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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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Care of dog post surgery
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Forum Posts: 4
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29 December 2008
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7 January 2009 - 1:33 pm
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Hi

My very large Golden, Brady, (120 lbs) is facing amputation of his back right leg. I work full time and am concerned about how I'm going to take care of him. My boss is not very flexible or understanding. I plan to ask if I can use my five sick days to be with Brady. I assume he'll pretty much require round the clock care, right? Will 5-7 days be enough time for him to recuperate enough to be left alone all day after that time period?? I'm very worried about this.

Also, will he be in a lot of pain post surgery? I know they'll send him home with pain meds but . . .

Thanks,

Linda

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7 January 2009 - 2:00 pm
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Hi Linda and Brady and welcome to Tripawds.com! 

I too was concerned about Jake post amp surgery because I knew I wasn't going to be able to take a whole week off!  Talk with your vet about how long they anticipate keeping Brady after the surgery.  It is so much more helpful when they keep them for a day or two after the surgery to monitor them.  Jake was in the hospital for about 5 and 1/2 days because of clotting issues.  I brought him home on a Sunday and took Monday off from work to care for him.  However, I am lucky enough to work about 3 minutes down the road so I took about 2 or 3 breaks a day to check on him.  My bosses are dog lovers as well so they were pretty understanding.  Some pawrents have put up baby gates and limited their new tripawd's access to only one room in the house.  I didn't do this because Jake hates to be limited to one area.  Putting runners around the house certainly helps if you have hardwood floors.  I would say that taking time off to be with Brady will all depend on how long your work days are and how his recovery is going.  Brady will really need his rest after the amp surgery so he will be sleeping a lot.  You may want to just take a couple of days off and see how he is doing and gauge it from there.  The first couple of weeks are tough with their reactions to the meds and even our own adjusting as nervous and caring pawrents.  As far as the pain, you will see that Brady will not have the same pain threshold as we humans.  With the help of the pain meds, they seem to be okay and it will thoroughly amaze you how quickly he will adjust to a life on three legs.  It is shocking to us of course as loving pawrents but they do not look at it in the same way.  They do rely on us to be strong and be confident and pawsitive pack leaders.  I can't stress that enough!  I found myself having to take my fear and turn it into gratitude and hope and it is a process for sure but it happens.  One of the many blessings our fur babies offer to us!  However, this site is full of amazingly helpful and supportive folks who are ready to help with any questions you may have.  Good luck with the surgery Brady and we look forward to hearing about your recovery!  Smile     

Luv Spirit Jake, Smooch, Baby Gus & Mom (Sherri)

kcgrey
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7 January 2009 - 2:05 pm
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Hi Linda,

So glad you found your way here. This is such a great group of people who will be your support every step of the way!

Some here have gone back to work, so they can tell you how they did that & left their dog alone. I was home, so I am of no use to you there.

I can tell you that the first 2 weeks after amputation are no picnic in the woods, its a rough time, but remember, it's only 2 weeks, a drop of time in the big picture of life.

Every dog is different with pain tolerance, some need the strong opiates out of their system and some need them over a longer period of time. You will have to judge your dog because only you know him best. You should be sent home with pain medications.

I'm sure there is a lot of pain with this surgery. There have been a lot changing to the body structute. The good news is these guys do bounce right back!

Good Luck to Brady and to you!

Janie & Calamity

Ummmmmm Jerry, why am I showing up as a guest?

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7 January 2009 - 2:10 pm
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Thank you, Sherri. I'll definitely speak to the vet to find out how long they'd keep Brady there post surgery. I work 9-5 and about 15 minutes away so it's going to be difficult. My 19 year old son will help me but it depends on when this takes place as he's currently in school. Anyway, I'm just very nervous about how much pain Brady will be in and whether or not he'll adapt and be happy once he recovers. I just want to do what's best for him, not for me, so I may not amputate but that would mean putting him down and I'm not going to be able to handle that, either. I'm very torn right now but fortunately I have time to think about all this.

Thank you.

Linda


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7 January 2009 - 2:10 pm
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I kept my big dog Tazzie (180#) at the clinic for 3 nights so she was walking and going to the bathroom on her own the day she came home.  I was off that weekend but by Monday I had to go back to work.  We gated her in a downstairs room so she wouldn't try the stairs and to keep the other dogs away from her.  I had to change her bandage daily and give her meds but she did fine!

The first 2 weeks are the roughest but then you will be surprised by how well your dog will do.

Pam and Tazzie

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7 January 2009 - 2:11 pm
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kcgrey said:

Ummmmmm Jerry, why am I showing up as a guest?


Janie, my Dad is looking into this. Are you sure you're logged in?

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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7 January 2009 - 2:20 pm
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lcuster3189 said:

My very large Golden, Brady, (120 lbs) is facing amputation of his back right leg.


Hi Linda,

Thank you for joining us here at Tripawds. We are so sorry to hear about Brady, that's really ruff. You'll be surprised though, at how even more resilient and tough he will be after the surgery, he'll just amaze you.

Meanwhile, we'll try to help answer some questions here;

We like to point people to our Top Ten Questions about Amputation, here and here, first thing. Hopefully this will help alleviate a lot of your concerns.

That's too bad about your boss not being sympathetic, but if it helps you at all, Brady's probably just going to be sleeping all day anyhow for the first few days. He might even be glad that he doesn't have a nervous Momma hovering over him all day long, like mine did to me! Wink

I agree that it might be best to have the vet monitor him for the first couple of days, just to help him get a little more recuperated by the time he goes home with you.

I'd highly recommend keeping him in a small carpeted room of the house for the first few days, with a baby gate to block the doorway. He's probably not going to want to pee or potty a lot at first, so he should be OK there. And don't worry about the potty thing: almost all of us have figured it out long before our pawrents figured out how to do the towel-under-belly trick that's supposed to help us!

Can you go home at lunch to check on him?

At a minimum, expect the hardest part in the first couple of weeks. You won't need to attend to him constantly, but just be more available in case his pain meds are too much, or he needs a little help maneuvering through the house (yep, runners are key to assisting him).

If there's anything else we can answer, let us know oK? Good luck, keep us posted. You are in our thoughts.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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7 January 2009 - 9:24 pm
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 Anyway, I'm just very nervous about how much pain Brady will be in and whether or not he'll adapt and be happy once he recovers. I just want to do what's best for him, not for me, so I may not amputate but that would mean putting him down and I'm not going to be able to handle that, either. I'm very torn right now but fortunately I have time to think about all this.


Linda,

I know exactly how you feel, we all do.  Making the decision to amputate was the hardest thing I've ever done. The morning I dropped Trouble off for surgery, I searched my soul on the way to work hoping, praying, I'd made the right choice. The day I picked her up, I knew we made the right choice.  She was so happy to see us, and I saw the brightness in her eyes that I had been missing for a while.

Trouble's recovery after surgery was remarkable.  We saw progress daily.She required less assistance each time she moved about.  We did put runners all through the hallways and entranceway which are ceremic tile. We used the non-slip rubberized shelf liner.  It works great.

Trust your instincts, you and Brandy will do just fine post surgery.

Shanna & Spirit Trouble ~ Trouble gained her wings 3/16/2011, a 27 1/2 month cancer survivor, tail wagging. RIP sweetheart, you are my heart and soul.  Run free at Rainbow Bridge.
The November Five - Spirits Max, Cherry, Tika, Trouble & Nova. 11/2008 - 3/2013 An era ends as Queen Nova crossed the Bridge.

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7 January 2009 - 10:09 pm
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Hi Linda:

I know what you mean about making such a tough decision.  Our Shepard/Husky mix just had her right front leg amputated on 12/29, a little over a week ago.  She's not as large as Brady, she weighs 50 lbs, but she's doing incredibly well. 

Prior to her amputation I was worried about her quality of life.  I thought that recovery would probably be 2 weeks or so of really helping her get around.  I took the week off from work to help her.

In reality, I brought her home the day after surgery.  My husband carried her up our stairs and I helped her down 2 deck stairs to go potty out back.  She came back in the house on her own and from that point on she went potty on her own.  She had the tripawd thing figured out right away.  She was hopping from our bedroom down the hall to her food dish in the kitchen, to the back door to go out and even down the stairs to lie on a landing by our front door (this is her favorite spot).  The first 3-4 days she just slept alot.  The Dr. gave me plenty of pain meds to manage her pain. One week after her surgery she's back to work with me, (I'm fortunate to be able to take her to work with me).  

I don't know that this is anything extrodinary for a dog.  What I've learned from her is that dogs don't have the same feelings that people do. We would sit around and feel sorry for ourselves and moan about how hard it is to cope with an amputation.   Dogs just seem to go ok, how do I do this without that limb and they do it.  I'm so incredibly proud of Coda.  She's taught me that life's too short and we people just think way too much sometimes.  We complicate things by not being able to live in the moment. 

Bottom line, I had all kinds fears about this amputation.  None of my fears came to fruition. It was definitely the right decision for Coda.  I would do it all over again.

I'm sure it's not the same for evey dog, however, in my situation I sure had the surgery pictured so much worse than it turned out.

Karen and Coda

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7 January 2009 - 11:08 pm
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Hi Linda:

Our malamute had her rear leg amputated almost a month ago. Except for her fur growing back you would never know that she wasn't born with just three legs!

I think dogs do a bit better with a rear amputation because of weight balance. If you can plan your surgery so your baby can stay at the vets a few days and then you can be with him over the weekend and Monday I think it would put your mind at ease once you see how well your pup does.  We kept our girl at the vet a day longer than needed because I had visited her and realized I needed to make a few more adjustments to the house.

They do amazingly well,  I was lucky to be able to work from home, but each day I would go into the office.  We had an X-pen we kept her in (mainly because of our other dog) and we'd expand her area each day.

Our girl did not respond well to the pain meds, so that was a bit of a struggle. Your dog will be pretty out of it for the first week or so and it's hard not to think “Oh, what have I done!” But it will get better.

Be prepared for:

1–A bit of disorientation, mostly from meds.

2–Readjusting to the new body structure. My girl has finally figured out how to lay down on the side where her leg was removed. She struggled with that and it broke my heart. (She was fine!) 28 days post op and she's using our stairs, jumping up on the couch and with a little help getting into the back of our SUV for her vet visits.

3–Your emotions. My girl picked up on my sad feelings and I really think she thought she did something wrong.  Once I pulled myself together, she started doing a lot better it seemed. We mostly talk about our 'kids' here, but make sure you take some time for yourself! 

As others have said that first two weeks is rough. We had it easier than most also I believe.

Feel free to visit  http://hunsinge…..terfly.com to see pics of our Tri-Mala-Pawd. I have post surgery pics there so you might find that helpful to prepare yourself.  I know it did for me.

Good luck, be strong!

Tika sends you and Brady big slobbery kisses.

–Kim

Kim and Spirit Tika http://www.tika.....ogspot.com

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5 March 2009 - 3:49 pm
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While I do not want to be in this forum posting our situation, I am certainly glad this web site is here. It has been extremely helpful to see how others have dealt with, or are dealing with, the situation we now face.

Within a week of me joking with my wife about cloning our extremely healthy, low maintenance, loving dog, Millie, we felt a lump on her back left ankle. Without going through every step of her diagnosis and treatments thus far (although I will gladly discuss what we have learned since this started), I will jump to the conclusion you have already guessed: our 11 (or so) year old “pound puppy” has a high grade synovial cell sarcoma tumor. We have been fortunate to have worked with exceptional veterinarians, and she is currently seeing one of the few veterinary oncologists in our area. The short version is that her x-rays, ultrasound, and aspiration of her lymph nodes show no signs of metastasis. In our discussions of possible treatments, my wife and I settled on chemotherapy and radiation. We then made an oath to each other that we would never question our decision no matter what the outcome was.

After the first chemotherapy treatment (10 days after “debulking” and finally identifying the cancer type), I picked up Millie from the oncologist. As I was leaving, he asked if I had noticed the swelling around her surgical site. That was the moment I decided the we were going to forget radiation and amputate her leg. It was the fear of seeing that lump rise from the ashes that made me realize her leg was the enemy despite being attached to something that I loved so much. My wife, being somewhat more religious than I, had been praying about our initial decision for radiation, and during the course of this same afternoon talked to someone who had owned a “tripawd” lab. There were several other messages during that day that convinced my wife and I that, if we wanted our dog to have a chance, she would have to lose her leg. That was a tough one as you know. There were a lot of tears and moaning at our house (my wife cried too) and we are still in that pre-op stupor. But, we believe that we have chosen the best course of action. Our fortitude is bolstered by this web-site, and for that I am grateful. I think I have read every post available and feel much better equipped to handle the future.

Thank you, Kim, for your link to the photos of Tika. I appreciate the effort it must have taken to take these photos so soon after surgery, and we feel much more prepared for what will we see.

Thank you also for your message (which apparently was written directly to me) about keeping emotions in check. Millie is very sensitive to our emotions and certainly sees us as the Alphas of her pack. I will take this advice to heart and try, as the old adage says, “to be the person my dog thinks I am.”

Millie is scheduled for surgery next Tuesday, March 10th. I’ll let everyone know how she’s doing and will probably reach out for advice and encouragement. I appreciate everyone’s openness in these forums; it has helped enormously,

Johnson, Tracy, Millie

Here and Now


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5 March 2009 - 4:07 pm
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Thanks for joining the discussion Bonds! Your oath to never question your decisions is the best advice for anyone facing the same difficult choices. Support Tripawds to honor your three legged heroes & angels!

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6 March 2009 - 9:21 pm
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Best of luck to Millie on her surgery Tuesday.  We also looked at the leg as 'the enemy'.  We were so fortunate to have our second opinion vet have very firm convictions that the only way to stop the pain was amputation.  As much as it scared me, and as much as I didn't want Trouble to have to face that fate, I knew somewhere deep in my soul, he must be right.  I took her in for surgery the next morning and we haven't looked back since.

Shanna & Spirit Trouble ~ Trouble gained her wings 3/16/2011, a 27 1/2 month cancer survivor, tail wagging. RIP sweetheart, you are my heart and soul.  Run free at Rainbow Bridge.
The November Five - Spirits Max, Cherry, Tika, Trouble & Nova. 11/2008 - 3/2013 An era ends as Queen Nova crossed the Bridge.

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