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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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Great Pyrenees amputation 3.5.12
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St. Louis, MO
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29 April 2012 - 6:21 pm
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Hi,

Welcome to you and Abner!  He is gorgeous!  I’m glad to read that he is healing nicely and beginning to get around better.  Sorry that it came back OSA.  Hearing the news that is was OSA, even though I was expected it, was still difficult. 

Charley had 5 rounds of carboplatin on day 13 (the same day his staples came out) and he tolerated chemo well without any complications.  Charley just celebrated his 18 Month Ampuversary yesterday, so never give up hope with Abner!!!

Sending Abner lots of positive thoughts and prayers!!!

Hugs and chocolate labby kisses,

Ellen & Charley

Charley's Blog:  CHOCOLATE KISSES


DOB: 3-29-08, male chocolate lab  
Dx: OSA L proximal humerus 10-19-10

Amputation: L front leg & scapula 10-28-10

Chemo: 5 rounds of Carboplatin

Video (12 weeks post amp):Tripaw Charley Playing

♥♥♥ Lots of supplements and love!!! ♥♥♥

St. Louis, MO
Forum Posts: 258
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29 April 2012 - 6:24 pm
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Oh no!  I missed your last post and responded before I read it. 🙁

So sorry that Abner is having a rough time!  Sending LOTS of positive thoughts and prayers to Abner to feel better soon and gain his strength back.  Hang in there!

Hugs and chocolate labby kisses,

Ellen & Charley

Charley's Blog:  CHOCOLATE KISSES


DOB: 3-29-08, male chocolate lab  
Dx: OSA L proximal humerus 10-19-10

Amputation: L front leg & scapula 10-28-10

Chemo: 5 rounds of Carboplatin

Video (12 weeks post amp):Tripaw Charley Playing

♥♥♥ Lots of supplements and love!!! ♥♥♥

San Diego, CA
Forum Posts: 2503
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29 April 2012 - 6:57 pm
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Hate to see a pup having a hard time recovering. Hope he will start to have better mobility soon.

Try to not have regrets. Abner’s not holding it against you and you should either.

I hope he starts to feel better soon! And if part of feeling better means no more chemo, so be it. We see many dogs here last a good long while without chemo. It’s by no means the only way to go with a cancer dx.

Hang in there. Sending good thoughts out for you and Abner.
Jackie, Angel Abby’s mom

Abby: Aug 1, 2009 – Jan 10, 2012. Our beautiful rescue pup lived LARGE with osteosarcoma for 15 months – half her way-too-short life. I think our "halflistic" approach (mixing traditional meds + supplements) helped her thrive. (PM me for details. I'm happy to help.) She had lung mets for over a year. They took her from us in the end, but they cannot take her spirit! She will live forever in our hearts. She loved the beach and giving kisses and going to In-N-Out for a Flying Dutchman. Tripawds blog, and a more detailed blog here. Please also check out my novel, What the Dog Ate. Now also in paperback! Purchase it at Amazon via Tripawds and help support Tripawds!

Las Vegas, Nevada
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29 April 2012 - 8:56 pm
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jerry wrote:

Has he seen a rehab therapist to find out why he isn’t walking unassisted?

 

It’s probably from the disko.  It’s very debilitating and causes a lot of pain. It is usually a 8-12 week  course of antibiotics.  Comet was almost immobile from it too.

Her Retired AvatarComet - 1999 to 2011

She departed us unexpectedly  January 23, 2011 at the age of 12 1/2.

She was born with a deformed front leg and a tripawd all of her life.

The Rainbow Bridge



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29 April 2012 - 9:27 pm
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cometdog said
jerry wrote:

Has he seen a rehab therapist to find out why he isn’t walking unassisted?

 It’s probably from the disko.  It’s very debilitating and causes a lot of pain. It is usually a 8-12 week  course of antibiotics.  Comet was almost immobile from it too.

Ah, yeah, probably. Sounds so painful! I’m glad that you’re here to help share Comet’s experience. 

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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abnersdad
36
9 June 2012 - 10:10 am
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We are now just past the three month point following Abner’s leg amputation and about 12 weeks since our one and only session of chemotherapy with Carboplatin.  It has been a long and difficult three months but at this point Abner is doing pretty well again.  His one session of chemo was brutal and left him very sick with lots of invasive bacterial infections, almost completely unable to walk and depleted of any energy or interest in the outside world.  It took weeks of assistance from me with our now-customized sling to get him up and about again.  Anyone who tells you there are no complications with Carboplatin is wrong.  There certainly seem to be some cases where the dog emerges unscathed from it but at one point I thought Abner wouldn’t survive. My advice is to seriously consider the consequences of chemo before diving in.  The number of dogs who are profoundly affected is not small.

He is now able to walk about 3/4 mile on his own unassisted without any rest stops and he can do about a mile and a half with a rest stop someplace in the shade.  He always wants to go farther but his remaining hind leg becomes fatigued and he gets to the point at which he can no longer keep his hind end up when he walks.  Still, a mile and a half is a major improvement over where he was a month or even two out of chemo.

His hair is growing back albeit unevenly.  Much of it is coming in quite nicely but there is a patch about 2×3 inches on his back that is still almost bald.  I am told by his surgeon that often dogs develop a patch that is slow to regrow hair where they had an epidural during surgery and he is guessing that is what is going on.  He has some kind of dry crusty growth on top of part of the black part of his nose that no one has a clue about, and he still is tilting his head to the left. . . again with no real explanation although no one seems terribly concerned.

Because of its appalling cost we have switched from Deramaxx to a combination of Gabapentin and Meloxicam and he seems to be doing fine.  We have been advised to have liver and kidney functions checked since he has been on NSAIDs for so long and that is scheduled for a little more than a week from now.  Our surgeon has recommended keeping Abner on Cephalexin for up to a year since he and others think it is likely that Abner did get discospondylitis as a result of his chemo experience.  Originally he had said it would be a 6 week treatment but has since said he has read papers indicating that a much longer course is wise with this infection.  Fortunately all three of these meds are inexpensive.

I have to say that this has been much more difficult than I was led to believe it would be and expected it to be, but we seem to be emerging from the darkest days.  I know that without chemo there is a likelihood that some metastases will appear sooner or later but I cannot bring myself to subjecting him to another attempt at chemo right now.  In another month we may revisit it if he continues to get stronger but I see no point in making him very sick in order to stave off recurrence of the cancer.  My feeling is that he has to enjoy the life he has or there is no point in his having it, and right now, with only NSAIDs and antibiotics he seems to be pretty content with his life.

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19 July 2012 - 9:45 pm
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Reading about Abner has been so helpful to me.  I just joined this group today, so I was able to read about Abner from the beginning, through the dark times, and now to his most recent progress — all in one sitting!  I’m so happy that he is now doing so well.

My dog Ruh (pronounced “Roo”) is a barely-eight year old Anatolian Shepherd who was diagnosed with a bone tumor in his right hind leg just yesterday.  We are waiting to find out if the cancer has spread, and are hopeful that amputation will be an option.  It’s reassuring that Abner and other giant breed dogs have had success with mobility after a hind-leg amputation.  Ruh is a service dog and has been a mobility assistance dog for me.  Luckily my condition has improved greatly over the past two years, and now I hope to be a mobility assistance human for him.  Service work and being in the community are so important to him, I’m hopeful that he can one day continue to serve as a “tripawd” therapy dog visiting children who have undergone amputations.  Thank you for sharing your information with others.  It’s helped me greatly in processing what’s happening with Ruh and what’s to come.

 

Pats to Abner–thanks for being an inspiration to Ruh and me.

Chris

The Rainbow Bridge



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20 July 2012 - 6:29 am
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Hi Chris,

Thanks so much for joining us here, we’re glad you found Abner’s story (I was just thinking about him the other day and wondering how he was doing). I’m so sorry you are in the process of finding out about the cancer and stuff, but we’ll be here to  help however we can.

Giant breeds like Anatolians are really something special. You’ll be in good company here, and if you really want some more inspawration, check out Cemil’s story. He is a three-plus year survivor of osteosarcoma, a front leg amputee, and an Anatolian!

feature=plcp

For other inspawrational stories about giant breeds, check this discussion:

Giant Breed Tripawds: Describe Your Post-Amptuation Lifestyle 

Please consider starting a new topic so Ruh can have the spotlight all to himself. He sounds like a terrific pup, we can’t wait to hear more about your pack.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
Latest Tripawds News
Read my story here.

Support the Tripawds Foundation!

abnersdad
39
20 July 2012 - 7:27 am
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kitkaede said
Reading about Abner has been so helpful to me.  I just joined this group today, so I was able to read about Abner from the beginning, through the dark times, and now to his most recent progress — all in one sitting!  I’m so happy that he is now doing so well.

My dog Ruh (pronounced “Roo”) is a barely-eight year old Anatolian Shepherd who was diagnosed with a bone tumor in his right hind leg just yesterday.  We are waiting to find out if the cancer has spread, and are hopeful that amputation will be an option.  It’s reassuring that Abner and other giant breed dogs have had success with mobility after a hind-leg amputation.  Ruh is a service dog and has been a mobility assistance dog for me.  Luckily my condition has improved greatly over the past two years, and now I hope to be a mobility assistance human for him.  Service work and being in the community are so important to him, I’m hopeful that he can one day continue to serve as a “tripawd” therapy dog visiting children who have undergone amputations.  Thank you for sharing your information with others.  It’s helped me greatly in processing what’s happening with Ruh and what’s to come.

 

Pats to Abner–thanks for being an inspiration to Ruh and me.

Chris

Hi Chris.  I’m glad that Abner’s and my experiences have offered you some help.  I hope they offer some realistic expectations.  One thing I have learned and continue to learn is that the experience of an amputation for a giant breed dog is definitely different than for smaller animals.  I believe now that Abner is reasonably happy and is dealing pretty well with his life as it has become.  I also believe that it is unlikely that he is going to make any major improvements from here on out.  There are very real limits on what he can do now and they impact me as well. 


Abner is able to walk about a mile and a half on relatively level or gently sloping ground provided he gets a rest stop somewhere along the way.  Occasionally he can to a mile and three quarters but really that is it.  The hopping gait a large tripawd has to master requires considerably more exertion than a normal 4 legged gait so these dogs will tire much faster.  This is, in Abner’s case, exacerbated by his being almost 10 (birthday coming up on Tuesday of next week).  He has gotten good at going down steps but if he has to go up more than about two or three risers I still must assist him with a sling I had made.  He also cannot get in or out of my car without using a ramp.  While this may seem like good progress in a little more than 4 months we are talking about a dog who routinely could go on 8 mile hikes before. 


He has lost 4 pounds of body weight since his surgery.  His vets believe this is completely due to the added exertion required for walking.


One thing I wasn’t expecting was health complications for myself but there have been some and it would be good for you to be aware so perhaps you can avoid them.  My biggest problem is that I have aggravated an ulnar nerve in my left arm, probably from constantly pulling the ramp out and putting it back into the car.  I have been in a lot of pain for more than 6 weeks and ironically have been put on Gabapentin which is one of the same drugs Abner is taking.  I also am now dealing with a sharp pain in my left knee when I get down to medicate Abner twice daily.  I suspect both of these would have been avoidable if I had thought about how I was dealing with these repeated movements but I didn’t and am now paying the price.


I have no regrets at this point about agreeing to Abner’s amputation.  I believe he wouldn’t have survived this long without it and I am convinced that while he can’t completely return to what had been a normal life for him, he is content with what he has.  I lavish praise and affection on him all the time and I think he probably doesn’t even know something is missing.  This is simply the life he woke up to one day and this is what he is dealing with.   He is just as sweet and wonderful to be around as he always was and not a day goes by that I am not thankful for every moment I have with him.  If Ruh is healthy enough to have this surgery I suspect in the end you will draw the same conclusion.



Best of luck.


PS.  Make sure you are equipped with a durable sling as soon as you have to pick Ruh up from his surgery.  I ended up taking the one they provided to get him home from the vet hospital and having it customized by a local crafts-person who makes tents, backpacks and the like from nylon.  He put a stiffener on one side to keep it from bunching up under Abner’s belly and then we lined it with soft fleece so the surface touching him was comfortable.  I machine wash it and it is working well.  One thing that is tricky is positioning it so it doesn’t inhibit a male dog’s ability to pee.  You’ll figure that out the first time you take Ruh out and he urinates through the sling.


One thing they didn’t tell me about and that for awhile caused me some worry was a side effect from the surgery.  Abner has a spot on his back beside his spine where his coat is growing back far more slowly than elsewhere.  This is apparently common and is caused by the epidural they give the dog during the surgery.  It apparently releases enough steroid at the injection site that the residual steroid inhibits hair growth for period of time.  Right now it looks like he has a comb-overbig-blink.

Vanuatu
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20 July 2012 - 5:46 pm
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Hi Abnersdad & ruh,

 

Abners story was a great inspiration for me too, my boy Porthos is a Pyrenean Mastiff with front leg amputation 5 weeks ago and is doing much better than I had hoped (he has hip dsyplasia and has had two TPLO surgeries) he walked the afternoon of his surgery!

 

Another member on here uses an ‘ginger lead’ for her dog which has a rear leg amuptation, she said it works very well.

There is also the ‘ruffwear harness ‘ which now has an added hip support (there is a link to it on here somwhere)

We use the ‘help em up harness’ which has front and back end support and has space for a male dog to urinate. Its been great so far. Others on here will help with more info for you. Like Jerry said, start your own topic so we can spoil you rotten!

Ruh sounds wonderful and obviously has a very loving caring parent.

 

Amanda & Porthos

Angel Porthos, Pyrenean Mastiff, 7 years old Os front right leg, DX 18 May 2012, Amputation 14 June 2012, Hip Dysplasia, Two TPLO surgeries. Is now somewhere over the rainbow, 21 November 2013.

Sydney, Australia
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20 July 2012 - 6:56 pm
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Thanks for letting us know about Abner’s journey.  I’m sorry that it has been a difficult one for you and Abner.  We were fortunate that Carboplatin didn’t seem to affect Magnum too much but we had a horrible experience with Palladia so I understand a little how you feel.  Quality is so much more important than quantity.

Magnum was only about 35kg once she lost the leg and trimmed down a little.  She couldn’t walk more than 1km after amputation.  On the days she pushed it she would usually be a bit stiff and sore the next day.  So our routine was to walk to the park and then just potter around there and sit and watch the world go by.  We’d also drive to the beach and river when we could as well.  She was also a dog used to walking for miles and miles twice per day.  But dogs are amazingly stoic.  She just adjusted to her limitations as long as she could go somewhere she seemed to be very happy and content.  I’m sure Abner is just glad to be rid of his pain and also happy just to be living.

 

Good luck and please keep us posted.

 

Karen and Spirit Magnum

Magnum: 30th May 2002 to 5th May 2012. Lost her back left leg to osteosarcoma on 5th Sep 2011. Lung mets found on 20th Mar 2012 but it was bone mets in the hip that ended her brave battle. Magnum's motto - "Dream as if you'll live for ever, live as if you'll die today" (James Dean). Loyal, loving, courageous and spirited to the end. My beloved heart dog, see her memoirs from Rainbow Bridge ...... http://princess.....pawds.com/

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