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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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Ginger's Fibrosarcoma Recovery
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21 September 2019 - 10:51 am
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We started this adventure here: https://tripawd…..e/#p224597

So far, …

AMAZING

Only 42 hours post surgery:

  • She wants to go for a walk (but we’re limiting her to standing or walking for only 5 minutes at a time with a lot of rest in between – and we have to actively limit it – she wants to be up and about)
  • She moaned a little, off and on, overnight but didn’t seem in any distress – stopped with a little attention – someone stayed up with her all night to keep her from licking the incision so she wouldn’t have to wear the collar – she keeps wanting to lick it so we’re going to need to find a longer term solution for that.  She only slept 2 hours – move from place to place in the room about every 30-45 minutes but then would sit mostly quietly (she’s not a vocal dog in general – never makes a sound unless there are coyotes on the street)
  • Going down the three stairs from the house to the driveway with no problem – she is a little more tentative going up – she stands at the bottom for a minute or two until I encourage her to get started and then hops right up.  She’s ignoring the ramp
  • Took her medication, eating her favorite treat, ate dinner, drinking lots of water
  • Wagging her tail and licking everyone as usual

I didn’t believe it could be true when I read so many stories saying other dogs were up and about in a day or two, but she’s doing so well. I know there will still be rough days ahead.  The anesthetic hasn’t worn off yet – that will be tomorrow afternoon.

Good thoughts for Fuzz and Arwen too.  I hope everyone is doing OK. sp_hearticon2  (And to the guy who posted somewhere to tell the neighbor to Eat My Shorts if they didn’t like looking at the incision, thank you.  That made me laugh so hard yesterday for the first time in weeks.)

Virginia




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21 September 2019 - 11:12 am
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WOW!!!!  GINGER IS DOING SOOOOO WELL!!!  And you are doing an excellent job of monitoring  her and ensuring she’s  getting proper care.😎

And yes, continue to watch her of she doesn’t  have a cone on.  We’ve seen way too often and dog jave ro g0 in and be restitched fot a ripped up incision.  A tee shirt can help, but they can still get to the incision  through it and pull out the stitches. 

My Happy Hannah was so very restless too the first several nights.  Sleep was pretty much non-existent.   Fortunately that part of recovery passed and sleep became a welcomed friend again.

For Ginger to be drinking,  eating, pottying, all great news!!!   She really is doing so very well.  As you noted though, slow and easy.

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!

Here and Now


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21 September 2019 - 12:36 pm
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Thanks for the great update! We’ve edited your topic title here since it was identical to your other thread: Ginger’s Adventure.

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22 September 2019 - 5:15 pm
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Ginger is still doing very well today.  She’s moving around better (and faster) every day.

We took her a few yards down the street to one of her favorite places to do her business, but she still didn’t go.  So, we’re going to try some pumpkin in her dinner tonight.

The bruising on her belly is becoming concerning (well below the incision point – there don’t appear to be any significant changes directly at the incision site).  She had a few bruises on her belly when we brought her home, but they have gotten deeper red and slightly larger in two days.  I sent pictures to the doctor of what that area looked like when we brought her home Friday and one taken this afternoon.  So, hopefully she will let us know tomorrow morning if we should be concerned.  

Julia

The Rainbow Bridge



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22 September 2019 - 5:22 pm
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Hi Julia,
Glad to hear she is getting around. Pumpkin is a great idea to get things moving along! And most dogs think it’s tasty too.

As for the bruising, try not to panic. It’s good that you contacted your vet but most times the bruising is typical. It’s normal for it to get darker before it gets lighter and as long as it’s not a deep brownish and yellowish color she’s probably having a normal reaction to the wound trauma. But let us know what your vet says.

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




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22 September 2019 - 7:25 pm
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I know Ginger was happy to be outside, even if it was a poopicon–free event😉  poopicon will happen and then everyone will feel better.

Good job of monitoring her bruising  and keeping the Vet in the loop.  If you want to, post the pictures here so others can learn what amount of bruising is normal, or not.

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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22 September 2019 - 9:25 pm
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I can’t figure out how to attach an image.  I see the icon for insert/edit image.  It brings up a dialog box with a “source” field, but I can’t figure out how to point it to the location of the image on my hard drive.  (I’m on a MAC)

The doctor said the bruising isn’t unusual for an amputation and recommended that we put a T-shirt on Ginger if we don’t want to use the cone, making sure it doesn’t impede her in any way.

The Rainbow Bridge



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22 September 2019 - 10:54 pm
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Hi Julia, please see these instructions for adding images . You can’t upload direct from your hard drive. The pix must first be uploaded to an image sharing site or your own Tripawd’s blog, then you copy the image url and return to your forum post to paste it. If that doesn’t help and you would like a tutorial let me know ok?

And yep, a little bruising is to be expected. 

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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23 September 2019 - 10:06 am
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Thank you for the pointer to the photo instructions.  I’ll look into it.  

(I know all of you have already been through this – so I’m wondering why I’m continuing to write Ginger’s history – but I realized that when we were trying to figure out what to do, reading some of your day-to-day experiences in your posts gave me a better feel for what we might be facing.  So, maybe someday someone will read Ginger’s history and at least be a little better informed about one possibility of what they could be facing.)

The doctor called with the pathology report for Ginger’s leg (they sent the entire amputated leg to the lab for analysis).

  • High grade soft tissue fibrosarcoma.  (The biopsy had indicated medium grade, so it’s more aggressive than we thought.)
  • Good margins:  5 cm gross margins; smallest margin 2.7 cm – that’s very good margins for this type of cancer
  • No indication of cancer in the lymph node that was removed during the surgery
  • Path forward (for this tumor):  ultrasound of the abdomen in 3-6 months to look at the lymph nodes in the abdomen

Since this is high grade, it increases the possibility that the mass in the spleen could be related (even though there was no evidence of localized spread beyond the leg in the pathology report).

Continue with plans to ultrasound the spleen Oct 3 (two weeks post-surgery).  If see any change, remove the spleen as soon as Ginger has sufficiently recovered from the amputation surgery to undergo another major surgery.  If no change, then we can probably wait about a month between the two surgeries to give her a little more time to recover.  But, either way the spleen should come out.  Spleen mass isn’t a good candidate for needle aspiration (likely to just get blood), and to try to biopsy it is almost as extensive as removing it given the location of the mass.  

So, mostly very good news with a little bad (high grade).

Ginger continues to do great.  I continue to be amazed – sometimes when I watch her walk from the front, if I didn’t know she was missing a leg I wouldn’t notice it.

The pumpkin workedsmiley2.  She walked about 100 yards out and back this morning along her normal morning route, walking as fast as she did before the surgery.  We’re only letting her walk 5-10 minutes, but she wants to go further.

She is still tentative going up stairs (no hesitation going down), but if we let her think about it for a minute, she goes up.  She is also a little tentative sitting down – sort of flops on her butt.  I guess it’s hard to balance when she is trying to sit, and sometimes she falls a little onto the amputated side.

The only other unusual aspect is that about 2 hours before she is due to take her medication (twice a day), she gets anxious – won’t sit still unless someone is petting her – paces around the house.  She never used to do that unless something was actually scaring her (thunder, fireworks).  A little while after she takes her medication, she seems to calm down.  Maybe it’s coincidence, but that’s been the general timeline for the past two days.  So, maybe the gabapentin is really helping to keep her calm and pain free.  She shows no evidence of pain – she wants to be walking during that time – doesn’t wince or moan if I touch the amputation site (I generally don’t just in case it does hurt, but we pet it gently a few times a day to look for any changes in it or to see if she has a new pain reaction as an indication that something might be going wrong there).  She did accidentally walk into Nick’s leg yesterday and bump the incision site against his knee pretty hard.  She winced at that.  So, I know she can feel pain there.

The redness today is about the same as yesterday.  My theory (I’m not a doctor) is that her licking her sensitive belly with her rough tongue is simply irritating the skin.  It looks like a skin irritation – and it’s not close to the incision.  Previously she had hair on her belly that would have isolated the skin from her tongue, but since they shaved that area for the surgery she doesn’t have that buffer.  The doctor recommended having her wear a T-shirt (tied up so she doesn’t trip on it) if we don’t want to use the clinic collar.  We may try that during the day, but we’re reluctant to have her wear anything overnight when we’re not awake in case she gets tied up in it somehow and we’re not there to help her.  Mostly we’ll just be more conscious of stopping her if she starts to lick.

The doctor did say that licking the incision site and surrounding area makes her more prone to infection.  Given the spleen issues, infection is even more serious.  So, we need to be careful.

It’s a good day.  Our wonder-dog is doing great.



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23 September 2019 - 10:17 am
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Ginger is doing great!

I just wanted to suggest changing the medication times. For example for my cat is was 2-3 times a day. I went with 2 and then realized she was uncomfortable before the next dosage time. The vet said to give her the meds every 8 hours (3 times a day) rather than every 12 hours. It seemed to work better. Perhaps you could try 3 times a day after checking with the vet to confirm the dosage.

Kerren and Tripawd Kitty Mona

Virginia




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23 September 2019 - 2:31 pm
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And we have poopiconpoopiconsmiley_clapsmiley_clap  YAAAAY FOR GINGER THE WONDER DOG!!!  And going 100 yards is quite a little jaunt this early on.  She’s  doing so very well!!

I’ve forgotten who ust posted the picture of their brilliant idea of how to customize  a tee shirt so it won’t  slip or slide or get tangled up.  Zo that’s  when I go JERRY…or any of you techie wizards…can you find it for her ?

And yes, we love that you are taking the time to post anything and everything about Ginger! We all learn from each other which is what makes this site so informative for everyone. 

You and your Vet team are doing a great job of monitoring  her and continuing  with plans that are in her best interest.  In the meantime,  remember  to flow Ginger’s lead and enjoy the NOW!  Enjoy BEING MORE DOG!  Ginger sure is enjoying being Ginger!

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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23 September 2019 - 3:57 pm
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I totally agree that sharing Ginger’s story here is a huge help for everyone, now and in the future. So thanks! 

Looks like you guys have a plan of action once she is healed. That is a huge relief I’ll bet. And a spleen removal is a piece of cake compared to amputation surgery. At least now you know what you are dealing with.

Meanwhile here is a photo of the shirt that Sally mentioned (at least I think the one she is thinking of?). 

https://tripawd…..r-incision

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
Latest Tripawds News
Read my story here.

Support the Tripawds Foundation!

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25 September 2019 - 9:36 am
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Ginger continues to do well – no major setbacks but she really wasn’t herself in the past day and a half.

Didn’t eat any dinner on Monday night.  Moaned a few times yesterday (no obvious reason) and had to be encouraged to eat her dinner.  Didn’t want to be petted, turned her head, and actually walked away from me when I tried to pet her (I don’t think she ever did that before).

She didn’t get to sit in her favorite spot outside on Monday (the ants were bad outside, so she had to sit in the garage instead of the yard).  She was in the house all day yesterday, which is unusual and she doesn’t like (it was over 90 degrees outside, so we kept her in the house with the air conditioner on).  So, that could have contributed to her malaise – she really likes sitting in the yard.  We also made her wear a T-shirt all day yesterday to keep her from licking her incision site, so maybe she didn’t like that.  (But, the T-shirt actually worked very well to keep the wound covered – we used a tank-style shirt which eliminated the problems we had with regular T-shirts which didn’t fit well around the shoulders and were too loose around her belly.)

Physically, I don’t see any differences or set backs.  The bruising and redness is better than it was on Sunday.  She took all of her medication (eventually – a little late a few times because she wouldn’t take it at the normal time).

She took her medication this morning.  And, she should be able to sit outside today (assuming the ants cooperate) which should make her a little happier.  

She continues to get around well.  She doesn’t hesitate going up the stairs anymore but does have trouble with them.  She misses a step or her rear leg collapses, but she gets there (it’s only three steps).  She doesn’t seem to have trouble going down.

So, a little bit of a set back emotionally – she’s not as happy and engaged as she had been – but we’ll keep an eye and keep hoping that she’s not experiencing any new pain.

The Rainbow Bridge



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25 September 2019 - 11:07 am
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Oh those pesky ants! Yuk. I hope they’re gone today. Maybe smothering them in diatomaceous earth (the edible kind) will help?

Well, I can’t blame her for having the blahs. Between the weather (it’s 100 here this week!) and just feeling icky from the meds and recovery in general, her behavior seems relatively normal. You’re good at keeping an eye on things so if she seems to get worse you know what to do.

In the meantime I hope she gets to enjoy the outdoors today. Maybe a car ride will perk her up?

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
Latest Tripawds News
Read my story here.

Support the Tripawds Foundation!

Virginia




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25 September 2019 - 12:24 pm
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Yeah, agree with Jerry, her behavior this early on with a good day and less good day is fairly normal.  Every little thing….wearing the tee…the heat…not getting outside….sore muscles as she adjusts to three…all these things can  cause attitude  changes during recovery.

I know we’ve  probably  mentioned this a million times before, so sorry to repeat it.  It is harder for a rear legger to go up steps, even just three.  That rear leg is doing all the push off work that two strong legs used to do.  I doubt she will let you help her, but if you can help just enough  to make sure that back leg doesn’t  collapse and doesn’t  get harmed you might try.  Ginger  is a determined and strong willed gal and probably  will insist on doing those stairs on her own!  And clearly she can! 

Thanks for the update.  Give yourself a big pat on the back for doing  such a great job of caring for her and monitoring  her.  Really!   Give yourself a congratulatory pat on rhe baxk! You deserve it!!

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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