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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

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Rasta the Rottie’s Tripawd Tale
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Member Since:
4 January 2024
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22 January 2024 - 5:50 pm
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Thank you for the tips! I truthfully believe it’s the shaved area around the incision that’s bugging her. She’s been pretty good about it, but every so often just does it without even knowing she is I think. Poor girl was actually scratching the “air” the other day. Back leg wanted to scratch something, but she knew she couldn’t! lol. 

I thought about the booties…we do have some, but she’s only had them on once and wasn’t a fan. It likely would throw her off even more right now. I even tried a pair of my toddlers socks with the grippies on the bottom. She looked at me like I was crazy for trying! Ha! 

I went on a mission yesterday to find something slightly thicker and actually more fitting around her neck. Ended up with a lightweight human sweatshirt that we trimmed to size for her. Seems to be helping. Overall the incision still looks to be healing well. Counting the days! 

The Rainbow Bridge

Member Since:
25 April 2007
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22 January 2024 - 7:25 pm
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Ohhh yeah, the cone isn't helpful to prevent the back legs from scratching. I forgot about that. I'm glad the sweatshirt is working! 

You are right, booties can be a not-so-great idea during recovery. Traction on the floors is the easiest solution.

YAY for a well-healing incision! Paws crossed it keeps up and she's good about leaving it alone. Hope you have a good week!

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4 January 2024
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25 January 2024 - 9:45 pm
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Hi All! Update on Ra:

We’re seeing more wins daily! She’s making all the initiative now when it comes to going outside, drinking water from her bowl (we’ve been hand feeding her water out of her travel bottle since surgery), or anything else in between. Her pain seems to be managed enough that she’s comfortable around the clock. I can’t express my appreciation enough for the advice I received here on that.

We had one minor event a couple of nights ago where she was lying on her “bad” side and couldn’t re-adjust in the middle of the night. Poor girl woke up yelping in pain, but quickly calmed once she was comfy again. It was also at the “8 hour” mark, so made sense. And she’s still sleeping on a squishy mattress, so I can only imagine how tough it truly was for her. She’s since trained herself that she’s not quite ready to lay on her right side yet. She does show some discomfort on her first “get up” in the morning. Some slight crying, once she’s standing/sitting, but, again, it’s usually time for the next dose of meds. For what it’s worth, I know how I feel when I get up in the morning, so, once again, totally fair considering all she’s been through. 

She wants nothing more than to go upstairs and sleep in her happy place, especially to get away from her crazy, young, human sisters for a while. This got me thinking…are Tripawds able and/or stable enough to do long flights of stairs again? Unattended? What precautions can/should we prep for so she doesn’t hurt herself when we’re not around? Would love some feedback of how to assist that, when she’s ready, of course. Not necessarily in an hurry.

Otherwise, she’s set to get her staples out this coming Monday…incision looks good and has been protected. The sweatshirt has definitely distracted her from the scratching, while still letting some air flow. We hit the 10 day (post op) mark today, so I’m feeling good about it. Anything to watch for after staples are removed? I know she should still probably be restricted as far as activity, but is wound care a thing afterwards? 

She’s showing signs of being “herself” little by little everyday. I’m starting to see our happy, smiling, tail (nub) wagging girl shine through again. She’s one tough cookie if I ever saw one! 

Anyways, thanks for letting me rant and clear my mind here a bit. The last few weeks have been nothing short of a rollercoaster for all of us! I appreciate all the support! 

The Rainbow Bridge

Member Since:
25 April 2007
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26 January 2024 - 12:16 am
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Super happy you are all making great progress! Thanks for the update. 

As for stairs, are yours carpeted? Fully carpeted stairs are safer but still post challenges and risk. I wouldn't let any Tripawd do more than 3 or 4 stairs unassisted whether they were missing a front or back leg. It's super risky for a front legger to go down, and a rear legger to go up. They can usually do it on their own, but the uneven weight distribution puts them at risk of a spill.

How many stairs do you have? Can you put a baby gate up so she can only use them when you are able to help? A Ruffwear Flagline or Webmaster harness is indispensable for homes with staircases. 

As for the incision she shouldn't need any more care in that area once sutures are out. Her fur should start coming in soon and in a while you won't even remember there was a leg in that spot!

Member Since:
25 January 2024
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4 February 2024 - 5:11 pm
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Hi there 

Our brave Daisy and us are in 🇬🇧 
We are a little behind you - 00.01 here and Day 6 post op Rt front leg amputation.

You sound as through you are doing brilliantly, I absolutely understand your feelings of questioning yourselves about making the right decision. We have been the same and like my husband keeps telling me we had no choice and the alternative final choice would not have been fair on Daisy.

Re wound - Daisy’s dressing was half off today so I helped it off. Suture line is fine 🤞🤞 so I have left it exposed for now 😬.Got another dressing which may reapply today . Had bought a post op onesie but she wasn’t keen on that idea ! Can’t say I blame her .. I’m thinking T shirt idea too ?

Good luck with your pup’s recovery period , sounds as though her is truly loved and cared for ..

Take care of yourselves too .. treats for yourselves too to keep morale high , naps when you can !

Thinking of you all  

Member Since:
4 January 2024
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7 February 2024 - 9:42 pm
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Julie, Hi!! Thank you so much for your kind words, and well wishes!! I send my best to Daisy as well!! My apologies for not saying so sooner! I haven’t been on here in a bit. I will say, once we hit the 2 week mark, many of my concerns were diminished! It was a HUGE relief when that day came! Sounds like you’re almost there!! 

Jerry, thank you for your insight on our stair dilemma. We haven’t tried them yet with her, but are hoping to sometime this week. If anything, just to help her up/down to sleep with us at night. Unfortunately, our house isn’t set up to be very forgiving for this. We have a main level…kitchen, dining, living room and then it’s 12 stairs up to bedrooms, or 12 stairs down to the basement (which she hangs out with us in quite often). Both staircases are carpeted, and we do have a baby gate blocking her from them for now. If it’s our only option, we’ll tough it out, but definitely trying to think of a more convenient arrangement. We have 2 young kids too that have been blocked off as well. Minor, and they’re accommodating just fine, but I definitely look for “easier” solutions anywhere I can! I did purchase the Flagline harness you mentioned. It’s great for assisting her! I had to get her in our vehicle for a vet visit, which I was a nervous wreck about, but the harness made it so easy! 

Otherwise, current update: 

Rasta got her staples out on 1/29, exactly 2 weeks from her surgery. The incision healed wonderfully and her fur is starting to grow back. One staple was missed, so she had to make a quick visit back for it to be removed.  Luckily we noticed, as the tech said the skin had started to grow over it. Overall, she’s almost back to her normal self too! She’s actively getting around on her own, eating, drinking, and enjoying some sunshine outdoors when she can. We recently got hit with a pretty decent snowfall (here in CO) and she was trucking through it, no problem! Once it froze, it posed a bit of a challenge, but she’s doing it the best she knows how! Winter weather is not favorable, but we’ve been fairly lucky so far! 

She had her second round of Chemo this past Monday. It’s definitely knocked her on her tail for the last couple of days, but no major side effects as of yet. Just sleepy.  Our oncologist mentioned that there was new research stating if an amputee, due to cancer, has their first round of chemo within the first 5 days of surgery, there may be a better survival outcome. We’ll see, I guess.

She had her first round the day of her surgery, so it was hard for us to gauge what side effects stemmed from what course of action, the surgery itself or the chemo. Now we’re getting a better idea of how it’s truly effecting her. Fingers crossed, so far all is good. Only 2 more to go! 

Sorry for my novel! Just want to share my experience as much as I can! It’s been a rough road…but we’re all making it through! Cant even put into words how much I appreciate the support here!! It’s helped me get through this, immensely! Thank you all! 

The Rainbow Bridge

Member Since:
25 April 2007
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8 February 2024 - 10:59 am
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Wow she is on track to kick cancer's butt! SO happy everything is going on schedule and even getting a boost with that early chemo treatment. Your oncologist is right, new thinking is the earlier the better for treatment. Some vets are even doing it at the time of amputation, which is scary to me but it seems most dogs I hear about are tolerating it pretty well.

Yay for Colorado snow! It's been sparse this season. We are based in Fort Collins (not there now, up in Alaska with our sled dog friends) and want to do a Tripawds gathering later this year, I'll let you know when it happens, we would love to meet you and Rasta!

As for the stair situation. Yeah it's a tough one for sure, so many houses are not designed for dogs. Not just senior dogs, but 3-legged ones, blind dogs, etc. Meanwhile, smart move to have the baby gates! If your stairs are carpeted that's extra protection for Ra. I still wouldn't allow her to go up or down without assisting her with the Flagline , that would scare me. She of course will try to do it herself but it's risky.

No worries about the length of your post, we love knowing how folks are doing! 

Member Since:
4 January 2024
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1 April 2024 - 11:06 pm
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Hi All! 

Hope everyone had a wonderful Holiday. I haven’t been back in a while….Rasta’s been living her best life, for the last couple of months anyways. Unfortunately, I’m back with bad news. We received the grim news on Saturday that Rasta’s cancer has spread to her lungs. 

We were lucky enough to get her back to Illinois for a Spring Break road trip, where she was able to see all of her “people” from her puppyhood. She was truthfully doing great until that point, but she took a turn for the worst on the last leg of our trip. What seemed like overnight, she didn’t want to get up at all and had to be hand fed food and water. We thought it was possibly the stress of the trip, and she had obvious signs of an eye infection. We immediately got her into the vet upon our return. They gave antibiotics for her eyes and a long lasting pain injection hoping the same. They did a blood panel, which came out normal and an X-ray and said they couldn’t see anything significant, but would let us know after they sent it in to the lab. Sounded hopeful, but unfortunately it isn’t. I don’t know the full extent of the mets yet…I need to follow up with the vet tomorrow, but for now we’ve been given a pain management plan for for at least a week or so. 

I’m so incredibly heartbroken. I was just starting to feel confident that she would defy all odds. She was set to get her 4th and final chemo treatment the week of our trip, so we postponed it for a week. Obviously, that’s out of the question now, but likely wouldn’t have been the answer regardless. 

She’s my first dog, and I truthfully, have no idea what to expect, or what problem signs to look for as far as her status at this point. She doesn’t really want to get up, unless she absolutely has to. She’s still eating (at her food bowl) and drinking (mostly by hand). She is still going to the bathroom (outside). But that’s the extent of her activity levels. She had a really good day yesterday, as far as overall attitude and energy. Today she’s seems a little more tired. I started sleeping in the living room with her again, as she has zero desire to even try to go upstairs…to her happy place . 😞 She’s not coughing or wheezing, as of yet, but I was up most of the night listening to her breathing. Sounds labored as she sleeps, and she was up panting several times. 

Hate to bring bad news, but I guess it’s all part of the journey. I’ll keep you updated as we go. Any tips or advice as far as what I can expect, what to watch out for, and ultimately, how long is “too long” would be appreciated. Thanks for listening. 

The Rainbow Bridge

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25 April 2007
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2 April 2024 - 11:11 am
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Hi Cory,

Dang I'm so sorry! Don't even apologize for bringing the sad news here, that's why we exist, to lean on and support you through the whole journey.

I'm so glad she got to go on that road trip with you. What a twist of fate that you cancelled chemo for the trip, which ultimately was a good thing since you're right, the last session likely wouldn't have prevented this from happening. Instead you got a road trip of a lifetime with your girl, and made memories that you will never forget! What a gift for all of you! We would love to see the photos when you have time.

What you are describing is generally how late stage lung metastasis sounds, but this situation seems a little different. The eye infection / goop tends to happen to a lot of dogs and I haven't read anywhere why this seems to be more common. The lethargy she's having is pretty common, and the panting. But it is curious though why the xrays didn't show any obvious signs of lung metastasis. I'm wondering if it could have maybe metastasized elsewhere in the body, which is rare, but does happen. In that case, some really strong pain meds are in order and a good plan for next steps. You may want to consider a hospice vet to help you gauge where she is at with her quality of life, and then be ready for you when it's time to say goodbye, hopefully no time soon. I would ask your vet for a referral to a hospice vet if that sounds like it may help.

Please let us know what the vet says today. We are thinking of you and Rasta and sending lots of love your way. sp_hearticon2


Member Since:
22 February 2013
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2 April 2024 - 2:25 pm
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I was just catching up on your post prior to this one......and then scrolled down to the latest  post today....quite  shocked to read about the downturn. 

If I understood  this correctly  no mets showed up on the xrays, yet the Vet drew the conclusion  there were lung mets??    Generally, not always, but generally loung mets aren necessarily  painful per se.  They can cause discomfort like off and on panting, etc  and lack of energy though, bit not real pain (generally). 

How many breaths per minute while sleeping comfortably??

Guess the way this happened  so suddenly  leaves me with more questions than answers.  So I apologize  for throwing out more scenarios. So FWIW, is it possible  that Rasta over did things on her  epic fun vacay ........maybe tweaked a disc, did some spine damage (neck of back)  etc.

Also, curious  if maybe spine mets were mentioned??  I say this simply because  symptons can show up pretty quickly out of the blue.  

IF she does have lung mets you can ask about some more palliative  care meds like Prednisone or Piroxicam.  If she has a spine  or disc tweak, this could also help.  They help with inflammation  if the mets are causing that.  Also, continue doses of Gabapentin once the injection has worn off.  Of course.....not a Vet and not giving  Vet advice.

Continue  to spoil, spoil, spoil and live in the moment!  

Update when you can.


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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4 January 2024
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2 April 2024 - 5:58 pm
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I didn’t word the X-ray part very well…the vet did say it has spread to her lungs, however, he didn’t elaborate at all. Probably because it was the day before Easter. So, yes, there are mets present, I just didn’t know how bad it looked. I called and left a message for an update and some more info on treatment/pain management moving forward, and just overall asking what we can expect. I haven’t heard back, but I was finally provided with her radiology report. Sounds like there’s 1 larger mass on her diaphragm and a small nodule on her cardiac “silouhette” (?). All organ function is in good shape so far though. 

Currently they have her on Prednisone again, twice a day for 7 days and moving to once a day after that. And also the Gabopentin every 12 hours. It seems to be helping a little. She’s getting some bursts of energy here and there. The breathing wasn’t quite as labored last night…seems to be when she’s in a certain position.  She enjoyed a small truck ride and an afternoon at the park today, and was all smiles and tail wags when I got home from work. 

Thank you for your support and racking your brain with me. I, too, was slightly shell shocked considering how well she was doing just 2 weeks ago. Slightly frustrated that I’m having to dig for answers! 

Either way…the spoiling will definitely not stop from this point on! She’s getting a steak for dinner tonight, as luckily she still has the appetite of a horse! 😊

I’ll update as I hear more. Hoping tomorrow. 

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4 January 2024
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2 April 2024 - 5:59 pm
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And P.S….I’ll send some pics when I actually get on a desktop! 😊

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