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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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Member Since:
28 April 2018
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5 May 2018 - 1:13 pm
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Sassy The Dog was first diagnosed with mast cell tumors when she was 1 y/o. They were scattered across her body, varying in size. After two major surgeries on our puppy, all of the growths were removed. It was a pretty brutal recovery, complete with drains, pumps and countless visits back to the hospital. After she got through it, however, everything was great for three long and happy years.

She worked at a surgery rehab facility for several years as an unofficial therapy dog, and loved going to work every day to bring smiles to everyone she saw. 

When she was 4, she developed a small growth on her front left paw. More trips to the vet(s), who all concluded that as long as it didn’t grow dramatically in size or affect her (pain) in any way that we should just leave it. 

The tumor grew very slowly, sometimes larger, sometimes smaller, over the next two years. It had been pretty big so far in 2018, but at no point had it ever bothered her. It was now consistently large, though, so she saw a new oncologist back in March to discuss options if it ever reached a breaking point (radiation, chemo, amputation, or a combination of some/all of the options). 

A few weeks ago, however, we came home one afternoon to witness the realization of one of our greatest fears.  The tumor had opened and was now bleeding. We bandaged it up as best we could until we could get into the vet. The tumor had forced our hand, and the decision to amputate was made. We got pretty good at the bandaging over the two weeks leading up to surgery, but it was certainly not a viable permanent solution. 

She had her surgery on Tuesday of this week. Thanks to everything I’ve read on this site and elsewhere, I was mentally prepared and tried to get everything ready to help her transition go as smoothly as possible. 

The first night home was pretty rough, but (again, thanks to the stories I’ve read from all of you) we made it through without too much panic. The next day was better, and the next better still. I’m amazed at her resilience and her demeanor throughout the ordeal. Dogs are truly incredible, and maybe more than humans deserve.

Here are a few of the highlights; ones that I would have found useful heading into this week:

*we live in an apartment building with a decent walk (and elevator) to the outside. Our folding wagon has been a true life saver. With a blanket in the bottom, it’s her current mode of transportation and she loves riding in it. We will soon be moving into a new house and will no longer need it, but it’s invaluable to our recovery process so far.

*the DIY sling idea posted in here is great. I made one that would work perfectly, however Sass refused any help with standing to pee/poo, so despite having a fully functional tool in her wagon at all times, she insisted on learning to balance and do it all herself. 

*I brought her home on Wednesday afternoon. She didn’t pee until 3:30am the following morning, despite ample opportunity. I was worried about it, but i guess she just wasn’t ready. She tried to poop also, but fell over mid-way 😣. We didn’t get any poop for all of Thursday, but when we went out first thing Friday morning we got a pro pee AND poop. I’ve never been more proud of her. She’s got it pretty well figured out now. 

*we have hardwood floors, so we went to Home Depot and cut some 2’ wide strips of carpet to secure to the floor and build her a path throughout the house. They’ve worked extremely well. 

*bought raised food/water bowls, which are a must

*bought some doggy grip socks, but haven’t really tried them yet. I’ll let her adjust some more first. 

*got her a harness, but also not going to use it until we get the staples out and she heals up a bit more. She’s wearing stylish t shirts for now. 

Shes doing some walking outside (just a little, though, while she’s healing up) to potty, and it warms my heart. Reading all of your stories and seeing her progress so far gives us the greatest hope for the future, and we know she can conquer any obstacle in her path. Thanks to all of you. 

She’s got an Instagram now, also. I had never had one, but everyone we know has been asking for constant updates (she’s got more friends than we do!) so it was the easiest way. She’s @SassTheGoldenTripawd if you want to see how well she’s doing 🤗. She no longer works at the rehab facility, but she’s still bringing smiles and love to everyone who sees her (online and in person). You amaze me every day, Little Miss Sassypants. 

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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5 May 2018 - 2:51 pm
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Wow Applawse! Applawse! Sass you are quite a little spitfire, congratulations on your smooth sailing healing journey! clap 

You've both been through so much, and you are handling recovery like champs. That makes things so much easier for everypawdy. Let us know if we can do anything to help make it easier OK? 

Thanks for hopping on over, welcome!

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

Member Since:
31 December 2017
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5 May 2018 - 2:52 pm
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Great post!  Thanks for sharing, and welcome to the club no one really wants to join.


Member Since:
22 February 2013
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6 May 2018 - 8:36 pm
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Just catching up over here!!  Saw your post about  laying  on her side and posted over there.  You've  done an excellent  job of all  your prep work for recovery .  

Thanks for posting  and providing a good "recovery list" for newbies facing  this journey 

And a belated CONGRATULATIONS  FOR A GREAT poopicon_pngpoopicon_png

Keep in keeping on Sass!  You're clearly a very loved pup heart


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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