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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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Forum Posts: 28
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15 January 2021 - 2:47 pm
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We have a wonderful 10 year old black lab cross that just became tri-pawed on Wednesday, due to cancer in her right shoulder. Runcus is her name. She's already getting around remarkably well, and is learning quickly where her new center of gravity is. She is still a bit restless at night, and I can tell is getting frustrated with not being able to lie down comfortably other than flat on her left side. 

Her blood work and chest Xrays don't show any visible sign of metastasis. We are still awaiting pathology reports to determine if we're dealing with osteo- or chondrosarcoma, and whether her lymph system has been affected. I know we're not out of the woods yet, but at least we can now see a path! 

I don't have any particular concerns, I just wanted to get her story out there.

Although as I think about it, if anyone has insight into how long to expect her to be uncomfortable lying on her incision it would be helpful to know that. She wanted so badly to "make a snow angel" yesterday in the fresh snow. It just choked me up watching her, seeing how much she wanted to roll onto her back and kick her legs in the air on all that fresh powder! She just couldn't do it. Yet.

So many things I didn't think about... 

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15 January 2021 - 3:04 pm
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Hi and welcome to you and Runcus. We are sorry you had to join our club but very glad you found us. 

I love her name, how did you come up with it?

About laying on the amputation side: all dogs are different, some will do it earlier than later, they're all on their own schedule. When she does do it that means she is feeling really good!

Restlessness can be a pain signal. What medication did she come home with?

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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15 January 2021 - 3:56 pm
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She had a 24 lidocaine via TPort. Now she's on  gabapentin and rimadyl. I do think she has some pain in between doses, but for the most part she seems pretty comfortable. Still tired for sure, but she's training muscles to do things they've never done before.

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15 January 2021 - 3:58 pm
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Oh, and her name? Just fell outta my mouth one day.  I called her a rascal Runcus, and the Runcus stuck.

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15 January 2021 - 8:43 pm
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That is too cute about her name, it's one of a kind!

Ok well keep an eye on her pain signals and if she's still restless be sure to get in touch with your vet. I hope you guys get some rest tonight, keep us posted.

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15 January 2021 - 9:23 pm
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Well hello to Ruscus!  That's  a great avatar picture of your pretty girl.

Sounds like you have a good handle on what needs to be done to have a smooth recovery.   Your  confidence and pawsitive energy  will help reassure Ruscus that everthing  is going to be okay.

As Jerry said, keep an eye on pain signals .  It may be that the Vet needs to increase the frequency  of the Gabapentin  so the pain doesn't  jave a chance to get ahead start.

Right now it's abput rest, short leashed potty breaks and then more rest.  She'll  be able to do Snow Angels again.  Right now, she just needs to focus on healing.

My Happy Hannah took several weeks before should would lay on her amp side.  Some do it sooner.  Ruscus will figure it out at her own pace.

Keep is posted.   Here's a link:  adding images .   .  We would love to see more pf this pretty girl.

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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16 January 2021 - 8:22 am
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Thanks for kind words and encouragement! She did ok last night until around 6:30. She was overdue for her gabapentin. My bad. We've been working on getting the meds schedule to a manageable routine; her 3 am dose we "wiggled" to 5. Now it will be 6:30 since she slept until then. I think we'll all rest better now her doses are at 10:30 & 6:30. Wee hours meds are fine for a few days, but...

Anyway, good to know about Hannah and how long it took her to lay on the other side. I don't expect it will happen until well after the sutures are out. It will be another tiny victory when it does. She just seems annoyed about it, know what I mean? And she's having trouble figuring out how to maneuver herself so she can get her back against what she wants to lay next to. She hasn't figured out reverse yet. It will come, but I feel bad for her current struggles.

Thanks too for the adding photos link. I don't have much of an internet presence, and prefer it that way. Also I rarely use my laptop any more, and it sounds like mobile devices present a special challenge. All that to say I probably won't post pics to speak of, but that's ok.

Her "sister" a 3 yr old Italian Spinone named Calliope Jane, has been great. We were concerned her enthusiasm would be a problem, but she's been very intuitive about Runcus. Lets her go out the door first, doesn't blam into her as she rockets through the house to greet a visitor, or get a treat. She just seems very aware of Runcus' current fragile state. We are delighted as you might imagine. 

Thanks for reading my ramblings!

Have a lovely day

Virginia




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16 January 2021 - 9:07 am
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First, apologies to RUNCUS for messing up her name!  And it is such a great name.  Love the story behind it.

Yeah, the hospital meds are out of her system  now so somerimes  that's  when the pain starts to show up and dosing and frequency  needs tweaking.  Hopefully you have it spaced out now so you and Runcus can both get some rest.

And yes, she will figure out all the ways to maneuver with practice.  Their  adaptability  is truly awe inspiring.  I think part of their frustration is when they are used to turning  or circling one  specific way when they make their "nest", and then are used to sleeping  on one side moreso than the other, that causes  restlessness at first.  

Calliope Jane is a very good sister.  They seem to know when their dog pals aren't  quite up to snuff and react accordingly. 

Tha ks for the update.  This is the roughest  part but recovery  doesn't  last furever!

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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16 January 2021 - 7:07 pm
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Welcome to the club.  Love her name.  It took Sassy several months to lay on her amputation side.  Like Rene said it's totally up to the dog and what they are comfortable with.

Keep us posted on how she is doing.

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18 January 2021 - 7:36 am
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Thank you for your reply and kind words, Michelle. Runcus is doing great.  She went for a truck ride yesterday and loved it! My husband was standing there ready to boost her into his truck and she blew by him and leaped up into that truck like she'd been "Runcus on 3" all along! It was so heartwarming.

Then later on in the day, to my astonishment, she rolled herself over onto her right side, sighed a great sigh of contentment and slept for over an hour on that incision. I guess the pain med regime we landed on is working. 

I am so encouraged by her progress and the support here! Thank you all for "listening" to my concerns.  I'm quite certain there are other obstacles ahead. This is not a fast healing, and I fully expect some bumps along the way. I am just so glad to have this place to vent to and explore as we journey through this chapter.

I'll keep you all in the loop as to her pathology results coming later this week. And will give a full report when she makes her first tri-pawed snow angel!

Virginia




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18 January 2021 - 9:13 am
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OMD!!!  I know your hearts soared with delight as Runcus jumped in the truck like a Champ!!!  And then to have a good nap on jer inc6 side.YAY!!!!  Such huge progress already!!!.

Snow Angel's are waiting to be made and we can't  wait!!!

Good job of staying the course!

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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22 January 2021 - 9:25 pm
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We are struggling here, I'm afraid. Runcus doesn't seem to be doing very well. She did great until about Sunday. Things began to change with her not moving as much, standing with head down panting, acting groggy...just seemed Iike she was over-medicated. She'd been on the gabapentin every 8 hrs since Thursday. After chatting with the vet Monday we backed off the gabapentin, to once or twice a day but kept up with caprofen and tylenol, staggered doses. She still didn't seem right, less dopey but still signs of pain and some crying out like maybe phantom pains. And her gums started looking pale. Took her in to the vet Wed. A week after amp and she just had more pain than is expected. They think maybe she has a GI bleed, so sucralfate and famatodine, no more caprofen or tylenol. That made for a rough night, with a pretty restless pooch. They've got her back on pain meds now, tramadol and amantadine.  She is back to groggy, and not very active. 

Thursday was our best day. She still had some pain, but it seemed tolerable. She went on a ride with me, and when we stopped she got out, peed, and made a snow angle!! I just watched in awe and delight! She rested a little better but still cried out in the night. 

On another note, we finally got the pathology back today and it's osteosarcoma.  We were so hoping in might be chondrosarcoma and no chemo to follow... however the very bright silver lining is the lymph node looked clean! 

But she is clearly not herself. Until she is past whatever is causing this pain (or whatever's going on) we won't want to start chemo. 

I'm wondering if I've bitten off more than I can chew folks. I trust my vet, and I'm sure she's doing everything she can but I so want to know the source of this discomfort, and why her gums are still pale...

She did so well at first and this almost seems like something secondary, that's causing a slowdown in her healing. 

Any words of wisdom for a worn-down worrier?

Virginia




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22 January 2021 - 10:33 pm
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It's nor al to be worriedl when their ,are changes in behavior  like you have seen.  So good job of trying to ,sort things out.

Did the Vet do bloodwork???    Pale gums and "suspected" GI bleed need to be investigated further and  addressed. Others will chime jn, but I would get this figured  out.

How is his poop?

Tylenol  is used very sparingly. and ge really very small doses  because of side effects  in dogs. I'm really glad it is withdrawn.    It does almost nothing for major surgery pain ind dogs and actually  is not a ,good anti- inflammatory.  The Carprofen does have anti inflammatory  properties and helps with pain a little.

These  are ,just based on my understanding,  , but certainly not a Vet and not giving Vet advice

The Gabapentin  is the gest pain management .    Even if the Gaba makes her a little lethargic right now, it's still better than being in pain.  And once the pain gets ahead start, it's hard to get under control.

His much does Runcus weigh?  What is the dose amount of Gaba?  

Try massaging up and down her spine and around her shoulders to make sure she's not sh any tenseness, pulled a muscles, etc.

Hugs 

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

It's great rhat Runcus did some Snow Angel's!  I know that made you hapoy as well as ,Runcus!!

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!

The Rainbow Bridge



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22 January 2021 - 11:49 pm
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Hey it’s good to hear from you. I’m sorry things have been rough. Gabapentin can make some dogs especially groggy so backing off a bit and adding Amantadine sounds reasonable. I would ask if they can use the NSAID alternative, Galiprant.

Also, did you try heat and ice therapy to see if that helps her feel better? That she rolled around in the snow tells me that the cold felt very good to her achy body.

Pain can really do a number on the body. Have you done a capillary refill test to check her gums?

On a few rare occasions we have had a member whose dog was bleeding internally and suffering from the effects of a vein that didn’t get completely tied off during surgery. Did you get check for signs of that? What is her bruising like? Just throwing that out there. Don’t panic it’s just to make sure that’s not the case. Ask your vet if that’s a possibility.

It’s not unusual for a setback like this and usually it’s very short term once the pain is under control. That is almost always the case when a dog is not making the progress that we hope for.

Stay strong and keep working with your vet to make sure the pain gets managed. Things do get better! Keep us posted.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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27 January 2021 - 8:34 pm
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Sorry for the long overdue reply. Runcus is still having issues. I really thought she was lots better the last few days. She went for staple removal today! Yay!! Her pain seems well managed now, after a couple of bumps as I wrote previously. I asked for additional blood work at this appointment, as her diagnosis is osteosarcoma as dreaded. We would be starting chemo this week if she is strong and stable. 

Her "sister" Calliope Jane the hunting dog, noticed an odd oder coming from Runcus' left elbow this morning, and when I looked at it there was a noticeable bulge, seemingly fluid-filled. Upon closer examination, her lower and upper leg also showed signs of swelling. The vet is afraid of a secondary infection in that left leg, as her temp was also elevated to 103.5 when I took her in for the blood workand staple removal.

Her leg has continued to swell a bit as the evening goes on. However  her temp is back in the normal range at 101.8. She is terrified of going to the vet, especially now that I can't go in with her due to Covid 19 restrictions. I'm thinking the fever may have been transient and due to stress,  rather than infection. But the blood work showed elevated Chloride, Alk/phos and glucose. At her pre-surgery blood work all levels were within the normal range.

They did an xray as well, but I don't know exactly what that showed yet. I'm sure I'll know more tomorrow after I have another chance to visit with our vet. 

All of this is baffling at best. Is it even remotely normal or possible that her left leg swelling is due to how she's now using it? Has this happened to others? Can her strange blood chemistry be due to "vet-stress" as the fever may have been? Or is there something else at work?

My intention in proceeding with limb amputation for her was to give her another few moths of life pain free, as a worst case scenario. At best I hoped and prayed her cancer might even be eliminated with the surgery and proper treatment. Her lymph node pathology report showed no cancer there, which, of course is an enormous blessing! I'm still hopeful she can get through this...

As my wonderful husband pointed out, "It's only been 2 weeks." Am I being ridiculous in my expectations? Is she in  "normal" cycle of post-surgery ups and downs? 

Thanks as always for letting me vent and for reading my ramblings. 

If anyone has any insights I would be most grateful! 

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