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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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4 month old puppy
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Forum Posts: 2
Member Since:
26 April 2018
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26 April 2018 - 11:27 am
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I am fostering a sweet little pittie mix Puppy, Mr. Moo, who is between 4-5 months old. He had to have his rear leg removed on Friday April 13th and we have been caring for him since the Monday after the surgery. We are going on 2 weeks of recovery tomorrow and I am concerned he is still in a lot of pain. He shakes a lot and whines almost all night, unless we are literally sitting or lying right next to him. I am having trouble discerning if this is pain driven or separation anxiety driven. Also, he is not house trained and working with him on this has proven to be very difficult. I think I will have to crate train him but worry about his comfort levels. Does anyone on the forum have experience with a young puppy post surgery, I am feeling overwhelmed here! Any words of wisdom would be helpful that are Puppy specific. He is no longer on Tramadol, just Metacam once a day as well as an antibiotic due to an infection post op.

Thank you all for any help you can provide here!

The Rainbow Bridge

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26 April 2018 - 2:31 pm
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Hi Mr. Moo and family, welcome! You’re right, this is a tricky situation with a young dog.

I’ll try to answer your concerns as best I can and soon others will chime in with their wisdom too, so here goes:

First, how is his appetite? Is he eating and drinking, eliminating? Does he show any signs that maybe that infection isn’t cleared up?

Next, what is his activity level like during the day? Is he allowed to free roam your home / yard? If so, he shouldn’t be doing much of anything right now, so it’s best to restrict his activity as much as possible. I know it’s hard! But this would be a GREAT time to crate train him. I would definitely do it, crate training is invaluable. And, it can help alleviate whatever separation anxiety signs he’s giving. 

If he is getting too much activity during the day, he could be showing pain indicators at night. Have you tried massaging him? Palpating around his body to see where he might be sore? Does he flinch when you touch certain areas?

Oftentimes dogs need to be on pain medication much longer than originally prescribed. Tramadol alone is usually ineffective. Other drugs like Gabapentin and Amantadine may help if this is phantom pain related, but it doesn’t sound like it. Have you had a vet evaluate him yet, as far as checking for pain indicators? Also, this blog post may help you learn how to tell when a dog is in pain.

As for separation anxiety, what happens when you are away? Does he do more than the usual random puppy chewing? Work himself into a frenzy when you’re gone? Constantly bark?

OK I don’t want to overwhelm you, so I’ll stop now. But together we can help you get through this and groom him into a terrific doggie! Thank you for fostering him and giving him a great home (by the way don’t forget to post his story in our Tripawds Rescue Forum to let others know he will be available soon).

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Forum Posts: 2
Member Since:
26 April 2018
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26 April 2018 - 2:50 pm
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Hi Jerry,

Thanks so much for reaching out… will do my best to answer some of your questions.

The thing that I find odd, is the first few days after the surgery I found he seemed to be in less pain and discomfort than he is now even though the paid medication situation has not changed. I found he was actually more energetic and walking better than he is 2 weeks out. It is possible the infection slowed him down, as to he had fever etc. He had a vet visit Monday where we prescribed  Convenia antibiotic and the fever broke Tuesday night.

Appetite and eliminating has been quite good (minus the fact there is a lot of eliminating in the house 🙁 )

His activity during the day is pretty calm, quite a few small walks since he is still a puppy and has to go often but otherwise very calm. He mostly sleeps or lies around and we carry up and down the stairs.

Re the crate training, he already is whining and whimpering at night and I worry it may have to do with pain…by crating him it may cause him more stress (at the beginning) so I am wondering if it is worth waiting another week to see how he does, alternatively I want to teach him good habits and to be house trained so I feel sort of stuck with this one.

We are going to start doing massage daily…had not thought of it! Should we work on the hip of the amputated limb as well as the other muscles that are working harder than they were before the surgery?

He was at the vet Monday and will be back this coming Monday, he does shake a lot and I worry that could be due to Phantom pain or just pain in general. When touching and “prodding” it seems he is not that bothered although I think when he is lying down it is hard to get comfortable/when he shifts positions he sometimes yelps.

As for separation anxiety, he has not been destroying anything or barking he just whines and whimpers. It actually happens more at night than when we leave, if we are not right next to him or touching him he won’t stop crying.

He is super sweet and has a great temperament, I fear a “failed foster” may happen here as to we just lost our older girl, Jersey, back in December.

Thanks again, so I happy I found you guys!

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26 April 2018 - 6:41 pm
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Awww what a sweet Avatar! I can see how he may end up being a failed foster ❤️❤️

The shaking and whining do sound like he might be uncomfortable, and I would not be surprised if he is maybe a bit frightened and overwhelmed. He’s had a lot of changes going on and no doubt that’s scary. If he’s running around too much during the day his little body just might not be ready for so that activity yet. If you speak with your vet they may give him something to see if it will make him more comfortable. 

Unfortunately, the only way I know how to house break is take him out every half hour or so and big praise and treats every time he eliminates out side. Even that might be a lot of activity for him right now. You could try to play some soft music for him, especially when you’re not right there and any time he’s alone. I agree with the crate training too. You might leave it open with something soft to lay on so that he gets used to it being around to begin with. Many dogs actually like their crate as long as it’s not used as a method of punishment. They find that small cozy area comforting a lot of the time. If you do try it out, make sure that the very first thing you do when you open the door is let him out to potty and lots of praise and treats if he does his potty outside. 

He needs you strong and sure-footed right now. Your strength will help ease his fears and give him stability.

Good luck on your journey, looking forward to following your story! 

Jackie and Huckleberry ❤️


Jackie, David, Bo, Andy, Oscar, Angel Mitchell, and the coolest feral tripawd kitty Huckleberry

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Livermore, CA

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26 April 2018 - 9:00 pm
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Hello and welcome.

The thing that I find odd, is the first few days after the surgery I found he seemed to be in less pain and discomfort than he is now even though the paid medication situation has not changed.

Remember that the first couple days after surgery he probably still had some of those good hospital meds in his system.  It’s not unusual for new Tripawds to have a crash after they get home, but it is usually in the 3 to 5 day mark.  Has he fallen?  As a puppy still growing into his feet I could see him having some additional balance issues as he learns to navigate as a Tripawd.

Do you know why he lost his leg? Was it an accident? My current Tripawd is a little Pug mix named Elly who was hit by a car at 7 months old and lost her right rear leg as a result.  I adopted her at 10 months so she was healed from the surgery and not on any meds.  BTW- my first Tripug Maggie was on pain meds for 14 days post op although we were tapering down the last couple of days.  When Elly came to me she was not very strong and understandably afraid of cars and traffic noises.  She also has severe separation anxiety although I don’t believe it is tied to the accident but the fact that I was her fourth home at 10 months old.  It’s hard to tell what triggers sep anx- but I know multiple homes can and trauma can and I got both!

I have not dealt with sep anx before and it is hard!  Elly’s ‘bloomed’ a little over a year ago and we have been working on it ever since.  I’m lucky in the respect that her sep anx is only mild to moderate at home.  She is not destructive or vocal- but she spends 70% or so of her time looking out the window waiting for me (which is better than the 80 to 90% it was last year).  When I try and leave her anywhere but home she blows up.  Whining and crying, panting, and she won’t take any treats.  The biggest symptom is that once I come back to her she can’t calm herself down- it can take 20 to 30 minutes for her to calm down.  It takes consistency and dedication to get it under control.  Your advantage is that he is so young still it is usually easier to correct.  I’ve worked with a couple different trainers and done some reading to come up with my strategy for working on Elly’s issue.

I have never crate trained so I can’t help you there.  My overall training strategy is to reward the behavior you want.  My last two pups were not completely house trained when I adopted them (Obie was 4 years old, Elly 10 months).  So like Jackie we spent a lot of time going outside together and each potty was rewarded.  In fact Elly will pretty much potty on command now.

I hope Mr. Moo has found his forever home!

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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26 April 2018 - 9:54 pm
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Such great advice from Jerry, Jackie and Karen!  Can only say ditto

And yes, a better  pain management   plan appears to be needed..  My Happy Hannah was onmmpain meds for three weeks.  

How much Tramadol is he on and how often?  It’s  important  not to let the pain get a head start.

Just my penny’s worth, I would work on getting the pain managed first  before I focused too much on potty training.  or ANYTHING that may cause additional  stress.  Everything  needs to be a positive experience and anxiety free as he recovers from this MAJOR surgery.  And then add an infection on top of that, UGH!

Eating, pooping, peeing, drinking all okay?  No more fever,  right.

You can do gentle massage around the incision area, all up and down his spine, neck and shoulder area.   Go to the search bar and type in massage video .  Hopefully that will get you to one of the man videos on the site of how to do a proper massage.  Keeping in mind of course, this is a tiny puppy.

You are a SAINT for taking care of this sweet puppy!  He’s certainly been through a lot and is so fortunate to have you caring for him.

Lots of 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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