
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LuvYourPets said:

… let us know if you need more info on some booties.


Here’s a forum discussion about dog booties.

And another from Tazzie who wears Ruff Wear dog booties.

Orange County, CA
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26 December 2008 - 7:58 pm
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Hi everyone, thanks for the advice.  Our doctor already told us about the pumpkin, and we have stocked up on cans of it.  As for the booties, I check Max’s paws regularly, and luckily haven’t found any sores.  Hopefully we won’t have that problem.

We took Max and Linda to a local schoolyard today, and it was really great to see him running around on the grassy areas.  I can’t believe how fluid his movement is when he runs.  He may not be as fast as he used to be, but he still looks strong and great.  He was very happy to be out and about. 

I hate to keep posting questions, but I have another.  Will Max know when he can lay on his left side again?  He used to lay on that side all the time, but obvously hasn’t done so since the amputation.  I’m pretty sure most of the pain is gone, but he diverts to the right at the last second when he lays down.  From your experiences, is this something we should coax along, or let it happen "naturally?"  I know he wants to lay on that side, but is afraid to do so.  As always, any and all advice/personal experiences is appreciated.  Thanks!

The Rainbow Bridge



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26 December 2008 - 8:09 pm
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maximutt said:

I hate to keep posting questions, but I have another… 


Hey, that’s what these forums are for! Thanks for asking. Max is not "afraid" to lay on his left side. He will lay down however he is most comfortable, and whichever way makes him feel least vulnerable.

It took me a while, but I eventually learned to lie on my left side – my front left was aputated. It was just much more difficult to get up from that position. I would flop around a bit and swing my weight getting momentum to stand up.

Max too will find his own groove. Let it happen naturally and learn from him, instead of trying to teach what he can only come to know best on his own.

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