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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:
5 December 2016
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17 December 2016 - 10:04 am
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Also Jerry, 

Regarding the link to Dr. Perry posted above, I wish I had seen it prior to the operation since I was faced with the decision of leaving a stump or doing a full amputation... and I went with the full one. I can't afford the prostethics, and two of the three doctors recommended the full amputation, but now I'm having a mini panic attack regarding the decision I made since the doctors basically said the same thing to me when I asked how Saba will walk, "she has three other legs." Not sure now if I did the right thing...

Los Angeles, CA
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17 December 2016 - 11:06 am
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I didn't deal with phantom pain with Shelby but I would say call the vet and ask them. It does wonders for peace of mind (and seriously - I called a million times once I got Shelby home - even the point that her belly was blue and I was convinced she was bleeding all over .. she was not - it was pigmant from her shaved belly). I am so sorry you are dealing with this but yes, the first couple of days are rough. Hugs!!!

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

Schofield, WI
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17 December 2016 - 11:08 am
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First off never be afraid to call your vet if your mommy gut says to.  That is what we are paying them for.  Saba is very early out of surgery.  I would imagine switching position can hurt.  Some dogs are very stoic and some are very vocal.  Now add that Saba is probably quite high on the drugs and well she's maybe just letting you know it hurts.  Take a look at the incision and make sure it looks ok.  As long as the incision looks good and she's eating and drinking ok and doing her short potty breaks ok she's probably fine.  Remember if she will tolerate it you can ice the incision for a few minutes to help keep down swelling just make sure you have a towel between the ice and her skin.  If she continues with the shrieking then call the vet for mommy piece of mind. Hugs!

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17 December 2016 - 11:19 am
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I will call the vet, the problem is that the surgeon is a traveling surgeon. Iv already emailed but I know that she left for vacation today.  

She is now on day 3 after surgery. I cannot see the incision because they wrapped her in a thick bandage and asked us to keep it on for 2 weeks.

She is very, very calm right now. She was active yesterday and hoping around but right now she looks a semi-sedated because we gave her 4 Gabapentin (300mg so a total of 1,200mg). We will decrease it back to 3 for her next round.

She is eating food we give her (eggs, chicken, turkey) and water but not her own dog food. She is eating dog snacks. She does not want to go and pee or poo, but she did pee on the floor last night. 

Right now it doesn't look like she's in horrible pain. She's sleeping and when she's awake she has droopy eyes that make it seem like she's mad at me (she isn't wagging her tail or licking me as she was yesterday) but it's probabaly the extra drugs. I will call the vet regardless.

Virginia




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17 December 2016 - 11:23 am
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Okay, some DEEP BREATHS!!! You are absolutely exhausted and this recovery part is emotionally and physically draining !

B R E A T H E.......seriously...inhale sloooowly. B R E A T H E....exhale s l o w l y...B R E A T H E...

To addres Dr Petry's article quickly. He is a very gifted professional, especially in pain management . Tnere are others also ewuar as gifted who nave differing opinions when kt comes to prosthesis, leaving a stump, etc.
In many, many cases the prosthesis is not even an option because there is a very, very specific amount of "leg" that has to be left...then all sorts of proper fittings, still risk of k fectio , still risk of pain on the nub, etc.

Secondly, we've seen many cases where a stump was left and continuously got infected and ripped up and a other sjrgery for full amu was done anyway!!! And the dogs were much happier without it!!

Thirdly, your Surgeon evaluated Saba's situation and understood what needed to be done to give her the best chance at a quality life!!

During recovery, seco d guessi g EVERYTHING is what we do really, really well around here!!! If we see one dog took this drug, or one surgery was so e that way, et, etc, we question...well, again. EVERYTHING!!

Now, moving forard, Saba is very, very early in recovery. You've been given a couple of possible scenarios for her sudden I set of pain (all treatable!). Phantom limb pain is the onset of sudden nerve pain firing off signals to a leg that is no longer there.

The dog screams suddenly out of the blue and often times tries to get up and mkve away from the pain, or just stays there fearful to move. It can last for many agonizing seconds a d then usually stops as abrubtly as jt came on. The dog may need reassurance a dd comforting for a few minutes. Gentle massaging arou d the incision often helps.

Of course, I'm not a Vet and just sharing what I've seen here.

Stay connected, give the Gaba a chance to work. As Christine mentioned, it coukd be a stitch/staple causing the issue too.

I think I've already mentioned, it took me tbree weeks...three loooo g awful weeks...before I could finally say I did this FOR my Happy Hannah a d not TO her!!

B R E A T H E.....You did EXACTLY the right thing for Saba!!!

Love and 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!

Virginia




Member Since:
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17 December 2016 - 11:28 am
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Just saw your newest post while I finished tyoing mine!

Yes, she js verh, very, very drugged up if she had FOUR Gabapentin!!! She may not even be aware she nas a tail at this point!! Poor thing!

Check with your Vet about how much Gaba she can have in one twelve hr period.

A d whatever she wants to eat right now ks good!

A d YAY for PEE....even if it was in tne bed!

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!

Schofield, WI
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17 December 2016 - 11:32 am
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Sometimes they have a couple of down days around day 3,4 & 5.  The hospital drugs are working out of their system and they have a bit of a crash.  If she had too much activity yesterday she may well be more sore today.  Remember just rest, potty breaks, eat, drink and more rest for now.  Remember your girl is following your lead.  If you are calm and act like this is all normal she will follow your lead.  If you panic so will she.  Believe me we all know how hard that is to do.  But you need to be pawsitive for her.  It will get easier I promise!

Los Angeles, CA
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17 December 2016 - 3:44 pm
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Oh yeah... the post amp crash... Shelby wasn't vocal but she was definitely off. Hid in my bathroom and would not come out. Made it her den and that was that! We did get her some anti-anxiety meds since she would wimper and pace also. It is really key to keep them very calm and not moving around except to pee or poop! And as for the eating thing ... Shelby was the same way. I like to say she got used to hospital food and didn't like her kibble!!!

It will get better!!! Hugs!!!!

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

On The Road


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17 December 2016 - 8:07 pm
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Oh gosh please try not to panic or second guess yourself. You are doing everything right, and by listening to your gut instinct you can't go wrong.

About leaving a partial stump....honestly, that is really new advice and it's not for everyone. If you are not going the prosthetic route, you have nothing to worry about. More dogs do fine without that stump than do (we've seen many wound healing issues when a stump is left). So you did everything right, no regrets OK?

As for the Gabapentin. Yeah four is a lot but Saba looks like a big pup. Did your vet recommend the upped dosage? Just curious. Gaba is a drug that needs close vet supervision so always work with your vet on the dosages and frequencies.

The first few days can leave your head spinning but breathe as Sally says, and remember that you're on the right track. Talk to your vet about Saba's pain indicators and take it from there OK? And if you need to vent or whatever, we're here. Hang in there.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene
tripawds.com | tripawds.org | bemoredog.net | triday.pet

Member Since:
5 December 2016
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17 December 2016 - 8:32 pm
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Thank you for your advice.

Prior to the amputation Saba weighed in at 116lb (she was 109lb a week prior to the amputation). When we first went to see the Oncologist, she told us to give her 3 Gabapentine while still in the office (Saba was whining from Pain) and then 2 more a few hours later (for a total of 5). We then moved to 3 tablets (900mg) every 8 hours per the oncologist's schedule. The onocllogist now says it's ok to give her 3-4 Gabapentin every 6 hours while the surgeon says to give her 1 tablet (300mg) every 8 hours or 2 tablets (600mg) if needed. I do not know who to follow, so we are giving her 2 tablets (600mg) per 8 hours in addition to 5 Tramadol every 8 hours as directed by the surgeon.

Last night at 10pm she got 3 tablets (900mg). Then when she had the suspected phantom pain at 1:30am, I panicked and gave her 2 more. I figured it would be ok since the first night she was ever on Gabapentin we gave her 5 in a 3 hour period. I won't give her that much again, I just did not know what was happening to her and worried. I later panicked that I may have overdone it with the Gabapentin.

As I mentioned, she is now going to get 600mg (2 tablets) every 8 hours, 5 Tramadol every 8 hours, Simplicef once a day, and Lumostine once a day.

Thank you for your help, I appreciate the support. 

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30 November 2016
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18 December 2016 - 12:28 am
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I would say the end of the first week and beginning of the 2nd week after surgery was the worst just trying to get the timing of the meds right was the hardest. Once we got the staples out that seamed to help relieve some pain issues. We are now 2.5 weeks after and I am now trying to ween Toby off the pain meds.  I am trying to go every 10-12 hrs rather than every 8 and lowering the Tramadol to 1 or 1.5 pills. Toby is about 70 lbs. I was told 1 Gabapentin every 8 hours and max 3 Tramadol every 8 hours.  Sometimes for the Tramadol I would give him 2 then an hour or two later I would give him the 3rd one. And I tried to have the Gabapentin about 4 hrs after the 1st Tramadol. So he was getting meds about every 3 or 4 hrs. That was hard on sleep for me but I think it helped him. 

Right now he is mad at me because I put flea stuff on him. He is giving me the why did you do this to me look again.  But I know he will get over that also. 

Take care and it will get better.

Gail & Toby

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5 December 2016
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18 December 2016 - 1:05 am
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Hey Gail,

Glad to hear Toby seems to be getting better.

Weaning her off medication is something that wasn't yet discusssed with me. So I am assuming I need to continue the full doseeage allowed of Tramadol and Gabapentin until my visit to get the stitches removed. 

Everyone was not kidding when they said dogs are restless shortly after surgery... Saba tricked me into thinking she needed to pee at 11pm and proceeded to lay down in a tight corner between two bushes. I had to wake a family summer to help me pick her up and get her back inside the house.

Then inside the house she kept demanding to go into the hallway, I had to block off access to the second story. She layed down in my room which is usually off limits to her (I have two cats as well, whose terrirtory my bedroom usually is) which is fine for me since I can sleep in my own room. The cats will have to survive outside. 

Heres hoping she spends the night in my room!

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18 December 2016 - 2:14 am
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You are right - when you go to get the staples removed, they will give you guidance on reducing the pain meds.  And she will likely be doing much better by then.  So don't worry about it right now.

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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18 December 2016 - 12:42 pm
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My family flew in from Europe last night and now there is a significant amount of people. I think Saba became annoyed or worried by everyone being in the living room.

As she got up from under the table, her favorite spot, she slipped and hit soemthing lightly, she then got up and started whining. I am unsure of whether this was a light phantom pain , her stitches hurting, or her being afraid and frustrated. It was whining noise, not a shriek or pain.

last night, at 11pm she tricked me into going outside and laid down in a corner of my fence behind two bushes and I had trouble getting her to get home (I had to call my aunt to pick her up with me). 

I might move her to my room during the day when the cats are gone.

is this normal restlessness or is this a sign of pain? We moved her from 3 Gabapentin (300mg each, so 900) per our oncologist to 2 Gabapentin in addition to 5 Tramadol (per our surgeon). 

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18 December 2016 - 1:11 pm
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Chiming in rather late but I have to say Saba is an absolute DOLL! 

It is a waste of energy to fret over your decision on a full amputation at this point. It's done and now its time to concentrate on her recovery. It will be FULL of ups and downs, but there IS light at the end of this tunnel I PROMISE. FWIW, my Fionn had his surgery at one of the most respected vet teaching hospitals in the country, UC Davis, and they absolutely recommend full amputations as did our regular vet. 

Please read my blog. The link is in my signature. I posted every day for the first 2 weeks and, while not every situation or dog is the same, at least you will see that you are NOT ALONE. We had some awful days and some great ones and some that were pretty funny in hind sight.Your story of Saba hiding behind some bushes is similar to some of our midnight excursions into the sprinklers ;).  Finding this site was the best thing you did. The support I got and that you are getting is invaluable and so so necessary. This is a pretty horrific experience and it's not like any of us were experienced with it going in. We just stumbled through the best we could. The first 2 weeks are the worst. At some point we ALL thought we did the wrong thing, that we are horrible people etc, etc. Welcome to the club!

We are here for you. Please keep us informed of Saba's progress and how YOU are doing.

Blessingsheart

Nancy and Fionn

Nancy- mom to the FABULOUS Fionn. He rescued me in 2015 when he was 6. 

Right front leg amputation at age 7 for osteosarcoma 10/6/16. Taken too soon 6/12/17. Read about our journey here:

http://fionnsjo.....pawds.com/

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