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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

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Senior Beagle - 14.5 years old - Recovery Time - what is normal?
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5 September 2012
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10 September 2012 - 12:06 pm
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I hope I’m posting correctly.  I’ve never done anything like this before.

 

Long story short – 

My baby boy had his right fore limb amputated.  He has some sort of sarcoma (waiting for the details from the pathologist).  A few weeks ago, we thought George (the beagle) had a “slipped disc” and possible cervical dorsal nerve root compression.  His pain the last two weeks before we took him in for imaging and possible surgery was crazy bad.  400-500mg of tramadol a day was not even touching his pain.  We took him in last wednesday – SEPT 5th 2012.  Everyone thought it was a nerve compression.  The mylograph showed nothing in his neck.  The our DVM continued to look for the source.  After more imaging… they found a mass around his brachial plexus (a major nerve plexus in the arm).  Anyway – he has been in so much pain that removing the limb would leave him pain free and it would give him about 6 months to 2 years (maybe more) of life.  He is 14.5 years old.  So, both those options will give me a few more months to say goodbye.  I wasn’t ready to Wednesday to put my best friend to sleep.  I want to be with him and I want to hold him when that decision needs to be made.  I have know that dog most of my adult life – longer than I have known my  husband.  Longer than I have known most people.  He is seriously to best thing that has ever happened to me.  

Anyway – during surgery he coded.  The antithetic did a number on him.  The contrast dye (used for imaging) did a number on him.  After CPR – my boy woke up R forelimb free. 

After he woke up he was we has neurologic – meaning his brain was not communicating with his limbs crying

It is now 5 days post-op.  He is sort of getting up and is stronger – but his recovery is slow.  

I have been obsessively watching recovery videos and reading about pups recovering from amputations.  Every dog seems to be up and running… playing frisbee…  rough housing by day five.  George seems to be about 5 days behind everyone else.      

Also – when I try to pick him up to go to the bathroom – 40% of the time he screams out in such pain.  George never cried like that before the operation. 

Basically – I am wondering if I did the right thing.  I am waiting for my AST harness to arrive, and that will help… but I’m scared that I really mutilated my dog so that I could have some more time with him.  Moreover, he is in a lot of pain.  How long does the pain last?  On one hand it seems  more mild than the tumor pain… but on the other… it seems WAY WORSE!  He never cried out in pain when he had four limbs and cancer.  

George has arthritis in both hind limbs.  Right knee and left hip.  That is effecting his mobility for sure… but about a month ago he was running and playing with my other dogs…  

Can anyone tell me how long the pain pain should last.  George wants to get up and move around… but when he does – he face plants and sometime cries out in pain.  I want to think that I did the right thing.  Right now though… I feel like I’m just abusing him.  

On a good note – he loves eating and loves drinking water… he poops and pees like a champ… so at least we have that going for us.  Oh, and our surgeon rocked.  George has had no-post operation swelling or draining.  

Please help me figure out if this level of pain and this slow recover time is normal. 

 

krun15
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10 September 2012 - 12:38 pm
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Hello and welcome, your future posts will not require moderation.

First off- what kind on pain meds is George on now?  It sounds like you need to get his pain under control- it is really hard to to know sometimes if the symptoms are pain or from the effects of the pain meds.  The crying out sounds a little like phantom limb pain- gabapentin is used by some here- I think it blocks the nerve endings.  Maggie had a fentanyl patch for 3 days, then tramadol for about two weeks.

I don’t think very many pups here were roughhousing at 5 days.  Pups should stay quiet with minimum activity until the sutures or staples come out usually at 10 days to 2 weeks.  There are a few lucky pups who sail through recovery and are more active, but most experience at least some down time the first couple of weeks.  My little pug Maggie was a slug for about 4 weeks.

His age may be slowing him down a little, and he went through an awful lot with his surgery!  If he can walk at all, eat and drink, and do his business I think he is doing pretty well.  Does his vet think he is OK after everything that happened during surgery?

I think you should talk to your vet about George’s pain level.  Maybe he needs more, or a different med to make him comfortable. 

Karen and the pugapalooza

Rock Hill, SC
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10 September 2012 - 6:50 pm
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Oh my, five days post-op is not that long at all!  Zeus did not MOVE the first week other than shifting positions and very short potty trips.  Seriously, we even brought his food and water to him.  Per our vet’s instructions, we let him do just a bit more the second week in terms of moving around the room but he still only went out for bathroom breaks.  Zeus strained his back during that second week (which we discovered b/c he started whining/whimpering when we would pick him up – which he wasn’t doing during the first week home), so his recovery ended up taking about a month.  I think most vets recommend very limited activity until the stitches are removed.  From what I have seen during my time on this forums, George’s progress isn’t atypical.

I have to agree with Karen that maybe pain management could help with the crying.  Zeus was on Tramadol and Gabapentin for a month after surgery (was supposed to be two weeks but when he strained his back they upped the Tram dosage and left him on both meds for an additional two weeks).  Karen is also correct in that most dogs tend to ‘crash’ a bit after a couple of days home.  I don’t know if it is because they have such serious pain meds in their system (really, the IV stuff at the vet is WAY stronger than the stuff they come home with) and after a couple of days it starts to wear off, or if it is because of an adrenaline rush when they first come home, or maybe it’s just the soreness setting in kinda like how you are the most sore a couple of days after over-doing it at the gym.  Whatever the cause, most members here have reported the crash.

Keep in mind that George just had major major major surgery.  You often hear about how quickly dogs recover from amputation and, compared to humans, that is a true statement.  However it is still a huge adjustment and will take a few weeks to adjust.  Try to get some rest (and BREATHE!!!), as being tired can make things seem to you even worse than they are.

Good luck with the rest of recovery!

Lisa

Zeus was a Husky mix diagnosed with Osteosarcoma at age 11.  A visible lung met and suspicious spot on his liver meant a poor prognosis-six weeks was our vet's best guess. We decided to fight for our boy and his right front leg was amputated on 12/1/11. We did six rounds of chemo, changed his diet and spoiled him completely rotten. We were blessed with 10 great months after diagnosis. Against the odds, the lung met remained a single met and grew very little over those months. A wonderful furbaby with the most gentle spirit, he fought with a strength that we never imagined he possessed. We have no regrets...
http://zeuspod......pawds.com/

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10 September 2012 - 10:42 pm
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I’m so sorry. Loa certainly needed a couple+ of weeks after surgery to get back to anything like her normal self. And after taking her off the Tramadol and Gabapentin post-recovery-period, we had to go back to the Gabapentin for a couple of weeks due to her crying at night. It helped, and (for now), she’s off of it again.

 

Loa also had some funky reactions to the Tramadol–she just didn’t act like herself, would whimper and be agitated from time to time.

 

I called our vet more times than I like to admit during Loa’s recovery–but I think it helped in that they were able to help us manage her pain adequately. I also think it would be a good idea to talk to the vet about what could help manage George’s pain. BOTH of you are going through a stressful time right now. Lots of rest for both of you and I hope George feels better soon!

The Rainbow Bridge



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11 September 2012 - 6:20 am
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It’s so hard not to be worried sick, especially when it seems like recovery is lasting forever! And while it might seem like every dog is at the dog park within a week after surgery, that is not the case. Most dogs take anywhere from two weeks or more to start feeling good again, and that’s under ideal conditions and when they have youth on their side. So hang in there and we’ll be here to help as much as we can.

Have you talked to your vet about George’s pain? This sounds like the main issue. He should not be in pain, it does sound like it needs to get under control so please let your vet know this is happening.

The fact that he’s eating and eliminating is GREAT news! Remember, celebrate every little victory here!

Recovery time is different for all dogs, so try not to compare George to others. It’s hard, but it’s the only way to stay sane. Remember, he might have been playing around with other dogs just a couple of weeks ago, but dogs do their absolute best to hide their pain from the pack (in the wild, a dog who shows pain will get kicked out of the pack). He was probably in a lot of pain but not letting on to anyone. So don’t second guess yourself. If your vet thinks he is a good candidate for life on three legs, then run with that and keep pawsitive.

Thanks for ordering an AST harness, it will help a lot, they’re pawesome. 

Let us know what your vet says OK? 

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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11 September 2012 - 10:11 am
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THANK YOU SOOOOOOO MUCH!  I really needed to read all of that.  

 

I will post more in a bit.  I have to run and teach…  but will read over ever single word when I get back.  

San Diego, CA
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11 September 2012 - 10:57 am
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Oh, your beagle is so gorgeous! Our first pup was a beagle and I have a huge soft spot for them!

As others mentioned, gabapentin has been helpful for a lot of folks here whose dogs were experiencing phantom pain .

Keep us posted!
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!

The Rainbow Bridge



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11 September 2012 - 11:48 am
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I forgot to tell you that one of my good friends was named George and he’s a Beagle too!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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14 September 2012 - 8:14 pm
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Hi guys –

Here is an update.  George is doing better.  You are right… it take time.

I got some wonderful news.  I almost feel bad sharing it.  

George is theoretically cancer free now.  The pathology report came in.  He had a GRADE 4 soft tissue tumor.  This was good and bad.  The bad part is that it was Grade 4  – it was literally moments away from taking over his body and then his life.  The good news is – soft tissue cancers are localized and don’t spread.  Well, they can spread, but not if you remove them in time.  So, we removed the cancer – so it will not pop up someplace else (theoretically).  On my list of cancers – this was the one I was hoping for!  So – I don’t think George will need chemo… and life expectancy has now increased!!!!  GO TEAM GEORGE!

Now our issue is WITHDRAWAL from the tramadol.  My poor boy was on this drug for so long, we turned him into an addict.  Everyone kept on telling us it was safe.  I should have known better.  I’m tapering the drugs now…  but it is hard to see him shiver and pant.  

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14 September 2012 - 11:20 pm
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Go George!!!!

Glad to hear about his prognosis. Tramadol is tricky, but he will be allright as he weens off it.

Samdog was a 10 yr old Golden and retired SAR dog. We found a bone mass on 8/17/12, needle biopsy showed sarcoma 8/22/12, amputation on 8/23/12, post-amp biopsy confirmed osteosarcoma on 8/28/12. Sadly, we found lung mets on 11/27/12 and my Spirit Sam earned his wings on 12/2/12.

We didn't know where we were headed and we don't regret a single step along our path. It all happened too fast, but he left a legacy of love that we will always cherish. Good bye my heart.
You can find our story at http://samdog.t.....ipawds.com

The Rainbow Bridge



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15 September 2012 - 8:25 am
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Woooo hooo! OMD if you have to deal with cancer, at least it’s the kind that doesn’t metastasize. This is WONDERFUL news! Please don’t feel guilty about sharing it, everyone here loves these hoppy stories and new people need this kind of hope. We are thrilled for you and George.

Now when you get a chance we would love to see some pics of your hero!

(Yes, Tramadol has weird effects on some dogs! I hope the withdrawal doesn’t last long. Be sure to keep your vet in the loop about it).

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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San Diego, CA
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15 September 2012 - 11:15 am
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Hooray for George and his great prognosis! Hope he kicks his Tramadol habit without too much trouble!
Jackie

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!

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16 September 2012 - 1:57 pm
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Hi everyone.  Thank you for being happy for us.  You are right – hope is exactly what tripawd parents need. 

I wish I knew how to post a picture of George for you all. He is adorable and old…  a nice combo.  

The tramadol withdrawal sucks though.  We keep on tapering… but he shivers at any dose other than the full dose.  My poor little junkie.  I feel horrible or doing this to him.   I wish I knew better. 

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