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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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Amputation tomorrow-advice on how to prepare quickly
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Member Since:
29 June 2022
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29 June 2022 - 8:21 pm
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My dog Enzo started limping about 3 weeks ago. I took him to the vet a couple days after it started, and she suspected a sprain or torn ACL. Prescribed rest and anti-inflammatories. It wasn't getting better after a few days so she suggested a consult with an orthopedic specialist, whihc was yesterday. Sadly, not a torn ACL, but a tumor, presumed to be osteosarcoma. After a whirlwind of research and calls, he is scheduled for amputation tomorrow and has an appointment with oncology on the 13th. The ortho vet only took one chest x-ray, which was clear, my vet will take 3 views tomorrow morning before surgery to make sure the chest is clear before sedating and surgery. so I'm really hoping there is surgery tomorrow, because that will mean his chest is clear right now. 

Enzo is a 96 pound, Great Pyrenees/Rough Collie mix. And the most wonderful boy. How do I best help him when I bring him home tomorrow? He can stay at the clinic overnight, but they have no overnight care so I would rather him be home with me. Any suggestions or tips on getting my home, and myself, ready? We have hardwood floors and tile, with a few area rugs, I was going to go out tomorrow and try to pick up some inexpensive runners to put down. Do I need to keep him in a contained area for a few days, or can he move around as he wishes? I have a harness ordered, but planned to help him around using a bedsheet until it arrives. We have 2 other dogs in the house, both large dogs. Should I keep him separated from them and for how long? I'm just worried they might bump into him and knock him over when he's wobbly.  This has happened really quickly and totally blindsided me. I also already take another dog to physical therapy (water and laser) so I have a great PT to work with. How soon do most people start with PT?

Any help, tips, or suggestions, are appreciated! I'm a bit of a mess right now, worried about surgery, worried about getting him through recovery, and mostly worried about the cancer. But one step at a time, and first is surgery, then recovery.

Livermore, CA

Member Since:
18 October 2009
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29 June 2022 - 9:39 pm
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Hello and welcome, your future posts will not have to wait for approval.

I'm sorry you are having to deal with all of this, but this is the best place to be when dealing with amputation and cancer.

First- Here is the reading list, lots of info there on what to expect with amputation and recovery.  And Here is a shopping list for amp recovery.

Our surgeon told us that Maggie was only allowed short, leashed potty breaks for the first two weeks.  A small recovery area with good traction and no jumping temptations might be a good idea, it will also keep the other dogs away. On that topic, most here report that the other dogs were careful around the new Tripawd- but I had a very different experience.  My younger dog actually attacked my new Tripawd when they were re-introduced after surgery.  It is probably a good idea to keep them apart until Enzo gets his sea legs.

I would not leave one of my dogs at an unattended clinic overnight either, good call there.  Just be aware that dogs can be quite wonky after surgery and can be very vocal.  Have the number of the nearest emergency vet handy just in case- you shouldn't need it but better to have it handy than have to search for it.  Understand what pain meds he is coming home with and the dosing schedule.

If the bed sheet is too hard to maneuver with then you can make a DIY sling out of a cloth grocery bag.

You've got a great mindset- one step at a time!  Stay strong and positive when you are around Enzo to show him everything is fine.

You are not alone, we have been there and can help!

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

The Rainbow Bridge

Member Since:
25 April 2007
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30 June 2022 - 10:56 am
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Hi Sharon and Enzo, welcome to the club nopawdy wants to join! I'm sending tons of sp_hearticon2and wishes for an uneventful surgery and speedy recovery.

Karen gave you fantastic spot-on insight. To that I'll add that having good pain management will make recovery so much easier for all of you. Keep in mind the first night home will be especially rough since he's coming home same day, but it's nothing you can't handle. Have a conversation with the clinic team to make sure he has the best pain meds after surgery. Ask them about staggering the meds so that he has consistent relief all day long. We tend to see that when new Tripawds are given meds 3x daily instead of 2x, it makes a big difference. 

Yes, keep him calm and in a smaller part of your home. You want to minimize his movement to avoid messing with the incision. Not necessarily crate him but do keep him in a place where he's not jumping on furniture and wrestling with the other pups. There will be plenty of time for that later.

Let us know if you have any questions OK? We are here for you!

Member Since:
26 June 2022
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1 July 2022 - 7:02 am
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I just read your story and you literally sound just like me and my dog Beast 2 weeks ago. 

He had staples removed yesterday and walking on his own now while wearing his new tripawd harness (for safety)

What I learned thus far: you have to cover those hardwood floors with no slip runners (tile seems to be ok)

You have to write down the times of all the meds your dog needs to take.  Be on it!  Set an alarm if you need.  And call the vet if the dog seems to doppie or in too much pain! Dont wait to call them.

Keep all other animals away till the wound heals and staples are out! you cant take the chance of the others licking the wound, the dog lashing out at them, or one of them walking or scratching them (right on the wound) 

Crate the dog (with the e-collar on) when/if you leave the house/dog unattended or any reason.

I slept in an empty room (and still am) with a mattress on the floor with beast and a baby gate closing off other animals till he is completely healed and mobility and pain is restored. 

Keep on your dog to drink fluids, and dont let them stay in one position too long.

Lastly, keep reading, updating, and posting

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