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.
1 October 2023
If there is one thing I've learned in this whole experience, it's that all dogs are different. I feel like I only heard about dog's that bounced back quickly (before I found this community!), and feel a bit deceived by vets and friends that my dog would be totally back to himself a week or two post op. When he was actually getting worse a week after, I reached out here and on other forums and found that my experience is not completely unique. Some dogs take longer.
Scout had his forelimb amputation on 9/29 and it has been HARD. Lots of set backs, really difficult time figuring out which meds were best for him/general pain management . I am afraid to jinx it, but I feel like today I see the light at the end of the tunnel, he's doing well today after a REALLY hard past 7 days. We took him off rimadyl which seemed to make him really sick, and we are only on Gabapentin right now, doing 100mg 3x per day (every 8 hours). Considering he's a 55lb Husky, this lower dose has worked well for him.
I find that he usually shows pain signs about 15 minutes before being due for his next dose, almost like clockwork. Well today, he ate a good amount for breakfast (which has NOT been happening, he has barely been eating), did a little "yard walk" with me after potty this morning (has only wanted to go from his bed to his potty spot then back to bed), and we are an hour past his medication due time and he seems fine, sleeping in the office with my husband. I'm going to administer a gabapentin now (we were hoping to modify his schedule a bit anyway to cut back on the 4:30 wake ups for administering his morning dose), but I'm wondering if this is a sign that he's feeling better.
Sorry this is long, ALL of this to say, he gets his stitches out tomorrow and I've heard so many times that once their stitches come out, many dogs tend to turn a corner. Can anyone share their experiences with me 14 days out - were you weaning off pain meds at this point? Did your dog really turn a corner when their stitches came out? Do they feel pain relief when their stitches are removed? Should we expect to provide the same pain management post-stitches and it actually doesn't make that much of a difference? Would love to hear your experiences.
Thank you all for the support, I know we are not out of the woods but we have felt MUCH less alone after receiving support here and reading all of your stories.
22 February 2013
So glad you are staring to see Scout feeling more like himself. And good job of monitoring his pain and recognizing the schedunhe is on is working for him.
Yes, every dog is different and every dog has different needs when it comes to pain meds and how long they are needed. Some dogs are off the pain meds arou d the two week mark...some before...some little after. Some seem to do well staying on a low dose for a couple of months.
My experience with Happy Hannah was. Like you, thinking once the stitches were out I could stop the pain meds. Not the case. If I recall, I conntinied them for another week. And it took at least three weeks or more for me to finally say I did this FOR her and not TO her!
So try and not compare her recovery or her need for pain meds (or not) to others. Scout will tell you what works for Sout.
Thanks for checking in and updating. Sounds like Scout is having a "n9rmal" recovery and starting to make progress👍
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!
4 July 2023
Wow - yeah. Glad Scout seems to be turning a corner! 👏👏👏
Like Sally’s Happy Hannah, Juno was on meds for three weeks post-op, so one week beyond stitches out. Her incision also took quite a while to heal so we weren’t in a rush to go off the meds.
It’s super nice he gives you such clear pain signals (if that can be called nice??) - I’d go by those as Sally says.
Natalie & Juno (aka June)
25 April 2007
He is making some really great progress! Remember, you love your dog because he's one of a kind. Well, so is his recovery. It's hard not to compare, and especially in this social media age where life is perfect and nothing goes wrong, we tend to get the impression that WE are the only ones out there having a difficult time. But as you can see, you are not alone in a recovery like this.
Yes, dogs usually do fine after amputation, that's true. People have great intentions when they say "dogs do great!" and they really don't want you to be scared so that's why they do it. But what they forget is that between the surgery and 100% recovery, there is a huge variety of ways that dogs get to a full recovery. So some dogs will be on pain meds for 10 days, some for 30 or longer. It really depends. Your vet is giving you some excellent guidance to dial in his pain control and it's working. Celebrate that! The walk around the yard? That deserves a party too!
Can anyone share their experiences with me 14 days out - were you weaning off pain meds at this point? Did your dog really turn a corner when their stitches came out? Do they feel pain relief when their stitches are removed? Should we expect to provide the same pain management post-stitches and it actually doesn't make that much of a difference?
Feeling better after stitches come out is generally around when a dog will turn a corner, but not always. Keep your expectations in check, and know that Scout is his own dog. He may not show that he is 100% better tomorrow, and he may need pain control longer. All that you can count on right now is that he's definitely on the mend and on the upswing. YAY!
Let us know how the appointment goes!
5 September 2023
Oh, man, Kirsten, my story reads very similar to yours. I got so frustrated (as you can see by my early postings on here) by thinking all dogs did great right away following surgery. I had read only the really good stories and results prior to Summer’s surgery; as Jerry had pointed out to me, though, was that all dogs are indeed different - and I went back and read more stories. The oncologist and surgeon had made it sound easier than it was - most likely because they see the sick dog (or cat), then the recovered dog (or cat), but not really the immediate postop weeks where most of us struggle. It passes, but it wasn’t fun. I’d do it again in a heartbeat if I had to, but only knowing what I know now. Hindsight is everything.
Summer was on pain meds for two weeks following her right front limb amp. When I tell you that I thought I was going to lose it during those first 2 weeks postop, believe it! We had ups and downs, and all arounds. Summer’s appetite was awful, I seriously thought she’d never go back to eating. I pulled my hair out trying to get this girl to eat - something, anything. What I finally realized is that when she got hungry, she’d eat. And she did. We stopped Summer’s meds 3 days before her stitches came out. She did fine with the stitches/staples removal. She didn’t seem bothered by it in the least. But again, every dog is different. How did Scout do today getting his out? Did Summer turn a corner? Yes, probably so. Not a huge one, more like a little better each day. Her incision healed nicely, but I believe it stayed sore inside for a bit longer, as she would quickly readjust her position when she laid on the bad side. We celebrate all the little moments now. When she does an additional stair, when she eats a huge dinner, when she prances around for 5 seconds longer than she did the day before.
Scout will let you know if he needs more pain meds. Summer didn’t seem to need more, but she’s a stoic girl. Stubborn too. Sometimes that plays to her benefit; sometimes it makes mama worry. But we’re moving in the right direction, forward. All is good.
Robin & Summer
31 August 2023
Kirsten, it's like I can FEEL your experience, it's so similar to mine. That couple weeks after post-op is hard, harder than you're led to believe. From what I heard beforehand, I thought we'd be getting back to normal inside of a week. We didn't start feeling normal for about a month (but of course every dog is different). Luckily Roman didn't have any complications post-surgery, but the pain management was the hardest part. We were constantly adjusting his various dosages, almost every day it seemed. It felt like a guessing game. We cut Rimadyl after about 4 days as it really irritated his intestines. I was told to expect him to be on pain meds for about 2 weeks post-op but he stayed on Tramadol and Gabapentin for about 3 weeks and was on Trazadone for about 2 weeks. I found the hardest part to be the timing; you want to stay ahead of the pain but also on a schedule and seeing them exhibit the pain signs is so heartbreaking. Roman had internal sutures, so I can't speak to behavior after getting stitches out. But overall he seemed to turn a corner, pain-wise, about 2.5 weeks after surgery. He's now about 6 weeks post-op and doing so well! Scout will get there soon and in the meantime he has a great caretaker looking out for him.