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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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The first day was harder than I thought
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Livermore, CA

Forum Posts: 4012
Member Since:
18 October 2009
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8 May 2020 - 9:59 pm
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Hello and welcome to you and Smudge.

I’m sorry you have found yourself here- but this really is the best place to be for information and support as you start this new journey.

My Pug Maggie lost a back leg to a mast cell tumor.  You can read her story and about her amp, recovery and treatment, the links are in my signature below.

Mag’s tumor was also rated a 2 or medium grade- which really tells you nothing since it ‘could’ act like a 1 or a 3.  Did vet give you the mitotic index?  The mitotic index gives you a better idea of how aggressive the cancer may be.

Her getting sick after the tumor was biopsied may be due to the tumor itself.  MCTs are known to release a lot of histamines and heparins (sp?) when disturbed (even just a needle aspirate) and that can cause stomach upset.  When my Pugs had anything done to their tumors they were put  on a stomach medicine like pepcid and benedryl.  Mag was on both meds after her amputation in addition to pain meds.

In the overall scheme of things most all dogs do bounce back after amputation surgery and very quickly when you consider what a major surgery they undergo.  But the thing that rarely seems to be shared with the family is that the first couple of weeks can be full of ups and downs as the pup recovers.  A major surgery like this is sort of routine for a vet, but for us parents it is a huge learning curve!

Hang in there, Smudge will get better.  It does sound like she needs better pain control- be sure you call your vet and advocate for her. 

Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls

Tri-pug Maggie survived a 4.5 year mast cell cancer battle only to be lost to oral melanoma.

1999 to 2010


              Maggie's Story                  Amputation and Chemo

Forum Posts: 13
Member Since:
8 May 2020
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9 May 2020 - 3:45 am
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Thanks so much, it’s good to know that others go through this too! I’m so sorry your dog had a hard recovery but it’s great to hear he’s doing well now.

I’m sitting outside with her now and her painkillers have kicked in so she seems much better and is moving a bit. We’ve called the vet about her and are waiting for a call back so we’ll go from there smiley9

Forum Posts: 13
Member Since:
8 May 2020
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9 May 2020 - 4:07 am
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hey Karen, I’ll absolutly look up your story, it would be great to hear such a similar story to us. Small dog and the same illness. We didn’t get that index, the vets have been run off their feet right now because a lot of the general pratictioners have shut down, the hospital is the only place for a lot of pets, also it’s a rural area and a lot of livestock are giving birth.

The vets have been great for making time for us, they might have included that in the initial explanation, saying it was a middle level.

You’re dead right though, they forget that we’re not as experienced with animals in pain as they are, we don’t know what’s normal or worrieing so we just worry about it all.

When we picked her up they said she was amazingly lively and spry, but they mean by the standards of a 10 year old dog after major surgery, their standards are very different from ours.

I’m sitting with her out in the sun and her pain meds have kicked in, she’s doing much better now, she’s even getting up and moving a little on her own which is great!

Thanks for the encouragement, it’s been so helpfulsp_hearticon2

Forum Posts: 13
Member Since:
8 May 2020
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9 May 2020 - 4:27 am
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one is pain/anti-inflammatory , one is an antibiotic and one is a stomach soother 

Forum Posts: 13
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8 May 2020
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9 May 2020 - 4:40 am
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yeah the Google search was mostly right but the anti inflammatory is also pain meds, we just have it to her and it’s made a huge difference! she’s moving a bit and has perked up. Dad got in the car and she actually went running after him! She peed then so we’re quite happy. The second day is off to a good start!

My dad is a few months into recovery for major surgeries as well an he relates to her a lot right now. So we will definetly be advocating for her pain.

I think the vets were wary to give her pain meds that we’re too strong because of her sickness earlier. It was very intense, multiple days of getting sick 5+ times. Her stomach lining got inflamed from it all and that wasn’t very long ago so that’s a factor.

sp_hearticon2sp_hearticon2 thanks for all the help! talking to people has been amazing, doubly so since human contact has been minimal with the Rona sp_hearticon2sp_hearticon2

Liverpool, UK
Forum Posts: 50
Member Since:
2 May 2020
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9 May 2020 - 10:31 am
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My pup Hazel lost her leg to medium mast cell too. It seemed like such a hard decision at the time, I cried so much while waiting to hear if she was put of surgery and then again every time I heard she wasnt allowed home yet. Not being able to see her meant I kept thinking I’d done only bad for her and that she wouldn’t be able to cope and I was selfish for putting her through it all… That IMMEDIATELY went away when I got her home. She’s so much more herself without the leg there releasing all that histamine and causing all sorts off odd reactions. I’m sure you’ll start to feel that same relief too, if not already! 

Smudge seems to be doing so well on the little amount of painkillers they’re on, go smudge!

You’ll start seeing small victories everywhere soon, I cried when I saw Hazel get herself up to drink for the first time and then again when she learnt to turn in a small space. So look for the little victories, celebrate each and every one and take each day as it comes. Sounds cheesy but honestly sometimes it’s best icon_lol

I’m glad to hear you’re feeling better about it all now too sp_hearticon2

nyoom sp_hearticon2

Forum Posts: 1525
Member Since:
27 July 2014
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9 May 2020 - 12:10 pm
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Hi Smudge and family,

It sounds like she does better with the pain meds but I hope the vet can improve on her pain management . Sometimes pets have stomach problems with NSAIDS such as Metacam so vets need to find something else. Metacam is a great anti-inflammatory and only offers a limited amount of pain relief. Most of our pets come home with an additional medication for pain relief. My cat was on an opioid Buprenorphine and Metacam. 

Amputation is major surgery so our pets need something stronger for the first few days. If there are stomach issues perhaps a fentanyl patch would work for Smudge. I’m not a vet, just offering some things to consider based on what other pets were given.

My cat loved to have a cold compress applied to the surgical site. I would just use a cold damp wash cloth.

It’s good to hear Smudge was more spunky today. You certainly have a lot on your plate with covid, quarantine, and both your dad’s and Smudge’s health. Take care of yourself too!


Kerren and Tripawd Kitty Mona

Forum Posts: 13
Member Since:
8 May 2020
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9 May 2020 - 1:20 pm
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Hey Kerren,

We called the vet and they are going to give us some better meds, I don’t know why they didn’t from the beginning, but we’ll get her sorted. The vets have been great this is the first time I’m not on the same page with them. 

I’ll try the compress, that’s a good idea.

She’s doing well and went running and barking when she heard a car come in, so nothings changed there!

Oh yeah, I’m definitely feeling the stress! Dad’s health is ok, he’s well into recovery. It’s more our personalities clashing that’s the problem but I’m sure everyone is dealing with that! icon_razz 

Thanks so much sp_hearticon2

The Rainbow Bridge

Forum Posts: 28796
Member Since:
25 April 2007
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9 May 2020 - 8:04 pm
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I’m so glad your vet is on board with additional pain medications. Often it’s a matter of fine-tuning the meds, all dogs are different and you just don’t know how they will react until you get home. You are doing great advocating for Smudge and making sure she gets the care she needs. 

And oh my gosh she is barking at car noise? That is a fantastic sign she is mending physically and mentally. smiley_clap

You and your Dad, and Smudge, are dealing with a lot right now, and when this is over you guys will be a stronger pack. You can do this!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Forum Posts: 13
Member Since:
8 May 2020
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10 May 2020 - 7:26 am
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She went flying down some giant steps yesterday to bark at someone, nothing’s going to stop her protecting her kingdom! She’s perking up a bit, I can see the improvement day by day, I just wasn’t prepared for the first one. 

Thanks so much for all the help and support, I’ll update in a week or so about how she’s doing, hopefully she’ll be zipping around! sp_hearticon2sp_hearticon2


Forum Posts: 20139
Member Since:
22 February 2013
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10 May 2020 - 8:44 am
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Okay Smudge, no flying down stairs yet  you silly girl!!   Shhh….it dif give is a laugh at the visual. and….shhh… is good to know you are feeling better 😉

Slow and easy sweet girl.  We’ll look forward to your next update!


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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