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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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Need Advice Soon to be 13 year old lab
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12 May 2020 - 1:07 pm
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Hello all, 

New here to this site, my soon to be 13 year old lab, Rocky, had to have surgery last Wednesday due to osteosarcoma in his front left shoulder.  The vet, surgeon, and oncologist all said Rocky is a good candidate for amputation followed with chemotherapy.  We at first were unsure with his age, and his joint mobility.  The surgeon assured us Rocky’s rear legs were sound and would be able to support him in this journey.  They also told us dogs are able to recover in about 10 days and will be back to normal.  We are now coming up on one week and that 10 day number keeps repeating in my head.  I feel that he is making progress but I don’t see him being “normal”.  He is able to sit up, he is able to walk with some assistance (takes multiple rest breaks), and is trying to get up on his own now but is definitely off balanced.  He is still on pain killers and I feel that that may be playing a role in his slower recovery but as I said I keep hearing that 10 days and thinking that maybe we are not doing all we can for him or that this was not the right decision.  Please any advice that you may have will be greatly appreciated. 

Thanks.

The Rainbow Bridge



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12 May 2020 - 2:04 pm
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Hi Rocky and family, welcome! We are so glad you found us and are here for you to lean on and offer you some suggestions. We have all second gussed ourselves during recovery and totally understand your concerns.

First, it’s terrific that all the vets agreed that he was a good candidate for amputation. YAY! It means that Rocky is young at heart and strong and fit. Pawesome!

Now when it comes to that 10 day number, keep in mind that all dogs are different. Senior dogs of any age will take longer to recover. It can be 10 days until he starts to seem like his sparkle comes back, or it can be 15. Try to disregard the number of days in your mind, and instead focus on those things he has already accomplished.

He’s eating and eliminating, and alert, that’s wonderful! He can stand and walk a little too? YAY!

It’s nice talking to you in the Tripawds Chat ! As for the pain meds, you mentioned that you and your vet decided to dial the Gabapentin down to 300mg every 8 hours, because he’s sensitive to it. Good job consulting with them on that, and I’m glad that he’s still on it for now. Pain meds don’t hinder recovery, they help, as long as the dosage is fine-tuned. Sounds like this area is under control for now.

And the fact that you already called a highly skilled rehab therapist? Double YAY YAY! This was a great move that will get Rocky back on his feet sooner than if you had not. 

From what I can tell in talking with you, Rocky’s recovery sounds very typical for an older dog. You are doing everything right, your awesome clinic in Malvern is being great and with the therapy sessions in Rocky’s future, everything is golden. 

Stay strong and pawsitive and know that his pace is his own, but it is very normal from what you are describing. Anytime you fear that it isn’t, let your vet know of course. And always feel free to come back here and post about how he’s doing so that we can cheer him on. 

Keep up the great work!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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12 May 2020 - 3:48 pm
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Hi, First of all Labs Rock!

My Brownie a choc lab also had surgery as a senior. It was right before his 12th birthday. For the first 2 weeks he slept most of the time. Which I was happy because the vet said to limit activity for 2 weeks, or until the stiches came out. I was worried for Brownie as well, due to his age. On week 3 boy did he get his sparkle back, and it was bigger then ever. It makes me think how much pain he must of been in before the limp. I just thought him not being very active was due to age, but I was wrong. 

Brownie did awesome for a year. He also had Front left leg amputation. On week three he even started using the doggie door which I thought he would never do again.

My first post here was two weeks after surgery. I posted “I want my dog back”. I was told to be patient, large seniors need a little more time. And they were right.

What kind of lab is Rocky? I would love to see a pic.

Sending postive thoughts your way for a speedy recovery.

My Beautiful Beloved Brownie was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma on February 26, 2019.  With all odds against him he lived an additional one year and eight days with amputation, love, and prayer.  I was honored to be his mom, and I have never been so proud!  He will live forever in my Heart!

Brownie Bubba Bell

04/01/2007 - 03/05/2020

"March Saint"

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12 May 2020 - 6:43 pm
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10 year old Great Dane here, forelimb amp,  with pre-exisiting neurologic (wobblers), angular limb deformities and osteoarthritis … he was back to hiking the mountains before we moved back to the flat midwest 🙂

it took us 3 weeks before I felt like we had found our rhythm, a month before we were out taking short hops in the woods again and by 3 months it was like we were almost back to old times. Actually, between 10 days and 2 weeks it was actually pretty rough for us if I recall correctly. It took some finaglying to get a pain management plan that worked for him, patience on our parts and some rehab. 

Just a little proof that things will get better from our hike this weekend:

https://youtu.b…..DPs_X6jnU0

Virginia




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13 May 2020 - 9:24 am
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Oh goodness, yes, get that “-ten day” thing out of your head!!!   Sturgeons do a great job 2ith surfery and send everybody on their way.  But they don’t go home with us and they don’t see what the recovery looks like…the REAL recovery!!

It is MAJOR SURGERY!!  MAJOR!!   This is still soooo early in recovery!  Plus Rocky is trying to adjust to three.  And he’s on the “mature” side too.

It takes a solid two plus weeks just to recover  from the surfery itself.  It takes about a month to adjust to his new gait and for his mobility  to become   more normal.  And yes, it IS exhausting, especially for a front legger, to hop on three.   Jerry always says for is to hold one leg up and try hopping on one..pretty darn tiring!. 

Give Rocky several massages every day, all up and down hos spi e around his shoulders and neck.  This will help relaxed those tense muscles  he’s using  as he’s  trying to adapt

Just be patient (hard, we know) and let Rocky get his sea legs and recover at his own pace.  And always stay upbeat, confident and pawsitive around him.  He needs to feel yoir reassuring  energy and know that he is doing just fine.  And he is!! 

Celevrate the little victories,  because they ate huge victories  during recovery!!  He’s showing determination  and a strong will to get up on his own (that’s  hard at first), so that’s  good!!  Eating drinking okay??  Any tail wags yet?  

It took me at least three weeks or more before I could finally say I did this FOR my Hapoy Hannah and not TO her!

As Jerry said, managing  the pain is very important to healing.   How much does he weigh?

So yes. Rocky is on target for a getting through his recovery at his pace and in his own way.  Again, hard as heck, but be patient!  

Keep is posted, okay?

Hugs

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

PS. Good to hear from you, but The video was private.  Igh!

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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13 May 2020 - 3:35 pm
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Thank you for the advice, it makes me feel so much better. Rocky weighs 96 lbs which is a very good weight for him, he stands very tall for a lab he has a dudley gene.  He is pretty good getting up once he has done it a few times, he is a super happy dog so always wagging his tail whenever he sees us and we talk to him or he wants to play with all his toys.  He wanted to go for a longer walk today we got about 1 house over before we made him turn around for fear of him getting too tired.  We have noticed over the last few months we have taken him out for walks and he doesnt really want to come home bc all the neighbors give him treats, so as soon as we try to turn around he gets really stubborn and wants to lay down…at first we thought he wanted to rest but then as soon as we turn around he gets back up and wants to keep going.  We are trying not to bribe him to come home lol and he literally is treated like a king at home 3 toy boxes, love all the time, windows open and a cat who also gets along really well… it’s frustrating bc we look like schmucks trying to get him to come home lol but we love him anyway.

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13 May 2020 - 3:36 pm
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I also dont know how to upload a pic or any video I tried and it didnt want to work 🙁 

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13 May 2020 - 3:52 pm
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on videos you need to post somewhere like YouTube first

 Then copy the URL onto your post.

Admin guy will explain much better.

My Beautiful Beloved Brownie was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma on February 26, 2019.  With all odds against him he lived an additional one year and eight days with amputation, love, and prayer.  I was honored to be his mom, and I have never been so proud!  He will live forever in my Heart!

Brownie Bubba Bell

04/01/2007 - 03/05/2020

"March Saint"

The Rainbow Bridge



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13 May 2020 - 4:38 pm
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Glad we could help you feel better! If you feel good, so will Rocky.

How nice that the neighbors are cheering him up, he loves all the attention and treats (low cal, right?! ; )  I know you’re both anxious to get back to normal and you did great by turning around on that walk, but right now do everything you can to minimize those walks to just potty breaks in your yard. He shouldn’t be doing any kind of longer walks beyond your property until at least when stitches come out. In his case, he may need a bit more time than that.

We have these instructions for adding images to the Forums. If you’d like help figuring out the process let me know. It’s pretty easy: 

  1. Upload pics to a photo sharing site like imgur.com or your own free Tripawds blog
  2. Right click and copy the Image URL (or just the image itself in some instances, depending on where you put the photos)
  3. Return to your Tripawds Forum post and paste the image right in your post. It should automatically appear.

Let us know if that doesn’t work. Can’t wait to see them!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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14 May 2020 - 2:03 pm
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Love the avatar. He looks so sweet! We have quite a few gray mugs here.

Smart boy, trying to trick you into giving him treats. 

Happy to know he is doing better. Can’t wait to see pictures!

My Beautiful Beloved Brownie was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma on February 26, 2019.  With all odds against him he lived an additional one year and eight days with amputation, love, and prayer.  I was honored to be his mom, and I have never been so proud!  He will live forever in my Heart!

Brownie Bubba Bell

04/01/2007 - 03/05/2020

"March Saint"

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14 May 2020 - 6:00 pm
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Well today felt like a step back, I understand he needs rest but he did so well yesterday, today he just wants to sleep all day and he does not really want to stand on his own today.  2 days in a row he stood to eat his entire meals but today he needed to rest while he was eating.  I am trying to be positive but I can see my husband getting frustrated with him.  I also feel like Rocky is being extremely stubborn because there are times where if he wants something he will stand up and do it but going out for potty breaks can be quite the struggle, especially coming back in.  We did have good news though from the vet so the biopsy did come back positive for osteosarcoma but it has not metastasized to his lymph nodes so small victory there.  He is scheduled to have his staple removal next thursday and hopefully have his first round of chemo at the same time.  I really wish though it did not always feel like 2 steps forward and 1 step back.  I feel guilty and greedy for saying I want more forward days. 

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14 May 2020 - 6:31 pm
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Hi.  I know exactly how you feel when it seems like our pups are being stubborn, but after surgery, Rocky’s reluctance to do something is probably linked to discomfort.  I’m not sure what he did yesterday that made it such a great day, but he may have overextended himself and tweaked something that makes him uncomfortable standing, even to eat.  Try massaging his back, neck, shoulder, and legs.  Heating pads would be good if his muscles feel tight.  And if he is reluctant to come back inside after potty breaks, is it that he is enjoying himself and wants to stay outside longer?  Are there stairs or other challenges for him to get outside or back inside?  Hang in there!  Recovery is filled with speed bumps, but Rocky will make it through with you at his side!  Sending hugs from NYC!  ~ Stacy (and Griffin)

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14 May 2020 - 7:35 pm
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So if I understand correctly he has staples in place of stiches. I know some members found the staples were pinching and causing their dog to have pain. Espically when getting up and down. Hopefully he will feel better when they come out.

A massage is always a good idea as well. Hang in there.

My Beautiful Beloved Brownie was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma on February 26, 2019.  With all odds against him he lived an additional one year and eight days with amputation, love, and prayer.  I was honored to be his mom, and I have never been so proud!  He will live forever in my Heart!

Brownie Bubba Bell

04/01/2007 - 03/05/2020

"March Saint"

Virginia




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14 May 2020 - 10:24 pm
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Ditto Nancy and Stacy.

Also, I know you backed down his pain meds a couple of days ago.  Do you feel like there is a correlation?  He could be uncomfortable as opposed to being “stubborn”.

For now, if he wants to eat laying down, that’s okay.  After all, he is your  King😎

As far as his short potty break, can you just sit beside him outside and let him enjoy being  in nature for a few extra minutes.  Just resting  with his bff.

Yes, recovery  is often a roller coaster ride.    Yep,   two steps forward, one back.    You’ve already seen him get a bit better and now a more lethargic day…and that’s  okay.  He is smart enough to know he needs rest to heal. 

I know we sound like a broken record, but he is a senior, he is a big dog, he just had MAJOR SURGERY!!!

It is sooooo important to not be frustrated  with Rocky.  He will sense that energy and feel like he’s disappointing you, but not know why.

And yeah for lymph being clear!!  Great news!!  And tail wags and eating…more good news!!

And yes, keep the massages going.  Make sure he shows no sign of tenseness. 

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



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15 May 2020 - 11:41 am
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I agree, recovery can be a roller coaster, but you are asking great questions and sensitive to Rocky’s needs, so hang on and the ride will be over before you know it.

Please know that what we interpret as stubbornness is not what we think it is. When a dog doesn’t want to do something, there is a reason for it, and in a situation like a recent amputation, it’s likely because that action is painful and the dog doesn’t want to experience that pain again. Sure, Rocky is motivated for things he loves, but since bathroom breaks aren’t all that much fun and probably result in aches and pains afterward, he’s not so motivated. Who can blame him?

Please tell your husband to put himself in Rocky’s paws. How would he handle amputation less than 2 weeks out of the hospital? I’ll bet not as well as Rocky. Patience, Grasshopper. He WILL get there. He’s an older, large dog and time and rest is what he needs to get his sparkle back. You can this.

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