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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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Sage's Story (Great Dane - front leg amputation)
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Forum Posts: 25
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27 October 2020 - 9:57 am
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Hello! This site has proved extremely helpful for us, so we wanted to document our dog’s story in order to help others! The documentation starts today: the day of Sage’s front right leg amputation. Sage is a Great Dane rescue dog – she was found at a mere 68lbs, knocking on death’s door. She was fully expected to pass away the night she was found, yet somehow she pulled through. We can only guess that she is around 7 years old – but could be older. She is the absolute sweetest, calmest, and gentlest soul you’ll ever meet and EVERYONE comments on her incredibly sweet demeanor. She has always been a sloooww mover from day one. She moves much more like an old tired mastiff than a nimble dane.

A month ago, when we noticed her limp, we also found out that she was a bit overweight (148lbs), but carried it so well that even the vet was shocked to know the number. (The vet actually asked to re-weigh her because she did not look that overweight!) Since then, she has lost about 8-10 pounds pre-surgery which is good. We will continue to help her lose more. (She eats so little because she really prefers to sleep all day and take very slow walks!) At first, the vet was convinced the limp was a sprain, but when symptoms persisted, it was discovered to be osteosarcoma right below the front right elbow. Luckily, it has not visibly spread to the lungs or elsewhere.

She is undergoing surgery as I write this, and the surgeon is sure that she will do just fine despite her size, weight, and age; however, she will struggle through the beginning of her recovery more than another dog might just due to her size and weight. Reading through the stories of other giant breeds, I think I can expect to feel OK about her progress in about 2 weeks, and much better about her progress in about 4-6 weeks. We found a vest that wraps around her front and gives a ton of support and also has a handle at the top to act as a lift em up harness. It was hard to find one in her size, but this one will hopefully work out well (we will let you know!). We also purchased an additional band that wraps around her lower belly toward her back legs and can clip onto the chest harness, in case she needs that full support.

In the meantime, we would so greatly appreciate any advice from folks who have had their large breed or giant breed dogs go through this! Any advice on stairs?? Unfortunately, there are about 4-5 steps to get out our back door, and two sets of about 4 steps to get out our front door, so either way, she will need to learn to navigate steps. We will also give continual updates so that others can learn from Sage’s journey! Thanks 🙂

[Image Can Not Be Found]

The Rainbow Bridge



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27 October 2020 - 11:35 am
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Hi Sage & Family! I’m in the Tripawds Chat if you want to talk. Back in a sec with some feedback…

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



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27 October 2020 - 11:44 am
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Today is such a big day for you guys! I know it took a lot of courage and faith to get this far, it’s not easy to decide but especially tough when a big ol’ dawg is the Tripawd-to-be. So kudos to all of you for the excellent teamwork in your decision process. You will do just fine on this journey.

As we like to say here, this is the club nopawdy wants to join. But we are so glad you found us, and hope that we can make the transition to life on three and beyond as easy as pie. Have you seen Jerry’s Required Reading List or the Tripawds e-books library yet? We’ve got lots of tips there and of course you can ask any questions you’d like here too.

It’s true that giant breed dogs are prone to taking a little longer to recuperate, on average. There are the exceptions, of course. But the point is, you sound well-prepared to handle the road ahead. Stairs can be tricky but with so few of them in your home, she should be OK and figure it out pretty quickly. Do they have traction on them? That will really help.

I’m curious what harness you found. I know it can be tough to find one for extra big Danes, our Ruffwear Webmaster Plus and Flagline harnesses go up to a 42″ girth but sometimes that’s not enough. 

Meanwhile, here are some giant breed dog stories you’ll want to check out. And oh sorry your photo didn’t show up. This is how adding images to the Forums works.

  1. Upload pics to a photo sharing site like imgur.com or your own Tripawds blog!
  2. Right click and copy the Image URL or just copy the image if you’re on a phone
  3. Return to your Tripawds Forum post and paste the image URL (or the image itself) in your post. It should automatically appear.

If you’d like help figuring out the process let me know. Keep us posted on how today goes, we are cheering you and Sage on!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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27 October 2020 - 12:26 pm
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Thank you so much! This Giant Breed link is extremely helpful and encouraging! We are looking into getting traction for the stairs now – thanks for the tip!  The front harness we got for her is the XXL ICEFANG Tactical Dog Harness (psc=1). She is very barrel-chested so the 42″ is just a bit too snug for her to fit comfortably. But this one fits her super well and is adjustable. It is a tad bit heavier than expected, but with a dog her size it really doesn’t make a difference to her at all. (it’s not super heavy by any means, just more than I had expected.) We will keep you posted on how well it works but the trial run (pre-amputation) worked well!

Then, in case she needs more support, we also bought the GingerLead support harness (Tall Female size) (keywords=tripawd%2Bharness&qid=1603290261&sr=8-22-spons&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUEyNFVRV1dZSzYyRUs3JmVuY3J5cHRlZElkPUEwNzM2MDgyMUU5MVUyTTJTVFpQWSZlbmNyeXB0ZWRBZElkPUEwNzU1ODcwMTM1VjRZU0ZZTFpDTiZ3aWRnZXROYW1lPXNwX210ZiZhY3Rpb249Y2xpY2tSZWRpcmVjdCZkb05vdExvZ0NsaWNrPXRydWU&th=1) that clips nicely to the chest harness and will allow full underbody support if she ends up needing that. For a dog her size and weight, this was our best solution! 

Thanks again!

The Rainbow Bridge



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27 October 2020 - 12:52 pm
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Oh OK. I’ve never seen that first harness. Creative combo!

If for some reason the combo doesn’t work out, you may want to consider the Custom Pet Support Suit, which is ideal for dogs like Sage and has great lifting power. 

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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27 October 2020 - 3:41 pm
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OK – thanks so much! We did see that one but it wouldn’t have shipped on time, and we at least needed one for her first few days. So if this combo proves difficult, we will immediately order that one. 🙂

The Rainbow Bridge



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27 October 2020 - 7:25 pm
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Oh you are so welcome. Totally understand, these things happen at breakneck speed, just glad you are prepared for her.

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




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27 October 2020 - 8:08 pm
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Oh my goodness, that avatar  picture is just beautiful.   You can just “see” her gentle Spirit.

One thing for sure, Sage hit the Puppy Lottery with you as her furever loving home.

Jerry pretty much covered  everything and you, as well, seem to have already done a  lot of research  on what recovery looks like.

Two magnificent  Danes come to mind that weighed even more than sweet Sage.  Eurydice and another one named Atlas.  And Atlas even jad Wobblers  and his hoomans were told by TWO Vets to euthanize.  They went to a third Surgeon  who said Atlas could handle  life on three…..and he did handle it magnificently  for over two years!!

As Jerry said, sometimes  larger dogs take a little longer to get mobile and to get thru rec.  The fact that she’s a couch  potato  is actually  a good thing during recovery.  Guessing she’s spend at least the first night st an overnight clinic, and that’s  good.  

Let us know as questions  arise and please stay connected.   Anyway we can help you navigate  thru recovery and onto Sage getting all her sparkle back, just ask.

Try and get some rest.  Sage is seeing pjnk elephants  tonight and feeling  no pain.

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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28 October 2020 - 7:36 am
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Oh thank you!! And the profile dog pics in your profile and Jerry’s profile are also so very adorable. Thanks for the encouragement, support and advice, Benny! I took a look at those two dog’s stories and it is really inspiring. We will be working really hard with Sage to continue to shed the extra pounds as her recovery moves along, and that should help too. We just got the call from the vet this morning that she will need to stay one more night. She has taken a few steps on her own, but needed support taking a very short walk over to the scale. She does get up and circle around in her kennel though. So they feel it is best to keep her one more night and of course we want her to do what’s best as well. 

Like I said, she has always been a particularly clunky and slow dane, so getting into the back seat of our SUV was an adventure enough with 4 legs!

The surgeon recommended doing some rehab work with her at their facility. That seems like a good way to keep a very lazy dog building muscle and losing weight in a healthy sustainable way. Wondering if anyone has any insights here?

Thank you!!

The Rainbow Bridge



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28 October 2020 - 12:47 pm
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How cool she’s getting such one-on-one care. It’s also great that you are so in tune with her personality that you’re not surprised by the vet’s recommendation to stay an extra day. When that happens with other Tripawds, it often puts their human over the edge. Good job not panicking!

The surgeon recommended doing some rehab work with her at their facility. That seems like a good way to keep a very lazy dog building muscle and losing weight in a healthy sustainable way. Wondering if anyone has any insights here?

Your surgeon is a ROCK STAR!! smiley_clapsmiley10 I love that recommendation and YES! We have so many insights about rehab therapy, like YES DO IT! How we wish we had known about it for our Jerry, and now that we do, rehab has helped our Wyatt Ray live 11.5 good years on his three legs. It makes a huge difference. And it’s also so educational for us as pet parents, because we learn what our Tripawd should and should not be doing. We talk about rehab quite a bit in Loving Life On Three Legs .

And oh…Our Tripawds Foundation can pay for your first rehab visit too! Check out all the blog stories from our Rehab Reimbursement Grant Recipients:

https://tripawd…..tag/rehab/

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

Support the Tripawds Foundation!

Virginia




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28 October 2020 - 6:01 pm
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Sage is already walking a few steps (with assistance) is spectacular  news!  And circling  around on her own in the kennel is even more spec news!!  And yes, not unusual at all for a larger doggy to stay an extra night.  And I agree with Jerry, love upir Vet for staying  on top of things and for suggesting  Rehabe after recovery!😎

The Bet tech’s will help you get her in the SUV.  Also, maybe you can arrange  to borrow a “low car” from someone to pick her up and take her home.

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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28 October 2020 - 9:58 pm
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Hi! My sweet Lucy, also a Blue Dane, had her front right amp surgery almost 4 weeks ago. Luce is a bit more petit at about 115 before surgery. She also stayed 2 nights at the hospital and it was honestly the best thing to have her come home with her pain already well controlled. 
We got one of those slings to put under her chest to help her get up and walk, but by the third day home she really didn’t want our help anymore. We also have yoga mats all over the hardwood for traction , maybe you can cut up some for the stairs? A big t-shirt or a soft cone worked well for at night, Lucy never even looked at her stitches when we were near her. 
I will keep you in our thoughts! Best of luck to sweet smooshy face Sage and you! This group of people are the best when it comes to Dog Mom freak outs. 

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29 October 2020 - 7:19 am
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Wow this community is already proving so incredibly helpful and inspiring for us and we could NOT be more grateful for you all! Thank you!

Jerry – what an amazing initiative to help pay for rehab! Big ol’ danes mean big bucks but they are more than worth it! We will be sure to take advantage of this when the time comes smiley10In fact, we just made a donation as a sort of pay-it-forward type of acknowledgement.

Also, thank you all for helping calm our nerves with staying the second night – we weren’t terribly surprised but it’s especially helpful to hear that Lucy stayed an extra night too! And yes we bought her some XXL t-shirts and we have them ready! Thanks also for the yoga mat suggestion! We will be sleeping downstairs with her for a while and it’s a short walk over to her food/water and the yoga mat should make that trip more secure!  Luckily, the small amount of stairs outside to get in and out of the house are both already pretty traction -y in the material they are built out of so I think we will be ok! If and when she is able to use our stairs inside, we already found some sticky traction mats we can use for those since they are hardwood.icon_lol

How is Lucy doing now 4 weeks out?! Sending all the positive energy to you and Lucy for a continued healthy recovery!sp_hearticon2

And last, I was waiting to post this until the vet called back this morning. They just let us know that Sage is probably ready to come home. She still doesn’t walk much without assistance but they think she will recover quicker at home at this point. We are going to pick her up around 5:30pm so that our roommate will be home when we arrive home as a third set of hands to help her get out of the SUV back seat. Knowing Sage, I think she is going to have a particularly slow recovery arch, but we will practice patience, keep faith that she will figure it all out with time (and rehab), and give her all the love she needs!

Virginia




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29 October 2020 - 9:52 am
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Oh yay!! Being home is always very therapeutic! When you pick Sage up, don’t even bother to look at her incision or draw attention to it.  Just let her see your big smile and tell her shes going home!.😁😁

You’ve done a great job of preparation👍  I brought her food and water to her for awhile at first.  Rest is so important.  She’ll get her mobility  worked out st her own pace.  Eight now she jist needs to focus on recovering  from the surgery  itself.

We’ll look forward to the homecoming update!

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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29 October 2020 - 9:55 am
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Lucy really turned a corner at about the 2 week mark and after stitches came out. Her spark and personality came out more and more. Up until then, we kept her in her crate and she slept most of the time. Towards the end of the first two weeks she would get agitated at night and want to be with us on the bed. I knew she was starting to really feel better when she didn’t want to go in her crate anymore. I think coming off the pain meds helped her get her spark back too. 

Now at the 4 week she is chasing rats in the backyard, going for short walks, has tons of tail wags, gets up on the couch and the bed (we took the frame off the bed and put the mattress on the floor as soon as we got her DX to make it easier on her). She can speed up her gait when she wants to, but in typical Dane fashion she chooses to be a bit lazy with her walking and back legs.

Sage will kick some recovery tail! I think you will be truly amazed at how well she adapts to her new life on three paws. I am constantly in awe of how well Lucy is adjusting. Let me know if you have any questions about chemo too. 

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