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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

Tripawds is your home 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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heavy breathing and panting - two weeks post amputation
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Member Since:
5 February 2020
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5 February 2020 - 11:06 pm
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Hi folks,

I just came across this amazing resource and I am so grateful to have found such a wealth of experience and information!

My ten year old Alaskan husky Sunny had her front leg amputated two weeks ago on January 23rd. Biopsy results showed osteosarcoma, while chest X-rays from three weeks ago showed no visible metastasis.

I live in a remote northern community with limited services. The vet I am currently working with has limited experience with chemotherapy and is consulting with an oncologist down south. I have requested they source carboplatin and start the injections as soon as Sunny is ready. 

Although Sunnys incision site seems to be healing fairly well (staples came out today), three days ago she began panting heavily and breathing hard (with increased frequency and volume) even at rest. She also has a harder time finding a comfortable position and just generally seems more restless this second week. I was hoping to stop giving her daily dose of medicam / 300mg of Gabapentin due to a growing loss of appetite/ a history of GI upset and food sensitivities. Now I don’t know what to do - my vet says I could try and see how it goes without the meds, but has nothing to say about the panting/breathing. Could it be a ‘normal’ post op pain/anxiety  response? Or is it new Mets in the lungs? What have been your experiences with such panting / breathing? This uncertainty is so hard to navigate. I was really hoping we could avoid having another stressful visit to the vet until starting chemo..

Livermore, CA

Member Since:
18 October 2009
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5 February 2020 - 11:33 pm
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Hello and welcome, your future posts will not have to wait for approval.

I'm sorry you are dealing with OSA in your girl but I'm glad you found us.

Did the onset of the heavy breathing coincide with reducing the pain meds?  Most pups here are on pain meds for at least two weeks, some a bit longer.  Panting and restlessness can be signs of pain.

Here Are Some Posts on Identifying and Treating Pain.

What is her activity level like at this point? Two weeks in is still very early post op and you need to ramp up activity slowly. We see here that the older, more 'mature' pups take a bit longer to recover from surgery and get back to themselves.  The Tripawd hop takes a toll early on until their bodies adapt to the new gait, it is not uncommon to tweak something and cause new pain.  You could try massage around her neck and shoulder and back and see if there are any sore spots.

It's very unlikely that lung mets have shown up this fast- I would think that it is a response to pain.  I have seen some posts here from people talking about rapid breathing during recovery that resolved on its own, but I can't find them right now.  Hopefully one or more of them will see this and share their experiences.

Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls

Tri-pug Maggie survived a 4.5 year mast cell cancer battle only to be lost to oral melanoma.

1999 to 2010


              Maggie's Story                  Amputation and Chemo


Member Since:
22 February 2013
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6 February 2020 - 8:58 am
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Awww, Sunny's avatar is so sweet❤

Karen gave you great advice and insight.  So ditto!

My Happy Hannah was on pain meds for three weeks, with some reduction  during that third week.  Has your Vet suggested an appetite  stimulant? Also, has he suggested something  to help protect his tummy like Sulfracate (sp)? Small meals several times a day may help with .any yummy food he'll eat.

Often trpawds xan tweak a muscle, especially  in the back and neck area early on during recovery.  It takes a lot to adjust to the new gait.  Massage up and down his spine, his neck, his shoulder, his legs.  Any signs of tense at any point?  Regardless, massaging a couple of times a day, especially  before he gets up and at nighttime, helps relax his muscles.

Sray connected.   We'll watch for your reply.


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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