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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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10 year old Lab/Newfoundland - Rear leg amputation surgery tomorrow.
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18 November 2016 - 5:00 pm
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Oh I definitely looked at the photos and prepared myself, my poor guy had his belly shaved for ultrasounds and now hes gonna be shaved for the amp..hes gonna be half bald! But better bald, than in pain. <3 I called the vet cause I hadn’t heard anything and he got out of surgery about an hour ago (3pm PST). She said the surgery went well and he’s just really doped up right now. 

I’ll post again once hes home. <3

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18 November 2016 - 11:56 pm
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Hi! I hope everything went well with your baby’s surgery today. I just wanted to pitch in with a bit of support and recent experience. My Izzi just lost her right rear leg to bone cancer in September. She is 9 and she’s a big girl too, yet not as big as yours, she’s 65 pounds. It has been about 9 weeks since her surgery and she’s actually doing fantastic. I won’t lie, the recovery can be flat out awful at times. There was alot of crying involved for me. Izzi is very in tune with my emotions so I just had to go cry in private so as not to bring her down. They really need so much positivity to get through this. The bruising, swelling, and drainage are hard to look at and it’s so sad to imagine what they are feeling. But! It’s only a short term situation and it really will fly by. I also had a week to be home with izzi for recovery and then after that I came home at lunch every day like you plan to do. The biggest issue we had was with licking the incision when she was home unattended. I absolutely cannot stress enough how important a good quality cone is. I know like 99.9% of dogs hate the cone and it seems like torture but you have to do it. The last thing you need is the stitches coming out or getting infected! If you can, it’s really helpful to make a big pallet in your living room and just plan to be lazy with him as much as you can while he heals. We actually got Izzi a twin sized memory foam mattress for $90 on Amazon which was way cheaper than most large dog beds and the bonus is that I can lay on it with her. That obviously doesn’t work for everyone because it does require some space but it’s something to think about. Everyone is different but Izzi was up hopping around almost immediately. The first week while she was on the strong pain meds she got around very well. The second week she seemed to back pedal and started to slow down considerably but she was weaning off the tramadol so I think the pain was more of a factor then. Just try not to get discouraged if he doesn’t seem to get it right away – he will in time. Be his cheerleader and celebrate every step with him, you will boost his confidence and help him improve. If you can get a support harness it will be a life saver. I ordered one off Amazon (can you tell I love Amazon?! Ha!)  that was quite a bit cheaper than the ones I see advertised on this site so shop around if cost is of concern. It’s exhausting to try and assist them without a harness and I really think it helps izzi feel more independent. All in all I feel I made the right decision by choosing to amputate and I bet you will too once you get over the initial shock of things. This site is overflowing with wonderful people that will help you through it all. I would have felt SO alone without all the kind friends I have encountered here. Post an update when you can and give that boy lots and lots of kisses!!!! We are all rooting for him! 

Here and Now


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19 November 2016 - 11:11 am
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izzi2007 said
If you can get a support harness it will be a life saver.

See all our best harness recommendations in the Tripawds Gear Shop!

I ordered one off Amazon….

Be sure to start all your Amazon searches here to help support your Tripawds community. smiley

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19 November 2016 - 1:49 pm
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Glad that Forrest’s surgery went well.

Just chiming in because my Tai is a little over a month post surgery (rear leg also).  I went through pretty much everything you did – crying, guilt, second guessing.  The docs were so positive that she was a good candidate even though she is 14 – that really helped.  Tai’s surgery was done later in the day so they kept her an extra night – extra time for me to deal with my emotions.   When I picked her up and she wagged her tail – well that was it for me.   I was so happy to be bringing her home.

Your at home plan sounds like a good one!  It’s great you have someone you trust and who loves Forrest to help out.  The first couple of weeks were a little tough and it was hard to see Tai adjusting.  There are ups and downs.  Sounds like you have a great hospital, which helped me a lot as I called them a few times after she was home and someone always talked to me as much as I needed – hopefully that will happen for you too.

It is so true what everyone here says about Being More Dog and accepting (there is SO much useful info here, and everyone is so supportive).  I took Tai to our favorite park today and though she can’t walk for as long as she used to, the important thing is that she CAN walk and that she’s happy to be out and about.  Whatever time we have left, I don’t regret the decision one bit. 

Hope you are getting your boy settled in.  heart

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19 November 2016 - 2:42 pm
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In terms of a harness, we were big fans of the Ruffwear Webmaster Plus harness – you can see it in the gear blog.  The handle on the back allowed me to assist Otis without straps cutting into his body.  And I loved that you could clip the lead to it, to keep it up and out of the way of his feet when we walked.  He liked it to – he could even roll in it (every walk ended with rolling).  And big black dogs look great in red!

Otis - 106 pound lab/Dane mix, lost his right front leg to osteosarcoma on Febuary 9, 2016.  Four rounds of carboplatin completed in April, 2016.  Lung mets August 25, 2016.  Said goodbye too soon on September 4, 2016.   Lost his adopted sister, Tess, suddenly on October 9, 2016. likely due to hemangiosarcoma.  

Wherever they are, they are together.

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19 November 2016 - 8:10 pm
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Hi everyone! 

Sorry it took me so long to update, but you probably all know from experience that the last 24 hours have been kind of crazy! So I’m just gonna tell you guys all about my day yesterday, because HOW I was able to stay up all night after being sooooo emotionally drained is beyond me. You guys definitely were not kidding when you said I probably wouldn’t get any sleep the first night. I think about 4am I broke down crying from being so tired and he couldn’t get comfortable and he was so drugged up and whining the entire night it just made my heart ache. In hindsight I *think* it would have been better to take him to a 24 hour emergency vet to be monitored over night, but I do think he got some sort of relief and comfort from me being right by his side, he seemed to get substantially calmer while I was petting him – not sure he would have gotten that sort of comfort from a 24 hour vet stay (but I don’t know?). I also forgot what its like to sleep on the floor, haha. But my boy is worth it.

Anyways, back to the main story.

I got to the vet at about 6:15 last night, he was due to be picked up at 6:45, so I had 30 minutes to kill at a Petsmart before picking him up. I decided to get some puppy pads, just in case he pee’d the bed, I was terrified of over exerting him, luckily him peeing the bed never happened (hes always been reallllllyyy good about no accidents, I think even on pain meds he knew he shouldn’t just pee on himself – I love my smart boy <3) I also decided to ask an employee walking by if they had any harnesses with a handle, I mentioned my dog just had his leg amputated and needed something to assist him – she directed to me another lady who pointed out some HUGE life jacket that was just SILLY to even think of putting him in that, it was bulky, probably would have rubbed his incision and he for sure would have looked at me like “WTF IS THIS MOM?!?” – Thankfully my roommate was with me and he just walked away and found one that will suffice for the time being while he is recovering until I can get a better one. But while the lady was helping me she asked “How old is he?” – “10” – “Oh. He is going to have a REALLY tough time adapting since hes 10″ …..Oh man. I politely thanked her for her help and went to the cash register where the other lady proceeded to ask me every single question about how he lost his leg, how old, big…etc. I know its human nature to be curious, but man…that was tough. No pun intended, but talk about pouring salt into a very fresh wound. I ended up waiting for 2 hours to pick Forrest up due to an emergency that popped up for another pet owner in the building. At points I thought I was going to pass out (that might be super dramatic but I haven’t felt nerves like that in FOREVER). Then I see them bring my boy out on a stretcher and put him in a room and the vet calls me into the room, for lack of a better term, I lost my shit on that very short walk to the room. But with happiness. To see him. Out of surgery. Wagging his tail. Even if he WASN’T walking on it right away (they did say he had already stood on his own though). But when I got into the room with the doctor, everything changed, I wasn’t crying anymore, I went into momma-bear mode and somehow pulled myself together more than I have this entire journey the last month. I’m REALLY glad I prepared myself with photos of the incision, although, even in person it didn’t bother me as much as I anticipated. Honestly seeing him drugged up was the hardest part of it all, he was biting his tongue -which was hanging out the side of his mouth – and his lip, I mean, they insured me he could not feel a thing but it didn’t make it any less hard to see. And the way he looked around the room, I just wish I could know what he was seeing with his eyes. The best news, guys, in that room with him, waiting for his medicine and to take him home, I had an overwhelming feeling that I made the right decision. I had no doubts at that point. I can’t say that wont change over the next couple weeks and that doubt wont sneak back in, but at that moment I was AT PEACE with my decision. And that was an incredible feeling (especially since I have had some negative responses to my decision to amputate Forrest’s leg). Now lets fast forward a little bit, after the very, very long night, around 6am Forrest looked…”normal” – he didn’t look like he was seeing unicorns flying around the room. And he started to really want to try and get up. So I helped him hop out the door to the yard to take a potty break. And he went! Almost all by himself, he was definitely weak but he did it (he HATES having help to go to the bathroom) I was soooo proud. Tears. Tears were shed. Then he was able to hop by myself. Tears again. So moral of this very, very long story is: He is adapting so well already. Im trying to let him guide me, if he’s not moving with my help but will move without my help I am giving him the (minimal) freedom to do so (but also making sure im close enough to catch him just in case). My friends and family are so surprised at how happy he looks and all the tail wags. Some respond with “Awww….how sad” – Which I reply – NO SAD FACES HE IS DOING AMAZING :). Leg schmeg. Who needs it? Not Forr. <3

I will keep you all posted through out the recovery, I’m sure more difficult times are ahead, but I think we are both ready for them. I find out in 2 weeks if the MCT in his leg is aggressive or not. But as a lot of you have suggested to Be More Dog …I am not worrying about that right now! Just embracing our new three legged journey together with lots of love, treats and kisses.

Virginia




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19 November 2016 - 9:23 pm
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I am sooooooo relieved!!!! Sometimes when we don’t get an update after surgery…well, let’s just say its REALLY good to hear Forrest is home and in the road to recovery!!

You are doing a STELLAR job of taking care of him! You have more courage and strength than you realy! We can see it and we give you a STANDING OVATION!!clap This recovery part is NOT easy! And bringing your dog home right after surgery is definitely not easy!!

Sometimes keeping the pain meds balanced can be a little tricky. Keep a journal of everything and note how soon the pain seems to kick in as each dose wears off. Of course, the goal is to be consistent enough so the pain never gets ahead start.

The hospital meds wear of around dsy threeish, so there may be a bit of a crash. Right now Forrest just needs potty break and rest, lots of rest.

Yes, you have removed his pain and that is the right decision!

Continue to BE MORE FORREST and waste no time worrying about the future. Forrest sure isn’t!

Uodate when you can and try and get somesleep when you can! It may just be little naps here and there for a few days, but soon you’ll be sleeping like a baby with Forrest happily sleeping next to you after a daynof playing full out!

Hugs!

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

PS. Tracy, glad to hear Taimis doing so well. You have a great attitude!

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!

Livermore, CA




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19 November 2016 - 11:21 pm
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SO glad to see this update!

You will find lots of those ‘helpful’ people on this journey…but Forrest getting on with his life will be your best answer to the doubters!

But for now focus on each little victory- potty!, up on his own! tail wags! 

Rest when you can and stay positive for Forrest.  I found the shower a great place to vent when needed. 

You will get through!

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

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20 November 2016 - 3:19 am
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That is great news!  He will amaze you with how well he does.  We don’t have an icon for pee, but just wait until you post his first poo.  smileyThe next 2 weeks will be intense, but most dogs show amazing improvement when the staples come out (about day 10).  And, while it is your choice, after he has recovered, I suggest you take him back to that Petsmart.  The only way people can truly learn is to actually see our Tripawds doing great.  I took Otis to several pet stores.  Not only did he get lots of free treats, but lots of people asked questions in a positive way – he looked great and was obviously getting around really well.

Otis - 106 pound lab/Dane mix, lost his right front leg to osteosarcoma on Febuary 9, 2016.  Four rounds of carboplatin completed in April, 2016.  Lung mets August 25, 2016.  Said goodbye too soon on September 4, 2016.   Lost his adopted sister, Tess, suddenly on October 9, 2016. likely due to hemangiosarcoma.  

Wherever they are, they are together.

London, UK


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20 November 2016 - 8:37 am
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You are doing BRILLIANTLY! I’m so pleased the surgery went well and that you are through that challenging first night. Some self-appointed experts do say the most ignorant, unhelpful things but Forrest will be a walking rebuttal in no time. Then they’ll probably tell you how they always said he’d do wonderfully well on three, and aren’t dogs amazing etc. etc. Hoomans, who needs ’em!

Lean on us; we understand!

Big hug,

Meg, Clare and Elsie Pie xxx

Meg, Mutt, aged around 10, adopted 31/12/2009. Sudden explosive right elbow fracture 06/12 (caused by IOHC), diagnosed with End Stage Arthritis 03/15, Total Elbow Replacement 08/15, problems with healing leading to skin graft & skin flap surgery, Chronic Infection leading to implant breakdown. Became a Tripawd 9th March 2016. 
Lives with Mum, Clare, watched over by Angel Pie and Angel Billie
My life as a MEG-A-STAR 


Michigan
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20 November 2016 - 8:44 am
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It’s always difficult when they come home the day of surgery …sorry about that.  Murphy spent the 1st night in the hospital & came home the next day.  He hopped out to the car on his own & completely blew me away!  I didn’t know what to expect, so had taken my son with me to pick him up.  Sometimes the bigger dogs have a little bit of a harder time figuring it out, but it sounds like Forrest is doing well. 

I’m lucky that no one really doubted what we did for Murphy.  Some maybe doubted the amount of money, but that was it.  Our biggest argument was that Murphy was 7 years old and perfectly healthy, aside from pain in his leg.  How could we not give him a chance? 

What medications did they send you home with?  Make sure that you space them out a little bit – you don’t want to give them all together, if they are spaced out you get more adequate coverage.

And don’t forget that we’re here for you!  The hot line is always staffed if you need it, and even in the middle of the night there’s usually someone in the forums – we have people here from all over the world! 

Donna

Donna, Glenn & Murphy  http://murphyh......pawds.com/

Murphy had his right front leg amputated due to histiocytic sarcoma at 7 years old.  He survived 4 years, 2 months & 1 week, only to be taken by hemangiosarcoma at 11 1/2 years 6/12/17  

Donna.png

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20 November 2016 - 1:21 pm
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Hi everyone!

Last night went much better for him and me, I think we BOTH got a loooooottttt more rest last night than the night before, although anytime I heard him move I would wake up, which was probably every 2-3 hours. At one point early in the morning (like 2am) he got up and fell 🙁 and that definitely hurt him but he seems to be unphased by it now. I was actually in the dining room putting a new bag of food in his food container while he was on his spot in the living room, I turn around and he’s standing there staring at me thinking it was time for dinner haha – my parents were amazed…and chuckled because that is true Labrador fashion – All about the food! He also had his first poop today. All by himself. Another extremely proud moment for me. Dogs are so incredible, I can’t believe how amazing he is doing at everything. 

Also, do you guys recommend getting an orthopedic bed ? Right now I have him on his normal bed, which isn’t super soft but its definitely not as firm as an orthopedic bed . For his size theyre definitely spendy (I guess all dog beds are expensive though) so Im just curious if anyone thinks its definitely worth it or if normal beds are good too. 

Donna – They sent me home with Rimadyl, Tramadol and Simplicef AND they want him to keep taking Benadryl until we find out more about the MCT in the leg they took.

Do you guys have any tips to distinguish between panting from the tramadol vs panting from pain? In the middle of the night last night he was panting and I *assumed* it was from pain since it had been a little bit since his last dose of pain meds. That’s all I really had to go off of tho. If only they could talk. 

<3

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20 November 2016 - 1:34 pm
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I bought Otis a Big Barker Bed when he was first diagnosed with arthritis.  He loved it, and it became “his” bed.  Ultimately, I ended up with three, and after the amp he would move from one to the other.  They are expensive, but I think worth it.  Of course, my new dog Gator won’t sleep on a dog bed at all. . .

Otis - 106 pound lab/Dane mix, lost his right front leg to osteosarcoma on Febuary 9, 2016.  Four rounds of carboplatin completed in April, 2016.  Lung mets August 25, 2016.  Said goodbye too soon on September 4, 2016.   Lost his adopted sister, Tess, suddenly on October 9, 2016. likely due to hemangiosarcoma.  

Wherever they are, they are together.

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20 November 2016 - 1:36 pm
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Should also add that with Otis, panting was a sign of pain.  We generally saw it right before his Tramadol was wearing off.  He got 3 pills every 8 hours, the panting started about hour 7.  I ended up staggering the dose – 2 pills and then 1 hour later a third, so it never totally wore off.

Otis - 106 pound lab/Dane mix, lost his right front leg to osteosarcoma on Febuary 9, 2016.  Four rounds of carboplatin completed in April, 2016.  Lung mets August 25, 2016.  Said goodbye too soon on September 4, 2016.   Lost his adopted sister, Tess, suddenly on October 9, 2016. likely due to hemangiosarcoma.  

Wherever they are, they are together.

Here and Now


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20 November 2016 - 3:45 pm
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runforrestrun said
do you guys recommend getting an orthopedic bed ?

You can see all our best dog bed recommendations, and learn why in the Tripawds Gear blog .

Do you guys have any tips to distinguish between panting from the tramadol vs panting from pain?

That’s always a tough one. You’ll find various pain management posts in the Tripawds News blog which should prove helpful…here are just a few:

Pain Signs in Cats and Dogs: Learn the Symptoms

Search the Tripawds Downloads blog for more pain relief podcasts and video interviews too.

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