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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hey guys! First of all I absolutely love this site. It’s helped tremendously with this new journey of continuing life with my pup as a Tripawd.
My girls story was kind of sudden. Unfortunately she got hit by a car (yanked the leash, buckle broke and into the street she ran).
Fortunately there were no broken bones or fractures and no internal injuries or head trauma. Just an elbow luxation that required a cast for a week. Took her in for a cast change a week later and the vet had told me the unfortunate news that her elbow had luxated again. This time we didn’t know the duration of time that it had been out of place so I was faced with the option of surgery or amputation. Surgery would have been a huge hit to the finances (7-10k) and also no guarantee of the stability of her elbow after that. She’s an Aussie Mix (just turned 6 on Father’s Day!) so running is her life. She would have definitely busted that elbow right away if not soon after. Not to mention the arthritis and a lifetime of pain and medication. I couldn’t do that to her. She was already going crazy in a cast and no movement for a week. So now I’m here with my little Tripawd snoring away as she sleeps in her little bed area.
Now to the problem. About three days after surgery she woke up from a dead sleep screaming as if someone was tearing off all her limbs. When I got up she wasn’t even focused on anything and just sitting up screaming. I calmed her down and checked everywhere for any sign of pain. Incision site looked good and everything was great. (I was traumatized though!)
The night after was the same thing. Woke up screaming and when I got up to comfort her I let her walk to get some water and she peed in the kitchen. The poor thing. I called the vet and they suggested to take her off the codeine as it could have been making her way too loopy and dissociative. After that I noticed her alertness was back to normal (she’s only been taking gabapentin, carprofen, tramadol and trazodone (both of those if needed. Usually before bed) but she was walking around, going potty, eating and responding like the old pup. After taking her off the codeine it’s only happened two more times and both times I’ve noticed it’s been at times of high excitement. (Once was when the doorbell rang and she got up too fast, the other was when my roommate came home and she got excited and shot up quickly to greet her)
Now I’m just wondering if anyone else has experienced this or if this is normal for almost a week after surgery? The first night I was woken up by the screaming I had such a bad anxiety I immediately became pale and clammy and threw up and ended up missing work.
i just can’t relax now because I feel like there’s a ticking time bomb for when it happens again and I just can’t bear to listen to her wails 🙁
lately she has been doing SO much better with getting up, laying down, (she’s so eager to jump on the sofa and bed these days which of course isn’t happening!) and she has her old sparkle back in her eye.
last night we got through a scream free night (!!!!) but was woken up by a demonic growl telling us she had to go potty 🙂
i guess I’d like a second opinion here. Is it muscle spasms? Phantom pain? Something to raise concern? During the day she acts completely normal, doesn’t even have interest in her suture site, and still begs for food and pets like always! Eating and drinking and potty is all normal! I thank you all for reading the wall of text. I’m just an anxious mom to a new Tripawd! 🙂
Hi Steph and Romy, welcome. Your future posts won’t need to wait for approval so post away.
I hope you don’t mind I moved your post here, but it sounds like what Romy is experiencing is a common situation that many new Tripawds have been through, so you’ll more feedback from the community here.
Have you mentioned the episodes to your vet? It does sound like her pain management protocol was exactly what it should be from the start, and you seem to be managing her activity perfectly, but this could be one of those cases where the protocol needs some fine tuning. That’s not uncommon at all. Dogs are like people, everyone responds to pain medication just a little bit differently. Oftentimes just adjusting the frequency and dosage amounts will help, but if not, a consultation with a rehabilitation therapist / pain management expert can help pinpoint the issue. I would check in with your vet, and also ask for a referral to a specialist. If your vet doesn’t know one let us know and we can help locate a good one near you.
And now, do your best to relax OK? Remember that Romy senses your emotions so the more confident and calm you are, the more she will reflect that right back to you. You can ease your fears by reading these articles about pain management , just so you can help yourself remember that this isn’t uncommon and totally treatable.
Thanks for your response!
I have contacted the vet and with the way her symptoms were playing out made them lean towards the problem being a response to her medication.
I’d like to say that last night was a scream free night!! Knock on wood! She woke up and whined a tiny bit then back to sleep within five minutes. I’ve noticed that she gets a bit anxious when I give her tramadol/trazodone but I’m worried to take her off these meds so soon after surgery. She gets her stitches out next week! I’ll talk to the vet then. Right now she’s just sleeping in the kitchen (gabapentin and carprofen are given in the mornings and usually knocks her out). Doing ice and heat compresses are helping tremendously though! Incision site is beautiful and hardly any fluid anymore.
Sounds like some pretty good reasons to celebrate this pawgress!
Glad you reached out to the vet. Now that you described the anxiety when she gets tramadol, that could definitely be related somehow. Our Wyatt Ray doesn’t do well on Tramadol, he acts like a madman on it. Not with sudden yelps and such, just extreme anxiety after he gets it, so we don’t use it any more. You may want to ask your vet for a replacement if they haven’t already suggested one.
We’ll keep our paws crossed for more healing and less worry!
So glad you found us, and I’m glad your girl is starting to do better.
I’d like to ask a question. You mentioned the gaba being given in the morning and the other meds at night. Is she only getting the gaba once a day? I am not a vet but most of us have given the doses of gaba twice a day, i think some were even split into every 8 hours. If she has anymore episodes of screaming or crying you might want to speak with your doc about maybe dosing morning and evening, and they may adjust the amount you give her. Maybe it is wearing off a bit early and giving her a little discomfort. Like jerry said sometimes it’s just a little tweaking that can make all the difference in the world. It sounds like you are all over it though and maybe it was just the crazy codeine. I cannot take anything with codeine, makes me so sick
I’m so sorry your girl was hit like that. Has to be one of the most traumatic things to go through with your furbaby. She’s ok now though and you will be so surprised to see how well she adjusts on three Look forward to following your recovery
Jackie and Huckleberry ❤️
Sorry, yeah she was on a crazy cocktail of meds first thing out of the hospital. At first it was as follows:
gaba/carprofen twice a day (with each meal about every 12 hrs. I stretched the time between meals so she could take the meds with food)
trazodone/tramadol every 6-8 hours
codeine every 6 hours
plus they gave her a numbing agent which lasted about two/three days after surgery (approx the same time the screaming started)
Now it’s gaba/carprofen just twice a day but I’ve noticed the morning dose lasts all day and by bed time she’s usually passed out. Tonight will be the first night with no tramadol/trazodone as it would cause anxiety in the middle of the night when it kicked in. My pup just does not do well with any altering meds.
Looking back it could have been the numbing agent wearing off and suddenly she wakes up with no leg. I’d scream too! Also, it’s not too common but the vet explained that sometimes codeine (especially the amount she was on for a dog) can cause a paradoxical effect in which any sensation can Cause a painful/trauamatic response even though there’s no pain. For example, I was taking her out back to potty on a leash and she tugged on the leash with the tiniest amount of force and just stopped in her tracks on the stairs and started screaming. It was absolutely awful!! But this whole trial and error ordeal definitely implies that her mix of meds was just making her freak out. Now that she’s on less medication she’s my old pup again. No more thousand yard stare screams 🙂
shes doing extremely well! Learning to use her back legs to propel herself and she’s even started trotting around again. Plus as an Aussie, she’s still got the booty wiggle down 🙂
the only thing bothering her at this point is not being able to get on the sofa for snuggles. When mom naps that was her cue to snuggle next to me (nose buried in my neck) and now she’s not able to do that. It’s driving her nuts!
Thanks for the support guys. I’ve had my girl since she was 10 weeks old. She’s my life! I never imagined our journey would take this route but we’re leanring together 🙂
Good morning Steph and Romy!
When they start getting their personality back and are more themselves is just the best feeling Some animals are just so sensitive to meds, just like us, especially the pain medications. It can really throw them for a loop. You are doing a great job with her, and soon she will have her couch back
If you have a bit of time we would love to see pictures!
Jackie and Huck
22 February 2013
WOW!!! JUST CATCHING ON THE AMAZING ROMY!
You’ve gotten great support and it sounds like now you are in a good place. You’re doing a great job!!
And Romu still jas the booty wiggle? 😁 Such a happy visual! Keep wiggling that booty Romy!😎
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!
5 March 2018
I had the same issue with the screaming and it was horrible. Scares you to death just waiting for the next episode. Thankfully there weren’t many.
ALL we got was Tramadol so I do not think our pain management was adequate by any means, and the amputation was $5,000 so you’d think they would be better at pain management ? Thankfully we got through it and are months in recovery and getting ready for chemo 5 of six.
It is so distressing to hear that sound
You will be so happy once you get the staples out and have the worst part behind you!!
3 August 2012
Just read your post and my heart broke. I never had that experience with Cooper post-amputation. He just bounced back really quickly. His leg was broken for a long time (he did not belong to us at the time). I just wanted to lend some heartfelt support, and hope your fur baby is doing better each day.
Cooper is a hound-collie mix "mutt" who was badly injured as a puppy and lost his leg at 7 months of age. We adopted him after the operation. He's a wonderful companion and comforting presence in our family.
Thanks for all the support guys!
The last two nights have been wonderful!
She’ll wake up randomly to lick her other foot (still healing with some scratches) but other than that she’s comfy and happy. We’ve officially gone two days with no pain meds! Sometimes a gabapentin in the morning but no more Of the rough stuff. Now it’s just a matter of keeping her away from the incision site. Seems to be itchy!
Or it could be the hair growing back. I’m so happy about her progress, she’s following me around everywhere again 🙂 I love it!
She got a new squeaker toy as a celebration of no more pain meds. She was so happy! I can’t seem to figure out how to post pictures on here!
Well that’s a relief! Good to know you’ve both gotten some rest and are on the road to recovery. Must be squeaker toy magic!
Hey I just want to mention something about the Gabapentin…it’s not the type of drug that should be taken on an ‘as needed’ basis the way Tramadol is. It takes time to work and also shouldn’t be stopped suddenly or it could cause problems. Talk to your vet about the best way to manage giving it to her for best results.
P.S. Here’s a post about adding images to the Forums. Basically you need to upload them somewhere like your Tripawds Supporter blog , Facebook or imgur.com account, then copy the image URL and paste it back here in the Forums. Make sense? If not and you would like help just holler, I’m happy to assist.
I’m currently giving her the gabapentin only at this point.
I meant ant I stopped pain meds meaning the tramadol/trazodone and carprofen. Gabapentin is helping her a lot at this point so I’m going to continue that.
Unfortunately we just had another screaming episode. Roommate came home and pup was laying on the floor when she perked up and got excited and sort woofed then it slowly turned into screaming but she was walking and wagging her tail. It’s almost as if that’s her new excited bark?
And ideas on what it could be? Maybe the nerves are firing rapidly at that point to be painful? I’m just at a loss here 🙁
No need to panic, this is always a learning experience as no two beings are ever the exact same. Might be too early to take off all meds, did you discuss this with your doc? Let her/him know what happened. I’m sorry, i can’t see back far enough to see how far post op she is. Many of ours, mine included, were on pain meds plus gaba for between 2 to 3 weeks as an average. She just might not be ready to be totally off pain meds. Gabapentin works on pain because it helps stop the nerve endings from transmitting signals. The other pain meds work on the rest of the body. Please call your vet and find your happy medium. They may add meds or change meds but a call definitely sounds reasonable and in order. Unfortunately right now that communication is vital to a smooth recovery and they are so different. Don’t fret, this is just another stage in the rollercoaster and you are really doing a great job!!
Jackie and Huck ❤️
By the way, i looked all the way back after i posted and still cannot tell exactly when the surgery was. So maybe i missed it? The “when” is vital because they usually take a bit of a dive about 4 to 5 days after. Plus, if it’s only been that long she may very well be needing more meds. Amputation is MAJOR surgery and this healing/recovery process takes time. Please forgive me if i missed something or am repeating myself but once that post op pain kicks in, it can be harder to get back under control, just like with us.
I hope this helps.