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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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Young and a new tripawd - words of wisdom?
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Forum Posts: 7
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2 April 2010
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6 April 2010 - 7:07 am
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Hi Tripawds,

 

My fiance and I rescued Stephen, our ~3 year old lab mix dog, in August and he arrived with a slightly larger right rear leg. Over the last several months we’ve been watching his leg with our vet and we were ultimately encouraged to bring him to an orthopedic surgeon for a diagnostic. When they were taking a look at him on Friday, they noticed a huge fatty tumor in there which was making his muscle look like it was huge. They urged us to amputate on the spot (since he was already under anesthesia for the muscle biopsy) and, although we were entirely not prepared for it, we decided to go ahead and amputate to save Stephen’s life. We are still waiting to hear back on the pathologyand Stephen appears to be recovering well so far, but I’d love to hear if others of you out there have been through something similar.

 

He’s just so young…if any of you have had similar experiences I’d really appreciate hearing them right now…

 

Thanks.

Winnipeg
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6 April 2010 - 8:47 am
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Hi Stephen and family,

Welcome. Sorry to hear of the problems Stephen has been having. He should adjust to the loss of a leg just fine, especially since he is young and healthy. You can find lots of tips on how to help a dog adjust during the initial few weeks. But it sounds as though Stephen is doing okay already.

So, does your vet or the orthopedic vet think it was just a fatty tumor? I have not heard of a dog on this site losing a leg for that reason, but then I’ve only been around since July. Most dogs on this site lose legs from bone or another type of cancer, some from accidents and others from birth ‘defects’.

There are dogs of all ages on this website: from young puppies to senior seniors!

Livermore CA
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6 April 2010 - 10:21 am
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I welcome you too.

My Cemil was 3 when he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma and had his left front leg amputated.  He has adjusted fine–being a tripawd doesn’t bother him at all.  In fact, it makes more people want to pet him and talk to him and he likes that.  He initially went to the vet because he was limping–lots of others have had that experience.  You think they played a little too hard and got a sprain or something but it doesn’t get better so you go to the vet, they x-ray and give you the shocking news and your life is turned upside down in a couple days.  Then there’s the 2 week recovery period, and then life gradually gets back to normal.  These dogs are amazing at how they can adapt to just about anything.

This is a great place to ask questions and share frustration–also the little victories and milestones.  Is Stephen home with you already?  If so, expect a roller coaster of emotions as he has good days and bad days for the first couple weeks, then things will get better because he’s off the pain medication and has learned how to manage on three legs.

Hope things go well.

Mary and Cemil

Cemil and mom Mary, Mujde and Radzi….appreciating and enjoying Today

Cemil's blog

Las Vegas, Nevada
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6 April 2010 - 10:31 am
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Welcome Stephen and gang!

 

WOW!  A decision on the spot like that must have been scary!  But I’m sure the ortho did what was best.  I don’t remember anyone having that type of problem.  I hope the biopsy comes back okay.

 

I have a birth defect tripawd.  She’s 11+ years old.   She’s always done just fine.  Your guy will have an easier time with it being on the back leg since most of the weight of the dog is in the front (the head adds weight).  Mine is a front leg tripawd.  She blew out her knees and had to have them repaired but that’s because she danced and twirled on her hind legs all the time.

 

Keep us posted on the biopsy report.  And again, welcome!

  

Her Retired AvatarComet - 1999 to 2011

She departed us unexpectedly  January 23, 2011 at the age of 12 1/2.

She was born with a deformed front leg and a tripawd all of her life.

The Rainbow Bridge



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6 April 2010 - 10:49 am
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Stephen & Family, welcome. What a fast decision you had to make, we can’t imagine how that must have made your head’s spin. But yeah it was probably best to do it while he was under anesthesia. A lot of amputations happen this way.

Rest assured though, Stephen has youth on his side. As long as you keep his weight down throughout his life (sometimes a challenge with a Lab!), he should be just fine. You’re probably experiencing the worst of the amputation recovery process right now, but after it’s over in a couple of weeks, you’ll breathe a sigh of relief as you watch him get back to his usual self.

We always like to point people to these two posts for starters.

The Top Five Questions About Amputation And Coping with Bone Cancer

Five More Questions About Amputation and Coping with Bone Cancer

Also be sure to check out our most recent videos about canine rehabilitation. You’ll learn a lot in them about exercise and the Tripawd lifestyle.

I hope this helps alleviate some of your concerns. I know there will be many, and that’s normal, but just remember that there’s lots of incredible people here who have experienced this difficult decision and recovery, and can help you get through it.

Keep us posted!

 

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Forum Posts: 1216
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6 April 2010 - 4:07 pm
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Welcome to tripawds.  I am sorry you had to make a quick decision without any preperation.  You are going through the hardest part of the recovery right now.  Some dogs take longer, some recover more quickly,  but most people find they really have their dog back after the first couple of weeks.   I would recommend that you start Stephen on  a good joint suppliment.  Even though dogs can live very happy and full lives as tripawds there is still additional weight and strain on the remaining limbs.  Try to remain positive in front of Stephen.  He will be looking to the alpha (hopefully you) to see how he is to respond.  Remember that dogs don’t carry the same emotional baggage that we do about amputation.  He just wants to be happy and as a lab – to eat!  Keep us informed.

Debra & Angel Emily

Debra & Emily, a five year old doberman mix, who was diagnosed with an osteosaecoma. She had a right rear leg amputation on May 19, 2009. On November 10, 2009 she earned her wings and regained her fourth leg.

Wesley Chapel, FL
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6 April 2010 - 5:20 pm
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Welcome to the Tripawds family Stephen and pawrents!

So sorry that you had to go through this… but you’ve definitely come to the right place. Stephen is young and if there are no other complications, and the pathology comes back benign… he should do fine. Keep us posted with his recovery. The first two weeks are usually the hardest (on the dog AND the pawrents)… but after that… things should be fine. Definitely start him on extra supplements of glucosamine/chodroitin, etc… for his joints. Do you have a sling or harness for him yet? They are really helpful!

Good luck!

Angel Jake’s Mom

Jake, 10yr old golden retriever (fractured his front right leg on 9/1, bone biopsy revealed osteosarcoma on 9/10, amputation on 9/17) and his family Marguerite, Jacques and Wolfie, 5yr old german shepherd and the newest addition to the family, Nala, a 7mth old Bengal mix kittie. Jake lost his battle on 11/9/2009, almost 8 weeks after his surgery. We will never forget our sweet golden angel… http://jakesjou.....ipawds.com ….. CANCER SUCKS!

Madison, WI
Forum Posts: 264
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6 April 2010 - 6:37 pm
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Well, I certainly hope Stephen is cancer-free!  Paws crossed!!  I just wanted to add, if the news isn’t good on that front, even though my Yoda lived 4 months with his osteosarcoma after his amputation, the quality of his life, even on three legs, and even while on chemo, was great.  I have no doubt that Yoda would have agreed.  He still played chase with other dogs at the dog park and in many ways he became more outgoing than he was when he had four legs.  Just about a week before he passed, after the cancer had already gone to his lungs, he caught a rabbit in the yard!

I currently have a cancer free tripawd (he had an injured knee that couldn’t be fixed).  I’ve only had Gerry (my current tripawd) since Thanksgiving, so I don’t have that much wisdom to share, except that Dasuquin has been recommended as a good joint supplement both on this website and by Gerry’s vet.  It’s chewable and tastes great (to dogs, at least) and will help those joints stay in good shape despite the extra work they’ll have to do to compensate for the missing leg.  Probably just keep him trim and fit will be the most important.  Gerry has a Ruffwear harness , but I’m/we’re still learning to actually get in sync enough to help him in and out of the car.  He can get in and out just fine on his own, but figure it’ll be better in the long run to reduce the impact.  I also have looked at a few ramps, but haven’t found a good one yet. 

Plenty of time to worry about that stuff!  For now you just gotta get through the amputation recovery.  Hang in there!  The pain meds have all sorts of side effects that tend to freak us pawrents out.  And then there’s the frustrations of keeping the incision from getting licked.  Worries about not going potty (constipation is fairly common after the surgery – lots of tips for that).  Those are the first few challenge sthat come to my mind, but most of the time all of those challenges are resolved by the end of two weeks!  Don’t hesitate to call your vet and ask questions and visit this site often during that time.  Getting advice and support from here was a huge help to me both times I went through amputation recovery with my dogs.

Yoda&Mom united: 9/5/06 …….… Yoda&Leg separated: 6/5/09……… Yoda&Leg reunited: 10/14/09 ……… ……………….………….………….……. Yoda&Mom NEVER separated! …………………….….……....….…… Though Spirit Yoda currently free-lances as a rabbit hunting instructor for tripawds nationwide

Forum Posts: 7
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6 April 2010 - 6:45 pm
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Thank you all so much for your words of encouragement. I took the day off of work today and hung out with Stephen.  He slept…and slept…and slept. It felt good to see him more comfortable than he has been these last few days. He was so aggitated when he got home – he couldn’t seem to get comfortable.

Stephen has already figured out how to hobble along on three paws and…what is most amazing…is that he can already maneuver the three stairs up and down to get outside. He truly is remarkable. I keep telling him how handsome he is — and I even bought us all some Tripawd gear to help welcome him into the club.I think I may even throw him a “welcome back” party once we reach the one month anniversary of his Tripod-ness. He does love a good party.

 

My spirits are much better today than they have been since Stephen’s amputation on Friday…I think his are too…you all are so wonderful for your positive thoughts and advice. I am all ears, so any other tips are greatly appreciated.

 

Great idea about the supplements! We’ll talk to our vet tomorrow about when to start and how much.

 

Feeling hopeful about the pathology…I’ll share as soon as I know anything…

10711
10
6 April 2010 - 8:08 pm
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Welcome Stephen and family,

I’m so glad to hear Stephen is doing so well. I pray the family is holding up as well as this can be a very stressful time. I just got through watching the videos that Jerry posted dealing with rehabilitation. Fortis just had his 2 month ampuversary and I am just now watching them! Wow, what an idiot I am. I was so  excited when fortis came home from surgery and he was so ready to gothat I may have let him over do it I’m afraid. I just wanted to play with him like old times. It was snowing here in Texas, just two weeks post surgery and we were having so much fun (on leash) and wham his remaining rear leg went limp. I didn’t even give him a chance. If you have read any of my post you know Fortis has struggled since that day. I’m sorry for sounding so sad. I just wanted to impress upon you to allow Stephen time to strengthen his remaining leg. He needs exercise for sure but don’t forget your his “rehab doctor”. Not trying to scare you, Stephen is young and I know he is going to do great. I just saw his cute little mug and well  my fingers started talking! Sorry!!! You guys are in our prayers.

Fortis & Brett

The Rainbow Bridge



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6 April 2010 - 9:27 pm
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Fortis said:

Wow, what an idiot I am. I was so  excited when fortis came home from surgery and he was so ready to gothat I may have let him over do it I’m afraid. I just wanted to play with him like old times. It was snowing here in Texas, just two weeks post surgery and we were having so much fun (on leash) and wham his remaining rear leg went limp. 


 

Oh Brett, please please please don’t say that. Fortis’ challenge is not your fault, not at all. All pawrents second-guess everything they do after we come home from the hospital, and it’s easy to blame setbacks on stuff that you did. Please don’t. Fortis had a BLAST on that day and so did you. Both of you were living in the moment and that’s all that mattered.

Three legged dog snow day Humboldt CA

Like this picture of me playing in the snow. This pic was taken not long after my surgery as well. I’m sure this pic would make the rehab folks really nervous! But you know what, we had a great time and will never, ever forget that wonderful snow day.

There is so my my own pawrents didn’t know when I became a Tripawd. That’s why starting this community changed their lives completely, because they learn so much from other members and by going out and talking to people like CARE. All we can do is make the best decisions possible at the time, with the information and resources available us. Please don’t have any regrets OK? I know that Fortis doesn’t.

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

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The Rainbow Bridge



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6 April 2010 - 9:30 pm
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welovestephen said:

He truly is remarkable. I keep telling him how handsome he is — and I even bought us all some Tripawd gear to help welcome him into the club.I think I may even throw him a “welcome back” party once we reach the one month anniversary of his Tripod-ness. He does love a good party.

My spirits are much better today than they have been since Stephen’s amputation on Friday…I think his are too…you all are so wonderful for your positive thoughts and advice. I am all ears, so any other tips are greatly appreciated.

 


 

You’re so sweet, thank you so much for shopping in our Gift Store! We can’t wait to see some pics of all of you sporting your new Tripawd coolness.

So glad to hear you sounding optimistic and hopeful because that is certainly rubbing off on Stephen. Keep that feeling in your heart. The next couple of weeks can be a bit bumpy at times (we hope not) but they’re not forever, promise!

Hugs to you both…

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

Support the Tripawds Foundation!

Northern Indiana
Forum Posts: 356
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6 April 2010 - 10:19 pm
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Stephen has such a beautiful sweet face….I am partial to a Lab face! I am hoping and praying for good news on the biopsy.

Paris was 4 when she had her front right leg amputated, after the first 2 weeks she was so much better than before the surgery because she had been in so much pain.  Our pups do amaze us with their resiliency after going through so much.

I am so glad to hear that Stephen loves a party!  Give him lots of love & treats….pretty much whatever he wants!!

Ginny & Angel Paris

Grateful for every moment we had with Paris…..no regrets!

Honoring her life by opening our hearts & home to Addy!

Kirkland, WA
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6 April 2010 - 10:29 pm
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My dog, too, had a little bit of trouble due to over-activity.  At 3 days post-surgery he woke us screaming in the middle of the night with severe abdominal bruising.  Turns out, he broke capillaries and his compression bandage pushed all his blood into his abdomen.  Wasn’t that exciting!!!  Jack was 5 when he was diagnosed back in May (amputation was June 3) and he is about to celebrate his 6th birthday followed the next week by his 10th ampuversary 🙂  I hope Stephen comes back cancer-free!  Some things that helped me were first of all, I made a “welcome home little tripawd” sign for our front door.  Every time we would come home, Jack would sniff the sign and I would pretend he was reading it 🙂  The second, and probably one of the most helpful things, was that we would have “conversations” with Jack.  When we were all in bed, we would say things like “Jack, today I really enjoyed playing in the park with you” or “you let us know when this gets to be too much for you”.  It kinda helped get all our issues out on the table, and it really helped to “talk” about things we were worried about with our dog.  Sounds silly, but it really did work!  Best of luck for a speedy (and restful!!!) recovery and also for good pathology reports!

<3 Laura and Captain Jack

My heart lives at Rainbow Bridge
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7 April 2010 - 3:18 am
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I’m a little late jumping in, but wanted to welcome you to our group.  I admire your courage having to make a quick decision on the amputaiton.  wow!  I had overnight to think about it, and still wasn’t 100% sure I did the right thing until we went to get Trouble to take her home.  Seeing her made all the difference in the world for me.

As the others have pointed out, this is recovery time.  Take it easy, lots of rest, don’t be surprised if you hit a bump or two in the road.  The good news is that recovery only lasts a couple of weeks and then you are on the road to a new life.  Sending Stephen a speedy recovery!  Keep us posted.

Shanna & Spirit Trouble ~ Trouble gained her wings 3/16/2011, a 27 1/2 month cancer survivor, tail wagging. RIP sweetheart, you are my heart and soul.  Run free at Rainbow Bridge.
The November Five - Spirits Max, Cherry, Tika, Trouble & Nova. 11/2008 - 3/2013 An era ends as Queen Nova crossed the Bridge.

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