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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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New here and 2 days post-op
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Forum Posts: 11
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7 April 2016 - 7:00 pm
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My sweet Rudy is a 14 year old Jack Russell who was diagnosed with a soft tissue sarcoma April 2015.  The tumor was in his right front leg and was causing him to limp in pain because it was pinching his nerves. We decided to try surgery to remove the tumor even though our vet could not promise good margins due to how thin his legs are.  His first surgery was in April 2015 and he recovered so quickly and was back to his happy self 2 days later, running comfortably within 5-6 days.  The tumor came back this January and started causing him pain again.  Our vet brought up amputation as an option since he couldn’t promise better results than the previous surgery.  We decided to try surgery one more time, because of his mature age, and hoping for at least another 9 months of being pain free and hoping a different chemotherapy might give us better results.  Rudy’s second surgery was in the end of January 2016 and he recovered just as quickly as the first surgery.  Unfortunately his tumor came back so fast this time, he started limping again towards the end of March and quickly began just walking on three legs instead of limping.  We opted for amputation this time to spare putting him through a surgery every 2-3 months.  His amputation surgery was this Tuesday and he came home with us the same night. I started looking at tripawds.com back in January when the tumor came back the first time and I felt fairly prepared for what to expect since we have been through two surgeries within the past year and I have read so many of the posts in these forums.  Boy was I wrong, I had no idea what it would be like.  The first night was horrible, I have never heard Rudy cry…I thought I had… but no, not these sounds.  My poor boy was in so much distress and couldn’t get comfortable, he kept unintentionally turning in circles on his butt and then laying down with a grunt as if he was giving up on whatever movement he had intended to make.  The first day post-op was better, we have been camped out on the floor together since we took him home and he seemed to prefer me being stationary so he doesn’t have to worry about keeping me in his line of sight.  So together we rested and snuggled all day on the mattress topper we have laying on the living room floor.  He has been very restless, getting up at least every hour, compared to his usual nap-all-day self pre-amputation.  He has also been drinking non-stop, which I would much rather have than him not drinking, but it is also making him have to get up for more trips outside than he seems to have energy for. He has been very picky when it comes to what he will eat which has made it stressful when it is time for meds that should be taken with food.  After a long struggle to get him to eat this morning, I tried giving him his meds without much food and he threw up 1.5 hours later.  He was given Tramadol, Gabapentin, Carprofen and Baytril.  I do see improvements in his mobility today, no more accidently doing the splits or butt spins.  The hardest part so far has been seeing my happy sweet boy so sad looking.  He seems to get more perked up for my husband than he does around me, this is unusual since he has always had a tighter bond with me.  I can only assume that it is because he can sense how devastated I am watching him suffer through this rough recovery, sometimes regretting this choice.  I know it is for the best, and in a few weeks he wont remember this really rough part but I can’t stop breaking into tears whenever I look at the empty space where his beautiful leg was just two days ago.  My husband is in better spirits and keeps telling me that didn’t come home without a leg, he came home without cancer, all I see is a dog in more pain than he was before and missing a leg.  I just feel like I did this to him and now I can’t even help him do what he wants because he’s not acting like himself.  For example, I can’t tell whether he wants to lay down to sunbathe or if he laid down after peeing because he doesn’t have the energy to make it back inside onto comfy beds; when I carry him inside I cant tell if the noises he is making are because he wanted to stay outside or because the way I am carrying him is hurting him.  He wants us around him at all times, but he hasn’t given us any of those wonderful loving looks that we used to get every time we said his name.  Now I am sitting here wondering if he is ever going to be happy again and hoping this difficult decision was the right option for him.  I want my happy puppy backsad

The Rainbow Bridge



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7 April 2016 - 7:40 pm
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Hi Rudy and family, welcome. Your future posts won’t need approval so post away. I hope you don’t mind I moved your post here but this is a good place for amputation stories about mature pups like Rudy.

First, I hate to say it, but your husband is correct:

  My husband is in better spirits and keeps telling me that didn’t come home without a leg, he came home without cancer,

It’s always harder on the humans than it is for the animals. When we have a more optimistic approach to recovery, things are soooo much easier for all of us. The thing is, it’s only been a couple of days…try to put yourself in his paws…how would you feel if you had a leg removed? It would hurt right? And you wouldn’t want to eat, or feel like doing much of anything. But what makes animals so much stronger and amazing than us humans is that they bounce back so much faster than we do. In a week or two, Rudy will be so far beyond your expectations, you’ll be amazed. Just remember though, that his resiliency relies on your pawsitivity. He needs you to be strong too.

Now, first tell us, what kind of pain meds is he on? They have a lot to do with how a dog behaves the first few days. Too little pain medication can be as distressful as too much. What is  he taking and how often?

{{{hugs}}} hang in there. We’re here to help.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Michigan
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7 April 2016 - 8:01 pm
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Ok, well, first of all, take a deep breath and shake it off.  Now, you have to be strong!  Rudy is going to follow your lead.  You did not do this TO him, you did it FOR him.  This first 2 weeks is such a roller coaster!  omg, I remember it.  Make sure that you are spacing out the medications so that he is getting good coverage around the clock – you don’t want all of the meds at the same time.  You can also try to put an ice pack on his incision, with a towel over the incision, for about 20 minutes at a time a  couple times a day.  Murphy didn’t want to eat, either.  What I did was cook up some rice and pour chicken broth over it, then added some chunks of chicken to it.  He took his pills with peanut butter. 

It will get better!

Donna

Donna, Glenn & Murphy 

Murphy had his right front leg amputated due to histiocytic sarcoma at 7 years old. He survived 4 years, 2 months & 1 week, only to be taken by hemangiosarcoma at 11 1/2 years 6/12/17  
Read about Murphy's Life on Three Legs

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Livermore, CA




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7 April 2016 - 8:02 pm
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Hi and welcome.

Sorry you had to face this decision with your boy Rudy.

First off- very few bring their pups home the day of surgery.  Rudy was high on surgery meds and much of his vocalization was probably from the meds.  It’s a hard way to start recovery for you, seeing your boy like that.  I’m guessing he wasn’t in much pain he just couldn’t figure out what was going on in his brain.  Add to that trying to figure out his balance while high….

So, great job getting through the first night!

I made a big mistake with my little pug Maggie, she was not happy, I was not happy- we fed off each others bad moods.  Maggie and I had been inseparable since I held her at 10 weeks old… but I was not the person she perked up for- that was reserved for my mom and dad.  At that point I was just happy there was a little sparkle.  I was SURE I had made a terrible mistake by choosing amputation.

I think nearly every new Tripawd parent goes through this phase so don’t feel alone.

Has Rudy been on Tramadol before?  I’ve had two pugs take it without issue, but Maggie got very restless and agitated when she took it. Once she didn’t sleep for 12 hours and was seeing some time of creature that was after her!  Talk with your vet about how Rudy is acting- sometimes a minor tweak in dosage or schedule can make a big difference. 

The meds you have sound pretty standard- oh, does he have a pain patch?  Maggie came home with a fentanyl patch- those can also make pups see funny pink creatures.

Hang in there- you did this FOR Rudy, not to him.  Stay positive, especially when you are around him, and things will get better.

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

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8 April 2016 - 5:18 am
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Hang tight, this will get better.  You are really early in this recovery process.  And remember, you are Mom.  If he has a tighter bond with you it is natural that he would feel more comfortable to express pain and discomfort with you than with your husband.  You will get the loving looks again really soon.

Otis - 106 pound lab/Dane mix, lost his right front leg to osteosarcoma on Febuary 9, 2016.  Four rounds of carboplatin completed in April, 2016.  Lung mets August 25, 2016.  Said goodbye too soon on September 4, 2016.   Lost his adopted sister, Tess, suddenly on October 9, 2016. likely due to hemangiosarcoma.  

Wherever they are, they are together.

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8 April 2016 - 6:45 am
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Jerry,

Thank you for moving it to this section; I hadn’t stumbled upon this and it great to read about older dogs that are going through the same thing Rudy is.  I have to admit that today has started off wonderfully, much of that was because I got to wake up and read the posts from You, Donna, Karen and Tess so thank you all.  I also woke up to some delicious morning cuddles from Rudy so I am walking on sunshine today!

As for Rudy’s medication plan:

25mgs Tramadol every 6-12 hours

12.5mgs Carprofen twice a day as needed for pain(Nsaid)

100mgs Gabapentin 1-3 times a day as needed for pain

102mgs Baytril twice a day until gone (antibiotic)

I can’t seem to figure out how to space them all and give him relief without making him so stoned that he is confused and panting.  

Thanks again for the kind words it really helps knowing there is happy ending coming soon,

-Casey 

Los Angeles, CA
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8 April 2016 - 8:08 am
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Oh he’s a cutie!!! I am sorry you have found yourself here …. But others have given you some great advice! and I love what your husband said as well. I will say that it’s true – dogs feed off our energy for the most positive and normal you can be, the better it will be for Rudy. The first few weeks are indeed tough – I won’t sugarcoat it but it gets better! The meds are confusing to dogs!!! But stay on top of the pain for sure.

Keep us posted and more photos!!!

alison with spirit shelby in her heart 

Shelby Lynne; Jack Russell/Shiba Inu mix. Proud member of the April Angels of 2014.

October 15, 2000 to April 8, 2014

Our story: Broke rear leg in June 2013 - non-conclusive results for cancer so leg was plated and pinned. Enlarged spleen in September 2013 and had it removed and was diagnosed with Hemangiosarcoma and started chemotherapy. Became a Tripawd January 8th, 2014 and definitive Hemangiosarcoma diagnosis. Three major surgeries in 7 months and Shelby took them all like a champ only to lose her battle to cancer in her brain. We had 8 amazing extra months together and no regrets. #shelbystrong #loveofmylife

The Rainbow Bridge



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8 April 2016 - 8:57 am
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Awwwww here’s to Rudy Cuddles!

OK, talk to your vet about modifying the Tramadol. It can often make dogs pant and anxious. Sometimes Gabapentin will but it’ll make them sleepy more than anything, which is good right now, Rudy really needs the rest. The Tramadol might be the culprit here. let us know what your vet says OK?

{{{{hugs}}} for you too!

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

Support the Tripawds Foundation!

Norene, TN
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8 April 2016 - 9:02 am
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Howdy and welcome!!

OMD, that Rudy is one cutie-patootie!

I can’t add much more than what’s already been said. The only thing I can add is that some of the meds he’s taking tastes horrible. And if you’ve been putting it in his food, he will start to reject it because he will make the correlation. We tried everything with our Harmony and she quickly figured them all out. Hopefully your Rudy won’t have to be on them too much longer so that he can get back to being a sweet, cuddly fur-baby with loads of sparkle.

pam

Harmony became a Tripawd on 10/21/14 (MCT). She left us way too soon on 11/1/14.

"We miss you so much; our love, our heart, our Harmony."

- Pam, Ron and Melody, Meesha, Doublestuff and Mariah Carey

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8 April 2016 - 5:45 pm
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midnighter94 said
Ok, well, first of all, take a deep breath and shake it off.  Now, you have to be strong!  Rudy is going to follow your lead.  You did not do this TO him, you did it FOR him.  This first 2 weeks is such a roller coaster!  omg, I remember it.  Make sure that you are spacing out the medications so that he is getting good coverage around the clock – you don’t want all of the meds at the same time.  You can also try to put an ice pack on his incision, with a towel over the incision, for about 20 minutes at a time a  couple times a day.  Murphy didn’t want to eat, either.  What I did was cook up some rice and pour chicken broth over it, then added some chunks of chicken to it.  He took his pills with peanut butter. 

It will get better!

Donna

Donna,

Thank you for your kinds words, I tried responding to all the posts earlier and then had computer problems.  I tried your recommendation of spacing the meds out better today and it has made a great difference.  He has been in such a better mood today and I do believe a lot of that was due to me having a more positive attitude starting the day after reading all of the responses on this post–and finally some sleep.  He slept through most of the night which meant I got to as well.  We are still having some issues with picky eating but I am trying your rice and chicken broth recipe tonight and I am sure that will help.

Thanks again for all your support, Rudy was very pleased with the peanut butter 🙂

-Casey

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8 April 2016 - 5:58 pm
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krun15 said
Hi and welcome.

Sorry you had to face this decision with your boy Rudy.

First off- very few bring their pups home the day of surgery.  Rudy was high on surgery meds and much of his vocalization was probably from the meds.  It’s a hard way to start recovery for you, seeing your boy like that.  I’m guessing he wasn’t in much pain he just couldn’t figure out what was going on in his brain.  Add to that trying to figure out his balance while high….

So, great job getting through the first night!

I made a big mistake with my little pug Maggie, she was not happy, I was not happy- we fed off each others bad moods.  Maggie and I had been inseparable since I held her at 10 weeks old… but I was not the person she perked up for- that was reserved for my mom and dad.  At that point I was just happy there was a little sparkle.  I was SURE I had made a terrible mistake by choosing amputation.

I think nearly every new Tripawd parent goes through this phase so don’t feel alone.

Has Rudy been on Tramadol before?  I’ve had two pugs take it without issue, but Maggie got very restless and agitated when she took it. Once she didn’t sleep for 12 hours and was seeing some time of creature that was after her!  Talk with your vet about how Rudy is acting- sometimes a minor tweak in dosage or schedule can make a big difference. 

The meds you have sound pretty standard- oh, does he have a pain patch?  Maggie came home with a fentanyl patch- those can also make pups see funny pink creatures.

Hang in there- you did this FOR Rudy, not to him.  Stay positive, especially when you are around him, and things will get better.

Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls

Karen,

Thank you for all of your advice.  I knew that it wasn’t common for most dogs to come home on the first night but our vet recommended it because although they do offer the option for pets to stay overnight no one is in the office from 8:30pm until 7:30am so they said he would be better at home with us as long as we could have a quite, calm area for him to rest in rather then being alone in the cages there.  But it never crossed my mind that he was still under the effect of the surgery meds vs his meds that I give him at home.  It makes perfect sense, but I was SO relieved when I read your post saying that it probably wasn’t pain as much as confusion and being so high.  You have no idea how much better that made me feel, THANK YOU! Even though by day 1 he was much better than he was that first night I think I was still broken up about what I had put him through and hearing him make such unusual sounds that first night. 

Rudy did not come home with a pain patch but he has been on Tramadol before for both of the tumor removal surgeries and did fine with it.  But today I played around with the spacing of his meds and realized I was not evenly controlling his pain until today, I think I was over medicating him to the point of confusion and discomfort (can dogs get the spins like we do?) and then letting the pain come back to quickly before giving him more meds. Today has been such a great day compared to the past two days of hell that my sweet boy went though and so much of it is due to you and all of the other wonderful people that have shared advice and kind words to Rudy and I.  Thank you so much!

Casey

-Casey

Michigan
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8 April 2016 - 5:59 pm
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Oh, glad to hear today was better!  Sometimes little steps are better than none at all.  We had 3 of us giving the meds, so I actually wrote out the times on paper and as they were given, we crossed the time off for that day and everyone knew it had been given.  Don’t worry if Rudy doesn’t eat like normal, it’s just a short time that they’re like this.  Just like when we don’t feel well, eventually we get our appetite back and get back into the swing of things. 

Donna

Donna, Glenn & Murphy 

Murphy had his right front leg amputated due to histiocytic sarcoma at 7 years old. He survived 4 years, 2 months & 1 week, only to be taken by hemangiosarcoma at 11 1/2 years 6/12/17  
Read about Murphy's Life on Three Legs

Donna.png

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8 April 2016 - 6:08 pm
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otisandtess said
Hang tight, this will get better.  You are really early in this recovery process.  And remember, you are Mom.  If he has a tighter bond with you it is natural that he would feel more comfortable to express pain and discomfort with you than with your husband.  You will get the loving looks again really soon.

Tess,

Thank you so much, its funny how much better everyones responses can help newbies like me feel.  Every response I read brought happy tears to my eyes but especially yours because even though I know it is selfish I was REALLY upset after seeing Rudy have more excitement for my husband than he did for me. I felt like he blamed me since I dropped him off for surgery by myself and that he would never forget that or forgive me. But after reading your post I was happy and proud that Rudy feels comfortable to express pain with me.  I truly am more torn up over seeing him in pain than him not giving me those ” I love you! looks” but it was something that was making it hard for me to stay strong, but how you explained it has turned that train around and I feel so dedicated to being strong and happy for my little guy.

Thanks again and please know how much your words helped me and Rudy heal today.

-Casey

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8 April 2016 - 6:21 pm
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So glad things are getting better!  We had to work carefully to space out Otis’ Tramadol, even though it meant that I was giving some sort of pill every hour or two, day and night.  I was a mess, but keeping the pain control even really helped.   Fortunately, you get through this stage fairly quickly.  

My my own dog mom story – I went on a two day trip after Otis’ first chemo.  A friend watched him in my home, and said he was fine, no chemo reactions.  The second I got home, we cuddled and he asked to go outside.  I let him out and he had the worst diarrhea imaginable.  I think he was saving it for me.  He then came inside and immediately sat his 100 pound self in my lap.

by the way, I’m Christine.  Tess is my female lab.

Otis - 106 pound lab/Dane mix, lost his right front leg to osteosarcoma on Febuary 9, 2016.  Four rounds of carboplatin completed in April, 2016.  Lung mets August 25, 2016.  Said goodbye too soon on September 4, 2016.   Lost his adopted sister, Tess, suddenly on October 9, 2016. likely due to hemangiosarcoma.  

Wherever they are, they are together.

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8 April 2016 - 6:21 pm
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mom2shelby said
Oh he’s a cutie!!! I am sorry you have found yourself here …. But others have given you some great advice! and I love what your husband said as well. I will say that it’s true – dogs feed off our energy for the most positive and normal you can be, the better it will be for Rudy. The first few weeks are indeed tough – I won’t sugarcoat it but it gets better! The meds are confusing to dogs!!! But stay on top of the pain for sure.

Keep us posted and more photos!!!

alison with spirit shelby in her heart 

Alison,

Thank you so much.  Today I followed your advice and stayed positive all day and it did make a huge difference.  Rudy didn’t have to worry about why I was such an emotional wreck and crying every 20-30 minutes. I know now that it was such a toxic environment to bring him into and wish that I had started being active on this site before his surgery–ADVICE TO ANY NEWBIES—–don’t be a site lurker pre-amp let all these wonderful people help you BEFORE you turn into a mess and fall to pieces like I did. Reading posts with similar posts is not the same as getting advice and support for your own dog.

Thanks again

Casey

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