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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First, I’d like to say a huge thank-you for this site. I’ve browsed this over and over since day 1 of my dog’s amputation. In the small hours of the middle of the night, I’ve found answers and reassurance from reading other people’s stories and advice when everything seemed like it would never work out.
Our dog is a 13 year old border collie/lab cross. We adopted her 10 years ago from a family who couldn’t cope with a hyper-active collie and two small children. Ceilidh has been the best dog we could have wished for. She’s trained for marathons with my husband and cheered us both up when we’ve been ill or had operations ourselves. She’s made me laugh every single day we’ve had her. We’re back to normal, but now it’s her turn.
We had to have her back leg amputated due to a malignant tumour in her knee joint. The initial test showed cancer cells, but when tissue/more cells were taken from the joint after the amputation they didn’t find any. This means that we aren’t doing any further treatment.
The first four weeks were full of ups and downs – stitches had to stay in for an extra week due to a small amount of inflammation on the wound; getting the right pain-med balance from the vets (they weren’t strong enough for her) but then they were too strong and followed by an awful upset stomach that lasted a week, meaning we were up and outside at all hours of day and night. My poor Ceilidh was going through it all. Happily, she is getting back to her normal self.
At her age, the vets said it would take slightly longer for her to recover, which is fine. There’s no rush.
My vet pretty much told me to let her get on with it and get her off the Gabapentin and pardale (paracetamol/codeine). She’d been on 300mg Gabapentin and 2xPardale taken 3 times a day and we gradually reduced them to nothing last weekend. Today, though she’s so restless. I’m seeing small twitches in her stump and she’s now only on Metacam (an NSAID – I’m in the UK) for her arthritic front shoulder. Most nights she will wander around, but it’s gradually got better. Luckily, I am reasonably unaffected by a few hours of interrupted sleep.
My main concern is, is it unusual for her to still be bothered by nerve pain in the stump after 5 weeks? Instead of lying down, she’ll pace, or try and lie down, only to move again a few minutes later. I accidentally tapped it really lightly half an hour ago – this didn’t cause the restlessness – and she yelped like the leg had just been removed. I hope it was just an overreaction due to surprise, because I’ve touched it before without a problem, and there was a long cuddle session with her afterwards, but I just want to help her be well again. I feel so helpless at times. There are good days and bad, or less good, days it’s probably 75% good and 25% not so good, but going in the right direction.
Any advice or reassurance would be great!
Thank you all for your strength and support.
Hi Heather, welcome. Thank you so much for the kind words about our community, we are so glad we could be there for you! I love her name, it’s so unusual. What origin is it?
I would let your vet know that she is still painful, and ask for more medication. Also, ask for a referral to a physio therapist. Older dogs do need more time to recover, but all dogs benefit from physio after amputation, and some, even younger ones, need to be on pain medication for much longer. Our own Wyatt Ray is 10, a Tripawd since a puppy, and now he is on 400 mg Gabapentin 3x daily, along with Metacam (we have that here too), and Amantadine.
To answer your question,
is it unusual for her to still be bothered by nerve pain in the stump after 5 weeks?
Yes and no. All dogs are different. Ceilidh is on her own timeline, she will get there! Ongoing pain management and physio will make a huge difference.
Keep us posted on what your vet says OK?
Thank you so much, that was really helpful and reassuring.
I spoke to our vet today and they want to give her another week before changing/increasing meds. Of course, today has been a great day for Ceilidh and apart from being a bit restless for half an hour this morning, she’s been happy and active all day (in between serious sleeps!). So, the vet saw her when she was looking good and the hope is that this tapers off. I can’t make them give her more painkillers and I’ll have to see how it goes.
She even decided to come down our stairs for the first time today. We have steep stairs as we live in a cottage and put up child/baby gates to protect her shoulder before we knew about the tumour. This morning, I accidentally left the gate ajar at the top of the stairs and she nosed it open to follow me down! She’s quite determined and managed perfectly well – I had my hands full so couldn’t stop her!
I’m going to look into finding a local physio as her other back leg needs building up a bit.
As for her name, Ceilidh (pronounced Kayleigh) is a Scottish name for an evening (usually evening) of music and dance. The previous owners called her that even though we live in England and, as we’re Scottish anyway, we decided to keep it.
I’ll keep you posted as to how she’s getting on, but she’s definitely going in the right direction despite her age!
Well that is wonderful that she is having a great day! I hope it continues and she stays on the healing path. She’s definitely got some spunk back if she tackled the stairs.
What a beautiful name! I love the meaning behind it, and now I know where the English version originates from. Where in England are you? We have quite a few members there.
One more thing I want to add:
I can’t make them give her more painkillers and I’ll have to see how it goes.
In one way you are correct. But, also keep in mind that if a vet is not listening to your concerns about your dog’s pain signals , then you have every right to go elsewhere in search of a veterinarian who will. Stick around long enough here and you will see that we are big on promoting current pain management practices with our Tripawds. Not all vets are up on it, but those who are, well, they are worth their weight in gold.
I hope for another great pupdate soon!