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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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Alaska
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16 July 2012 - 5:16 pm
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The date was set today and my baby girl Latte is going to have her front left leg amputated Friday after a year long struggle with nerve regeneration and rehab after being hit by a car. The doctors recommended amputation since she gets wounds on her gimp paw and also because the severity of arthritis in her wrist and elbow. Even so I am really having a hard time with the idea of her only have 3 legs. Any tips or moral support on how to overcome this? Also what sort of things should I expect after surgery and the weeks to follow? Thanks!

Here and Now


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17 July 2012 - 7:35 am
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Welcome, your future forum posts will not require moderation.

You’ve come to the right place for plenty of moral support.

You’ll find lots of recovery and care tips in Jerry’s Required Reading List, and for immediate answers to the most common dog amputation questions consider downloading the Tripawds e-book Three Legs and A Spare.

Best wishes for Latte’s speedy recovery, please keep us posted. Wyatt may have a new girlfriend!

Austin, TX
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17 July 2012 - 11:07 am
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Your girl sounds like my Jack; an amputation that doesn’t involve cancer and is basically there to get rid of pain and dead weight.  That’s the best tip I can offer – just remember, you’re getting rid of a limb that’s no longer functional, is more than likely causing her pain (I didn’t realize how much pain Jack was hiding before he recovered from the amputation…he seemed happy but I’m constantly floored now by how much happier he is with it gone) — and if she can’t use it…what’s the point of keeping it there?  For looks?  It looks a lot worse to have a dog that won’t use a limb than to have a dog without the limb, in my humble opinion. 🙂

 

The ebook, Three Legs & A Spare is a wonderful, wonderful read and I highly recommend it.  Gave me a lot of peace of mind.

 

She’s going to be very off her normal self in the first two weeks following the surgery – that’s the pain meds for the most part, and her getting used to not having the weight of that leg hanging on her.  Just hang in there, call your vet for any concern (even minor ones…you’re paying them a hefty amount for this, and that includes her recovery), and don’t rush it.

Don’t let her do too much right away – you don’t want any tumbles to mess with her confidence.  Don’t go on long walks before the incision site is completely healed.  Given what you’ve written above, I bet you’ll have a quick recovery and an extremely happy dog in a couple of months. Juts remember you’re removing pain and that Latte is going to have a much better life without that extra limb slowing her down!

Jack - adopted with a crooked leg at 4 months old, managed for six years, and now much-happier Tripawd as of 5/24/2012!

The Rainbow Bridge



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17 July 2012 - 12:40 pm
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Latte is just beautiful! How old/young is she? Is she all German Shepherd?

These videos about rehab and post-amputation care are also helpful, be sure to read/watch them.

I have a feeling that you won’t regret proceeding. A year is a long time to cope with trying to get the nerves to get back in sync, you really did give it a lot of time (rehab vets say that after about 6 months you’ll know whether or not a dog will get full use of a limb back), and you’ve done a great job being her medical advocate. It’s far better for her to have that bum leg out of the picture, it could cause a lot of issues later on.

Now, the best thing you can do is be a strong pack leader. If you believe she will be OK, she will too. You’ve come to the right place for help with that. Lean on us, and remember we are here to make this journey easier. 

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Sydney, Australia
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17 July 2012 - 5:14 pm
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Three legs is a problem for humans, not for dogs.  They adapt so well and can do pretty much everything they used to do once they are healed.  Think of how much happier Latte will be without all that horrible pain in her leg.  Have a look at some of the dogs on this site to see how good life can be with only 3 legs and then hopefully you will see that you have nothing to worry about.

 

Allowing the incision to heal properly before doing too much and giving sufficient pain meds during that time will help Latte recover from the surgery.  Then, looking at rehab for Latte (as Jerry says above) will help you to give ongoing protection to Latte’s other llegs and body. And we are always here for any questions as they come up.

 

Karen and Spirit Magnum

Magnum: 30th May 2002 to 5th May 2012. Lost her back left leg to osteosarcoma on 5th Sep 2011. Lung mets found on 20th Mar 2012 but it was bone mets in the hip that ended her brave battle. Magnum's motto - "Dream as if you'll live for ever, live as if you'll die today" (James Dean). Loyal, loving, courageous and spirited to the end. My beloved heart dog, see her memoirs from Rainbow Bridge ...... http://princess.....pawds.com/

San Diego, CA
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17 July 2012 - 6:52 pm
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Hi and welcome to you and Latte,

Sorry you had to find us here. But like the motto says “It’s better to hop on 3 legs than limp on 4.” You’ll see… once she gets through the recovery period (not gonna lie, it can be hard – and you might get sleep deprived and then everything seems worse than it really is) which lasts about 10-14 days, you’ll see your old playful happy girl back. She will begin to inspire and amaze you. You’ll find out how awesome it is to be a Tripawd pawrent.

It’s going to strengthen your bond with her and you are going to love her even more. It will be all good – try not to worry.
Welcome to the club!
Jackie, Angel Abby’s mom

Abby: Aug 1, 2009 – Jan 10, 2012. Our beautiful rescue pup lived LARGE with osteosarcoma for 15 months – half her way-too-short life. I think our "halflistic" approach (mixing traditional meds + supplements) helped her thrive. (PM me for details. I'm happy to help.) She had lung mets for over a year. They took her from us in the end, but they cannot take her spirit! She will live forever in our hearts. She loved the beach and giving kisses and going to In-N-Out for a Flying Dutchman. Tripawds blog, and a more detailed blog here. Please also check out my novel, What the Dog Ate. Now also in paperback! Purchase it at Amazon via Tripawds and help support Tripawds!

Alaska
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20 July 2012 - 2:10 am
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Thanks everyone. She is a year and a half and is a German shepherd/husky mix. The doctors aren’t sure if they are going to keep her overnight or not tomorrow. Did many of you bring your dogs home same day or keep them
Overnight at the hospital?

Boston, MA
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20 July 2012 - 6:43 am
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Lupe was supposed to be kept for 2 nights at the hospital and they didn’t want me coming in to see her the first night.  She needed rest and not to get overworked from seeing me and then me leaving.  I was able to have a “video chat” with her.  That first night they are SO out of it from the meds that it makes sense to just let them rest with the hospital staff.  That said, Lupe was up that evening to go outside, she peed and then walked back in by herself.  She did come home the next day.  I think at least an overnight it typical and some dogs spend multiple nights at the hospital, it all depends.

Here’s to a successful surgery and recovery!  Keep us updated on how your sweet girl is doing…and get LOTS of rest when you can.  Having them home is physically and emotionally exhausting.

-Kori & Angel Lupe

Diagnosed with possible synovial cell sarcoma of right front elbow 5/31/12. Amputation surgery performed 6/7/12. Final diagnosis of histiocytic cell sarcoma 6/11/12. Her soul and spirit were strong, her body was not...my little girl earned her wings 6/14/12. "If there are labradoodles and goldendoodles, why can't I be a cockadoodle?"-Angel Lupe (June 28, 1997-June14, 2012) http://lupepod......pawds.com/

The Rainbow Bridge



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20 July 2012 - 6:57 am
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Most dogs stay overnight. You absolutely want her to stay overnight IF there is overnight monitoring with a qualified veterinary technician. If your vet doesn’t have someone to watch her (many small practices do not), then either 1) make arrangements to transport her to a 24 hour clinic, or 2) worst case scenario, bring her home. It’s hard work and difficult to see pups in pain so soon after surgery, but it’s better than leaving her alone in the clinic. 

Also, please be sure that proper pain management protocols are followed by your vet. Dr. Marty Becker talks about this on Tripawd Talk Radio.

For more pre-surgery tips that can make a huge difference in her recovery, please see our Required Reading List, and ebook, “Three Legs & a Spare

Shepherd Husky mix….too cool! She is gorgeous and we LOVE those ears!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Rock Hill, SC
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20 July 2012 - 7:20 am
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jerry said

Shepherd Husky mix….too cool! She is gorgeous and we LOVE those ears!

I have to say, those ears are fabulous!  What a pretty girl!  I agree completely with Jerry about leaving her overnight, but ONLY if they have 24 hour care.  We once had ACL surgery on a dog and the vet required that they stay overnight after surgery but no one was even at the clinic from 7 pm until 7 am.  I argued that there is no way that leaving him completely alone overnight could be safe when we could be right beside him (he had already escaped from the cone of shame twice while they were open – what made them think he would be any better alone in the dark?!)  They finally agreed to let me bring him home if I would be back first thing in the morning for a check-up.  As much as they dogs are ‘out of it’ after surgery, they still need to be monitered.

Zeus was a Husky mix diagnosed with Osteosarcoma at age 11.  A visible lung met and suspicious spot on his liver meant a poor prognosis-six weeks was our vet's best guess. We decided to fight for our boy and his right front leg was amputated on 12/1/11. We did six rounds of chemo, changed his diet and spoiled him completely rotten. We were blessed with 10 great months after diagnosis. Against the odds, the lung met remained a single met and grew very little over those months. A wonderful furbaby with the most gentle spirit, he fought with a strength that we never imagined he possessed. We have no regrets...
http://zeuspod......pawds.com/

Alaska
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20 July 2012 - 1:09 pm
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Yes she does indeed have some incredibly large ears LOL. We dropped her off this morning and they said they would keep her overnight, I automatically assumed that meant someone would be there but I’ll be sure to ask when they call this afternoon for an update. For pain meds she will be on tramadyl (spelling?) and then she also gets daily rimadyl and we requested sedative pills since she is wild especially since her boyfriend (my parents dog) is staying with us for the weekend.

San Diego, CA
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20 July 2012 - 5:55 pm
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For us, we could have taken Abby home the first night if we wanted to, but instead we opted to pick her up and transport her to an overnight facility. (The surgery was done at our vet’s office and they didn’t have overnight care.) It cost an extra $300, but we were worried about getting through that first night, and the vet said it would be more comfortable for her because she could be on IV meds the whole night. We picked her up first thing the next morning, and she came hopping out to greet us!

I know a few folks here did take their pups home the same day, but most spend at least one night in the hospital.

I love her ears too! They are pawesome!!

Keep us posted on how she does,

Jackie, angel Abby’s mom

Abby: Aug 1, 2009 – Jan 10, 2012. Our beautiful rescue pup lived LARGE with osteosarcoma for 15 months – half her way-too-short life. I think our "halflistic" approach (mixing traditional meds + supplements) helped her thrive. (PM me for details. I'm happy to help.) She had lung mets for over a year. They took her from us in the end, but they cannot take her spirit! She will live forever in our hearts. She loved the beach and giving kisses and going to In-N-Out for a Flying Dutchman. Tripawds blog, and a more detailed blog here. Please also check out my novel, What the Dog Ate. Now also in paperback! Purchase it at Amazon via Tripawds and help support Tripawds!

Alaska
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20 July 2012 - 7:01 pm
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She is out of surgery and doing well. The vet only has someone there till 8pm tonight but the doctor is hesitant to move her to a 24 hour hospital because it would cause her discomfort being moved. I’m nervous leaving her alone for the night though.

San Diego, CA
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20 July 2012 - 7:45 pm
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Hmm. Is it too late to just go get her?

I would also be nervous about her being alone all night. She’ll probably be fine – but I’m a worrier, so I’d be worried.

Abby: Aug 1, 2009 – Jan 10, 2012. Our beautiful rescue pup lived LARGE with osteosarcoma for 15 months – half her way-too-short life. I think our "halflistic" approach (mixing traditional meds + supplements) helped her thrive. (PM me for details. I'm happy to help.) She had lung mets for over a year. They took her from us in the end, but they cannot take her spirit! She will live forever in our hearts. She loved the beach and giving kisses and going to In-N-Out for a Flying Dutchman. Tripawds blog, and a more detailed blog here. Please also check out my novel, What the Dog Ate. Now also in paperback! Purchase it at Amazon via Tripawds and help support Tripawds!

dukez
15
20 July 2012 - 9:34 pm
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My dog stayed 3 nights – came home the 4th day. The hospital he was at has someone there 24/7 as it is a specialty surgery hospital as well as an urgent care. However, I’ve had dogs stay the night where someone wasn’t there all night. It made me uncomfortable so I certainly understand the worry, but I can’t imagine transporting the dog right now. She just needs to sleep and recover. Good luck over the next few days. It is hard to see our babies in pain and out of it. But, they bounce back amazingly fast and act like they’ve only had 3 legs their entire life. Good luck to you and your beautiful girl.

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