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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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Any Experience with Phantom Pain? I'm so scared.
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Member Since:
22 May 2022
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22 May 2022 - 1:18 pm
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hi there - totally new here. My little brave, sweet girl Oreo was diagnosed last Friday, and we went in for amputation on Tuesday. It's been a ROLLERCOASTER and I'm wondering if this will turn a corner or if I've made the wrong decision. She came home from operation and I was convinced I did the right thing - she was tail wagging, hopping, begging for food and adorable. So proud of her. Later that night and the next morning - BOOM. Periods of screaming but oddly, not even when touched near the wound. Wants to be like velcro on me. Barely sleeps. Shivers. BUT, when i HAVE to put her down to make her food or go to the bathroom, she hops to me (because she can't leave my side) perfectly fine. She refuses to lay down herself or to lay on her wounded side. and when i need a break from holding her, she's kinda "catatonic" and stays stiff in the bed. Anyhow, Friday the surgeon said to bring her in just to check nothing was wrong iwht the wound etc. 

Long story short, the surgeon and the integrative vet both said it was likely Phantom Pain as nothing was off strucutrually or with the wound and it was very inconsistent with how she'd scream. She'd hop quickly over for a treat and then scream when you put her down. So we changed up her medication and they prescribed Amantadine and a stronger version of Gabapectin (Para something). She's had about 36 hours of the new drugs and I *think* they are helping but it's still early. 

Is this normal? How can i bring her more relief? There's NO way i can leave her on her own right now and she is literally attached me to me - we aren't sleeping (between pill schedules and her being restless) but last night i think she slept more so that's possible. I know we're only 4.5 days post operation but when do people start to turn a corner AND is there anyone out there with dogs that have had phantom pain as both the surgeon and hte integrative pet said it could take 21 days/3 weeks to reverse that (the Amantadine takes a while to re-direct those nerve pathways). 

I'm not worried about her hopping around - she seems FINE doing that. but she won't lay down on her own or turn/flip over. She stays stiff unless she's on my chest (i bought a baby sling she loves). 

She's the SWEETEST dog and i just want the best for her. Any help or signs of normalcy here would be welcomed. 

The Rainbow Bridge


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22 May 2022 - 1:38 pm
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Hi Oreo & furmily, welcome! Your future posts won't need to wait for approval so post away.

I'm so sorry this recovery is so up and down. Yes, all of what you are describing is really normal. That post-op crash is something we see a lot around here, it's like the body's way of catching up with the brain, that tells the dog they can do anything just like before...only for now, they need to take it really easy because things hurt. 

Your vet team sounds fantastic, can I ask who you are working with? Amantadine is always a good med to add into the mix when phantom pain is an issue. Yes it's still early and it can take a few days for those wound-up nerves to calm down. I'm so glad Oreo has vets who provide good pain management , it really makes recovery easier even though it doesn't feel that way right now. 

In the meantime, one thing you can try is dry needling acupuncture. Did your vet team mention that as a possibility? See if you can get her into an acupuncturist asap and that may help too. We also have the Farabloc blanket in the Tripawds Gear Shop which for many animals and humans works really well to alleviate phantom pain issues.

If holding her with the carrier is helping, that's great. Not a long term solution but things should get better in the next day or two and you will be able to get more sleep too. Was she clingy at all before the surgery? Clinginess can be a sign of pain so hopefully the amantadine will start working. How often are the doses of the Gabapentin version given (would love to know the name, para something doesn't ring a bell) and what other meds is she on? Oftentimes staggering the meds throughout the day helps so she gets a variety of consistent relief. Staying ahead of the pain is critical.

Hope this helps! Stay tuned for feedback from others.

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22 May 2022 - 2:25 pm
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Thank you Jerry!! I'm really confident in my team - I'm in Denver so it's the Wheat Ridge Animal Hospital (Dr Phillips is the surgeon) and then the integrative vet I'm seeing is Dr Gibson in Castle Pines. The medication they prescribed for the Phantom pain is Pregabolin (same derivative of Gaba pectin but stronger). 

I did ask about the Accupuncture but there was a view that it may be too early post op - what's your experience with the Accupuncture/Dry Needling less than a week post operation? 

I'm so exhausted and just hoping i'm doing the right thing. Yes, my little girl has always been clingy/loved being held, snuggled and near me always, has always followed me around the house, etc. however, this is just MORE of that. I did say last week after her diagnosis that there's a blessing that oreo has elbow cancer because she has always wanted to be carried and held and now she really needs to be 😉 (she's only 11 lbs)

I'm trying to find the bright side in all of this - this dog has taught me SO much and I will fight for her hard so long as her soul desires. it's just really hard right now so hoping we see some bright lights. i just want to be sure that i've done the right thing. 

The Rainbow Bridge


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22 May 2022 - 2:56 pm
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Oh EXCELLENT vet care! YAY!

The Pregabalin version of Gabapentin is under the brand name of Lyrica in the human world, and it gets good results. In this study, it was found to be superior to Gabapentin for humans. Paws crossed for Oreo!

Honestly I hadn't heard about doing acupuncture too soon after surgery, so I can't answer that question. I'm glad they discussed it with you. Dr. Gibson's bio is awesome.

You are so lucky to be working with Wheat Ridge too! Dr. Phillips has an excellent background...boarded surgeon AND rehab therapist? That's golden! Many members of our community have worked with that clinic.

Both clinics offer pain management expertise and many different modalities to treat pain, so rest assured that they will get to the bottom of what is going on with Oreo. They are an incredible group of vets to have on your side, and I'm confident that in the next few days those experts will figure this out. It's hard to see that right now because you're sleep deprived, but it will happen!

So yes, she's always been a little clingy, and this experience magnifies that need. At least it's not a totally out of the ordinary behavior, that's really good.

Since her crash, how is her eating and eliminating? Her mobility? Are those things going OK otherwise?

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22 May 2022 - 3:06 pm
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Yes!! Her eating is sensational - this is the most food motivated dog ever and so even at 3:30am she bites my hand off for a pill with some burger LOL. If her eating were to ever waver then i'd be most concerned but she just is rarely sleeping and will whine a lot. But then like just now, i had to make lunch and she's hopping all over the ktichen following me and begging for food. So that was so lovely and normal. Then she'll scream in pain. Today is definitely (so far!) better than yesterday so i'm hoping for continued progress. As long as I know all of this is normal and most don't get any sleep or respite and it's up and down, then i'll carry on and feel confident i've made the right choice. 

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23 May 2022 - 8:41 am
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Also, do you know if there's any support/appeasing one can do with muscle spasms? I try to soothe her but know they scare her and want to calm her when they happen. Thank you! 

The Rainbow Bridge


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23 May 2022 - 10:46 am
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Hi folks, I'm in the Tripawds Chat right now if you want to talk. Back in a sec with some feedback.

The Rainbow Bridge


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23 May 2022 - 10:53 am
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OK so everything you're mentioning indicates she's doing pretty good overall. There have been situations where a dog has a random stitch that is pulling in a weird way, causing pain when they move in a way that tugs at it. So that's a possibility, in addition to the go-to thought which is phantom pain . Any changes today with her behavior?

As for dealing with the muscle spasm when it happens....how exactly do you soothe her? Sometimes, and I'm just throwing this out there, not saying you do this, but when we react too quickly to try to help a dog, it makes things worse. It's like when you see a little kid fall and you react in shock "OH MY GOSH!" and the kid starts crying. But when you react calmly and then acknowledge the fall without acting shocked, they don't cry and get on with whatever they were doing. So I'm not saying that you shouldn't try to help her, because I know it hurts to see her go through phantom pains, but maybe approaching her in a calm manner, and then gently massaging her in the neck and shoulder areas, scratching her ears, whatever she likes, might bring her pain levels down after it happens. 

How's she doing today? Did you get any rest last night?

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23 May 2022 - 11:04 am
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Hi Jerry - 

Thank you so much - this forum is giving me life. 

Firstly, last night for nearly 5 hours, Oreo slept and didn't whine for me to hold her or whine at all. Momma got ZERO sleep because I kept thinking she wasn't alive, worried something was wrong that she was so quiet. In fact, when i had to give her medication at 3:30pm stuffed inside a piece of hamburger she didn't bite my hand off per usual and just let the burger sit in her mouth until I moved her a bit. That freaked me out. But then I meditated in the middle of the night and realized (after touching her 900 times to make sure she was breathing) that maybe she was just finally getting some benefit from the pain meds and resting properly. I think i was right. 

This morning, for about an hour, I saw SLIGHT signs of improvement. Little things. Like when i put her down to go to the bathroom, she first looked at the bed and went back on her hind feet to jump up. She realized that was a bit ambitious so just hopped her way to the bathroom to be near me. 

Then during feeding, she and my other dog always wait in their bed - she hasn't wanted to go into the bed and instead just whines and/or follows me in the kitchen not wanting to be alone while i make the food. But today i told her to go into her bed and she hopped into in a way that she hasnt post op - it was clumsy and unstable but she didn't scream in pain or anythign and steadied herself. then when yum yum was ready she bolted a little too fast for the food (she has always acted like eating was the Hunger Games) and face planted it - i held my breath for screaming and the little brave girl got back up wiht a slight squeal and made it to her food. She squaled a little again but it was so slight and she dove into eating. 

Then the best thing is that she started whining after i laid her down again after eating and i thought "Oh  no, here we go poor baby" and so i lifted her up to hold her. Surprisingly, she moved to crawl off my lap and bumbled down to go sit with her sister which she hasn't done AT ALL. she bumbled over near her sister and plopped herself down on the couch which was remarkable to me. 

Then i think she petered out because shortly after she whined and wanted me to hold her and has been resting in my arms since. I'll take it!!!! 

regarding the spasms - the way i soothe her is totally serene: I just take my had and place it gently over the spasms and lightly rub her. nothing is said. If her eyes are open i just look at her while I rub my hand lightly over her.  

The Rainbow Bridge


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23 May 2022 - 11:18 am
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You. Are. Doing. GREAT! Yes! Yes! Yes!

Everything you described is spot-on indicative of a normal recovery. She is finding her new normal, and so are you. As someone who practices mindfulness, you know exactly what to do and you are DOING IT! Not jumping too quickly, staying calm, and being pawsitive, it's all paying off. Oreo is getting her sparkle back. I'm going to bet by the end of this week you'll see a major improvement.

Keep tracking if/when she has the muscle spasms; note when they happen, how long they last, and how soon she recovers. That kind of info will be helpful for the vets when you check in with them.

And please keep us posted, we are cheering for you and your girl!

Virginia




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23 May 2022 - 11:59 am
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Jumping in just in time to read how everything  is working out brilliantly!  Jerry gave excellent advice and you are doing an outstanding  job of monitoring  Oreo AND monitoring  yourself  as she suggested!

And remember,  any 'little' improvement is A HUGE improvement  during recovery!  Good job of recognizing  signs of her sparkle shining through!

Sounds like you've got the pain managed  and she mis having a fairly "normal" recovery...maybe even a little ahead of the curve!

Now get some rest!!!  Exhaustion  is mthe biggest enemy  of the hoomans during  recovery. 

Hugs

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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25 May 2022 - 10:00 pm
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Thank you both so much - I feel we have turned a corner finally. We are making small progress day to day since Monday. Today she hopped up two small steps without me even looking. She's giving kisses again. Today she also figured out how to lay down in her bed (in a very clumsy and adorable way, but no screeching!). She also hopped all the way to the car when she knew we were leaving (OMG we left the house, it was amazing lol!). And she also roamed around the kitchen looking to clean up any dropped crumbs and that normalcy made me tear up. 

She still begs and whines to be picked up and we had a rough night last night where she didn't sleep much, i think that's just when she's tired and also the drugs but i truly feel we are going from strength to strength now. I'm so grateful, my little girl is slowly returning. I can't wait to see what she continues to accomplish by brave sweet soul. Tomorrow is a check up with the holistic vet and an Ozone injection.

Virginia




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26 May 2022 - 8:42 am
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Made my day to read this update so full of returning  sparkle and wagging tail!!!  

Seeing Oreo looking to clean up any crumbs on the floor...SPECTACULAR!!!   

Loved this update and loved seeing how you are seeing you and Oreo both are going from "strength to stength "😎

Hugs 

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!

The Rainbow Bridge


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26 May 2022 - 12:47 pm
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I'm so grateful, my little girl is slowly returning. I can't wait to see what she continues to accomplish by brave sweet soul.

WHEEEEEEEEE!!!! All this, and car rides too? Oh my gosh, so this is the best news all day! Hope the vet visit was a good one. Let us know!

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5 June 2022 - 10:27 am
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Hi Again! So we had some amazing progress with Oreo - she hops SO fast when she wants to and she tackled a few stairs and likes to get out of her bed in the night and come and snuggle and isn't afraid to move - MOST of the time. However, there seems to be periods of progress and then regress and it's really really hard to know what's going on. The Vet said to let the Carprofun run out (so then she was only on Pregaboline and Amantadine) and it seemed within 24 hours she was toast. Flinching in pain (but not even when you touch near the site), she screached when she got her stiches out (The Vet told me no dog does that and she things Oreo is essentially, in a sweet way, a bit of a baby girl/highly sensitive). 

However, my head is spinning because i don't know what is amputation recovery (she's now 2.5 weeks post op), what is drugs and what is Cancer still in her body. 

A big blow this week was the Oncologist, who I agreed to meet with and hear what they say about treatment (not convinced we would do it), essentially said they were wrong about the type of cancer and that it's not osteo sarcoma and instead is regular carcinoma. So they have no idea if the chemo drug they are recommending would work because the elbow tumor was just a metastisized part of the cancer and the main source is somewhere else in her body: BUT they don't know where because they can't detect anything in her anals, throat or from feeling and her abdominal scans and lung scans came back sound (she has one node in her lungs they think but can't be sure because of all the scans only a small node was found in one scan). So they are stumped. 

Because insurance seems to be ok to pay, we're going to go ahead with a CT Scan - which the oncologist has warned may not show anythign and the holistic vet said "Great, if it shows no masses, it's still information and we can believe that it's very early stages elsewhere in her body." I think I HAVE been afraid of the CT Scan because it could come back with her body full of masses and that will crush me. but information is power and having the truth and the way forward will be valuable because right now every breath, sound, movement she makes i'm in question of her being in pain - coupled iwth the amputation and the drugs, i literally am guessing her every movement/action. 

My baby girl is so brave - and she HAS made a lot of forward movement but i feel we went 10 steps forward and 5 steps backwards. is that normal with just the amputation surgery alone? 

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