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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

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Buster Medication Question
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Member Since:
27 May 2011
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30 May 2011 - 12:22 pm
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our 9 1/2 yr old boxer , Buster recently had her front right leg removed.  This came quickly as we were considering the options of amputation or not, when she had a terrible episode with pain, so we had to make the decision quickly.  As a result, we did not have much prep time for the house ( or our psychological outlook ;).


She came through with flying colors! so much so, she was sent home with us around 24 hrs after surgery.  She was surprisingly happy and handling the mobility with ease.  She navigated the wood stairs without incident ( we supported her with a lease for a possible slip or fall )

The next day she was up and about ,but  early that night she tired out and had the 2nd consectutive bout with phantom pain shrieks ( wasnt sure what this was the first few times, but this site helped us determine the cause ...  She was sleeping and then suddenly wakes with the pain and loud shrieking.


In addition, she often is panting heavily and uncomfortable ( moving around alot).  first night we had her in our bed, but since then we set up camp in the living room and took turns sleeping with her.


I almost feel like we are administering more pain meds than before the surgery and just had the osteo diagnosed. 


Its rare that she is comfortable, as she is always panting and sometimes whining sllightly.  I hate to pump her with the meds ( i am keeping a decent diary)



tramadol ( 2-3) every 6 hours when needed 

cephalexin 1 every 24 hrs

metacam suspension once every 24 hrs


Gabapentin - was twice a day now once


Just hoping she can get comfortable soon

My heart lives at Rainbow Bridge
Member Since:
28 November 2008
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30 May 2011 - 1:32 pm
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I hope you don't mind that I moved Buster's post.  You have a question about medication at the end, and I didn't want it to go overlooked.


The initial 7-10 days before they are off the painkillers are brutal for some of them.  Some of the reaction you are describing can be caused by the pain medications.  Hang in there.  It does get better.  Hopefully some others who went through something similar will jump in and give you some tips.  Also you can post in the Ask a Vet section and our resident vet will be happy to answer.

Shanna & Spirit Trouble ~ Trouble gained her wings 3/16/2011, a 27 1/2 month cancer survivor, tail wagging. RIP sweetheart, you are my heart and soul.  Run free at Rainbow Bridge.
The November Five - Spirits Max, Cherry, Tika, Trouble & Nova. 11/2008 - 3/2013 An era ends as Queen Nova crossed the Bridge.

Chicago, IL
Member Since:
5 March 2011
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30 May 2011 - 4:46 pm
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Definitely try an ice pack.  I had a similar experience with Tate, he was doing so well at first but then he was panting like crazy and restless but an ice pack was like flipping a switch.  He'd settle and sleep immediately. 

That worked for awhile but then he was just a mess for a few days and I couldn't tell if it was side effects from Tramadol or pain.  He wasn't giving us his usual pain signals , just hiding out and panting for hours.  It was the worst time.  There was nothing we could do but leave him alone and wait it out.  I tried to get a substitute pain killer but it didn't work out (the weekend vet).

Then he saw the surgeon to have his stitches removed.  She explained that Tram is about their best option, everything else is controlled so you have to go to a people pharmacy to get it.  (I definitely would have gone to a people pharmacy if it would have resolved his pain without side effects!)  But by then it didn't matter, she said he was all healed inside and could just be on Rimadyl.

Hang in there.  You are in the worst of it now.  Buster will be better, then worse, then better – recovery is not linear.  It was over three weeks before Tate was on a definite upswing.  But he had a hemipelvectomy (back leg + half his pelvis) so I think it took him a little longer.
August 16, 2006 to November 28, 2011
TATE ~ Forever in our hearts.

30 May 2011 - 7:14 pm
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You should always call your vet if you are really concerned- that is what they are there for.

That being said- it does sound like the 'normal' recovery most write about here.

Often when the pup comes home he or she is doped up still from the surgery and pain meds administered at the vet, and they are very happy to get home.  A crash a couple days later is not uncommon.

My pug Maggie did not handle tramadol very well.  She was restless and agitated when she took it.  Early in the recovery period the pain meds are a necessary evil.  Things seem to really turn around when the sutures or staples come out and the pain meds are done.


Karen and the pugapalooza

Member Since:
22 August 2008
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31 May 2011 - 11:27 am
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I would call your vet but the Tamadol dose does seem high and might be able to be reduced to two or three times daily.  I usually keep dogs on gabapentin two to three times daily for 10-14 days and then wean down from there.  It can be hard to know if the vocalization is from pain or from the Tramadol so sometimes you have to make adjustments to one drug at a time to see how the dog responds.


Member Since:
29 December 2010
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2 June 2011 - 9:29 am
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Hunter didn't have the phantom pain so I'm not much help there but she was EXTREMELY uncomfortable on Tramadol - panting, restless, looked completely freaked out.  She actually did so much better when we stopped it.  She was never on a high dose and never received very much because we noticed the side effects right away so I didn't need to worry about weaning her off it but definitely wean slowly if Buster has been taking it for a while.

Good luck!  I hope Buster feels better soon.

Hunter's Journey

Hunter – 12 yo female Rottie/Lab mix

Diagnosed with a fracture in an osteosarcoma on 12/23/10 (right rear leg)

Amputation on 12/29/10

7-Month Ampuversary on 07/29/11 – clean bill of health, great blood work and clear chest x-rays

Hunter gained her wings and flew free on 08/19/11

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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2 June 2011 - 9:32 am
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How's Buster doing today?

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