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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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First post - recovery questions/concerns
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Forum Posts: 12
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27 August 2019 - 9:05 pm
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Hi all, 

Thanks in advance for any insights you can provide. My dog Chomp, a four-year-old Rottweiler mix, was diagnosed unexpectedly with a high-grade soft tissue sarcoma in his left shoulder in June. We had taken him to the vet for an unrelated issue (he was licking at a paw) and were blindsided by the discovery of a lump/cancer; there had been no signs of pain and his temperament had been as lovely as ever!

He underwent amputation 12 days ago on his left front leg. The surgery was pretty invasive due to the high location of the tumor, and it involved removing some of the surrounding muscle to get clear margins. The surgeon had to, in effect, stretch some of the skin from his leg up to the shoulder-site to cover the wound; it is closed with staples.

While Chomp was able to walk immediately and has figured out how to maneuver in his new body, I’m having some concerns about his recovery and wanted to know if I’m freaking out, or if this is all par for the course. He is still on pain meds (we started lightly tapering down on Sunday) and he is exhibiting no signs of pain. However, our once happy and energetic dog now sleeps ALL day. While I understand rest is important for his recovery, he is literally never awake for more than 15-30 minutes at a time. In addition, he seems unable to walk for more than 30~ yards without becoming exhausted and needing to lie down. He still wags his tail when he wakes up in the morning and when new people enter the house, but other than that he is totally out of it. Additionally, I have some concerns about the wound itself. The surgeon still has it completely wrapped in bandages (so I’ve never seen the whole site), but the exposed part still looks pretty nasty. While the wound seems to be closing, the exposed skin is still totally bruised and there are new dried blood spots (light) on the bandage almost daily. Should the skin still be bruised at this point? He is supposed to have the staples removed in two days, but I don’t see how that’s possible based on what I see. 

THANK YOU AGAIN SO MUCH for any thoughts you can provide. The recovery process is way harder than I had imagined! On instagram @chompthetripawd

The Rainbow Bridge



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27 August 2019 - 10:48 pm
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Hi guys, welcome. Chomp sounds like a real sweetie, I’m sorry he’s feeling so down.

Have you talked to your vet about your concerns? At 12 days out he should be getting his sparkle back. Not up to his old normal, but a little more than what you are describing. What kind of pain meds is he on? How much and how often? His dosage could be too high, or, sometimes what you are describing (lack of energy, sleepiness) can be pain signals that dogs give.  

Also, about his incision. Bruising is normal, but is should be clearing up by now. Does the incision area smell at all? Fluid release is normal, it’s called a seroma and it certainly can happen at about this point in time. But the fluid should be more watery than bloody. If there is smelly discharge, then that could be sign of infection. And if that’s the case it could explain his lack of energy. 

Don’t panic but also don’t wait for the two days. Call your vet in the morning and let them know you are concerned and want to bring him in asap. Keep us posted OK? 

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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27 August 2019 - 11:16 pm
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jerry said
Hi guys, welcome. Chomp sounds like a real sweetie, I’m sorry he’s feeling so down.

Have you talked to your vet about your concerns? At 12 days out he should be getting his sparkle back. Not up to his old normal, but a little more than what you are describing. What kind of pain meds is he on? How much and how often? His dosage could be too high, or, sometimes what you are describing (lack of energy, sleepiness) can be pain signals that dogs give.  

Also, about his incision. Bruising is normal, but is should be clearing up by now. Does the incision area smell at all? Fluid release is normal, it’s called a seroma and it certainly can happen at about this point in time. But the fluid should be more watery than bloody. If there is smelly discharge, then that could be sign of infection. And if that’s the case it could explain his lack of energy. 

Don’t panic but also don’t wait for the two days. Call your vet in the morning and let them know you are concerned and want to bring him in asap. Keep us posted OK? 

  

Thanks Jerry. As of today, he is on one Codeine pill every 8 hours. He finished his Gabapentin on Saturday and Sunday and Monday we were doing Codeine every 6 hours. As far as the wound, no smelly discharge. I’m mainly concerned about the coloration because the “bruising” hasn’t improved since the day we picked him up. If anything, some parts of the exposed area are darker than before. Besides smelly discharge, any other symptoms of infection we should be on the look out for?

The Rainbow Bridge



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28 August 2019 - 10:36 am
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Hey there. From what I understand, Codeine is a very mild pain medication and we typically don’t see it prescribed here for amputation surgery recovery. If that’s what your vet prescribed, then I would talk to them about Chomp’s symptoms. He may need to be on something like a Gabapentin, Tramadol and Amantadine combination for a while longer. That is not uncommon at all.

If your vet says pain medication is not necessary, or doesn’t seem receptive to the idea of investigating why Chomp is lacking energy and oomph then follow the advice of Dr. Robin Downing and search for a vet who is more up to date on pain management . We can help you locate some options in your area if you’d like. Also, check out our articles about why AAHA-accredited clinics are a good way to go. 

As for the incision, any infection can present itself as smelly discharge, warm to the touch, lack of energy in the patient and lack of appetite. Don’t wait, call your vet OK? Let us know what they say.

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28 August 2019 - 3:00 pm
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jerry said
Hey there. From what I understand, Codeine is a very mild pain medication and we typically don’t see it prescribed here for amputation surgery recovery. If that’s what your vet prescribed, then I would talk to them about Chomp’s symptoms. He may need to be on something like a Gabapentin, Tramadol and Amantadine combination for a while longer. That is not uncommon at all.

If your vet says pain medication is not necessary, or doesn’t seem receptive to the idea of investigating why Chomp is lacking energy and oomph then follow the advice of Dr. Robin Downing and search for a vet who is more up to date on pain management . We can help you locate some options in your area if you’d like. Also, check out our articles about why AAHA-accredited clinics are a good way to go. 

As for the incision, any infection can present itself as smelly discharge, warm to the touch, lack of energy in the patient and lack of appetite. Don’t wait, call your vet OK? Let us know what they say.

  

Hi Jerry, 

Thanks again for your input – always nice to hear a second opinion! An update on Chomp’s status: on your advice last night, we took our big guy to our local emergency vet (AAHA accredited and sister site from the location that did Chomp’s amp). The ER vet on-site was concerned that parts of the flap of skin used to cover the amp site had started to necrotize and that he might need follow-up surgery to remove the dead skin. She recommended we follow up with his surgeon in the AM. First thing this morning we visited his surgeon (also at an AAHA accredited location) about our concerns. He removed all the bandages and came to the conclusion that he does not think the skin is necrotized. He believes that there’s topical, first-layer bruising on the flap and that the sizable seroma could be slowing down the healing progress. He was pleased with the closure of the wound and removed the staples a day ahead of schedule. He drained some of the seroma fluid and we sent it off to 100% rule out infection. We started a secondary round of antibiotics as a precautionary measure. 

As far as pain is concerned, we are not concerned 🙂 Chomp was on a Gabapentin/Codeine combo for a solid 10 days, and we have been slowly reducing the last few days as he seems fine. We have taken him off the pain meds today and will keep him off of them unless he indicates a need. We think his lethargy stems from a sensitivity to the pain medications. Any time Chomp has had to be medicated, the effects on him are strong, so we’re hoping to see an increase in energy in the next day or so. We have a follow-up appointment on Friday AM to check on the progress of the wound/skin flap post-staple-removal. I will update with any new news!

Virginia




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28 August 2019 - 3:24 pm
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Good  for you for staying on top of things and getting him checked out.  You are an outstanding advocate.

Jerry raised good points and valod possible concerns. I’m  glad you followed  up with your Vet, especially getting rhe incision area checked out.  Guessing the Bet took Chomp’s temperature  and no issue there.

Getting that bandage off and those staples out may perk him up pretty quickly, as well as tweaking the mess.  Wagging tail is a really good sign!!-

It took me about three weeks before I could really start to see my Happy Hannah’s sparkle start to come back on a more routine basis.

Extra smooches to Chomp for us!

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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28 August 2019 - 3:27 pm
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Hey this sounds like a TON of pawgress! That’s so cool. And I’m glad you’re working with AAHA clinics. Yessss! smiley_clap

Don’t furget, you can take advantage of the Tripawds Rehabilitation Reimbursement Fund and get Chomp into an evaluation with a rehab therapist now that he’s on the mend. As a young pup, you’ll want to make extra sure he stays injury free for the rest of his life and getting an evaluation is the best way to start learning how to avoid injuries. The Tripawds Foundation is happy to pay for your first rehab visit so click on the link for more info 🙂

And we’ll await an update. Great work!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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29 August 2019 - 10:55 am
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So glad you were able to get in and get an evaluation from your vet! 

Our forelimb amputee, Grover, took a bit longer to bounce back than some (he’s also an older guy at 10ish) but we really felt like we hit the “home free” mark at 3 weeks. I think that changing their gate, as forelimb amputees, is a lot of work (lots of hopping!) which gives them more of a work out. We went from hiking for a few hours several times a week before surgery to needing to stop and take breaks just to hop around the apartment building. 

Every dog is different … but codeine and opioids in general make Grover incredibly lethargic and mentally out of it. The caveat I will say though is that although we had an awesome initial recovery I think we started reducing pain mediations to soon which ultimately set us back. It’s a hard balance to create. 

I second what Jerry said — Rehab has been incredibly helpful for us in the recovery period!

Good luck with you boy — I hope all tests come back clean on his incision! 

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29 August 2019 - 2:19 pm
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jkopper said
So glad you were able to get in and get an evaluation from your vet! 

Our forelimb amputee, Grover, took a bit longer to bounce back than some (he’s also an older guy at 10ish) but we really felt like we hit the “home free” mark at 3 weeks. I think that changing their gate, as forelimb amputees, is a lot of work (lots of hopping!) which gives them more of a work out. We went from hiking for a few hours several times a week before surgery to needing to stop and take breaks just to hop around the apartment building. 

Every dog is different … but codeine and opioids in general make Grover incredibly lethargic and mentally out of it. The caveat I will say though is that although we had an awesome initial recovery I think we started reducing pain mediations to soon which ultimately set us back. It’s a hard balance to create. 

I second what Jerry said — Rehab has been incredibly helpful for us in the recovery period!

Good luck with you boy — I hope all tests come back clean on his incision! 

  

Thank you so much for the reply. Your situation sounds very similar to what we’ve been experiencing. I think a combo of the meds and the extra work have been contributing to some of his drowsiness/general laze. He’s been able to get up and around OK since day one, just seems like such an effort.

We fully stopped all pain meds yesterday, after 13 days, and he seems to be doing just fine. If anything, he’s been more alert and has more “life” in his eyes. We follow up about the incision tomorrow, and are hoping he will be in the clear – I’ll update then. We are definitely going to use the rehab consultation offer. Any way we can exercise Chomp to help him rebuild strength and stamina will be so meaningful to our family. 

I appreciate you sharing your experience and your support sp_hearticon2

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29 August 2019 - 2:25 pm
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Don’t furget, you can take advantage of the Tripawds Rehabilitation Reimbursement Fund and get Chomp into an evaluation with a rehab therapist now that he’s on the mend. As a young pup, you’ll want to make extra sure he stays injury free for the rest of his life and getting an evaluation is the best way to start learning how to avoid injuries. The Tripawds Foundation is happy to pay for your first rehab visit so click on the link for more info 🙂  

Thank you so much for this offer and this information. My husband and I have been talking about ways to help Chomp after his initial recovery period, and this sounds like a great first step. The fund is so meaningful and so generous; we will happily take you up on the offer.

Everybody’s support here has been incredible, and I can’t tell you how much that means to this nervous momma. The last two weeks have been some of the most stressful ones in my life, and it’s been so amazing to have somewhere to turn. Besides keeping the community updated and offering support to other newcomers who feel like I’ve been feeling, what other support can Tripawds use? Is there a place where we can promote the community? Do Etsy purchases help fund the rehab program? How can I best give back?

Thank you from the bottom of my heart. sp_hearticon2sp_hearticon2

The Rainbow Bridge



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29 August 2019 - 3:40 pm
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So glad that Chomp is doing well today, and also to hear you’re entertaining the idea of taking him to rehab! You will find it so valuable. I wish we had known about it for Jerry. Now that we do know about rehab, our Wyatt Ray has benefited tremendously.

Besides keeping the community updated and offering support to other newcomers who feel like I’ve been feeling, what other support can Tripawds use? Is there a place where we can promote the community? Do Etsy purchases help fund the rehab program? How can I best give back?

Paw shucks thank you for asking! Admin and I are smiling big with gratitude (we are Spirit Jerry’s parents, by the way), thank you.

So yes there are TONS of ways you can help! Our How to Support Tripawds page has all the ways you can help. Plus, you can download or request Tripawds Amputation Outreach brochures for your vet clinic to help get the word out! As far as Tripawds Jewelry Shop purchases, they don’t help fund the rehab program directly (that comes through donations) but they are one way we cover the cost of keeping Tripawds going.  And of course jumping in to offer support to worried pet parents is pawesome! Sometimes we aren’t able to get to the Forums right away and when someone can be there for another member when we can’t, it’s an incredible help. Thanks again!

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29 August 2019 - 7:04 pm
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So yes there are TONS of ways you can help! Our How to Support Tripawds page has all the ways you can help. Plus, you can download or request Tripawds Amputation Outreach brochures for your vet clinic to help get the word out! As far as Tripawds Jewelry Shop purchases, they don’t help fund the rehab program directly (that comes through donations) but they are one way we cover the cost of keeping Tripawds going.  And of course jumping in to offer support to worried pet parents is pawesome! Sometimes we aren’t able to get to the Forums right away and when someone can be there for another member when we can’t, it’s an incredible help. Thanks again!

Again, thanks for having so much information at the ready – I should’ve known that would be the case smiley4 I downloaded the pamphlets and will take a few copies with me to the vet tomorrow, and email them the PDFs. My surgeon actually referred me to the site (he learned of it from another one of his patients who had discovered the community online), but didn’t have any handouts. This should be an easy first step! I also ordered a bandana and pin and are looking forward to wearing them with pride. I also changed you to my amazon smile recipient – our Amazon addiction should have you racking up mini-donations in no time smiley2

The Rainbow Bridge



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30 August 2019 - 7:17 am
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Well thank you so so much! We are truly grateful and please give your vet our thanks!

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4 September 2019 - 8:46 pm
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Hey how is Chomp doing these days? Hope things are great!

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5 September 2019 - 2:25 pm
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jerry said
Hey how is Chomp doing these days? Hope things are great!

  

Hi Jerry, thanks for checking in! Chomp is doing very well! His tumor was in his shoulder, so his amputation was a fairly massive surgery – removing more than just the leg. As such, he had a large wound that required grafting. Since his initial surgery, half of the skin graft is healing nicely, the other half is at risk of necrosis. If that graft necrotizes, he will have to undergo another surgery to remove the dead skin and make another attempt at closing the wound. 

So far, the skin is hanging on for dear life smiley_clap We go back once or twice a week so that the surgeon can keep a close eye on the progress. So far, we’ve been able to drain about 1,000 MLs of seroma fluid (gross) from the area, and we think removing that helps the graft lay as flat as possible and is contributing to the healing process. At our last appointment two days ago, the entire wound was looking marginally better, so we’re hoping to be able to push off another procedure. For now, Chomp still has bandages covering his skin graft/chest to provide compression. 

As far as his demeanor, I couldn’t be happier. As we dosed down his meds, he got a little more alert every day. However, it was the removal of the staples that was a real game-changer. As soon as they came out, he’s been alert, happy, and wanting to do more physical activity. He’s been cleared to go on walks, so we are working on building up his stamina. He can do about 200 yards now until he becomes exhausted, but what an improvement! Seeing his ears perk up and him hop to the door whenever I ask “do you want to go on walkies?” makes my heart melt sp_hearticon2sp_hearticon2

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