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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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Overweight Doberman is now an Amputee
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Maputo, Mozambique
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13 March 2016 - 6:20 am
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Thanks, will definitely show the vet and for the moment they don’t seem to be growing so hopefully it’ll stay that way.

Agree completely – the love dogs give in return makes everything worthwhile 🙂

Maputo, Mozambique
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19 March 2016 - 1:08 am
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It’s been around 23 days post-surgery, and she seems weaker than she did in the 2 weeks post-op 🙁 Not sure why, but her back leg is buckling and seems to be struggling to support her weight.

Yesterday she was under heavy sedation for a tooth cleaning, so I’m sure that’s affected her strength, but even just before that, she seemed to be getting weaker.

Does anyone have this experience – where the dog started off strong post-op and then became weaker?

I am wondering if it’s because she tired herself out in the beginning (she was doing things she wasn’t supposed to be doing like climbing and running), even though we were trying to restrict her activity…

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19 March 2016 - 5:19 am
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I am not having the same experience so can’t provide anything more than moral support.  Otis is definitely tired on days after he overdoes it, and it sounds like your girl was way more active than he was.     We really didn’t start much activity until a couple days before the 1 month mark.  Do you have a lot of stairs?  And teeth cleaning undoubtedly would make her tired, especially after all she has been through.  Did she get chest x-Rays at the time of the amputation?  I don’t remember that you were doing chemo, which could make a dog tired.  I know you don’t have access to the same veterinary medical support as most of the rest of us do.  Anyway, hopefully the more experienced members will chime in soon.  Wish I could help more.  Keep us posted.

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.

The Rainbow Bridge



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19 March 2016 - 3:09 pm
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Yes, over exertion in the beginning could definitely have something to do with it. It still hasn’t been a month, and remember, she’s spent a whole lifetime using different muscles. The ones she’s using now are all brand new.

Questions: when her leg buckles now, when does it happen? What is she doing? And what surfaces is she walking on? Also, has she dropped any weight yet? I know it hasn’t been too long since you first posted, but even a pound of weight loss will help.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Michigan
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19 March 2016 - 7:09 pm
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It was a little while after surgery that Murphy seemed to have issues.  I thought maybe something was wrong with his back legs.  But it was really more just that his back and back legs were sore from using his muscles differently.  We found that massaging his back and his hips help.  He lays on his side and we start rubbing his back, then he starts curling backwards and moaning.  We call him our moany groany dog!  lol  I think the massaging helps relax the muscles a bit for him.

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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Maputo, Mozambique
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20 March 2016 - 5:53 am
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@otisandtess, yes when I compare our girl’s story to other post-op stories on the forums, it sounds like she was too active in the first 2 weeks after surgery.

We are not allowing her to climb any house stairs, nor jump on the couch, but we have a hard time controlling her in the garden (even with 2 people supervising her!). She actually dodges us and races around, climbing over concrete garden separators and running. This is probably where the problem lies.

She did not get chest xrays because their xray machine wasn’t working properly. Another vet’s xray machines are broken so we’re kind of stuck not knowing if her cancer has spread or not. Blood tests are normal. We’re not doing chemo because honestly, neither I nor Venus could take that and I don’t think they even offer chemotherapy here. Thanks for the support – I really appreciate it!

@jerry: her leg usually buckles when she gets up after lying down for some time, and while she is running around bends, corners, etc. Also, after she has been standing for a while and tries to poo or pee, she is really struggling with that back leg. This happens on wooden floors, concrete and even grass.

Regarding weight: I am really upset about this. I have cut her food in half, it is less than the recommended feeding for her target weight and I honestly can’t cut anymore because she is so miserable about the reduction. To me it actually looks like she has gained weight, even though my brother (who is also looking after her) doesn’t think so.

Two vets we’ve consulted here don’t offer blood tests for hyperthyroidism, so we can’t even check that. It is extremely frustrating. I forgot to mention that during the teeth cleaning, we also asked the vet to trim her nails. They seemed fine that day, but the next day, one nail on the remaining back leg started bleeding and still hasn’t stopped. We’ve tried cotton, keeping her off cement, etc. and just now I’ve put a plaster on. This is another problem affecting mobility. If it doesn’t stop by tomorrow, we’ll have to take her to the vet again to cauterize it.

@midnighter94: I have also been massaging her body and back (not so much her legs though), but this does sound like it could be soreness so maybe I should pay more attention to that. I call my dobie “Moans and Groans” 🙂

The Rainbow Bridge



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20 March 2016 - 9:49 am
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Ahh OK got it. I’m so sad the vets don’t do the hyerthroidism test. Are there any veterinary schools around that they can consult with? Sometimes it just takes persistence and advocacy to get something like that to happen in a place where nobody has ever asked for it before.

If you can, take some video of her during those incidents when her leg buckles. Maybe if you know it will happen when she gets up after sitting for a while. I ask because I’m not a vet, but I can tell you if it looks anything like our Wyatt’s leg did when he first became a Tripawd. As a German Shepherd his already low-slung rear end was struggling for the first 3 months or so until he got fit. You can really see the differences in before and after he got fit, in this post.

Keep in mind it hasn’t even been a month. She will get there with your help.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Michigan
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20 March 2016 - 9:54 am
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For her nail – do any of the men have styptic powder that they use for nicks when they shave?  I think it can be used on dogs nails.

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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20 March 2016 - 12:38 pm
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Again, I’m not a vet, just a person who has struggled most of my life with thyroid issues (first, with hyperthyroidism and then with hypothyroidism). But the test your Dobie needs is for hypothyroidism, not hyperthyroidism. (If she had hyperthyroidism, she’d be losing weight for no reason, not gaining it.)

I really feel for you. It sounds as if she’s so miserable, because of the reduction in food, and I quite agree–you can’t starve the poor girl, especially when the weight issue may be due to a medical condition. She has gone through so much already.

But the extra weight is probably contributing to her soreness and reluctance to move. I’m so sorry. You must feel so frustrated, unable to find a vet who will test her for hypothyroidism.

You might want to try calling all the vets in your general area to ask if they’d offer the test. It would be so wonderful if just taking a simple pill would help her so much. Sadly, you will never know unless a test is performed. The main tests are measurements of thyroxine (T4) and Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) in the blood. You might want to print this out to show to any vet who might agree to do the test. As you can see, it’s not at all uncommon for Dobies to have hypothyroidism. I really, really hope a vet can be found who might agree to perform the test.

And, please, please don’t blame yourself for anything! You have been so exemplary in trying to get help for her, and you’re such a wonderful pet parent. Don’t blame yourself for her over-exuberance in the beginning stages of recovery, either. We all know that dogs have minds of their own! It’s so clear to see that there’s so much love between you, and you have always had her best interests at heart.

So many ((((hugs))))xxxx from Nancy & Susie

Maputo, Mozambique
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21 March 2016 - 5:22 am
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Thank you guys for being so supportive and helpful!

@Jerry, funny thing is, the place where we took her to do the amputation is at the vet school (that’s where the bone specialist works). And they don’t do those kinds of tests.

I absolutely love that article you shared about Wyatt – very inspirational and some great ideas there! And you’re right – hopefully Venus just needs more time.

@midnighter: no styptic powder, but in another thread someone mentioned they used all-purpose flour and that worked? In any case, the nails seems better today (although it is covered by a plaster).

@lyriclemom, We’ve already been to most vets in the city (the rest of country would just be worse, as this is the capital). There is one vet we haven’t tried and apparently that’s where the “diplomats” take their pets, but I had never heard of it before until recently. So we might try that. 

I think I should maybe give it another month at least to see if she loses weight. You seem before the bad leg started, she would lose weight whenever we increased exercise and reduced food. After the bad leg came around, it became really difficult keep her weight down. 

That article you shared is very informative. Symptoms she doesn’t have: 

  • Wound healing – (hers is very good in general and her amputation site also healed extremely well).
  • Lethargic / reluctant to exercise – it’s the complete opposite with her! It’s hard to keep her still!

Symptoms she does have:

  • Weight gain – but this could easily be because of lack of exercise (required for a dobie).
  • Skin problems – she sheds quite a bit and has occasional skin sores (but these also come about because she’s a compulsive licker)
  • Aversion to cold and seek warmth – she has always been a sun bather (even when it’s hot) – she makes the effort to seek out sunny places to lie.
  • Kidney affected – she did have some kidney problems in the past but the vet is almost 100% sure that this is because of what we were feeding her.
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21 March 2016 - 8:29 am
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For the first few weeks, when we took Otis outside, even in our fenced back yard, he was on a lead.  I know it seems like overkill, but might limit the dashing and chasing around the garden. 

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.

Maputo, Mozambique
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21 March 2016 - 12:22 pm
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We did that too in the beginning, but she refused to relieve herself while on the leash and would just “collapse” / buckle for no good reason, and then as soon as we took her off the leash she was magically steadier winker

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21 March 2016 - 1:21 pm
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“Magically steadier,” eh?

What a character! winker

She really keeps you hopping!

Two weeks past surgery, we were told our dog could be off leash and do whatever she wanted to do. But I did notice that, whenever she “overdid it” (which at the beginning was just a walk around the block), she’d want to rest nearly all the next day. So I imagine she got stiff and sore.

((((hugs))))xxxx from Nancy & Susie

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23 March 2016 - 5:03 am
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Hi!  How is she doing?

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.

Maputo, Mozambique
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23 March 2016 - 8:41 am
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Not good 🙁 This morning she refused to get up at all and I was extremely worried. It’s been cold here for the past few days and that’s the only reason I can think of why she seems reluctant to move. Her back leg seems bad. 

She had her nails clipped just a week ago but already they are touching the ground when she walks!

We gave her some Metacam and after it warmed up today she moved around more. At least her appetite is great and she was barking at other dogs.

I honestly don’t know what to do. she looked so miserable that I was having thoughts of putting her down.

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