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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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Have to choose between two types of amputation for dog, advice needed.
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Member Since:
14 February 2016
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8 December 2016 - 4:32 am
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Wow!  Just great that your friends and family are helping you out so much through your go fund me page! 

Otis - 106 pound lab/Dane mix, lost his right front leg to osteosarcoma on Febuary 9, 2016.  Four rounds of carboplatin completed in April, 2016.  Lung mets August 25, 2016.  Said goodbye too soon on September 4, 2016.   Lost his adopted sister, Tess, suddenly on October 9, 2016. likely due to hemangiosarcoma.  

Wherever they are, they are together.

Los Angeles, CA
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8 December 2016 - 10:40 am
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calipol2009 said
Hi Alison and Jerry,
Sorry for my silence, I needed a break from the constant researching. It was taking a toll on me. Thank you for your replies.
Alsion, I did go to Access to meet with Dr. Alice, the oncologist. She said that Access is good but will charge quite a lot. Would you mind if I asked how much they charged you? I wish I could recall the exact total (Shelby had many surgeries) but her amputation was the cheapest, I think. I think $1500 - $2000. 

I am going to meet with the board certified surgeon she recommended for me tomorrow for a consultation. After reading what everyone has had to say, I think I will likely go for a full amputation. I was told an estimate of $2000 - $2,500 -- I shall see if that is true. 
My next biggest concern is immediate post operation care. Dr. Alica said that in order to save money Saba can be taken home after the surgery. I have read on here and above in this same thread that it may not be a great idea to do so. Are there any tips for me if I were to take her home after the surgery?

Alison, did you leave your dog at access? I did leave Shelby at the vet for 2 days/nights. My main reason is that I live alone and Shelby would have been home alone while I was at work. And yes, I could have taken time off but I was scared. I was scared to be alone with her once she was a tripawd (as silly as that sounds since I brought her home after her leg broke and was splinted). But it was peace of mind, 24/7 care and that was indeed extra. I think for her amputation, plus her stay, it was upward of $5,000. The overnight care is pricey but also priceless and they had visiting hours (at least in Culver City) so I could go see her. Would you happen to know how much that costs additionally? Unfortunately I am a recent college grad and though I have a decent paying job, money is an issue (as it is for everyone). Thankfully I started a GoFundMe page that so far has 60% of whats needed.
Thank you for all your responses, I greatly appreciate them.
- Marcin  

It is really great that your GoFundME page is helping you raise the funds for Saba. Also, I would like to offer that I applied for a Care Credit - credit card that offers assistance with medical bills. I think you basically get extra time to pay them off before interest in charged. That was a huge help to me financially. It allowed me to put the bills on the credit card and have several months to pay off before getting hit w/any interest. Shelby's total vet bills over the course of almost a year were outstanding (I told her it was her college fund). 

But I do know dogs that come home the day of surgery and as long as they are confined with very limited mobility (basically just out to pee and poop), they recover well. Sheba would definitely need to be crated. And if you have other pets in the home, keep them away from her. Rest, rest, rest!!! 

Oh and also, another reason I had Shelby stay at the vet longer was for me to get some rest. Bringing her home was akin to bringing a new baby home (I suppose as I don't have any) but you don't get much sleep either. BUT it is doable and if you need to save some $$$, I am sure your vet will send you home with proper pain meds (hardcore ones not just 'advil'), pain patch and advice!!! HUGS!!! Keep us posted! And feel free to call our hotline with other questions too! smiley

Shelby Lynne; Jack Russell/Shiba Inu mix. Proud member of the April Angels of 2014.

October 15, 2000 to April 8, 2014

Our story: Broke rear leg in June 2013 - non-conclusive results for cancer so leg was plated and pinned. Enlarged spleen in September 2013 and had it removed and was diagnosed with Hemangiosarcoma and started chemotherapy. Became a Tripawd January 8th, 2014 and definitive Hemangiosarcoma diagnosis. Three major surgeries in 7 months and Shelby took them all like a champ only to lose her battle to cancer in her brain. We had 8 amazing extra months together and no regrets. #shelbystrong #loveofmylife

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8 December 2016 - 10:57 am
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I took Jack home the afternoon of the surgery and it went just fine - I was also a recent graduate at the time and on a tight budget. She was really sleepy the first couple of days and our biggest problems were that she was nervous, a bit confused and restless (especially at night). As long as you're set up with pain meds like Alison recommended, I think you can do it. And people will always be here to help you, along with your vet who will be a phone call away. 

I didn't crate Jack because I was worried about her ability to lay down comfortably, but I did keep her confined to a tiny room where she couldn't climb on anything. 

Scotland, ON
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8 December 2016 - 12:53 pm
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I also brought my sweet Bruce home the same day, our vet does not have after hours staffing. I was very anxious, but it worked out just fine, I didn't crate or confine him, he laid on his bed and wasn't much interested in moving off of it, we also have two other dogs and they would venture over and sniff at Bruce occasionally, but I think they were more interested in his new extra comfy bed then they were in him. I did sleep on the floor with him the first night as he was quite restless, the second night was much better (I was able to sleep on the couch rather than the floor), and Bruce had a much more restful night. By the third day we were pretty much back to our normal routine, other than of course restricted activity for Bruce and only going out for pee/poop breaks accompanied by either me or my husband.

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9 December 2016 - 12:36 am
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My dog Toby just had his rear left leg removed they did leave his hip but the leg is gone. The surgeon wanted him to have it so he could balance when he sat and to help protect his privates. His removal was about $2200. I did take him to an ER vet for the night after surgery and that was about $400 for the 12 hrs he was there. The ER clinic was a board certified clinic so they are a little pricey but it was worth it to me. The vet that did the surgery didn't have overnight staff to care for him. 

I would compare the first couple of days as like taking a baby home. Even now a week later i still am not getting to sleep through the night. 

Maybe plan to take your puppy home but have an ER vets number and let them know you may be contacting them for help if needed. 

Remember to take care of yourself along with your puppy. If possible have someone with you the first day or two after surgery. I know I wanted someone watching my pup while I showered or anytime I needed to walk away from him. 

Sending hugs 

Gail

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11 December 2016 - 6:58 pm
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tobydog99 said

I would compare the first couple of days as like taking a baby home. Even now a week later i still am not getting to sleep through the night. 

Hi Gail, 

Is Toby experiencing pain throughout the night and groaning or is he whining from suddenly not having the leg its self? 

Fortunately I have family members living with me so there will be someone to take care of Saba and the the operation is being done at a clinic that has an over night staff. 

I do have all the necessary pain meds, so hopefully it wont be an extremely rough ride the first few nights.

The decision is causing my a good amount of anxiety, still debating whether its worth amputating or whether I should just try to treat her leg for as long as I can. The surgery is scheduled for Wednesday, i'll probably keep it but I keep questioning whether to go to a 4th independent vet to have one more diagnosis (my original vert who diagnosed Saba reffered me to the Oncologist, who also determined cancer and refereed me to a Board Certified surgeon who she knew, and the surgeon also determined Cancer). 

Yeah I am a bit irrational at this point, its due to the stress of the decision. 

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31 May 2016
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11 December 2016 - 9:01 pm
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Hang in there! You are doing your homework, that's for sure. I'm in the Los Angeles area and my regular vet did Clyde's surgery. He removed the whole leg and scapula (Clyde is a front leg amputee), cost was $3500 which included an overnight stay. I consulted with an oncologist in Ontario at a specialty hospital, he quoted me $4500 to $5000 for the surgery (I'm not sure if there would have been more than one night's stay). Clyde did not have chemo, and is still hopping along more than six months' after surgery. Recovery was not that bad for us - the first few days were tough, but once his staples came out, he was completely back to his happy, goofy self.

You will feel much better having made a decision, no matter what it is. I know I did - I wanted his pain gone and the amputation did just that. I am grateful for every single day I have with him and have not regretted the decision in the least. Good luck to you and your pup!

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12 December 2016 - 11:41 am
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lawcat said
 (Clyde is a front leg amputee),   

Saba will be a front leg amputee as well. Are you using a harness? If so, what kind of harness? I know Tripawds recommends the Ruffwesr Webmaster, the surgeon that is doing my operation recommends the "Help Em Up" harness so I am deciding that now. 

Is there anything else that should be purchased for her to make her life easier? We are going to put rugs everywhere that we can for traction .

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12 December 2016 - 2:10 pm
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Hi there. We use an EZ Dog harness - it was designed for front leg amputees. For me, the decision was based on ease of getting it on and off - the Ruffwear one that a lot of people use has three buckles, and while I'm sure its easy to use - when I'm getting Clyde out of the house, my other dogs are swirling around and its just easier to pop this one over his head and attach the one buckle. It does rotate, but with some practice you'll figure out how to keep it on straight. Over the months, we use it less and less - really now I just put it on him for car rides so I can give him some support getting out of the car.

Another thing that has been great is an elevated feeding station. Its easier for him to balance and eat without having to hang his head down into a dish. Because I have one little dog in my pack, the water bowl is still on the ground and he manages it fine, but for eating I like the elevated one.

T-shirts were very helpful while he was recovering. After his first couple of days, I took his cone of shame off and a t-shirt on (only while I was home and watching him, for when I was gone, back on went the cone of shame ). The t-shirt helps protect the incision area. I got Clyde boy's large t-shirts from Walmart, they were super cheap and help up pretty well. As an added bonus, they look super cute in their t-shirts big-grin

I used yoga mats for non-slip surfaces. They were really easy to maintain, and Clyde quickly figured out to hop on them instead of the hardwood. I've got most of them up now, he's adapted really well to the surfaces in my home (which is small anyway). Keep asking any questions you may have!

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12 December 2016 - 11:30 pm
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Hi Marcin

I am sure you will make the best decision for Saba and you. 

For Toby and I the first couple of days were ok he just needed meds every few hours so it was hard to get much sleep. No major pain issues until 3rd day when we needed to up the Tramadol a little and we added Gabapentin.  He was restless so we added a sedative also but he was sensitive to it and I have stopped that. We get the staples out on Tuesday. 

Gail

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13 December 2016 - 4:41 am
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We used the Ruffwear Webmaster Plus harness.  I never had any problems putting it on Otis, but I think it depends on which front leg is missing.  Others on this site have used the Help Em Up harness, or the EZ Dog harness. Look in the gear blog - there are several harnesses there.  Tripawds does not "recommend" only one.

The first week or so is very much like having a new baby.  Sleep when the baby sleeps.  Fortunately, the med schedule eases up and many dogs perk up when the staples come out.  A hard two weeks, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.  The 3rd day crash Gail describes in quite common around days 3 - 5 when the hospital meds wear off.  Many of us had to work with our vets to adjust pain meds at that time.  Just keep an eye out for pain signs (panting and restlessness could be signs of pain) and do not let her overdo it - just short leashed potty breaks and lots of rest.

You are doing great.  And if you choose to amputate, I bet Saba will amaze you with how well she does.

Gail - Great to hear that Toby is doing so well!

Otis - 106 pound lab/Dane mix, lost his right front leg to osteosarcoma on Febuary 9, 2016.  Four rounds of carboplatin completed in April, 2016.  Lung mets August 25, 2016.  Said goodbye too soon on September 4, 2016.   Lost his adopted sister, Tess, suddenly on October 9, 2016. likely due to hemangiosarcoma.  

Wherever they are, they are together.



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13 December 2016 - 9:41 am
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Hi Marcin & Saba 💖🐶

Eurydice is a very large Great Dane who lost her front leg (and shoulder) to osteo 7 1/2 months ago.

We used a soft harness over a t-shirt until stitches cane out and then switched to a ruff wear harness which I swear by. 

For very large dogs I find it crucial to have a solid harness (the handle is just brilliant) to help them get up, getting in and out of the car, etc.

As for Saba's return home the same day I really wouldn't have the courage to face it myself with such a large breed but others have done it successfully. 

Just be prepared if you decide to do it because your girl will be very wobbly from medication and you will need to have the physical strength to help her hop to pee ... 

Sending you waves 🌊🌊🌊🌊🌊 of pawsitive energy for tomorrow's surgery, we are all here for you so please do not hesitate in reaching out with any questions, big or small ...

Big hug and cuddles to your cutie 💞💞🐾🐶

Eurydice 77kg/170lb Great Dane limping end of April 2016, amputation (right front leg/osteosarcoma) 4 May 2016 6 courses of carboplatin followed by metronomic therapy, lung mets found 30 Nov 2016. 3 courses of doxorubicin, PET scan 26 Jan 2017 showed more mets so stopped chemo. Holistic route April 2017. Lung X-ray 5 May 2017 showed several tennis ball size mets, started cortisone and diuretics. Miss Cow earned her XXL silver wings 12 June 2017, 13 months and 1 week after amputation and 6 1/2 months after lung mets, she was the goofiest dawg ever and is now happily flying from cloud to cloud woof woofing away :-) 

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13 December 2016 - 9:55 am
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Hi Eurydice and everyone,

Saba's operation is tomorrow. The board certified surgeon recommended to me by ournoncologist is a traveling surgeon and the pet hospital in Sherman Oaks (California) that she is at Wednesdays - Fridays is a 24 hour clinic. She included one night hospitalization in the price of the surgery (lowest estimate: $2,730, maximum estimate: $3,430). Fortunately I do not have to worry about the first night.

I have ordered a RuffWear harness for now, might invest in a Help Em Up.

Is there anything else that I should buy to make her more comfortable? An orthopedic bed (if so, are there any good known brands)?

I am having last minute doubts about amputation. I spoke to the oncologist who said she can set me up with radiation treatment and injection treatment for the leg which will initially cost the same amount (but can get more expensive). The benefits are that she keeps her leg, but the disadvantages are that the pain (while it may be minimal to nonexistent at first) will be present and will likely increase and that she risks (though it's not a huge chance) fracturing her leg in the future (which may require another amputation, or we may have to put her down if it's too late to amputate).

Whereas the amputation removes the pain and tumor for now, but requires a lot of recovery and relearning.

Nevertheless it seems an amputation is best for her, since her cancer is so early and small I was told there is a very small chance it may have not yet entered the blood stream.

I am hopeful that her recovery will not be too difficult. I will update you all :).

Thank you for the support.



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13 December 2016 - 10:17 am
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Hi Marcin & Saba 💖🐶

Good decision, girl, good decision 👍🏼

Amputation will get rid of the pain and after stitches come out you should see consistent and steady progress every day.

Remember, recovery doesn't last for ever and the fact you are leaving Saba at the hospital for the first night where she will have professional people looking after her is excellent news 👍🏼

Nothing is impossible for our dawgs, recovery is more difficult for bigger breeds but it only means they will take a little longer to adjust, that's all.

If you have any doubts, my girl weighed 77kgs/170lb before amputation and she rocks on 3, 7 1/2 months after surgery. 

Also, if you feel a little uneasy with amputation and recovery you might want to take a look at Anything Goes forum under Eurydice's travels in Europe 5 months after amputation, it will surely reassure you how well big dogs can do on 3🐾🐾👍🏼

I would add I discarded radiotherapy because it requires general anesthesia each time and there is a maximum amount of treatments one can have.

Also, there is a high risk of a pathological fracture occuring at any time ... if that happened to our giant girls how would we be able to physically take them to the vet? 

My final consideration was once I reached the max radio doses would my girl still be a good candidate for amputation at that point ?

As for the bed, Eurydice has a memory foam mattress which is great because it moulds itself to her body shape and is firm enough to allow her to get up without a problem. 

We are thinking about you and your girl 💕 and will definitely keep you both in our thoughts tomorrow 💕

Sending you a HUGE hug and XL cuddles to Saba, please please keep us updated 😘😘🐾🐾🐶

Eurydice 77kg/170lb Great Dane limping end of April 2016, amputation (right front leg/osteosarcoma) 4 May 2016 6 courses of carboplatin followed by metronomic therapy, lung mets found 30 Nov 2016. 3 courses of doxorubicin, PET scan 26 Jan 2017 showed more mets so stopped chemo. Holistic route April 2017. Lung X-ray 5 May 2017 showed several tennis ball size mets, started cortisone and diuretics. Miss Cow earned her XXL silver wings 12 June 2017, 13 months and 1 week after amputation and 6 1/2 months after lung mets, she was the goofiest dawg ever and is now happily flying from cloud to cloud woof woofing away :-) 

On The Road


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13 December 2016 - 10:19 am
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calipol2009 said
...An orthopedic bed (if so, are there any good known brands)?

Please see the Beds page of the Tripawds Gear blog for the best recommended dog beds for tripawds, and read why.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene
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