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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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7.5 month old Great Pyrenees Mix facing front leg amputation
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Member Since:
26 May 2024
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26 May 2024 - 12:20 pm
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Hello!

 

Our puppy, Indiana, is a 7 1/2 month old livestock guardian dog. Almost a month ago she ran out our front gate and was hit on her front leg by a truck that was speeding. It’s a very long story on how we have gotten to where we are, Miscommunication and not clear expectations or guidelines on caring for her fracture of the front leg. We received a call from the vet today where she is being boarded because we were really struggling, keeping the leg splinted as that was the course of treatment that we were given, and now she has a few wounds on the injured leg that the vet is saying  is probably not going to respond to antibiotics as they appear to be infected. So now we are facing this terrible decision to amputate the front leg of a potentially full grown 120 pound dog. She was an outdoor dog—she would help my husband feed the animals, she was so happy in her role, and she is a sweetheart. She is a puppy, and so she is also energetic and playful.  And curious!

I’m just looking for some encouragement and maybe someone who has had a large breed puppy with an amputation and done well. We’ve already discussed that she will probably become an indoor dog versus being a livestock guardian dog on our farm. Thank you all for your support! 

The Rainbow Bridge



Member Since:
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26 May 2024 - 1:53 pm
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Katie I'm so sorry this happened to Indiana. What a tough situation! This past month must have been agonizing for you, and we hope to make it a little easier.

Yes, Pyr puppies can live good lives on three legs, provided that their humans take care to keep them slim, manage their activity, and take steps to keep them injury free. Your decision to make her a pet dog instead of a working dog is smart, and I can already tell that you understand what this means for her. The good news is that she's young enough to adjust and understand over time that there are limitations you will place on her activity. That doesn't necessarily make her quality of life any worse, it just means you will be doing your best to ensure she stays strong and injury free for a long time. 

One way you can help her is to check in with a rehab therapist. It makes such a difference in a dog's mobility after losing a leg, so much so that Tripawds Foundation can pay for your first rehab visit

Now this may not be an option for her depending on the break, but if she can be assessed asap by an experienced ortho surgeon for the possibility of prosthetics , that would benefit her greatly if you have the ability to put the time and money into a device. This has to be done before amputation, however. Has your vet mentioned anything about that?

Our Giant Breed news posts have some good examples of big dogs enjoying life on three and there are Pyr dogs in there so I hope they will put your mind at ease.

Stay tuned for more feedback from the community! And if you'd like to join us for our community Zoom call on Tuesday, be sure to sign up.

Virginia







Member Since:
22 February 2013
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26 May 2024 - 2:40 pm
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Welcome Katie, hubby and Indiana! We know this is the last place you want to be.  We can, however,  assure you it is the best place to be for support, information and understanding everything involving the tripawd journey.

We can also tell you that, regrettably, we see many, many cases where fraction has occurred and trying to save the leg ends up in amputation anyway. It often starts off with months of confinement, bandage changing, then often infections set in, course of Annie biotics that generally don't work, etc etc etc

The one thing about amputation surgery is it's one and done. The surgery is complete, there is approximately a two-week recovery period from the surgery itself. Generally dogs adjust to their new gate of being a tripod within about 30 days as far as a more fluid, balance flow, etc.

Jerry has given you great advice as always. Just want to add that there's so many other things you can do to keep Indiana's brain stimulated. Check out your shop for games that dogs can play an interact with. Yes, Indiana can still help your husband out with chores Etc it just has to be on a more monitored basis. You don't want her running Hog Wild jumping up and down in the air and making crazy sharp turns. With proper core strengths exercises and practicing  Rehabilitation techniques you'll be amazed at what she can do and how resilient she is.

The first two weeks of recovery involving involve rest, rest, rest. Indiana can have short least potty breaks and back in for rest. Often times pain medication has to be tweaked the first several days or so just simply because every dog is different when it comes to pain meds and Recovery in their own way.

You'll want non-slip scatter rugs for traction if you have hardwood or vinyl floors. Raised water and food bowls tend to be a little bit helpful too, as well as a firm bed that gives the stability she needs if she tries to stand up etc.

Even though I know Indiana has some growing to do, we have seen adult dogs up to 170 lb and more who have handled amputation and being on three just fine. My happy hannah, a rather fluffy bullmastiff, weighed in at about 125 pounds maybe a little more when she had her surgery. She was mobile within 24 hours. Not saying those early days were easy, but as far as being able to hop around to go to potty she mastered that pretty quickly.

I think this Indiana will enjoy being more of an in doubt indoor dog on soft cushy sofas getting lots of tummy rubs, hugs and treats.😉

Keep us posted and let us know as any questions arise. We are here to support you in any way we can and we'll be by your side as you navigate through recovery and on to celebrating Indiana with all her milestones and years to come.

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:
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27 May 2024 - 6:02 pm
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Thank you for this amazingly supportive response. We are so heartbroken, but feel so much more confident that Indy will do well after reading your message and looking at the other large breeds who have done well after amputation. 

We will see her tomorrow morning for the first time in 3 weeks 💔 We were trying to give her space to heal without getting too excited and further fracturing her leg, which is obviously no longer a concer . And then after we visit her tomorrow, she will have her surgery. I will be checking in periodically as she recovers and appreciate your resources and kindness!

Virginia







Member Since:
22 February 2013
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27 May 2024 - 7:10 pm
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Glad you are feeling more reassured about Indiana continuing to be able to be  Indiana after she becomes a tripawd.👍

Had to re-read to grasp why you hadn't  seen her for three weeks. Then I understood.   

I know you can't wait to see her tomorrow and I know she will be Mighty happy to see you.

Be sure and take some pictures/video. Ahe may be a little deify if they have her on so e good pain meds, but I'm sure she's her besutiful  photogenic  self. 

Giess she will be spending the night  if it's a fullu staffed 24/7 clinic.?  Yoi'll be able to get some rest yourselves  and she'll be nice and loopy from good pain meds.

Update tomorrow after surgery and let us know when the plan is to pick her up, etc. One thing when you do go pick her up, don't even draw attention to the incision.  Be strong and confident  and pawsitive and  just tell her what a good girl she is and she's going home!  She will be so happy to be back with you. Be prepared that they do shave a lot of fur and that can actually be more shocking than the incision itself.😉

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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26 May 2024
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29 May 2024 - 6:54 pm
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Indiana did wonderful with surgery—I have attached a picture of her smiling at home with my husband. 🥰

Any tips to keep her from scratching the staples? She has already tried, and so we put the shirt on to hopefully prevent any popping of staples. I also placed a sock on her hind leg in the hopes that her nails wont scratch too bad. Any insight would be so appreciated! 

The Rainbow Bridge



Member Since:
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29 May 2024 - 7:08 pm
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Oh that's pawesome!!! I'm sorry the picture didn't show up. Watch this video about adding images and let me know if you have any questions.

What kind of pain control is she getting?

So it's really tricky to keep that incision protected. The cone is really helpful on rear leggers but not so much on front ones. A snug t-shirt tied around the waist, and that sock can help, but you just want to make sure that the sock has traction so she doesn't slide. 

Virginia







Member Since:
22 February 2013
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30 May 2024 - 10:31 am
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YAAAAAAY!!!! Surgery is done and Indiana is home!!!  👏👏

Hope the T-shirt suggestion Jerry made works. It really is hard to keep some dogs from scratching at the stitches. In the meantime, try to keep an eye on her as best you can. Will someone be able to be home for her for several days?

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:
26 May 2024
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9
30 May 2024 - 9:04 pm
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She is really being a champ through all of this. We think that last night (she was about 26ish hours postop), she overdid it, or she is in general just feeling more pain today. She would have moments where she would not want to get out of her kennel to go out to pee, and then others where we couldn't get her to lay down and relax (even after administering the medications). She is eating and drinking wonderfully, and we are trying to mostly keep her calm. She hasn't been itching the incision as much today, I noticed that I think what is most itchy/bothersome is the eCollar, so we have been sitting with her and taking it off several times today.

My husband thankfully works from home, so he has been with her very closely today, we hope that tomorrow she doesn't seem as uncomfortable (there were times today where she would whine and just keep standing and respositioning in her kennel like she couldn't get comfortable).

She is prescribed an antibiotic, tramadol, and rimdal. These are all twice a day, varying doses. She takes them great!

We tightened the Tshirt, but think we need a smaller one, since she's still a puppy she's not quite fluffy enough to keep it from slipping off! The sock we had on that hind leg did have grips on it--but she promptly removed the sock this morning lol. She has left the incision alone though and it looks so good!

Thank you both for your help! Jerry--I tried creating our blog/website and uploading the images, but my dashboard is very minimal and does not have a media library or even the ability to add pages/blogs. I actually have a website that I run through Wordpress as well, and my blog through Tripawds looks to be very limited in access on my end. I would appreciate any help! 

The Rainbow Bridge



Member Since:
25 April 2007
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1 June 2024 - 2:30 pm
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Hey Katie! Thanks for updating.

It does sound like she is giving pain signals . Those signs like restlessness are usually related to either not enough or too much pain medication. In this case it sounds like she doesn't have enough pain management . Did she happen to get a 3-day injectable called Nocita? If not, she absolutely needs more pain control. I am not a vet, but studies show Tramadol especially, and Rimadyl, are not enough to control this level of pain. Please call your vet and ask for a prescription for Gabapentin, which controls nerve pain. She may need an additional one like Amantadine but try that first and see how it goes.

Regarding the blog, I don't see that you've created one with this user name or email. Did you do it with another email address?

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