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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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Amputation in older female dog
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Member Since:
10 May 2023
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10 May 2023 - 3:10 pm
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Hi, just been told by the vet that my Molly (9 1/2) needs to have a left rear leg amputation due to the aggressive sarcoma attached to her muscle and tendons. I would like advice on whether a 91/2 yr old fairly fit Gordon setter can cope on 3, and what I need to do to help her with her recovery. Thanks in advance for your words of wisdom! 

The Rainbow Bridge



Member Since:
25 April 2007
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10 May 2023 - 7:12 pm
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Hi Sue,

Welcome to you and Molly. We are so sorry about this sad  news. We get it! Many of us here were in your same situation. IT's a tough decision, especially with an older dog.

How does your vet feel about Molly being a candidate for surgery?  Does the cancer need any follow up treatment? Some soft tissue sarcomas do, some don't. 

Typically even dogs much bigger than Gordons can do great on three legs! How is her fitness level? How is her weight? 

Recovery is no picnic but it's not impossible either. Just check out our What to Expect articles to give you an idea.

Livermore, CA




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10 May 2023 - 9:33 pm
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Hi and welcome.

I had to look up Gorden Setter- what gorgeous dogs!

My feeling is that age is just a number- what is important is how much life is still in Molly!  We've had much older dogs here do fine with amputation and recovery as long as they are pretty fit going into surgery.

We do sometimes see here that the more 'mature' dogs take a little longer to get their sea legs after surgery.  I would say the majority of dogs here are back to themselves in 2 or 3 weeks, older dogs may take a week or so more.

Our vet said that for two weeks after surgery Maggie was only allowed short, leashed potty breaks otherwise she was supposed to be resting.  Of course there was some hopping around for food and to get from room to room but mostly resting.

Good traction is important for Tripawds so any slippery floor she has to traverse should have rugs or yoga mats put down.  A raised food and water dishes are useful if she will use them (my Pug Maggie would not use the raised dishes). A good harness would be useful too and since Molly would be a rear amp you can use the harness right after surgery. My current Tri Elly (rear amp due to car accident) never leaves the house without her Ruffwear Webmaster harness .  Elly is small, I use the harness to get her in and out of the truck and to help her on really rough terrain. 

Here is some information on harnesses.

Do you have any specific concerns?

 

Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls and Boy

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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11 May 2023 - 4:46 am
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Thank you Jerry and Karen, Her sarcoma is aggressive and amputation is the option that de-risk the regrowing in the area. Though been told there is 50%chance it has already spread elsewhere. The sarcoma is on her thigh and embedded in muscle and tendon so they don’t think they can go deep enough or wide enough to clean out the bad cells hence the suggestion of amputation. She is quite fit for her age - runs everywhere and spends the nice days in the garden chasing pigeons! But she is a big dog and I presume extra weight/stress through the other rear leg may cause issues down the line. We have tiles in the kitchen and my concern is her ability not to slip. I can get raised dishes - she loves her food do don’t think that she’ll be put off eating at a higher table! I will look up the harness though at 35kg I might need to find another way to help get her in the car!!

I guess am looking for advice that this can work for big older dogs and that she will have a better quality of life (and hopefully longer!) than leaving the sarcoma to grow. I will check out your links and articles now. Thank you!

The Rainbow Bridge



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11 May 2023 - 10:28 am
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I guess am looking for advice that this can work for big older dogs

Oh gosh yes, if your girl is of the usual Gordon size (my in-laws have always had Gordons so I'm pretty familiar with the breed), they are not really that big considering the size of some of the members we've had here, like Saint Bernards and Mastiffs. Plus, since she's already limber and spunky for her age, there's no reason why she can't do well on three legs. It's far better than living with a nasty tumor growing through muscle tissue (ouch!). The best vets tell us that neither size nor age should exclude a dog from surgery as long as they are otherwise healthy. And honestly I've never met a Gordon who isn't! 

Most Tripawd parents are pretty aware of how helpful that traction can be. Some no-slip carpet runners going through the kitchen create a safe path for dogs, and most are smart enough to figure out that it's much easier to walk on. You can also try Dr. Buzby's Toe Grips for extra grip. And the harness handle on top of the Ruffwear Flagline is fantastic for assisting in and out of vehicles. 

Virginia







Member Since:
22 February 2013
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16 May 2023 - 7:31 pm
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Just catching up in time to check in and see where uou are jn your thoughts...any questionss, concerns we can help with, etc?

My Hapoy Hannah (a Bull Mastiff was 8 1/2 had the time of her rear leg amp.  For her "breed", that was considered  "mature".  Also she was a "fluffy" 125-130 lbs at time of surfery.  After recovery  (no picnic for a couple of weeks), she ha fled three like a svelte  ballerina 

Sounds like you've done uour research  and have good guidance from your Surgeon.  Keep us posted, okay?

((((((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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23 May 2023 - 4:24 pm
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Thank you Jerry, Sally and Karen for your supportive words. I have been devouring the info on this site and in the ebook! I have bought a harness and started finding rugs for our slippy floors. Molly has had her last day as a 4-legged loon and we head off early to the vets tomorrow (Wed) to get rid of the tumour and a leg. Still don't think I have got my head round how I get from a happy crazy dog today to a trip-pawd crazy happy smily dog in the future, as I am wondering how I will be able to know what she wants to be comfortable and also how she will adapt to her new normal. I am already feeling the guilt you talk about and questioning the decision but know that this is the best chance at giving her a longer life.

I will update you when we have her back which will probably be Friday.

Love to all your fur babies!

 

Sue ( and a loudly sleeping Molly!)

Virginia







Member Since:
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23 May 2023 - 7:29 pm
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Ahhhh.....the bliss of being dog.  Molly snoring and sleeping  comfortably  while her hooman is  staying up all night worrying!

You ARE making THE best dec for Mollu to relieve her pain and give her a chance at extended  QUALITY  life!

Update is when surgery is done, okay?  And when uou do go to pick jer up, go in with an upbeat  co fident energy.  Don't  even bother to draw attention to her incision.  She just wants to see your Happy smiling face and hearing she's a good girl and she's going home!!

We'll be with you every step of the way to help you navigate through recovery  and onto celebrating  as all her sparkle comes back.

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!

The Rainbow Bridge



Member Since:
25 April 2007
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23 May 2023 - 9:37 pm
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You sound so prepared and stronger now, that's great! Knowledge is power! Your confidence is shining through.

We are sending you both Tripawd Power for an uneventful surgery and speedy recovery! We look forward to updates when you can.

Member Since:
19 April 2023
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24 May 2023 - 9:18 pm
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Sending lots of love to your new member of the tripawd pack <3 My pittie is one month post op & is thriving on 3 legs. I can really validate that you did the best thing for your Molly girl. Please keep us updated. Xoxo (: 

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29 May 2023 - 8:31 am
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Hi! Quick update on Molly. Op was on Wednesday, she came home on Friday - very enthusiastic and keen to take up where she left off before going into hospital - lying in the garden watching the pigeons! It was good to see her full of life but could tell she was frustrated at not being able to do everything she wanted. And we managed the toilet too! Friday night was quiet - not a peep out of her. Saturday she was quieter and showed some signs of being in discomfort but manageable. Could not get her to go to the toilet again though - it was about 20 hours and after trying to express we resorted to getting our neighbour's dog round and true to form Molly performed the minute our neighbour's dog did! Saturday night was not great - barking and grumbling which only stopped when I lay down with her. She was a bit restless through the early hours. She spent most of Sunday in her favourite spot - boot (trunk) with cushions and duvet. Again Sunday she refused to go to the toilet until the neighbour's dog cam round. And again Sunday she was restless and didn't settle very well.

Today, Monday, she has been snoozing in the car and managed to go to the toilet this morning without the neighbour's dog! She is much more mobile and prefers being off the lead. So far so good. She is positive and keen to be involved. I don't know if t is just UK vet etiquette but we only got paracetamol until today (5 days) and Metacalm NSAID until Friday. I will monitor how she is but will contact the vets tomorrow and see about getting more. I have found a rehab specialist and will start that 9th June. She has no external stitches that need to come out but will goto vet's for check up on 2nd June.

Thank you for all the positive support on this site as well as all the info. It has definitely made me feel more informed and better able to cope with what is to come. I will try and start a blog - but waiting until I feel less tired and like a rabbit in the headlights!

Big hugs to all your fur babies from Molly and me!smiley4

Virginia







Member Since:
22 February 2013
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29 May 2023 - 9:37 am
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Alr9ghty, overall and all things considered,  Molly is doing very well this early on.....and so sre uou!!!  Good job voth of you!👏

Yes, advocate for stronger pain meds.  By now all the good hospital  meds are out of her system and she needs better pain management .   The fact that she has even  done as well as she has with very little pain meds is quite impressive.  But she needs her enrrgy  to hel rather than fight pain.  The restlessness,  etc, definitely  signs of discomfort. 

So ask to have Gabapentin asap.  Also, and not sure the Vet will jave it, but Amanditne (sp) also.  They work well together.  Not a Vet and not giving Vet advice, but at least 300 mg of the Gaba every twelve hours and then go to every eight if you see the pain break through. You can also ask for some additional Gabapentin in 100 mg tablets in case you want to supplement the 300 mg, with vet direction.

Yes, having another dog pee in Molly's yard definitely triggered the flow she needed! Too funny!

Definitely  keep her active  level to SHORT potty breaks only and then vack in for rest.  If she wants to lay in the yard, that's  okay....just no roaming around for now.

Let is know  of you were avle to get better pain meds for her and how she is doing with them. 

And so thrilled she is movile and avle to hop around already.  Slow and easy for now though.  

Extra smooches  from is to Molly.🥰

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!

The Rainbow Bridge



Member Since:
25 April 2007
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29 May 2023 - 10:42 am
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Sue it's good to hear that Molly is doing well overall. Nothing like another dog to get a patient to toilet!

Yes her pain medication is not as aggressive as it can be. Doesn't really matter if a vet is in the UK or the US, if they're not keeping up on the latest pain management methodology then they just don't give their patients what has been proven to work. That happens sometimes here too.

Here's some information to help you advocate for better, longer-lasting pain relief, like Gabapentin (typically 300 mg 3x daily for a dog her size), which is so important to ease nerve pain from amputation surgery (both in pets and people):

Best Cat and Dog Amputation Pain Medications in 2022

Talk to your vet, let them know about her discomfort symptoms, and kindly request at least 10 days of pain control. A human amputee patient would never come home with such a short course of meds, neither should pets since their pain receptors are identical to ours.

Otherwise YOU are doing a GREAT job managing her recovery!

smiley_clap

Keep it up!

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