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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

Tripawds is your home 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:
3 March 2023
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5 March 2023 - 9:49 am
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Hi everyone,

I’m just starting out on this journey. My girl Starla received her cancer diagnosis 5 days ago and I’ve been agonizing over wether to amputate now or wait. Her vet said she may not need amputation yet because she is walking so well but she has a pathological fx of her left femur (which probably had been fx’d for 4.5 weeks before we even knew it!) I can’t imagine the pain she is in so have made the decision that the leg must go. I’m going to call the vet tomorrow to get it scheduled.

I’ve been reading so much but if there’s a detailed list of what to expect pre-op and post-op and what products to have on hand to help her that would be great. Is there a place to buy/sell/trade harnesses and other supplies?

Obviously I’m worried about everything: money, life expectancy, will she have a good quality of life, chemo, etc. 

Starla is 75lbs, a little overweight but not bad, mixed breed. I call her Super Mutt because when I ran her DNA she has 25breeds. Main ones are Eskimo dog, Labrador, Malamute, chow chow, german shepherd and Rottweiler. She has the prettiest grey brindle coat and can camouflage in just about any background lol

She’s already on Gabapentin and Rimadyl every 12hrs for pain and she also takes Keppra for seizures. I just adopted her from the shelter last August and the poor girl has been through so much (UTI, epilepsy diagnosis, and now cancer) in her short time with me. I love her tremendously and just want to do what’s right for her

I work in Wildlife medicine so am used to seeing nasty wounds and fxs and making life and death decisions for them. But we don’t do amputations on wildlife since they have to return to life in the wild. I feel like I’m floating (drifting? drowning?) in a pool of the unknown here. 

I don’t have a lot of money as her epilepsy diagnosis testing wiped out my reserves. I don’t qualify for Care Credit. But I have a network of friends that I’m confident will help me out. I just have to swallow my pride and ask for help. Not something that comes natural to me lol

sorry for the ramble, thanks for reading. I guess I mostly just needed to vent

Lucie

Here and Now


Member Since:
25 April 2007
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5 March 2023 - 12:45 pm
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luciebird said
...if there’s a detailed list of what to expect pre-op and post-op and what products to have on hand to help her that would be great...

Welcome to the best club nopawdy ever wants to join!

Don't miss the growing list of Tripawds News blog articles all about What To Expect.

Check out the Tripawds Gear blog for all the best harnesses and see the Tripawds Recovery Shopping List for other helpful recommendations.

Check the Tripawds Angel Exchange for any available items or post your request there.

Others will surely chime in soon. In the meantime, use the Advanced Search above to refine your search results with specific phrases, and you're sure to find lots of helpful feedback.  You can also search all blogs here . Your future forum posts will not require moderation.

Virginia







Member Since:
22 February 2013
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6 March 2023 - 3:24 pm
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So sorry you find yourself here, but as you can see this is the best place to be for support, information and understanding from people who have been exactly where you are. We know this is so scary and you clearly are trying to do what is best for your sweet Starla. It is clear how very much you love her and how you are committed to giving her the best quality life possible. She is so lucky to have found you for her forever home.

Please know that you are not alone and we are here to throw you a life preserver and pull you back to solid ground.

If it would help give you some reassurance, you can maybe get an orthopedic surgeon to evaluate her overall condition. Is it osteosarcoma  that she has and were xrays  used to determine  that?  And yes, amputation is the way to get rid of that painful leg and give her quality pain-free life so she can be the happy Starla she was born to be.

As far as asking for help, I certainly understand the emotions involved and not doing that. The only thing that I can offer is that your friends clearly know your deep Devotion to Starla and would want to be able to help if they could. So give them that opportunity.

They had men got has given you links to great resources to help you navigate through what to expect regarding surgery and recovery. So glance through that and then let us know what questions you may have. Recovery is no picnic for the first couple of weeks, but with good pain management and taking things slowly to give her time to heal, her Sparkle will be back sooner than later.

Just a quick couple of tips, you'll want to get non-slip scatter rugs for traction if you have Hardwood floors. A firmer dog bed is better than a real cushy one as they tend to cause the dog to slip some when trying to get up. Raising your food and water bowls a little bit will help too with the dog her size. And yes, getting her weight down will be a bonus for her as she regains proper mobility.

Please know that whatever path you take on this journey, we are here to support you. There are no right or wrong past forward. All Starla cares about is being pain-free and being spoiled in loved.

We also have the Ttipawds Helpline where members eho have been that this journey volunteer to offer support.

Update us when you can. By the way there's no such thing as rambling on this site. Feel free to voice anything anytime with us. We are here for you.

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!

Member Since:
3 March 2023
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7 March 2023 - 12:15 am
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Thanks! Scheduled her surgery today. She will officially become a tripawd this Friday. I was Excited they could schedule it so soon as the vets in my area are usually hard to get in to. The pet to vet ratio here is way out of balance. 
but now I’m back to worrying. And stressing about the money. The estimate I was given for the surgery, which includes a biopsy post amputation, was a lot higher than I had anticipated. Made a go fund me tonight and shared on Facebook so we’ll see what happens. 
came home tonight to find my friend had sent me a care package with a generous donation included so that definitely lifted my spirits after a stressful day. 

Question: most of my house is hardwood with only carpeted room being my small bedroom. With the furniture in there, there’s only a small L-shaped space. Vet recommended keeping her in the carpeted room at first. Should I take the bed out to give her more space and prevent her from trying to jump on the bed where she usually sleeps with me? Alternatively, I thought about taking just the frame out and putting the mattress on the floor. I could remove the blankets during the day so she won’t get tangled in them. 

2nd question: do I need to take time off post surgery to stay home with her. It’s a Friday surgery so I’ll have sat and sun home. How closely does she need to be monitored?

The Rainbow Bridge



Member Since:
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7 March 2023 - 6:15 am
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Yes you want to minimize jumping, most folks put their mattress on the floor.

It's a good idea to supervise her for a few days and when you need to go to work if you or someone can check in on her that would be ideal. She will probably just sleep most of the day but it's smart to check in.

Friday will be here before you know it! Sounds like you have a great support system at home so things should go smoothly. Keep us posted.

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3 March 2023
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8 March 2023 - 8:00 pm
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Surgery is 2 days out! Getting nervous as it’s feeling more real but also feeling more prepared. I put up a gofundme and my friends came through in a big way. In 24hrs they had donated enough to cover half the cost of her surgery with several more people sending me checks that I don’t know how much they will be.

Moved rugs around in the house and put the mattress on the floor last night. I wanted to let Starla adjust to new arrangements so it wouldn’t all be a surprise to her when she came home from surgery. She was absolutely unphased by any of the changes and actually seems to like having the kitchen floor covered in a hodgepodge of large area rugs lol.

im worried about the fentanyl patch that she’s going to get tomorrow. I understand they want to have the pain meds in her system before the surgery but the only thing I know about fentanyl is that it can easily kill you as a street drug even if you just touch it by accident.

a friend offered to loan me a sling with handles to help me help starla get around post surgery. 

luckily my work recently moved locations and is literally right next door to my house now so checking in on her is going to be easy

Virginia







Member Since:
22 February 2013
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9 March 2023 - 9:43 am
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You're doing an excellent job of prepping your house for starla's homecoming. As far as humans preparing themselves emotionally, that's the hard part. You've done your research and  you know this is the right move to give starler an extended quality pain free  life full of joy and loving.

Is Starla staying overnight Friday at a 24/7 staffed clinic?     Couldn't   tell if she was coming home on the same day of surgery or not    Ideally if you could stay home Monday or maybe even tuesday, that would be great It sounds like your work is close enough that you could go home and check on her several times during those days if you cannot get off work. Also, if you have a neighbor/friend who could maybe state a little bit off and on at the house

I saw where our volunteer Bet answered  your question about the patch, so no worries  along those lines.   

Sounds like your Vet is very proactive in making sure pain is managed, so that's a good thing. The patch can make them a little wacky and confused and whiny sometimes, so don't let that alarm you.

When you do go to bring Starla home from the vet, don't even bother to look at the incision or draw attention to it. She just wants to see your happy smiling face telling her what a good girl she is and she's going home.

Stay connected and let us know if any questions arise. We are here for you and look forward to celebrating Super Mutt's homecoming.👏

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!

The Rainbow Bridge



Member Since:
25 April 2007
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9 March 2023 - 10:59 am
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Wow! Your friends are incredible, go Team Starla!

Don't worry about the Fentanyl patch. It might make her a little wonky and zonky but it's really helpful for controlling pain. Your vet sounds awesome just by the nature of them starting pain control a day ahead...that's the sign of a really great practice!

Deep breaths. You can do this! Lean on us!

Member Since:
3 March 2023
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9 March 2023 - 10:31 pm
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Thanks for the words of encouragement! Fentanyl definitely having a sedation and confusion effect on her tonight but she seems to be doing good.

Not sure if she’s coming home with me same day or not. I guess it depends on how she’s doing post surgery. They gave me 2 estimates, 1 for if she comes home and another if she needs to spend the night.

My friend works at this vet clinic so I trust them there but I’ve only been taking my pets there since January. And of course this is all happening while my friend is on vacation in Hawaii for 2 weeks

Member Since:
3 March 2023
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10 March 2023 - 10:27 am
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Dropped her off this morning. The surgeon called me shortly after and talked me through the procedure to make sure we’re all on the same page since he’s not the vet we’ve been working with. Unless something goes wrong, he’s planning on sending her home tonight. They aren’t a 24 hour place so no one would be with her overnight if she stayed there.

he’s actually doing 2 amputation surgeries today. Starla will be the 2nd in line since the first one is excepted to be easier and faster and he thinks Starla’s will be more complex. She will be the 4th amputation he’s done in just the last 10days. 

i feel good about his attitude and approach and I like the tech who is working this morning with him. 

My mantra for today is “it’s gonna be good”

Virginia







Member Since:
22 February 2013
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10 March 2023 - 11:32 am
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it’s gonna be good”    

And we have joined you in that mantra.    it’s gonna be good”

 

I like that the Vet called you prior to surgery to clarify everything.   And it certainly  sou ds like he has experience  in amputation  surgery.

Yes, it may be rough bringing  Starla home right after surgery, but it's better than leaving  her unattended overnight.  So make sure you have a contact  number for your Vet, get detailed directions non meds, care, etc.  STAY CONNECTED  here as we can also help you navigate  through the first couple of nights of recovery and the full recovery  process.

Sou ds like she'll come home with the patch and probably  has rec the Novitca (sp) injection for pain.   She'll probably  come home with Gabapentin,  an antiinflmmatory  and maybe an antibiotic. 

With the patch and shaking  off the anesthesia  Starla may be quite whiny, restless, co fused, etc.  Then again, maybe not.  She may not be mobiled yet, and ot may take several days to get her sea legs.  Then again, maybe not.

Drinking and peeiing will be important, but she may be off food a bit and not pooping  for a couple of days..   

Keep some chocolate  on hand for you.  It's therapeutic  for hoomans during recovery😉

 it’s gonna be good”

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!

The Rainbow Bridge



Member Since:
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10 March 2023 - 6:33 pm
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That is a GREAT mantra!

I'm glad she's coming home tonight, but as Sally said it might be rough going. Not because things are going sideways but just because she may likely be dysphoric and out of it from the surgery. If it is, don't panic. All animals tend to be that way just after surgery. It's a combination of pain meds, anesthesia recovery, etc. Things DO get better! Other Tripawd parents have been the nurse for their dogs during the first 24 hours and survived, you will too 🙂

You can do this! And you can always call the Tripawds Helpline for emotional support. Keep us posted!

Member Since:
3 March 2023
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10 March 2023 - 7:23 pm
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Thanks. We’ve been home for about an hour. So far so good. Her surgery went from noon to 3:30. I picked her up around 4:45 and she was already walking and trying to run out to the car. Using a sling to give her support.

she’s very whiny and groaning a lot. The incision is on the side that she usually lays on so she has been having to adjust to laying in the other side. She’s drinking water and I’m just trying to reassure her that she’s going to be ok. She’s got the fentanyl patch, they gave her iv buprenorphine. And sent her home with Rimadyl and Gabapentin refills for pain. 
she got IV antibiotics during surgery and then will start cefpodoxine.
The cat is very sweetly trying to comfort her too. Rubbing on her face and grooming her ears

Member Since:
3 March 2023
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10 March 2023 - 9:19 pm
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Started some cold compresses which seemed to help her pain (at least she got less vocal for a minute). She ate a bit of wet food and has successfully peed (with support from a sling). Got her evening pain meds on board and she finally seems like she’s settling down and looking like she might sleep soon

Virginia







Member Since:
22 February 2013
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10 March 2023 - 10:49 pm
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Welcome home Starla! Surgery is done!!!  And to have her already eating a little bit and drinking and peeing and walking......WOW  '

Hopefully she'll rest a little bit.  Try to rest when she does. 

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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