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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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Advice for first few days home post-op
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Forum Posts: 13
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27 July 2016 - 11:27 am
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Hello all — we just brought our English bulldog, Bledsoe, home today after a front left leg amputation due to osteosarcoma.  While it’s pretty overwhelming for us, he seems to be doing pretty well — he is eating, peeing, pooping and hopping along fairly well on his own.  He does seem uncomfortable and in some pain (he yelped pretty loud the first two times I picked him up).

We’re trying to make his transition to a tripawd as painfree and seamless as possible.  If anyone has any advice generally or on anything specific we would greatly appreciate it… Any tips/recommendations on stairs?  How about beds?  He usually sleeps at the foot of our bed, but am obviously concerned about him trying to jump off?  Anyone else have other dogs at home?  I think we’re going to keep them separated for the most part for at least the first few days?  Sorry for all the questions, we’re just very overwhelmed and hate seeing him in pain and want him to be as comfortable as possible..

Thanks!

Steve 

Livermore, CA




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27 July 2016 - 12:43 pm
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Hello and welcome, your future posts will not have to wait for approval.

I’m sorry you are dealing with cancer, but you have found the best place to be when dealing with cancer and amputation.

First off you might read through Jerry’s Required Reading list or consider downloading one or more of the ebooks available from the Tripawds Library.

What meds and doses is Bledsoe taking? Balancing pain meds can be tricky since the signs of pain and the side effects of some pain meds are similar.

The first couple of weeks Bledsoe should be only going for short, leashed potty breaks.  No stairs or beds yet.   My little pug Maggie lost a rear leg to mast cell cancer.  She needed help getting up on the bed but learned to use a small set of stairs I made to get down.  My current tripawd Elly, a rear amp due to an accident, uses stairs to go up and down from the bed and the couch.  Elly is a small pug mix.

We can certainly all relate to being overwhelmed!  It sounds like Bledsoe is doing very well so far…eating, peeing and pooping!  Yes, we celebrate the first poop around here poopicon_png!  Many of us had to wait days!!! 

Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls

Tri-pug Maggie survived a 4.5 year mast cell cancer battle only to be lost to oral melanoma.

1999 to 2010

 

              Maggie's Story                  Amputation and Chemo

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27 July 2016 - 1:36 pm
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Thanks Karen … I will definitely take a look at the library.  I also bought the dog cancer survival guide and have started to make my way through that.

Bledsoe is on gapapentin 1/4 tab 3 times a day and tramadol 1-1/12 2-3 times a day.  He was on both of these prior to the amputation to manage his pain, but on higher doses, so I’m concerned he may need to up his pain meds.  He’s also on an antibiotic (I forget the name)

And yes I have read all about the first poops that’s why I was so surprised he pooped the next day!

Thanks!

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27 July 2016 - 2:51 pm
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It’s great that he’s getting around alright this soon after surgery! 

People have done a lot of things to their beds after their dogs have had surgery. It can be difficult to keep them off if they’re used to sleeping with you, especially when they need extra comfort during recovery. I slept on the floor with Jack for several weeks after her surgery and tried to keep the bed blocked off so she couldn’t get up. She’s stubborn and quickly figured out how to move barriers out of the way, so I eventually got rid of my bedframe and we now all sleep on a mattress on the floor! I keep thinking we’ll go back to having a bedframe, but I do worry about her remaining front leg and the number of times she gets on and off the bed during the day. 

Here and Now


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27 July 2016 - 4:41 pm
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Welcome, and best wishes for Bledsoe! Most dogs cope with recovery much better than we silly people do.

Our best advice is to Be More Dog . Bookmark Jerry’s Required Reading List for lots of helpful links, consider downloading the Tripawds e-books for fast answers to common concerns, and start here for help navigating the many helpful resources this community has to offer.

Michigan
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27 July 2016 - 6:27 pm
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Hi Steve ~

The first couple of weeks are the hardest.  We have 2 other dogs, but we didn’t keep them separated.  Murphy pretty much stayed in the family room, which is closest to the door outside.  Our other dogs pretty much left him alone.  We didn’t really need to worry about stairs because we live in a ranch-style house.  We do have a couple of areas in the house with just 1 step down, so for those areas I put one of those tap lights.  So at night when we turned the lights off, I put the tap lights on so that Murphy could see where the step was and judge the depth.  I just left them there until the batteries wore out – by then he was pretty well acclimated.  Have you gotten a harness for Bledsoe yet?  We really like the Webmaster Ruffwear harness – it has a handle on the top which makes it easier to get Murphy in & out of the car. 

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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27 July 2016 - 6:53 pm
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Hi Steve! Bledsoe is so cute! I don’t really have stairs so can’t help there. I know others on here with multilevel homes pretty much confined their dogs to the main floor until stitches were out. My guy also liked to sleep on the bed, but I kept him in a x-pen at night until his stitches came out. With a bulldog, I’d be worried about the height of the jump down even after he’s healed – if it was me, I’d probably build some sort landing pad so he doesn’t have to jump all of the way down. Clyde actually hasn’t been interested in coming up on the bed much since his surgery and we are two months post amp. When he does, he’s very careful about trying to come down and doesn’t seem comfortable with it. I think he’s decided the floor is fine.

I have other dogs and I didn’t make any real effort to separate them although I did keep Clyde in the x-pen when I wasn’t home. But that was mainly because I was worried about him falling or getting caught on something with his cone. They all seemed to recognize they had to be careful with him. I will say that none of them are really young or super hyper – I might have kept them separated if that was the case, just because while a new tripawd is adjusting, they aren’t super balanced and can get knocked over by a rambunctious pup.

I love English bulldogs – we need more pictures!

Virginia




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27 July 2016 - 8:24 pm
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Hi Steve, Bledsoe and pack!

Sorry you find yourself here but, as you can see, under the circumstances it is the best place to be for support, information and understanding. We understand like no others can. You’ve already gotten some great advice and have some great links to read up on. One quick tip….if you have hardwood floors use some non slip scatter rough for traction .

This is MAJOR surgery and it hurts! If you think Bledsoe is in pain ask the vet about upping the doses back to what he was on before the surgery. Is he also on Rimadyl?

Every recovery is different and every dog is different! Ge erally, not always, a lot of dogs are starting to get their sparkle back arou d week two. In my Happy Hannah’s case it was about three weeks before I could finally say I was doing this FOR her and not TO her! There were a lot of sleepless nights though at first…a lot of whining…a lot of restlessness. Sounds like Bledsoe is already a bit mobile?? That’s really good as it takes dogs built like Bledsoe a bit longer to adjust to three legs sometimes.

Bledsoe has already shown he’s ahead of the curve already though! He’s walking AND he has pooped! YAY FOR BLEDSOE! 🙂 🙂

Stay connected! You are not alo e on this journey. We are all right here by your side!

Cannot wait to see pictures! His avatar is ADORABLE!!

Hugs to all!

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!

Minneapolis, MN
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28 July 2016 - 6:22 am
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Hi and welcome to you and Bledsoe!

Sounds to me like he is off to a very good start with recovery, but I agree I would see about increasing the Gabapentin a bit, either dosage or frequency.  I have been told that having been on the pain meds in advance really does seem to help manage the post op pain better and our experience seems to bear that out.  But we continued with 300 mg of Gabapentin 3x daily, 100 mg of Tramadol 2x daily and 75 mg of Rimadyl 2x daily (along with Clavamox antibiotic 2x daily) for the first two weeks post op and then cut down over the next two.  Pofi is a bigger dog, so the dosages would be different, but my surgeon said there was no need for pain – we wanted him as comfortable as possible to rest and heal.

Those meds represent 3 different modalities for pain management – the Gabapentin works in the nerves, the Tramadol on the pain receptors in the brain and the Rimadyl is an anti-inflammatory so reduces swelling and associated pain.

We did not keep our dogs separated, but they are older and not very rambunctious and I was able to work from home for 2 weeks and keep an eye on them to make sure there was no rough housing.

Keep us up to date – let us know what happens if you increase meds!

Lisa, Minneapolis

On October 27, 2016, nearly 6 months after amputation, and 18 months since his cancer likely started, we lost Pofi to a recurrence of Soft Tissue Sarcoma in his spine quite suddenly.  His canine sister also succumbed to cancer on March 1, 2019 - we lavished her with our love in the interim, but life was never quite the same without her only real canine friend. Cliff kitty had to leave us, too, suddenly, in August 2019. Lucia kitty grieved all these losses, but helped us welcome two new Lurchers into our home and our lives, Shae and Barley.

Blog: Pofi, Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumor Amputation

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28 July 2016 - 9:01 am
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Hello all — thank you for your kind words, encouragement and advice.  One minute he seems to be doing OK (he even sneakily jumped on the couch last night), then the next he lets out a few blood-curtling yelps — has anyone else experienced this?

We upped his meds to 2 tramadol every 8 hours and 1/2 gabapentin every 8 hours — this seems to be wearing off at the 2-3 hour mark

I’m not sure if he is experiencing phantom pain , or he is really in a lot of pain or not … These first two days have been pretty rough, I hope it gets better from here!

Is there an easy way add pics to posts?

Thanks!



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28 July 2016 - 10:48 am
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Hi Bledsoe and Steveheart

My girl is a very large Great Dane who lost her right front leg due to osteosarcoma 3 months ago.

She came back home from surgery 3 days after amputation and a couple of days later had a crash (lost energy, got tired and lethargic) which I understand from other people’s experiences, is normal.

She never yelped but we were told she might do, if she was experiencing fantom pain. 

She didn’t take Tramadol, she came back with antibiotic (Therios), Metacam and Gabapentin. 

We stopped Metacam 18 days after surgery and Gabapentin 9 days after surgery.

As you say, the first days are rough, it is still early days in recovery but once stitches come out you should see a lot of progress. 

I am sure others would be of more help concerning phantom pain and will get back to you soon.

Hang in there, recovery doesn’t last forever and in due course Bledsoe will show you how good life can be on 3!

Sending you a big hug and cuddles to your gorgeous boy heart

Eurydice 77kg/170lb Great Dane limping end of April 2016, amputation (right front leg/osteosarcoma) 4 May 2016 6 courses of carboplatin followed by metronomic therapy, lung mets found 30 Nov 2016. 3 courses of doxorubicin, PET scan 26 Jan 2017 showed more mets so stopped chemo. Holistic route April 2017. Lung X-ray 5 May 2017 showed several tennis ball size mets, started cortisone and diuretics. Miss Cow earned her XXL silver wings 12 June 2017, 13 months and 1 week after amputation and 6 1/2 months after lung mets, she was the goofiest dawg ever and is now happily flying from cloud to cloud woof woofing away :-) 

The Rainbow Bridge



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28 July 2016 - 12:36 pm
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Sounds like you may want to up the Tramadol dose to every six hours right now (with your vet’s approval of course). Staying ahead of the pain will go a long way toward helping him heal and keeping you sane. Don’t let it wear off.

As for the yelps, it sounds like jumping on the couch could be taking its toll. Try to keep him from moving about too much right now.

Here’s a post about adding images to the Forums. Let us know if you’d like assistance.

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28 July 2016 - 7:32 pm
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So we talked to our vet and they don’t think he is in that much pain, they think the yelping is a combination of him being anxious/depressed/confused and possible medicine side effects.  We’ve noticed a little bit of an improvement after he had an anti-nausea and have noticed the yelping is when he tries to get up and can’t — he panics and starts yelping … He’s also not himself now, which sucks.  We’re so used to him following us around the house and getting into everything, but now he just lays on the floor.  I know we’re only 3 days post op and it will get better, but it still stinks!

On the good side, he’s still eating (though not as voraciously as he normally would), and is peeing and pooping on his own.  He navigates the ramp down our front steps very well…

Has anyone else dealt with a super anxious dog post amputation? Yelping/whining when trying get up?  We’re thinking of removing one of the pain meds to see if that’s a side effect, and have been practicing a ton of positive reinforcement whenever he gets up on his own or eats and are hoping that works!

Here are a few pics of Bledsoe pre and post op … 

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Livermore, CA




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28 July 2016 - 9:25 pm
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A couple things come to mind…

Has Bledsoe always been the anxious type?  My little pug Maggie was a slug for six weeks after her amp, I was sure I had made a big mistake by choosing the surgery. Maggie was as stubborn as they come and hated any change in her routine.  In hindsight her slug-ness made sense for her because she was never one to adapt quickly. 

Another thing that really bothered Maggie…she had a tumor removed from her side about 6 months before her amputation.  Her incision was about 7 inches long (her girth was only about 21 inches) and very tight because of how much tissue was removed.  She was very unhappy and I thought she was in a lot of pain because of the way she was acting.  I finally realized that she was unhappy because she felt like there was something around her chest, and that was one of the things she would not tolerate. Maybe the pulling of the incision is part of what is causing Bledsoe’s yelping.

Now amputation is much more painful, and I would be careful reducing pain meds so early in recovery. That being said some pups just don’t do well on pain meds.  Maggie became very agitated when she took tramadol- in one case I gave her a normal dose and she didn’t sleep for 12 hours.  Keep working with your vet to get the right balance for Bledsoe.

I know this part is hard, hang in there and soon Bledsoe will be amazing you!

Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls

Tri-pug Maggie survived a 4.5 year mast cell cancer battle only to be lost to oral melanoma.

1999 to 2010

 

              Maggie's Story                  Amputation and Chemo

Virginia




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28 July 2016 - 11:32 pm
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Bledsoe just had MAJOR surgew and it hurts! And yes, it is very, very early in recovery! Heck, if this happened to a human, they would still be in the hospital and on a morphine drip!

Pain meds can cause some side effects. Unfortunately, the symptons of pain….panting..anxiousness…restlessness…crying…ears pinned back…resemble the side effects! Most of us here would still stick with the pain meds, even if they did cause a few side effects. Managing the pain is crucial to healing. Certainly not a vet, just offering insight based on what we’ve experienced first hand here on the site.

As you noted, the quick yelping could indeed be phantom pain . It could even be a stitch pinching and pulling when he makes a certain motion.

Bledsoe WILL get his sparkle back…slowly but surely! To expect it at this point in the recovery is just not a realistic expectation. In fact, the fact that Bledsoe is eating and has already pooped…..all good signs!

My Happy Hannah was very restless and very whiny for the first five, six days. In fzct, it wasn’t until the third week that I could finally say I did this FOR my Happy Hannah and not TO her! Obviously sitting., laying down, getting on the couch, etc can all be a bit confusing at first without that fourth leg. But they figure it out fairly quickly and adjust to the their new normal with very little effort!

Hang in there! You’ll see little bits of sparkle start to come back, slowly but surely!

Hugs to all!

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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