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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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My Beast...
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Forum Posts: 10
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12 September 2019
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12 September 2019 - 5:38 pm
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There are so many great stories here! Everyone seems so knowledgeable and confident. I am neither! Mostly I’m just freaking out all over the place. Gucci, aka “the Beast” is a l senior rescue I picked up about 4 years ago. Other than being nearly psychotic anytime we see a “non-human” she’s kinda the perfect dog. She’s people friendly, cuddly, and she loves leftovers.

About 3 months ago she suddenly developed a limp and I noticed her paws were swollen and inflamed and she had painful bumps in between her toes. She had this once before and we cleared it up with epsom salt soaks. This didn’t seem to be working, and after a few weeks I couldn’t bear to see her in pain anymore. I made a vet appointment and our Dr. diagnosed her with an allergy that caused this issue with her paws. She’s on meds for this, and it seems to be managed. But the vet noticed a bump on her leg. I was so consumed with her paws I never checked her legs.

After X-rays and another vet visit we knew it was cancer. My girl is what I call a “low rider pittie”. She’s chest heavy, a little squat and low to the ground. I had it in my head that because of her size and shape, combined with the state of her paws and her age (she’s at least 10, possibly as old as 14) would not make her a good candidate for amputation; I wasn’t interested is chemo or radiation as I felt it would only extend a painful life where she couldn’t do her favorite thing in the world, walkies. 

A visit with a specialist had me excited. He saw no reason why she wouldn’t do perfectly fine as a Tripawd. He offered to do the surgery same day and I jumped at the chance. He made it seem simple and had answers to all my questions. $5k? I’ll make it work, just fix the Beast. 

The reality is so harsh. Amputation is traumatic, and my dog seems so confused, not to mention the pain and discomfort she must be feeling. I am overwhelmed with the feeling I made the wrong decision. Her prognosis is another 3-6months before the cancer will return. I was glad to think that at least those months would be pain free. Now I see what she is going through and I’m horrified that I did this to her. I had a few people tell me it would have been kinder to let her go, and I’m just so fulll of pain for her and doubt in my decision. Maybe they were right!

It’s too late for regrets, and it’s only day two so I know things will get better. I just can’t stop crying! 

Also, she keeps lying on her sutures and I am only barely able to stop myself from waking her up to roll her over lol! I am not going to wake her up but I am very squirmy know she’s putting all her weight on the surgical site. 

If read all of this barely cohesive rant, thanks. Also sorry you had to see all that🤨

The Rainbow Bridge



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12 September 2019 - 5:53 pm
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Hi Gucci and family, welcome. I wish I could give you a hug, so this will have to do ((((hug)))).

Yes, it’s a scary time for you for sure. This is the hardest part! Lots of us have been through it and most of us were not confident at the time, I guarantee it. I know I wasn’t! But over time as you watch Gucci start getting her sparkle back, you will start smiling more than crying, and appreciating every beautiful step she takes.

First, you need to ignore the naysayers. Tell them that right now you prefer only pawsitive energy and if they can’t offer it they should not come around. I know it sounds harsh. But the truth is that unless someone has been through this, they have no right to comment. Even if they have, if they are negative, well, nopawdy needs that. You know Gucci better than anyone else, and you got all your facts right with the vets to make an informed decision. You done good. This is just between you, Gucci and your medical team.

As for that prognosis, well you need to remember that it’s just a number, based on studies with dogs that were not your Gucci. We have had many members outlive their prognosis, sometimes for years. So don’t get hung up on predictions, because nobody knows the future.

Right here is all we’ve got. Be amazed at your beautiful girl’s resiliency, and know that in time she will be back to herself. And if she is laying on her amputation site, that is reason to celebrate! Most dogs are afraid to do it, for a long, long time. This is progress! 

What kind of pain medication is she on? Is she showing any anxiety or pacing, or other side effects? If she’s laying on her amp site I’m guessing she is comfortable.

Dry your tears mama, you are doing great and things are going to be just fine! 

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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12 September 2019 - 6:17 pm
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She’s on Gabapentin and Rimadyl right now. She started the Gabapentin prior to the surgery and she seems to respond well. Now that she’s home, she seems calm and looks to be sleeping pretty deeply. I visited her yesterday, she was just about 24 hours post ops and she was very upset; that’s probably what ultimately set me off. She’s so much better today!

Unfortunately, I’m a bit squeamish. I’m afraid I’m going to hurt her trying to help her. There are three steps in and out of my house and I’m trying to help her using a sling. I’m not sure how much I should try to help. She’s wobbly, but I know she needs to build up to full speed.

The Rainbow Bridge



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12 September 2019 - 6:33 pm
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Good to hear she’s better. Did she happen to get a pain injection or patch before coming home? Usually dogs come home with an opioid as well as Gabapentin and a NSAID.

You’ll get your confidence soon. Some dogs will accept help and some will not. It’s important to try on those stairs during the first few days. Just slowly walk alongside her and gently lift the sling but not too much, just so she knows you are there. Take the sling off when you think she is ready to do her business, then put it back on her when you bring her back in.

And don’t allow her to do too much, too soon. She should only be going outside to potty, on leash. On that note, she may take a while to poop but she should be urinating by now. If she doesn’t, let your vet know.

Squeamish is totally expected! If you put a t-shirt on her it and cinch it up on the bottom, it can take away some of the harshness of looking at the incision. She will look adorable.

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




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12 September 2019 - 10:10 pm
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You are perfectly cohesive and you can “rant” all you want! We get it!! We understand  like nomothers xan!  We’ve been where you are!  Second guessing,  regretting, wondering what the heck uou’be done to your Gucc! No sleep, physically  and emotionally exhausted,  not eating.  

Jerry gave you excellent feedback! Spot on!  Read it again and again, okay??

Yeah, Surgeons don’t  know much about rhe struggles of recovery that we see because they do their surgery and send ’em home!!   So stay connected to us here, because we know what recovery from  MAJOR surgery looks like, while on pain meds and while adjusting to three.

All the hospital meds will probably  be out of her system tomorrow or so.  She may have a bit of a crash when that happens and getting the right dose and frequency  of pain meds will be important, 

Drinking and peeing are important.  Try and get her to eat anything to help coat her tummy with the pain meds.  Pooping may take a few days.  Let us know whenpoopiconpoopicon  happens.  We celebrate anythjng around here!

Oh, and laying in her incision  could actually be a good indication that her pain is being well managed! 

Try and get some rest when you can.  Chocolate…eat lots of it!!!

Hugs

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

PS….I had not found this community until day six of my Happy Hannahs  amputation.  My first post was something  like “Help! It’s  day six after amputation and I feel I’ve  made a HORRIBLE decision!”

Well, this commu6 threw me a lifeline, shared tons of information  and gave me so much reassurance  and lots of invaluable  tips based on first hand experience!  It did take me about three weeks before I could say I did this FOR Happy  Hannah and not TO her!!

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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13 September 2019 - 6:28 am
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Thank you so much! This is a great resource and I plan to check in often. I have friends and family and they are supportive but it’s so true that they don’t really know, the guilt has been killing me. 

Good news, she pooped and pee’d as soon as we left clinic! It was just a lil guy, but I figured that was a good sign. She went again this morning, but her appetite is always good lol! 

The vet didn’t give us anything other than the Gabapentin for pain. I know she was on morphine during post op. Today she’s lying more on her good side, so maybe it was just because she had the good meds. I will keep up on the Gabapentin every 8 hours for the next few days. 

Thank you for the advise with the sling. She got down the stairs really well this morning, but that may be because she saw a cat. So if she’s trying to chase her favored enemy she must be doing well, right? 

I may put a T-shirt on her! I’m afraid the sutures might get caught on something, but I figured they should be exposed to the air more often than not. 

Thank you all so much! I feel so much better after reading your responses 😊

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13 September 2019 - 4:19 pm
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Does this make you about 3 days post op? They usually come home with an nsaid (like Rimadyl), gabapentin, and a pain killer. Somewhere around day 5 most of the beautiful hospital drugs will have totally worn off and without proper pain management they can have breakthrough pain and kinda crash. Even with good pain management , many will need to tweak the meds to suit the furbaby, with their doctor’s guidance of course. 

I am not trying to scare you. I would rather see you well informed than to get a sucker punch that you didn’t see coming. Gabapentin is a great drug for phantom limb pain, most are on it for 2-3 weeks, some longer. It blocks the signals from the nerve endings, but it is not a pain medication .. so to speak. Couple that with a good pain medication and nsaid and you have a much smoother recovery most times. 

I am not a vet, but I would suggest that you contact your vet and talk about more pain management over the next couple of weeks. Please find out if they gave a long acting injection for pain… some do but the excitement and stress of the whole ordeal can make the details foggy. Your vet MAY have done that and if so I would find out what was given and how long it will work for. It sounds like you have a great medical team so please don’t panic, just ask questions and get some knowledge. 

If they have not given a long acting pain medication, I would strongly recommend discussing pain medications and have some on hand. This is MAJOR surgery. If you or I had a limb amputated we would still be in the hospital with a morphine drip right now. When you look at it from that perspective it can make more sense. 

YAY for poopicon!! That is really a wonderful thing. Lots of pawrents (including myself, a former vet tech) frustrate for up to a week waiting for that poopicon to arrive, lol. 

Right now keeping her quiet is really important. What Jerry and Sally told you was just the best, sound, advice. Lots of people don’t heed that and end up with a longer recovery period. 

I wish you well and will follow your recovery. I am kind of hit and miss right now as we just lost our older pup 10 days ago. 

Hugs,

Jackie and Huckleberry sp_hearticon2

Hugs,

Jackie, David, Bo, Andy, Oscar, Angel Mitchell, and the coolest feral tripawd kitty Huckleberry

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13 September 2019 - 5:50 pm
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I’m so sorry for your loss 🙁

I know she was given morphine, but I was only sent home with Cefpodoxime 200mg Rimadyl 100 Mg Gabapentin 300mg Capsule.  I see “Injection Im/Sq/Iv” listed on the bill, that was given both days she was there. I’m not sure exactly what it is, any ideas? If not, I will call my regular vet in the morning and see if she can prescribe something.

I was under the impression that the Gabapentin was for pain. I can tell she had a harder time today than yesterday, I figured that the morphine was out of her system. She couldn’t seem to find that deep sleep she had yesterday. She’s still resting on her sutures at times, so I took that a good sign. 

She seems a little less steady on her feet too, but I figure that was also due to the lack of morphine. The last thing I want is for her to have any kind of crash, the whole point of the amputation was to manage her pain. 

I also have CBD oil for her, but I don’t think that is likely to help with this kind of pain. Any ideas on what type of meds I should inquire about?

Thank you all so much!

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13 September 2019 - 6:27 pm
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Injection Im/Sq/Iv means an injection either intramuscular,  subcutaneous,  or intravenous but it doesn’t say what the injection was. Could be pain meds,  could be antibiotics.  No way to tell by that.  

I used cbd successfully with Mitchell but under different circumstances.  Right now I would concentrate on traditional pain medication.  That’s just me.  

Cefpodoxime appears to be an antibiotic,  that’s good😊 Find out what the injection was and explain what she’s experiencing.  You didn’t mention exactly what day her surgery was but im thinking pain meds are lessening.  

Hugs,  hang in  there and breathe.  Unfortunately this is common but you are all over this.  You know your girl,  can’t wait to see a picture of her.  One step at a time. 

Where are you? If you already mentioned im sorry I missed it.  

Hugs,

Jackie, David, Bo, Andy, Oscar, Angel Mitchell, and the coolest feral tripawd kitty Huckleberry

Huckleberry's Blog

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13 September 2019 - 8:05 pm
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Thank you! Ill call tomorrow, even if they will just give me something as a standby. Today was day 3, so we aren’t over the hurdle yet. We are in New Jersey right now, moving to North Carolina next month. It’s been a busy few months!

The Rainbow Bridge



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14 September 2019 - 9:37 am
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Let us know what they say. Hopefully she got an injectable pain medication like Nocita.

Learning how pain medication works is part of the education that we pet parents never expected to get, but it’s something you’re introduced to as part of this recovery process, and later as pets age. I didn’t know anything about pain meds when Jerry recovered.

Different pain medications act in different ways. Gabapentin works on nerve pain, opioids work on blocking other types of pain signals from reaching the brain. They work synergistically when given together.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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14 September 2019 - 9:50 am
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I called the hospital where she had her surgery as well as my regular vet today to ask about pain medication. Hopefully someone calls me back soon.

Gucci seemed reluctant to move this morning, but she seems a bit better just now. She just wants to lay outside in the sun! I tried to make her lay on a blanket but she wants the grass! I don’t like that her incision is so exposed to the grass and dirt. 

She hasn’t pooped yet today, but I have high hopes!

At some point I will figure out how to post photos 🤔



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14 September 2019 - 10:59 am
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I wanted to let you know that my cat Mona would also lie on her incision side particularly on cold tile. I would put a cool damp wash cloth on her incision and she seemed to enjoy that. Cold compresses help reduce inflammation.

After her staples were out, when outdoors, Mona continued to lie on her surgical side on paving that was in the shade. 

I believe our pets really know what they are doing. Perhaps Gucci would enjoy a cold compress. If using an ice pack just make sure it’s wrapped in a towel.

Happy healing Gucci!!

Kerren and Tripawd Kitty Mona 

Virginia




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14 September 2019 - 11:03 am
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Glad you’re  checking on getting her pain manag3d better and for longer.  Getting a supply for at least two weeks, preferably three is good.  How often is she getting her Gaba now??  

Resting is good.  Lots and lots of rest.  And yes, dogs seem to find the warmth of the sun  comforting  and healing.  

You’re doing a great job!!!

Hugx

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

PS. We have several members in N.C. and have had several Tripawd Pawties woth NC, VA MD and beyond.  May have to get one going next Spring so we can meet Gucci!

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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14 September 2019 - 12:55 pm
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Cool compresses are a good idea! She doesn’t usually let me put ice on her, but maybe a cool rag if I put it in a plastic bag 😊.

Our regular vet just gave me Tramadol for her acute pain. She’s getting Gabapentin every 8-12 hours. I’ve been dosing her at 8 hours, trying to keep ahead of any pain wherever possible. She also gets Rimadyl twice a day. 

Thank goodness for my vet! The 24 hour clinic that did the surgery has not returned my call from 7 hours ago. I told them I was concerned about her pain level and they said a surgeon would call me. My vet stayed open an extra hour on a beautiful Saturday afternoon to take care of my dog. I’m going to miss them so much when I move!

Thank you all for the comments and advice. It’s amazing how much better I feel having this outlet. I’m still a little crazy, but I think I’m moving away from panic-mode 😊

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