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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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Managing Pain Meds Days 4, 5 and beyond after surgery
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Forum Posts: 5
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28 November 2020
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1 December 2020 - 12:02 pm
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We are on day 4 after Allie’s rear right leg amputation surgery due to a mysterious aggressive leg infection (cause still unknown – awaiting culture, leg biopsy). She’s in very high spirits, eager to walk around and very lean/athletic which we are told is helping compensate for her age of nearly 10 years. We have followed all vet’s steps and guidance and she’s doing great at each turn.

Should we be worried about her coming off antibiotics and pain meds? They are due to run out around tomorrow (day 5) and we are trying to wind down her levels of pain meds now to get a handle on only what she ‘needs’ to be comfortable. So far, she’s been very comfortable and herself. We have some gabapentin supply in stow if need be and I’m glad that we aren’t needing to use it at the moment. 

I’m just terrified of pain issues for her especially when the initial infection was so painful for her over a week ago. Honestly the idea of an amputation just seems so extreme to me as a human that I’m so worried about pain issues after the fact for her and don’t trust that she’ll just be pain free right out of the gate. 

What has your experience been? Was your dog generally comfortable after day 5 with no/little pain meds? 

Appreciate any advice,

Allie’s Mom, Kristina 

The Rainbow Bridge



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1 December 2020 - 2:12 pm
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Hi Kristina and Allie, welcome. Your future posts won’t need approval so post away!

Allie looks and sounds like such a great dog, she should do really well on three legs. Sorry you had to join us though, that is not what anyone expects. Hopefully the amputation is curative though and you guys can get on with life.

So what pain medication is she on now? What are the dosages and frequencies given? Has she had any Gabapentin at all? 

Honestly, almost all dogs (and cats) are on a more rigorous form of pain management for at least 7 days, sometimes up to 14. Most will give pain signals that indicate a longer prescription is necessary. When their human thinks they are improved, the Tripawd is withdrawn slowly from the meds. Most are given at least 3 pain medications, including Gabapentin, in the best of pain med protocols.

How a dog responds to pain meds withdrawal really depends on each animal’s situation, fitness level etc., but the one thing that they all have in common is that amputation hurts and there can be residual pain many weeks later. Not always. But often. It makes sense. After all, muscles, tendons and vessels being severed is a hard surgery on the body and good pain management minimizes those effects. 

It sounds like you have a handle on her pain levels if she’s not giving any pain signals . Sometimes it’s hard to tell, animals are so stoic. I don’t want to go against what your vet is recommending, since I’m not one myself, but if your gut instinct says that she may be experiencing pain, then please advocate for a longer prescription for whatever it is you are using now. If you don’t think she is, you can always go with the recommended withdrawal and see how it goes. Remember, you know her better than anyone else.

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5 December 2020 - 3:32 pm
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Thank you and we appreciate joining the Tripawds community! Allie was on codeine, deracoxib and gabapentin through day 5 after surgery. We are now at day 8 and have been off all meds days 6, 7, 8. She’s got a good appetite, can do stairs pretty well and hard surfaces already. In general, she seems more herself. 

She is often smacking her lips throughout the day and licking her front legs and has thrown up 1-2 times – I wonder if she’s nauseous? She will have spells where she is restless, gets up walks around, can’t seem to get comfortable and a spell will last 1-4 mins or so. We have let her be without the cone whenever we can constantly supervise and she knows not to touch her rear incision so she’s handling that very well. When we touch near the incision, her muscles tense in the area a bit but she doesn’t show any other discomfort.

I wish I knew if she was in pain with these symptoms or just adjusting as each day goes on after surgery. We do have a supply of gabapentin and codeine left to use if we feel we need to but don’t want to give to her if she’s doesn’t need it. My sense is she’s doing pretty well, all things considered, and she’s probably not going to be perfectly ‘back to normal’ right away, especially during the 2 weeks after surgery. 

thoughts?

Thank you again,

Allie’s mom (kristina)

The Rainbow Bridge



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6 December 2020 - 10:16 am
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Hmmm, this does sound like she’s probably in pain and nauseated from something. What if anything is different about her diet? Pain can sometimes cause nausea but if she’s eating then something else could be causing it.

The leg licking has me concerned. I would let your vet know what’s going on, it’s still early in recovery.

Most dogs’ sparkle comes back one stitches come out but some take longer.

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Virginia




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6 December 2020 - 6:59 pm
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Yeah, ditto Jerry!  It does sound like she’s  sho some pain signals ….the restlessness, showing g signs of being uncomfortable etc.

Most dogs here generally, not always, are on pain meds for approximately  two weeks…more or less.  But five days is awfully early to be off pain meds for the MAJOR SURGERY she just had

If I recall, my Happy Hannah was on antibiotics at least seven days, maybe a few more.  And she didn’t  jave any pre surgery infections, it was just a precautionary step to avoid any infection from the surgery itself.  Hopefully the culture will come back quickly and the specific antibiotic  for the original al infection can be prescribed. 

Sometimes  the meds and antibiotics  can cause a little bit of nausea, but since she’s not on anything, not sure what’s  causing  that.  You can ask the Vet about Ceren as that helps with nausea. 

.  Of course, not a Vet and not giving Vet advice. 

Oh, and if you do have hard floors you want nonslip scatter rugs for traction

You’re  doing a good job of watching  over her.  Remember, recovery  doesn’t  last furever!

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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8 December 2020 - 9:10 pm
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Thank you so much for your insight here. I will call the vet to ask about what we can do. I did try codeine with her a few nights ago and it didn’t seem to change any of the behavior, so I’m unsure if it’s really something that can be addressed by pain meds. 

The Rainbow Bridge



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8 December 2020 - 9:41 pm
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Yeah please call if she’s still showing pain signals . Codeine isn’t the best medication, there are better, more effective ones out there for post-amputation pain. 

If your vet is out of ideas, I would say the next step is to work with a pain management specialist or canine rehabilitation therapist to find out why she is showing these signs. It’s very likely her way of telling you something doesn’t feel right. Let us know if you’d like help finding someone for a second opinion.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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10 December 2020 - 8:39 am
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Thank you. We gave her gabapentin the last few days and that’s definitely improving things (vs. codeine). Thank goodness! I was very worried about pain and the gabapentin difference is confirming to me that there was some pain and it’s now addressing it. I am SOOO glad our baby girl is is more comfortable now. She’s walking around and following me like a shadow more, begging for treats, etc which is more like her normal self. What a relief. Her stitches come out tomorrow morning, so I’m curious to learn how pain management needs will change for her over the coming week, hoping she heals more and more. 

Virginia




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10 December 2020 - 9:19 am
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So happy to read this update. 😊😊😊   Managing pain is so crucial to their healing.   Good job of advocating for Gabapentin!

How long a dog needs pain meds and in what dose  really is a dog specific determination.  My Happy Hannah stayed on Gaba at a reduced amount into the third week.    Generally,  not always , the two week mark is when you can  ake a decision to continue or taper off and then stop.  

YAY FOR TAIL WAGS AND BEGGING FOR TREATS!!

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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10 December 2020 - 9:37 am
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WHEW! That’s so awesome it’s helping.

Easing the pain will definitely help her heal faster. Studies have shown that when a person is in pain it delays healing, so the same can be translated to animals too.

Paws up for continued healing! Keep us posted!

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