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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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Forum Posts: 4
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17 September 2021
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17 September 2021 - 6:03 pm
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Hello everyone!

Yesterday my little pup had her hind leg amputated. Long story short, I wasn't really given any instruction on how to care for her aside from "don't let her lick her stitches". I've done a bit of research on my own and some things I found out are pretty simple.

No running, jumping, over activity etc.

No slippery floors.

Watch for discharge, oozing, heat at the incision site and / or swelling. 

She's a cattle dog and she's got the energy of a child on a sugar rush 24/7. But she's doing extremely well so far going outside on a leash to use the bathroom. She doesn't run or pull, she walks extremely well without issue, she squats perfectly fine, she lays down and stands up with (from what I've witnessed in just the two days) pretty much with ease. So in other words, she's one heck of a tough puppy and I already think she doesn't care that her leg is gone, she just wants to get up and go play with the other dogs already. For obvious reasons she's not allowed, but she'll yell at them from her kennel until she can join them. :p

I just want to know if there's much of anything else I can do, what to watch for, what she'll need now or later... everything, really. 

As it stands, I've been giving her the medication the vet gave me according to the instructions and on time.

She gets fed three times a day, but I know weight is a huge issue with 'tripawds' so I'm really making sure she gets what she needs only. My other dogs are free feeders, admittedly because I'm lazy and because it's just easier to set a bowl out and let them eat at their leisure. Only one of them is a chunky boy and the girls are better at self regulation as they're perfectly fit and my other cattle dog is nice and lean. But should I let this pup adapt to the free feeding lifestyle or should I maintain her scheduled feedings? The biggest issue I have is I work part time and my hours can be at any time of the day, so I won't be home to feed her on a schedule once I get back to work without some flexibility to it. That could mean she can go without eating lunch, or she'll have a very late dinner or a very early breakfast because I have to leave earlier and some nights I'll come home later. She was free feeding before the amputation but now... I will be monitoring her weight way closer, even though I suspect as an active cattle dog she won't let herself get thick. Advice there would be nice.

I don't believe I have much more to question, but this is all extremely new to me and I absolutely want to do everything right for this little baby. 

She did only get her surgery yesterday (and also got her spay at the same time, yikes for the double pain she has to go through) and only today did the surgery site bruising show up. I've read that's normal though so I'm not letting myself freak out even though it looks pretty awful. I've seen bruising on dogs before and I suppose I can say this looks like 'normal' bruising, as far as that goes. 

So, please, if there's any advice or instruction that can be shared, I would greatly appreciate it.

Oh, and I'll mention one other thing. I did read that some dogs get bandages, or drains, or this and that but my pup only has a sutures and nothing more. So I don't need to worry about things like that as there are no bandages to change or anything to worry about outside of the incision site and the stitches themselves. 

The Rainbow Bridge



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17 September 2021 - 7:01 pm
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Hi Cheese! Welcome! Your future posts won't need approval so post away.

What is your doggie's name? Why the reason for amputation?

Cattle dogs are one tough breed that's for sure. But I'm curious what her pain management looks like. What exact meds did you come home with, the dosage too, and how often are you to give them to her? What we see is that when pain control is good, so is recovery! 

You are so smart to be concerned about weight! YES! Free feeding is a bad idea according to vets we've interviewed in the Tripawds Nutrition blog and elsewhere. Why not consider some interactive brain games for her? You can feed her that way AND get her mind worked out so her body can rest.

How are your floors? Does she have traction ?

Be sure to check our What to Expect articles and I'll be back with more thoughts soon. Stay tuned for feedback from the community!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Forum Posts: 4
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17 September 2021 - 8:41 pm
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Hello Jerry!

My pup's name is Lulu. I'll spare the grueling details and say it started with a broken leg that healed badly and ended with amputation as the vet's recommendation.

She was given 25mg rimadyl and 100mg amoxicillin, both to be given 1/2 and 1 tab (respectively) every 12 hours until they run out, and they're a two week supply. Does that sound like the usual for patients in this scenario?

I did buy her a Kong 'treat' dispenser that also works with food. It's like one of those old children's punching bags you would hit and then it'd flop all over the place and bounce back at you, but it's a Kong toy so it's not an air bag, heh. She loves it and gets very angry at it when it doesn't dispense her food after a few pushes. I did buy another brain toy but she lost patience too quickly and ended up flipping it over and spilling all the food. Once she learned that was the easy way, she didn't dare to waste time learning the proper way to use it.

As for my flooring, the entire house is carpet except for the bathrooms and the kitchen. But since she's kennel bound for two weeks that isn't a current issue. For the future when she's out, however, the kitchen is already barred by a baby gate so she won't have free access there, ever. I've debated getting a rug for the dogs current feeding area since it is in the kitchen, but if that ends up not happening then she'll just have her own eating area in the carpeted living room, or I may continue to feed her in her kennel only. If I do manage to get a rug for the feeding area though, she can eat with the rest of the dogs and have that at her safety net, which I think is a good idea. She's got options, at least.

Thank you for the articles, I'll be going through them so I can learn all I can to help my little pup.

The Rainbow Bridge



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18 September 2021 - 9:41 am
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Awww what a long road you've both traveled!

Real quick, back later but for now, if that's the only pain med she came home with, it's basically the equivalent of getting an ibuprofen for amputation pain. While it will bring down swelling it won't do anything for nerve pain. Typically most dogs come home with Gabapentin. I would request it from your vets. Keep an eye on her pain signals , it's likely that she needs
additional pain control.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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18 September 2021 - 10:20 am
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That's a bit upsetting to hear that. Luckily I did read through a few of those articles and she's not currently displaying any of the common signs of pain. I would say last night has been the only time she did. She was restless and trying to get to her surgery site to lick it but once she got her meds she did stop and relaxed, eventually falling asleep. I can safely say that aside from last night, she hasn't done anything else to indicate she's in pain. I'm with her for the majority of all day so I'm being very vigilant in watching her. Regardless, since the meds she has now aren't targeting all the pain she's going to experience, I'll speak with her vet about it and see if there's more to add for management and ask about the gabapentin. 

Virginia




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18 September 2021 - 11:13 am
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You've  done an excellent  job of redearching and making your home ready for Lulu's recovery.  Good job of  keeping   her resting and not doing anything to wild and crazy👍

When it comes ro pain, dogs are so stoic and Cattle Dogs especially. Once all the strong hospital  pain meds wear off and are out of her system (which should be pretty soon now),  she may experience  pain.  This is MAJOR surgery involving bone, cutting  muscles and nerves,  slicing of the skin, etc.  Hoomans would still be in the hospital on a morphine drip!.  Some Vets just aren't  up to date on pain management

So, at the very least, insist that the Vet gives you Gabapentin  to keep on hand.  With Gabapentin,  or any pain med, it's important  to give on a consistent  basis to stay ahead of the pain.  Every dog is different,  every recovery  is different, so it may be that Lulu has an exceptional  high tolerance for pain.  You know your dog best

No help on the free feeding per se.  I do know thar, like some of your dogs, some people find it works.  It certainly  depends  on the individual  dog, that's for sure!  I understand  your work circumstances  make things difficult.  

Grt some rest yourself,  okay?  

This recovery. can be quite stressful and exhausting on the hoomans 

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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18 September 2021 - 3:50 pm
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Hey I just commented on Lulu's blog. She is ADORABLE! She really does look like she has some German Shepherd in her? If so, what a mix! No wonder she is being so stoic.

So yeah, keep an eye on her. Cattle dogs are sooooo tough, those little Dingos are incredible! It's good you're so vigilant and have done your research, that's terrific. Your vet may want to know why you are asking for Gabapentin if she is not showing that she's in pain. What I would say to that is you understand that the NSAID is not treating nerve pain, just inflammation, and it makes sense that after amputation, nerves are frayed and need a calming medication to help prevent phantom leg pain . I'm guessing that if your vet only let her come home with an NSAID that they may not be up on the latest pain control methods.

Pretty awesome that your home is good-to-go! 

If games aren't her thing, another way you can slow feed her and work her mind is to hide food around the house--hopefully the other dogs won't find it first! That idea might be impossible with other doggies in the house!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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19 September 2021 - 11:34 am
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Thank you both for your replies. 

Unfortunately today one of the stitches on Lulu's incision site is looking like red and irritated. She managed to work her way around her cone while I was cleaning house and got to licking it, so now when I go in to the clinic tomorrow I'll be requesting a larger cone and get that lump looked at, assuming it's angry enough to not go down by then. They don't offer emergency service for her but I also don't think it looks horrible enough to warrant an all out panic either. It's not pussing or anything, just looks red and angry and I'm guessing that's because she found a way to get to licking it. She did get her usual round of meds so hopefully the antibiotic will keep anything worse from happening. I'll be keeping an eye on it throughout the day now for sure though.

She has become slightly more restless so it may be that the clinic's administered meds have finally worn off for her and that's why she was more determined to get to her wound site. At least she's a very good listener when I tell her to stop, even if she's super itchy, she'd rather not hear me scold her. Poor pup. Thank you all for the advice and help, I truly appreciate it.

Virginia




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19 September 2021 - 6:52 pm
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LULU!!!  You leave those stitches alone silly girl!!!  Sounds like your Mom caught you just in the knick of time!  And now you will be in "Big Cone Jail" for awhile. 

Yeah, keep a really good eye on her tonight and the Vet can look at it tomorrow.  

And yes advocate for the pain meds tomorrow.  Does sou d like all the hospital  meds have cleared her system now.  Good observation  on your part,

Uodate when you can

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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20 September 2021 - 9:54 am
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Oh darn! Sorry about the incision, and I hope it's not a big deal. It usually isn't, especially when you've got eagle eyes on it like you do! Let us know what the vet says.

Lulu probably feels so proud of herself that she outwitted the cone! We used to have to double-cone our Wyatt Ray when he had wounds. His long snout was able to defeat the cone every time.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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