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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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The Rainbow Bridge


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25 April 2007
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5 June 2022 - 1:27 pm
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Whew what a rollercoaster you two have been on lately! Thanks for letting us know. I'm sorry things haven't smoothed out the way everyone had hoped. Some thoughts:

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). 

Hmmm. Did she do this kind of thing before amputation? My own thoughts on that are that since she is already showing pain signals at home, and didn't do well when you too her off the meds, that if this is new behavior, she is having uncontrolled pain. Sure, dogs can be big babies at time, but they are also so much tougher than us humans and do whatever it takes to hide pain. It's possible that maybe she did have a stitch in the wrong way, and it hurt when they pulled it out. Or she could have a condition called hyperalgesia, which is extreme sensitivity when she even thinks someone is going to touch her. It's documented in humans, not so much in non-human animals. Dr. Petty, pain management guru, talks about it inthis article (look for "hyperalgesia.")

Either way, is she back on pain meds? If so, what? I know she has a great vet team. But if she is still showing pain signals , you may need to advocate more strongly to get it under control. Oh, has she seen the therapist yet? 

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.

Anytime there is an uncertain diagnosis, it's always helpful to get an outside opinion. I like that you are doing the CT scan, so awesome you have insurance that covers it. Have your vets discussed maybe working with the CSU cancer center's consulting service to discuss her case?

 i feel we went 10 steps forward and 5 steps backwards. is that normal with just the amputation surgery alone? 

100% normal. Healing is not a linear process, it's full of ups and downs unfortunately. But like I said, you've got fantastic care and eventually things will level out and you will find that right balance for her. 

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5 June 2022 - 3:47 pm
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The surgeon prescribed another 7 days of Carprofen - i do see a notable difference when she's on it. She remains on Pregabolin (but we've stretched it to 12 hours from 8 hours, and I'd like to test stretching it more if it's ok?) and she has to remain on the Amantadine for a min of 21 days because of how it works for the phantom pain

It's so hard because sometimes she seems SO lethargic and it's really messing with me (i know, i know, this isn't about me) because I can't tell if it's post surgery trauma healing, the drugs or the f-ing cancer beating her down. It's just hard to know when she's drugged up. 

I just want my baby back. She's my first dog and so i have no idea what it looks like when they are ready - but equally, she is doing other things that are so amazing. She hops SO FAST and has done some really great things. If you go back to my Instagram that we connected on you'll see some hopping and her making a "big leap" onto a trampoline pad that she likes to hang out on outside. It's cute. Takes her a bit of time but she did it! 

Her tail wags and her appetite is 100%. but there's other things that she's not doing that are what my baby girl would normally do, and I miss that. And she seems soooo tired so often. Of course, now too, i look at everythign she's doing and question it: Is she breathing too fast, why is her nose running, etc. 

The Vets at Wheat Ridge Animal Center haven't recommended CSU but i've talked to a few friends that went there and their oncologist seemed to be on par with what other people said Wheat Ridge recommended overall to pets. But I feel between the Oncologist, the surgeon and the Holistic Vet, i got similiar opinions with the holistic vet more so pushing the CT Scan as a next step vs diving into the chemo drug (but she said the chemo drug recommended she has had success with her self and especially with her treatments). 

Anyhow as for Oreo being sensitive - yes, she's always been a Momma's girl, has always cried to be held, doesn't want to be left alone, whines if I leave her outside the door to go to the bathroom for 15 seconds longer than she's ready to come in, etc. She is a sensitive one and soooooooo sweet. But as for pain itself, luckily we haven't had any situations where she's been in this kind of pain/this kind of physical body trauma. So i don't know, I just want to make it all ok for her!!

My sweet Oreo. 

The Rainbow Bridge


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6 June 2022 - 10:49 am
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So, everything you are describing sounds really normal. Remember how much work it is to get around with one less leg. Try it! Seriously. Get down on all fours and lift one limb, then try to move around. It hits home how hard that is to do. Of course you're questioning her behaviors, you've never seen her like this. But based on what you are describing it all sounds like a fairly normal recovery.

Many dogs need to be on NSAIDs for the remainder of their life, and as long as their body processes the medication, it's fine. I've been told that from a pain specialist. Our Wyatt was on one for about the last 5 years of his. It did wonders. As for stretching out the timeline of the Pregabalin, ask your vet. I'm sure it's fine but it's good to be safe. Amantadine can make dogs really sleepy. Our routine for Wyatt (he was on it for about 2 years) was to only give it at night. He could tolerate a LOT of pain meds but something about Amantadine made him lazy and slow. Once we gave it at night, it helped tremendously. Ask your vet. 

Yeah, CSU is awesome. Their consulting service is simply to get another opinion, not necessarily to change treatment altogether. It's nice to have more big brains working on your case when you need clearer answers. Plus it's a donation-based service so it can't hurt if you want to go that route.

You are totally making it OK for her, you really are. This recovery can take time, and all dogs are different in how they get to a place where you no longer worry all the time. A smart lady once told me that "alignment is not an event, it's a process." Try to look at recovery that way too. Hope this helps!

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12 June 2022 - 5:22 pm
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Thanks Jerry - I really appreciate this. Sorry for the delayed response, it's just been a FULL week. 

Another question: I think Oreo is trying to get her existing legs strong enough, some days i think they shake/feel weak (just like if we have a full work out at times, i get it!) and I wondered if you had a lot of Tripawds get doggie massages at all or is it a waste of time/money and me rubbing her each day is sufficient? 

And yet another question ;-): Does PT help get them stronger or help them navigate how to do things (upstairs/downstairs) better without hurting their other legs? 

I *think* she's fine and all of a sudden she has jumped off the couch (no idea how!) and come to me in the kitchen and is fine, but then absolutely refuses to go up or down the tiniest of steps. LOL. 

She's on Amantadine and Pregabolin for Phantom pain and it got WAY better and then recently in the last few days she's yelping again at the smallest things. Is that backwards regression common?

Oh my, so sorry - we have GREAT moments in the day (like the other day when a giant Huskie mix approached her and...well, that Huskie learned that even an Oreo with 3 legs isn't afraid of it. LOL Embarrassing but was SO happy to have my girl thinking she's a big deal again and bark at the dog!) and then we have STRANGE moments (barely wants to get out of dog bed, stares at me). We are 3.5 weeks post operation - i think that's still recent but just trying to guage my little girl's progress. 

Thanks!
Jennifer 

The Rainbow Bridge


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12 June 2022 - 6:42 pm
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Hey there no apology necessary, promise. I'm so glad that Oreo is finding her new normal and showing the neighborhood who's the boss of them! 

Ask as many questions as you'd like, that's why we are here. 

I wondered if you had a lot of Tripawds get doggie massages at all or is it a waste of time/money and me rubbing her each day is sufficient? 

Dog massage is wonderful as well as your gentle rubdowns! It's beneficial in so many ways. A canine rehab therapist can help you in that department. Remember Tripawds Foundation can pay for your first rehab visit to get her evaluated.

Does PT help get them stronger or help them navigate how to do things (upstairs/downstairs) better without hurting their other legs? 

Absolutely. What it does is show you the right exercises to help her do that, and how to help her keep her core and back muscles strong. That's the primary focus, since the core holds up the body. In turn, that helps out her legs.

I *think* she's fine and all of a sudden she has jumped off the couch (no idea how!) and come to me in the kitchen and is fine, but then absolutely refuses to go up or down the tiniest of steps. LOL. 

Does that second behavior follow after she jumps off the couch? 

She's on Amantadine and Pregabolin for Phantom pain and it got WAY better and then recently in the last few days she's yelping again at the smallest things. Is that backwards regression common?

Oh interesting. Honestly that's a really good question for the vet. Yes some dogs will regress after you nail down a pain management formula, but usually that's because there needs to be another adjustment. When she yelps at small things, what exactly are these things?

Sorry, more questions than answers!

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14 June 2022 - 8:44 am
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Hi Jerry

Thanks a bunch. It's been another epic couple days. I'll answer your questions below but in the meantime, I think the reason she's yelping now isn't PHantom Pain - her back right leg (diagonal from her amputated left front), is shaking and she's experiencing pain. I don't know if it's overuse, cancer (but her CT scan last week showed nothing there, only two tiny nodes on her lungs, one less than a cm and the other .0003 ml) or if she tore a ligament or is having nerve pain. Is it normal for other legs to hurt during the healing process? And i think she screams thinking it will hurt because i touched her face and she yelped LOL (it's not funny but if you don't laugh you'll go insane, which I feel is slowly happening to me). 

To answer your question above about does she refuse stairs after jumping off a couch: no. She just gets in her head I think at certain times. She is motivated to jump off the couch because she thinks there's food. LOL. Otherwise, she's less motivated to go up the stairs and is like "Momma will get me." So no connection. She jumped off a massive chair at the hair salon the other day that i had to turn away from and she splattered but was fine but then will be nervous over a little thing. It's cute/funny/frustrating all the same. 

I emailed the vet yesterday about the back right leg after i think i was able to pin point the issue (and could see it really shaking too) and asked about the pain meds, etc. 

I've booked a massage and PT is booked out for another 10 days which was the earliest i could secure. Ugh. 

This is quite the journey, thanks, jennifer 

Virginia




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14 June 2022 - 10:47 am
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So glad Jerry was able to support you with her vast knowledge  of everything  tripawd.   Shhhhh.....dont tell Jerry.....sometimes I just wait in the background to see what advice she'll give. Her level of expertise is often what's needed in cases like yours and is always so thorough and well thought out.

I know the PT appointment  can't  some soon enough, but I really think you'll find that to be so beneficial.  Conti your own massaging gently up and down her spine, her neck and shoulder areas.  If you notice any tenseness at any spots, just make a mental note.

When re-reading everything,  it really does sound like Oreo is doing really well overall!  Yes, some days she may need more rest than others, some days not.  To me, looking  in from the outside, she IS being Oreo (obviously excluding the  yelps)  I'm sure the yelping is disconcerting and I'm not minimizing  how hard that mist be for you to witness.  It does sound like though, at least some of it is her being extra sensitive  and "anticipating " there "might" be pain as Jerry noted.   Obviously nif her rear leg is shaking, that needs to be addressed.  Hopefully  the PT can identify  what needs to be done.  If the Bet agrees, keep up with the anti-inflammatory.  I think Jerry said that the Amantadine  made Wyatt sleepy, so maybe you could  give that at night (with Bet guidance).

What are the types of "behaviors" from Oero do you feel like you're  missing?  Many dogs don't  ever master using stairs.  Ppssible the PT can help with that. but just know some dogs never ise stairs on their own.  As well as maybe not being able to do them physically because of the weakness in that back leg, her confidence on using stairs is broken, it's hard dor them to overcome it.

As you already know, you have to approach her with a calm, confident  manor when.  Clearly  she's very, very  tuned into your energy.  You both are probably  a little "conditioned" to anticipating the "yelping" even if unwarranted....like touching her mug........that gave me a chuckle.

Anyway, just throwing off the wall stuff out there.  She really does seem like overall she is doing well.  Oh, one. more thought.  When she does do a "splatter" from jumping down, even though she acted fine eight away, it may take a couple of days for the soreness kr tweaked muscle  to show up.

((((((((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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14 June 2022 - 11:33 am
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LOL Sally, YOU are such an expert yourself my friend that I often wait to see what YOUR insight is! Thanks for the kind words though. What you are suggesting is spot on: yes, some of her behavior could be anticipatory pain (hyperalgesia). And tackling stairs for a tiny dog can also be a scary adventure she's just not willing to take, at least now.

She is motivated to jump off the couch because she thinks there's food. LOL. Otherwise, she's less motivated to go up the stairs and is like "Momma will get me." 

OK so she's food motivated. That is AWESOME. Use it to help her overcome her fears. Little by little those tiny treats (low cal of course!) built confidence. And as far as the "Momma will get me," maybe it's time to put out a little more tough love? 

She jumped off a massive chair at the hair salon the other day that i had to turn away from and she splattered but was fine but then will be nervous over a little thing.

So, she does these wild things when you aren't looking? Then she's not terrified about everything, and she clearly has the strength and willingness to jump and stretch her limits of possibility. Let's reverse the situation and see if she will overcome her fears when you are looking. Again, food motivation is the magic!

I'm so glad she is going to see a therapist, and hope they will be able to pinpoint the issues. 

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