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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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Front tripawd + degenerative myelopathy - what to do?
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Forum Posts: 4
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27 September 2020 - 7:37 am
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Last November, I wrote in for my grumpy gramps Castro (WGSD. he just turned 15 2 weeks ago!) who had a front amp on his left leg due to osteosarcoma. He’s also supremely arthritic in his hips. He’s had nothing showing up on his x-rays since, but about 3 weeks ago (Sunday), he got his leg stuck under the car seat and was tugging pretty hard to get it out. Got him out, and he walked fine, with none the limp whatsoever.

The next day, he couldn’t stand at all on his left back leg. For the next 4 – 5 days, he was coping by using his back right leg more (which is his weakest leg and he favours it. He knuckled and crossed only when tired), but on Saturday, it all went downhill. He wasn’t able to stand at all, and his right leg was so straight and unbendable. Refused to put any weight on it, and would knuckle every single time. It would also stick out diagonally towards the left. His left back leg looked like it got better though, so we thought maybe it was just his right leg giving out since it’s always been the weakest. He was also peeing whenever we carried him because he would hold in his pee and poop just cause he wasn’t comfortable standing and it was overflowing.  

Brought him to the vet, no lesions found on the xrays, and he’d still had anal and bladder tone. Vet said could either be degenerative myelopathy or FCE (most likely DM). 1 week later, his left leg started to knuckle as well (right has no change). Essentially, both his back legs don’t function anymore. We got him a wheelchair so he can at least stay upright for some time during the day and stay off his hips because he’s so uncomfortable lying on his side and he’d frantically spin in a circle trying to get up or just whale on the floor and head smash trying to get up. The amount of frustration he’s going through is so unreal. 

It’s now the third week and he’s lost anal tone. I’ve been expressing his bladder for the past 2.5 weeks, and now stimulating his bowels because it just leaks out with no one knowing. He also has stomach issues now, and has always had a sensitive stomach, so his stomach’s been hurting him recently but he can’t go. He’s on gabapentin and amantadine, but those don’t help with the abdominal pain. I give him omezaprole to help pad the stomach before his painkillers, and gaviscon for the gas, but i can’t help his stomach discomfort. He’s still eating and drinking well, but I know that his immobility is making him so frustrated and he absolutely hates being so dependent. Being a tripawd was already a hit to his pride, but now…I don’t know what to do to make it better anymore. 

Thoughts? Has anybody else had the same situation (amp + DM)? What did you do?

The Rainbow Bridge



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27 September 2020 - 2:18 pm
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Hi Castro and family, welcome. Your future posts won’t need to wait for approval so post away.

I read every word you wrote and one thing just kept ringing true: your love for this boy is beyond measure! That sweet ol’ grumpy doggie of yours is a fighter and so are you. Most people would have given up when he got the diagnosis but obviously you could read his heart and know that he had lots more living to do. And it sure sounds like he has. What a gift!

My heart aches knowing that he’s going through so much discomfort. His pain medications sound good, and clearly you’re doing all you can for his current situation. I guess my questions are: what is the vet’s plan to proceed? Will there be any treatment? I know that with DM there is no cure, but there are things you can do with physio therapy to help him become more comfortable. Did the vet recommend any physio? Also, has he been tested for DM or given diagnostics like a MRI to make sure you know what you’re dealing with, if you plan to treat whatever conditions are suspected? Finally, I would want another opinion from a second vet, a neurologist, if at all possible. 

I hope this helps. Stay tuned for insight from others and please keep us posted. Your boy sounds like such a sweetie. sf-kiss

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27 September 2020 - 5:30 pm
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jerry said
Hi Castro and family, welcome. Your future posts won’t need to wait for approval so post away.

I read every word you wrote and one thing just kept ringing true: your love for this boy is beyond measure! That sweet ol’ grumpy doggie of yours is a fighter and so are you. Most people would have given up when he got the diagnosis but obviously you could read his heart and know that he had lots more living to do. And it sure sounds like he has. What a gift!

My heart aches knowing that he’s going through so much discomfort. His pain medications sound good, and clearly you’re doing all you can for his current situation. I guess my questions are: what is the vet’s plan to proceed? Will there be any treatment? I know that with DM there is no cure, but there are things you can do with physio therapy to help him become more comfortable. Did the vet recommend any physio? Also, has he been tested for DM or given diagnostics like a MRI to make sure you know what you’re dealing with, if you plan to treat whatever conditions are suspected? Finally, I would want another opinion from a second vet, a neurologist, if at all possible. 

I hope this helps. Stay tuned for insight from others and please keep us posted. Your boy sounds like such a sweetie. sf-kiss

  

Thanks Jerry! Castro has been going for hydrotherapy and physio every week since his surgery, and he was getting so strong and muscled up! Currently the physio or swim isn’t helping much as he doesn’t seem any different after it. We’ve started acupuncture as well but the doctor isn’t too positive about it either. We even get a nurse who’s experienced in physio to come by the house every alternate day to help him out. We live in Singapore, so there aren’t too many specialists and diagnostics like an MRI cost about $4,000 and not easily available. 

The vet’s definitely leaving the decision up to us, but he has mentioned to be prepared. Currently I feel Castro’s just experiencing a lot of frustration and keeps trying again and again to get up (the boy can go on for hours, he’s that persistent) which I’m worried he’ll end up hurting himself more. 

Virginia




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27 September 2020 - 9:32 pm
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To know that, up until recently Grumpy Gramps Castro has been doing so well, just warms my heart.

AND it also warms my heart to know how very loved and cared for Castro is.  As Jerry said, your love for him is veyond measure.

This boy is an extraordinary example of how a very mature boy can handle being a tripawd.  Such a powerful  inspiration  for any “senior” dogs facing the possibility  of becoming a tripawd.

You said in your post,  “I don’t  know what to do  to make it better anymore”.  

Maybe a process that can help you with this daunting  situation is to be clear on what  it means to you “to make it better”.

What do you think it means to Castro “to make it better”?

What stands out to me is you have left no stone unturned.   You are already doing, and have been doing, some of Jerry’s suggestions.  The lengths you have gone to give Castro the best life possible shows the depth of your love and bond.  Such a testament  to your commitment to doing anything and everything possible for your Castro.

Obviously I’m not a Vet I have no  medical advice or advice on any therapy.  It seems that you jave gotten fairly good input from uour Vet and the Acupuncturist. PT, etc.  I’m sure Warrior Castro is frustrated  as I’m sure you are. 

I am in complete awe the lengths you have gone to to help Castro.  No matter what happens in the future, you can take co fort in that.  You can take comfort in Castro knowing  how much you love him….and you knowing how much his grumpy self loves you!!♥️

FWIW sometimes as our seinors go into their “Sunset” years and their earth time will eventually  run it’s natural course. we have to weigh our options a little differently.  Knowing  our time may (or may not)  be somewhat limited, our focus on quality becomes more and more important and more specific to each dog.  You know Castro better than anyone.  You know what level of pride is important to him.  You know what level of dignity is important to him.  You know how important it is for Castro to be able to be Castro better than anyone else..  Do you think Castro’s ability to be Castro has diminished to a point where the scales are tipping oit of his favor?  I’m  not saying they have at all…..just throwing some  random thought out there.

Keep us posted and give Castro a big smooch for us.  Give him any yummy food or will eat….and that includes  ice cream and cake!  Some good massages  may help him relax.  You can maybe ask the Bet about a  mild sedative  to help I’m relax and not try so hard to get 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!


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28 September 2020 - 9:00 am
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DM is possible but usually progresses much more slowly over months or years. FCE is a sudden event and is also common in large breed dogs and some dogs can get better over time. The other possibility in a shepherd is disc disease or tumor in the spinal cord although these are usually somewhat painful. Unfortunately the only way to know for sure is an MRI and that might not change things for your dog. There is a genetic blood test for DM but once again it may not change the outcome.

I would continue the physical therapy and acupuncture but ultimately your dog will usually let you know if he has had enough. The loss of bladder or bowel control can  be frustrating for a dog because they don’t understand it but if you can keep him clean and dry and can control any pain then I would say take one day at a time and spoil him as much as possible.

Pam

The Rainbow Bridge



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28 September 2020 - 12:12 pm
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Dr. Pam, thank you so much for your thoughtful expertise, it is greatly appreciated.

Castro’s people, you are so amazing. I love that he is getting all the physio and care for his condition, what a lucky boy. We’ve had a few members from Signapore join us over the years and the quality of vet care sounds outstanding (and even the MRI cost is close to what it would cost here in the states).

One last thought: has your vet mentioned using Prednisone as a temporary quality of life booster? Maybe Dr. Pam can weigh in on that one, I’m not sure if it’s ideal for his situation but thought I’d mention it. 

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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29 September 2020 - 1:29 am
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Thank you for your words! Castro’s still enjoying food and drinks water like he will never see it again. At this point, we’re just seeing how he adapts and what we can do to make him more comfortable. 

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29 September 2020 - 1:36 am
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tazziedog said
DM is possible but usually progresses much more slowly over months or years. FCE is a sudden event and is also common in large breed dogs and some dogs can get better over time. The other possibility in a shepherd is disc disease or tumor in the spinal cord although these are usually somewhat painful. Unfortunately the only way to know for sure is an MRI and that might not change things for your dog. There is a genetic blood test for DM but once again it may not change the outcome.

I would continue the physical therapy and acupuncture but ultimately your dog will usually let you know if he has had enough. The loss of bladder or bowel control can  be frustrating for a dog because they don’t understand it but if you can keep him clean and dry and can control any pain then I would say take one day at a time and spoil him as much as possible.

Pam

  

Thank you Dr. Pam!

The vet did say he discussed it with his team and there could be any number of possibilities, but largely not curable. We did consider the tumour pressing on a nerve, which was why we’d stopped laser therapy on his spine just in case. We’ll definitely continue with his treatment and spoiling him, but now, his sensitive stomach’s an issue that’s causing him a lot of discomfort with bloating, which I’m worried might turn into GDV. He’s currently getting metoclopramide shots for this, which makes him much more comfortable. His stomach bloats up quite a bit during the night and he usually wakes up and starts thrashing around and looking frantic. He’s also panting much more as well, which I feel will end up being a cycle with the bloating (he also had severe bronchitis when we got him, which his previous owners never treated).  

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