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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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English Mastiff Bone Cancer
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23 May 2019 - 7:48 pm
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All,

Wanted to share an update.  Our Nialla girl goes in for surgery tomorrow – to amputate her front left leg.  Of course we are still terrified.  While there is no right or wrong answer – we painfully assessed and weighed all of the options (no great options here). If you are on this forum than you know that Osteosarcoma is very painful, aggressive and highly metastatic – so we want to give her the best chance to have a longer quality of life. Eliminating the source of pain and getting the cancer out of her body is the best chance we have at extending her quality of life and preventing it from taking over quickly. We’ve researched so much and so much on this wonderful site.  Folks have been so helpful and caring.  So many stories of how resilient dogs are and how quickly they adjusted. We even met one who was playfully hoping around happy as can be.I pray that is my girl once she gets through this. This is the most difficult thing ever and I have to say I am beyond terrified. After surgery she will go through 5 rounds of chemo – they say dogs handle chemo very differently than humans.  Her CT scans were clear last week and she has been playing like a puppy over the past week – she is showing us that she wants to fight and be here.  

Tomorrow is surgery day… Please say a prayer or many for her… I pray her surgery is free from any complications, she is able to adjust smoothly and gets back to her happy go lucky, goofy self (walking backwards which she has done her whole life and all) in no time at all.

Also, if you’ve been through this and can share any post-op tips would be greatly appreciated. 

XO

Kim (Nialla’s Mommy!)

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23 May 2019 - 8:14 pm
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Hi Kim! I’m in the Tripawds Chat right now if you want to talk. Back in a sec with some thoughts.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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23 May 2019 - 8:23 pm
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I’m so glad you decided to update. Your fears are so understandable, anyone who has been through this understands completely. Rest assured that all signs point to your girl being a great candidate for life on three legs. There are no guarantees of course, but there are also no good reasons why she would not make a good Tripawd, based on everything you and your vets have discovered.

We will all be waiting for news tomorrow so do let us know how things are going OK? I’ll try to be in the Tripawds Chat room most of the day so if you feel up to it stop on by. In the meantime I would suggest learning how to Be More Dog , so that Nialla can have a smooth recovery. Click on the link and listen to our presentation about it, you’ll understand what I mean. 

Keep a pawsitive attitude, it will help you all make this recovery easier. Oh and you can occupy your mind tomorrow by getting your home ready if you haven’t already done so. Check out our Tripawds Recovery Shopping List for ideas. 

All the best to you and your beautiful girl, we are looking forward to hearing back!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Virginia




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23 May 2019 - 10:27 pm
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Yes, she is definitely  showing you she wants this chance!  You are making a decision  out of love and, that is always the right decision.  Not an easy one, but a right one.  

We’ll be checking in to celebrate  when surgery is done and recovery  begins.  Stay connected.   Recovery  can be s vut roigh for a couple of weeks. Mobility, often takes several days, so dont let that scare you, okay? It’s kinda hard being doped up and trying  to walk on three  right after majpr surgrry.

We’ll all be back with loads recovery tips and support.  For now, just remind yourself you are doing this  FOR Nailla! She deserves this chance.  

Sending  hugs

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!

PS. Eat lots of chocolate  during recovery,  it helps!😎

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 2019 - 6:55 pm
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jerry said
I’m so glad you decided to update. Your fears are so understandable, anyone who has been through this understands completely. Rest assured that all signs point to your girl being a great candidate for life on three legs. There are no guarantees of course, but there are also no good reasons why she would not make a good Tripawd, based on everything you and your vets have discovered.

We will all be waiting for news tomorrow so do let us know how things are going OK? I’ll try to be in the Tripawds Chat room most of the day so if you feel up to it stop on by. In the meantime I would suggest learning how to Be More Dog , so that Nialla can have a smooth recovery. Click on the link and listen to our presentation about it, you’ll understand what I mean. 

Keep a pawsitive attitude, it will help you all make this recovery easier. Oh and you can occupy your mind tomorrow by getting your home ready if you haven’t already done so. Check out our Tripawds Recovery Shopping List for ideas. 

All the best to you and your beautiful girl, we are looking forward to hearing back!

  

Sorry for the delay posting an update.  It’s been an exhausting few days.  The surgery went well on Friday.  The doctor felt it the surgery was quite mechanical and she did well with the anesthesia.  Today is now Sunday and she is still having a very hard time adjusting.  She isn’t quite standing on her own and she is having a hard time figuring out how to walk, she just wants to lay down.  She also isn’t willing to eat.  She is still in the hospital and they wanted to keep her another night.  We’ve gone to visit her and tried to help her walk with the vet tech and a harness – it was heartbreaking as she seems really afraid and just falls to the ground.  She was crying and I am feeling SO terrible.  

I’ve been watching YouTube videos of dogs post surgery and feeling a little defeated as I’ve seen so many standing day after surgery.  I’m praying that something will click tonight.  I’m beyond sick but I keep reminding myself to stay positive and maybe she will just take a little bit longer than most.  

She wasn’t quite lame on her leg (she started a few weeks ago with a limp) and since being on pain meds, the limp was no longer visible and she was still walking on all 4 paws – so the vet did say because she had not yet gotten accustomed to walking on 3 legs this will be a big adjustment.

Any advice or other stories that took dogs a little longer to eat and figure out how to walk would be helpful. 

This site is AMAZING and helping so much.  Thank you for all the info. and support. 

Nialla’s Mommy – Kim

Livermore, CA




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26 May 2019 - 8:03 pm
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Try not to get discouraged.  While lots of dogs are up and walking right after surgery there are many who take a few days to get their sea legs.  It is not uncommon here to see the bigger pups to take a bit longer. Nialla has a lot of drugs in her system- those good surgery meds can take a couple days to clear.  Now I assume she is on pain meds too.  

It is also not uncommon for dogs to not have an appetite at this point.  She may be more inclined to eat when she is home- stock up on lots of yummy, smelly foods to tempt her. Here are some blog posts on Appetite – there may be something there that helps.

Each pup recovers on their own timeline and in their own way so don’t compare Nialla’s recovery to any other pup.  While my Pug Maggie was hopping on her own the day of surgery (lost a back leg to mast cell cancer) she chose to spend most of six weeks in her bed.  No medical complications, her pain was managed, she just took her time getting used to her new normal.

Be sure you are positive when you are around her- she will look to you as the pack leader to show her that everything is OK.  It does make a difference. You are exhausted and stressed so try and rest while she is at the vet.  I think most all of us spent some time being sure we had made a mistake by choosing amputation, especially in the days right after surgery.  Hang in there!

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

Virginia




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26 May 2019 - 10:06 pm
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Okay, surgery is done!  That’s  one hurdle out of the way!

As Karen said, not every dog is walking  within the first 24 hours.   Nope, not at all.  And the larger ones especially  need a little more time.  I know it’s  hard to be patient.  Keep in mind,. This is MAJOR SURGERY and recovery. Takes time!  Humans would be in the hospital  on a morphine e drip!  A d on top of the major surgery and pain meds, she has to learn to adjust to three legs.  And yes, many dogs spend two, three or even more days in the hospital  before being released.   Sloooow and steady.  She’ll get the hange of this.

We know how scary rhe first week or two can be.  We know all the second guessing  that goes on and all the uncertainty  and fear.  We also know the first time she stands on her own will light you up like a Christmas tree!!😁   

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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27 May 2019 - 9:24 am
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I did keep Tazzie in the hospital 3 days and she did not stand easily on her own or walk until I got her outside of the clinic.  We had to use a harness and towels to support her to get her out but once she saw the van she pretty much hopped on her own to get in.  It did take her a good week to get around by herself and often she preferred to lay outside in the grass (the weather was cool).  Trying to jump up on things can pull the sutures so make sure they wrap her surgery site as this protects the incision but also helps prevent seroma .  Also make sure she is still on gabapentin for phantom pain !

Pam

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27 May 2019 - 9:49 am
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I can only x2 the pawesome advice, thank you Karen, Sally and Dr. Pam!

Don’t watch the videos right now, it’s too easy to compare and that’s the worst thing you can do for Nialla. She is her own girl and she will recover at her own pace. There’s no reason why she won’t get her bearings and return to her normal self when recovery is over. Yeah, it’s sooo hard to see our beautiful, strong dogs looking so helpless but as long as you stay focused on the end goal, you’ll both get there! 

Let us know if you have any questions and keep us updated. I’m staffing the Tripawds Helpline today and am in the Tripawds Chat a lot of the day, so give it a ring if you want to talk.

Stay strong! Nialls is gonna get this!smiley10

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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28 May 2019 - 5:13 pm
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tazziedog said
I did keep Tazzie in the hospital 3 days and she did not stand easily on her own or walk until I got her outside of the clinic.  We had to use a harness and towels to support her to get her out but once she saw the van she pretty much hopped on her own to get in.  It did take her a good week to get around by herself and often she preferred to lay outside in the grass (the weather was cool).  Trying to jump up on things can pull the sutures so make sure they wrap her surgery site as this protects the incision but also helps prevent seroma .  Also make sure she is still on gabapentin for phantom pain !

Pam

  

Thank you Dr. Pam!  They actually did not wrap her surgery site.  The incision looks great and there are no sutures. They utilized fully dissolvalbe subcutaneous and it looks like maybe adhesive?  There are no sutures or staples.  However, I’m now concerned with what you’ve said and the fact that they did not wrap it.  We do have a front and back Help em up Harness on her, which I have to leave on her all the time at least for now, in the event she tries to get up and need help – she’s too big and need to have that.  I’m constantly worrying about if it’s rubbing on the incision area.  

She is on Gabapentin every 8 hours at this point. Originally I was able to get her to take it with food (before the surgery) but after the surgery, she’s not eating much – so I try to get it in the very back of her mouth and then rub her throat.  She’s not cooperating very well and the jowels and slobber aren’t helping.

The good news is yesterday for the very first time she got up on her own while we were outside sitting in the grass and even walked by herself about 20 steps!  (Although – not quite graceful but I’m hoping as she gets more confident and comfortable with it, she will have an easier time and not feel so unbalanced).

She isn’t yet wanting to get up to go out for potty and keeps peeing where she is sleeping – so lots of pee pads and cleaning her and I pray this is temporary. 

Any tips are appreciated.  

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28 May 2019 - 5:23 pm
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Team Nialla Update!

I’m so exhausted that I don’t recall if I provided an update since my post I believe on Sunday.  Nialla came home yesterday. The vet thought she’d be much more comfortable at home and with her family.  She was still struggling with walking and not willing to eat.  We picked her up yesterday and on the way home stopped at FiveGuys to get her a burger (or three… LOL) and she ate all 3 burgers (minus the bread of course)!  YAY, so happy.  When we got home she wouldn’t walk or stand for us so we used the harness to get her in the house and she just wanted to lay down. The other doggies (I have 2 others) were very worried about her.  We let her nap for a few hours and then took her outside to enjoy some sunshine and sit in the grass.  Before sitting down she peed!  YAY!  It looked to be tough for her but she did it (we were also holding her up a little).  We layed down in the grass for a bit and then her favorite Auntie Danielle came to visit and she got up all on her own and tried to walk towards her!  FIRST TIME!  Progress, it’s the little victories right now.  While we were outside, she walked all by herself for maybe 20 steps, she gets tired easy and then wants to lay down, which is fine. She has to build up her strength, confidence and the muscles in the other legs. 

Last night was difficult, I got maybe 2 hours of sleep.  She couldn’t get comfortable and kept trying to get up and fell a few times and hit her jaw. It crushed me.  Today she seems a little depressed but she did get up inside the house today for the first time on her own and walked to her water bowl.  After drinking she just layed down right in front of it for a little bit.  The area rugs I got were too slippery so I changed them out with rubber mats similar to what you put in the garage. I hope that helps and provides more gripping ability.  It is SO DIFFICULT to watch her struggle and I have mixed emotions. On one minute I feel hopeful and think about the day she is back to her happy go lucky self and the other minute I feel guilt for putting her through this. 

I tried to upload a few pictures but for some reason it doesn’t let me search my computer for the source.  I’d love to share some photos of the big baby girl!

From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU for all the advise, support, encouragement and tips.  I know you all understand how much it helps, it helps more than you know.

Nialla’s Mommy and biggest fan, Kim 

XO

Virginia




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28 May 2019 - 10:42 pm
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I know it’s hard for you to see, but, based on your updates, we can tell you Nialla is doing very well this  early point in recovery!!!   And every “little” improvement  is a HUGE improvement  during recovery!!

Ahe CAN get up on her pwn…..she CAN take little short jaunts…earing burgers…drinking…peeing (even in the bed is still a victory)……GREAT UPDATE!!  REALLY!

Dogs don’t  actually get “depressed”, but sometimes we mistake that human emotion for depression” when it’s actually a sign of pain and discomfort  in dogs.  Double check with your Vet about tweaking  rhe pajn meds a bit if pain seems to be the issue.  By now all the hospital  meds  are out of her system  and we often see a “crash” around this time.  Amd yes, recovery is a “roller coaster ride”…full of ups and downs for the dog, and full of second  guessing for the hoomans!  It took me several weeks before I could finally  say I did this FOR my Happy Hannah and not TO her!!

Dr Pam can address this, but I do know not all front leggers come home with a wrap.  It seems that some surgeons do and some don’t. Not sure about “no sutures scenario”.. Again, she can advise.

Amd yes, face plants will happen at first.  Try not to make a big deal about it for show concern.  Just applaud her for getting back up and tell her woth confidence  that she is a very good girl!😊

Sounds, based on what youve described Nialla is doing very well this early on.  Very well!

Hugs

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!

PS. We are all signing  up to join you in Nialla’s Fan Club 😎

  

.

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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29 May 2019 - 8:28 am
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If there is no fluid buildup without a wrap then she may be fine…I just feel it keeps the area cleaner and padded against trauma.  You can also use an old tshirt to at least cover the area.

Tazzie did her share of face-plants early on but never hurt herself.  Keep an eye on the remaining front foot because some giant dogs can develop a sore on the pads due to increased pressure when hopping.  Let her recover at her own rate.  I feel I pushed Tazzie a little too much initially and it quickly became clear that she did not want to go to the park or for walks she just liked being in her yard and with her people and dog siblings.  Other dogs on this site get back to hiking/swimming/playing quickly but that might not happen for your dog.

It sounds like she is doing well for the first week of recovery!

Pam

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29 May 2019 - 9:25 am
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WOOOOHOOO! Twenty steps? TWENTY? OMD! That’s so pawsome!

I can only x2 what Sally and Dr. Pam advised. Give her time, don’t expect too much and know what even the little struggles add up to HUGE victories. She is not only out of pain from the tumor (which would have gotten much worse, quickly), but she is just relieved to be home and with her favorite people. See if you can get more Nialla fan club members to come visit, sounds like she’s a real people pleaser who gets excited about visitors.

You’ll catch up on sleep eventually. Get those meds adjusted and know that recovery is only temporary, but the gift you gave Nialla to be free of cancer pain is one that is furrever. She is thanking you for it, really!

P.S. Our Jerry face planted a few times too and it made me fall apart. When I realized he was more upset over my tears that the actual fall, I was able to hold it together a little better. 

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2 June 2019 - 12:38 pm
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Nialla Update!

Hi Everyone,

Well today is 8 days post surgery and Nialla is getting stronger every day.  She is no longer having accidents in the house.  Although she seems a bit stubborn to get up and go outside, when we encourage her to do so, she does it!  Finally yesterday she pooped!  (Sorry, TMI), but again, it’s the little progress. I have to say, I was getting very worried she hadn’t gone poo for 7 days but she did finally.  She is sleeping a little longer each evening, the past two nights she slept until about 4:30am until she woke up crying but I’m sure it was because she had to potty and also getting close to her next dose of Gabapenten.  This is also progress in my mind as the before that she was up from 2-5am.

This morning, I was in the laundry room and she was still sleeping in the bedroom. When I came out, she was on the living room floor.  She did go up out of bed and made her way into the living room all by herself!  I was so surprised. 

She still won’t eat anything other than steak and lean hamburg.  I’ve tried chicken, fish, etc. but no-go.  I hope feeding her red meat everyday is ok for her.  I don’t plan to do it long term but to me the key is getting her to eat something and if it’s going to be steak and hamburg, well that is what we will do!  I just hope she doesn’t get used to it… LOL.

When she does get up and move around – it takes alot out of her and she breathes pretty heavy. I’m sure that is normal and she’s learning to carry all 105lbs on only 3 legs now – I hope it’s normal to breathe like that.  I worry about her heart (there was nothing to be concerned about before surgery so I’m assuming it’s just the extra effort it’s taking).  The only other thing is she just seems to want to sleep all the time and seems a bit mopey. I’m trying to tell myself that she will snap out of that, I hope she is not getting discouraged about how hard it is to get around.  Would love to hear if your experience was similar and when your dog started to shake that part of it.

Thanks again for all the support and being a member of her fan club.  We appreciate it SO much!  Will continue to post updates!

Kim & Nialla 

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