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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Looking for a little moral support here. Barney, our 11-year-old Corgi/Aussie Shepherd had his amputation surgery Tuesday afternoon on his left front leg. We brought him home Wednesday night. We are still working on getting the right mix of medication to relieve his pain. He is on Metacam, Tramadol, and Acepromazine. His fentanyl patch came off yesterday.
My fiance and I think Barney had phantom limb pain Friday morning. He has had about 6 shrieking incidents over Friday and Saturday, and this morning he cried a little when he stood. The vet recommended we increase the frequency of his Tramadol and started him on the Metacam the first day of the shrieking.
We live in a 4th floor apartment and the only options for getting outside are stairs or an elevator on the other side of the building. Barney won’t walk with the sling we were given at the vet and he won’t let us pick him up. He hasn’t been outside since yesterday and we are at a loss for getting him out there without hurting him. We have laid out puppy pads hoping that he will relieve himself inside. How often did you take your tripawds for potty breaks when they were healing?
More background on Barney: He had a mast cell tumor in his left front leg, grade 2. We tried to have the tumor removed but it was so deep between his bones the surgeon could not get clean margins. He bled pretty heavily for four days until we decided to go through with the amputation. The vets said his original surgery would never clot because she could not get clean margins.
We are trying to keep our spirits up but when Barney shrieks it tears my heart out. He seemed to be doing well Friday night and Saturday morning. I’m sure these ups and downs are expected, but it’s so hard to stay strong for him. We have also designated the bathroom as the cry-zone, as many other members have too.
Hi Sheena, welcome. I’m sorry you had to find our community but glad that you did so we can at least give you a place to turn to, and to vent when you need to.
Yep, the first couple of weeks can be rough for some dogs. It’s so hard to tell what they are feeling or whether or not the pain meds are working. It’s a guessing game for a while, but as long as you stay in contact with your vet, you should find that right balance.
I’m going to take a wild guess and say that the shrieking could be from the Fentanyl withdrawal. I’ve read that by the time the patch is removed, the pain med is already distributed and wearing off. It could be phantom pain or it could just be that he’s feeling a bit more pain so I think your vet’s suggestion was good. The tramadol should hopefully help. Look for side effects though, like pacing or panting, some dogs react poorly to it. Is he still on Ace? If so, that could be making him so loopy that he doesn’t want to go anywhere.
When it comes to going potty, we can relate. We had 18 steep, slippery steps to maneuver. A bit less than you (!) but still a challenge. Generally we went on 3 potty breaks a day by having my people carry all 75 pounds of me. The sling WAS a challenge on those steps and I’m pretty sure we gave up on it!
I would say that if Barney hasn’t urinated by the end of today to call your vet. Some dogs do take a couple of days to potty but urinating is pretty important so keep your vet in the loop about tht. Keep in mind that if he is drinking less water and eating less, that could have a lot to do with his lack of urge to go potty. To encourage him, try adding low-sodium broth to his water, gatorade or even feed him some goat’s milk to get his appetite up. Our Tripawds Nutrition Blog has a ton of great advice about getting dogs to eat and drink after surgery.
Things WILL get better in a few days, I know it. Many dogs appear to do GREAT as soon as they come home but depending on the dog, it could just be that they’re high as a kite from the pain meds and can’t feel anything. Stay in communication with your vet, stick to their recommended pain management protocol and hang in there. Let us know what we can do to give you a confidence boost OK?
Oh, and please consider registering so that your future posts don’t require moderation.
28 November 2011
Welcome! Our Zeus is a Corgi/Husky mix, so I’m already in love with Barney!
Let me tell you, Acepromazine is some serious stuff. Our dog Merlin was on it after TPLO surgery and he would barely move and when he did it was stumbling and uncoordinated. I researched it quite a bit and it is a tranquilizer. There was a lot of debate online about whether it is appropriate for pain because as a tranquilizer the drug simply paralyzes them and may not take away the pain, but just make them unable to react to the pain. I don’t know how reliable this information was (you know how dangerous Dr. Google can be!), but if the lethargy doesn’t ease up soon you might want to talk to your vet about switching to another med. After amputation our Zeus was on Tramadol and Gabapentin and although you could definitely tell that he was on something, it wasn’t nearly as extreme as Merlin was on the Ace.
I can’t help much with the stair issue as Zeus allowed us to carry him. Maybe borrow a kid’s wagon to get him to the elevator?
Best of luck with the rest of recovery. It really does get better – I promise!
Zeus was a Husky mix diagnosed with Osteosarcoma at age 11. A visible lung met and suspicious spot on his liver meant a poor prognosis-six weeks was our vet's best guess. We decided to fight for our boy and his right front leg was amputated on 12/1/11. We did six rounds of chemo, changed his diet and spoiled him completely rotten. We were blessed with 10 great months after diagnosis. Against the odds, the lung met remained a single met and grew very little over those months. A wonderful furbaby with the most gentle spirit, he fought with a strength that we never imagined he possessed. We have no regrets...
Jerry and Lisa,
Thanks very much for your responses. Barney seems to be doing better today – no shrieks yet. We got an exercise pen for him and he seems to be resting comfortably.
I called our regular veterinary office and the vet I spoke to also seconded the fentanyl withdrawals. Hopefully we have found a good dosage of the Tramadol.
Good to know about the Ace, Lisa. I will talk to the vet about Gabapentin. I have seen some references to this for treating phantom limb pain. Is it a painkiller?
Great idea about the wagon! I’ll check around.
Thank you for the support. I’m feeling better this afternoon and just taking things hour by hour.
Hi Barney’s pack. Thanks for registering as a member- your future posts will not require moderation.
I’m sorry you had to find us here- I’m glad Barney seems to be doing better today.
I am quite familiar with mast cell cancer, Tripug Maggie lost her left rear leg to it, and Mag’s little sis Tani has recurring tumors. Here is a link to Maggie’s blog if you want to read her story: http://maggiesj…..pawds.com/
I’ll have to check back in later- I’m on the road and typing is challenging.
Karen and the Pugapalooza
Barney just woke up from napping most of the day. He had gotten up once in the afternoon to move positions without any problems. This time when he rolled over he let out several cries. They were nowhere near the intensity of his shrieks from yesterday, but it is still unsettling.
I called the vet and she recommended dropping his Tramadol to 1.5 pills every six hours and stopping the Ace unless he is really anxious tonight. She said that sometimes Tram and Ace will make dogs more vocal about their pain, so if he is feeling an uncomfortable sensation he will vocalize it more intensely. It seems so hard to find a medicine combination that works to keep him pain free. I really hope this new dosage will have better results.
Understanding that every dog is different, I asked the vet if it seemed normal for Barney to still be having so much discomfort five days out. She said most dogs heal quickly from amputations and it seemed like Barney’s situation was not the norm. If he continues to be so uncomfortable tomorrow we are going to have to take him back into the office, which will be a challenge since he is still not keen on going outside.
29 October 2010
Hi and welcome. Sorry you had to find us here. Barney sounds like an adorable mix. We’d love to see pics.
The shrieking is awful, isn’t it? It only happened with us twice with Abby, but others here who had it happen more often have indicated that they had good results with gabapentin. You might want to talk to the vet about getting some of that?
Five days out is really not that long. Hopefully he’ll start to feel better soon!!
hang in there,
Jackie, Angel Abby’s mom
Abby: Aug 1, 2009 – Jan 10, 2012. Our beautiful rescue pup lived LARGE with osteosarcoma for 15 months – half her way-too-short life. I think our "halflistic" approach (mixing traditional meds + supplements) helped her thrive. (PM me for details. I'm happy to help.) She had lung mets for over a year. They took her from us in the end, but they cannot take her spirit! She will live forever in our hearts. She loved the beach and giving kisses and going to In-N-Out for a Flying Dutchman. Tripawds blog, and a more detailed blog here. Please also check out my novel, What the Dog Ate. Now also in paperback! Purchase it at Amazon via Tripawds and help support Tripawds!
Interesting thoughts about the Ace, Lisa. That totally makes sense. One would think that zonking out a dog after surgery is a good thing so they don’t overdo it, but yeah, if you can’t react to the pain, that’s gotta make things really uncomfortable too.
I started her on 3 drugs the day before surgery. One is a Fentanyl patch applied to one of her back legs. This is a narcotic that lasts 3-5 days and will be removed Friday. The other drugs are gabapentin and amantadine. These are drugs used in human medicine and both are inexpensive and very safe (main sided effect is sleepiness from gabapentin). Gabapentin is used to prevent nerve root pain and thereoretically can help with “phantom pain“. We can’t ask our dogs about that but I think that it does exist! Gabapentin is continued for 2-4 weeks after surgery depending on the dog. Amantadine helps prevent what is called pain “wind up”. Once the pain receptors are annoyed it takes more pain meds to calm them down. This drug blocks that response and can be used for 1-2 weeks postop. Lots of dogs with chronic arthritis also take this drug for flare-ups when the Rimadyl or other NSAIDs they are taking stop working.
Some dogs do take a while to feel comfortable again. I’ll bet it’s nothing serious, but it couldn’t hurt to have your vet check him out.
I hope tomorrow is better for all of you. Keep us posted.
P.S. Thanks for registering! You’re official!
Sorry Barney is having trouble- I’ve heard about several pups here who don’t do well on metacam. There are other options, hopefully you can find something that Barney tolerates.
If you can remember you should log in before you post, that way your post doesn’t have to wait for moderation. I know you have your hands full right now and it is no problem to moderate. But if you are looking for quick answers logging in will let your post show right away.
And for whatever it is worth- Maggie was on pain meds for 2 weeks after her amp, I think we tapered off toward the end. We were lucky not to have phantom pain issues.
Karen and the pugapalooza
9 February 2011
I’m sorry I’m late to the party. I want to welcome your family to our family! It’s good to hear that Barney is improving. I know diarrhea doesn’t seem like an improvement, but when you’ve lost a leg, it just might be! I hope things do look up tomorrow. You are not really experiencing anything terribly unusual, if that helps. The stairs/elevator may be a bit unique, but Barney’s recovery seems on target. In ten days, you will read this again and think “I am so glad we’re done with that part!” It will get better!
From abandoned puppy to Tripawd Warrior Dude, Dakota became one of the 2011 February Furballs due to STS. Our incredibly sweet friend lived with grace and dignity till he impulsively raced over the Bridge on 12-15-12.
Dakota's thoughtful and erudite blog is at http://shari.tr.....pawds.com/