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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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Nervous about bringing my boy home from surgery today
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Member Since:
27 September 2021
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28 September 2021 - 11:17 am
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My best buddy Atticus had his rear left leg amputated yesterday morning, due to osteosarcoma. Atticus is a 10 year old Catahoula mix that we adopted 3 years ago. He is the best dog I’ve ever had. I can’t describe all the cool stuff he’s done, but to name a few: he’s traveled across the country with our family, helped train first responders how to deal with pets in a disaster, was in our wedding, helped me escape a flash flood, and once ate an entire pumpkin cake.

He stayed overnight at the clinic, and got IV pain meds through this morning. They are transitioning him to oral pain meds over the course of the day. He did eat some breakfast this morning, and some pill pockets last night. When I last spoke to the vet, he was not walking yet. They said he seems very nervous and tenses up, and he might not walk until he sees us and knows he’s going home. 

My question for everyone is- how did you get through that first look at your tripawd, and that first night? I’m feeling wracked with guilt at the moment that he is is hurt and scared because of a decision I made, on top of my grief about his osteosarcoma. I’m really worried about him walking- at what point after surgery did your tripawds start getting up?

~Megan

On The Road


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28 September 2021 - 4:15 pm
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meganandatticus said
My question for everyone is- how did you get through that first look at your tripawd, and that first night? I’m feeling wracked with guilt at the moment that he is is hurt and scared because of a decision I made, on top of my grief about his osteosarcoma. I’m really worried about him walking- at what point after surgery did your tripawds start getting up?

Hi Megan and Atticus, welcome. Your future posts won't require approval so post away.

Atticus sounds like a pawsome dog. What adventures that boy has had so far. And that's so wonderful you adopted an older pup! smiley_clapI'm sorry you are dealing with cancer and amputation though, it's such a tough thing to go through. But that's why we are here! Lean on us. We understand your feelings and fears! You are not alone. And your adventures are just beginning. Atticus is going to show you that he is stronger than you realize. Prepare to be amazed! Catahoulas are a pretty tough breed, just wait and see how he makes the most of life on 3!

Of course you feel guilty. Making that decision when they don't really know any better is hard. I felt guilty too! But you know what? Atticus isn't going to feel grief about his missing leg. He's going to feel BETTER once that bad leg is gone and recovery is over!

Your vet won't let him come home until he gets up and around on his own. During the first few days he may be wobbly but that's mainly because of his pain medications. If they're doing their job, he's probably wonky and dancing with pink elephants icon_lol. It's only temporary! As long as you have plenty of traction around your home, he will figure it out without much help mos tlikely.

The best way to manage your fears is to educate yourself. You're already doing that by being here! Learn about life on 3 in our What to Expect articles . Prepare by checking out Jerry's Required Reading List . Stay busy by reviewing our Tripawds Recovery Shopping List . And above all else, keep a pawsitive attitude. Atticus sounds like a sensitive dog underneath that tough exterior. You want to make sure you stay as upbeat and hopeful as possible, so that he can reflect that right back. 

Please keep us posted on how he's doing! I'm usually in the Tripawds Chat during business hours so stop by anytime or call the Tripawds Helpline too.

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

Virginia




Member Since:
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28 September 2021 - 7:26 pm
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Already in love with Atticus! ♥️.  Such a sweet avatar  picture.

Not much I can add to Jerry's informative  response.

Keep in mind Atticus just went through  MAJOR surgery,  all while trying to adapt to three legs and all while shaking off anesthesia  and strong hospital meds. 

Atticus is GRATEFUL  that bum leg is gone and he has been given a chance  at a qu pain free life!!! Nothing to feel guilty  about st all!!

Don't  even look at the inc site when you go to pick him up.  He just wants to see your hapoy smiling  face tell him he's a good boy and he's going home!!   Put forth a strong and confident energy and that will help reassure  Atticus all is well.

Sray connected  and know that we are here fornyoj to help you navi thru recovery  and on to celebrating  all his victories as a handsome tripawd!!!

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!

Mike
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29 September 2021 - 12:02 pm
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Don't worry Megan. We were so nervous when our Callie was coming home. We had no idea what to expect and thought she would hate us. But she of course didn't. Here's a link to a video of her emerging after her operation last February. Callie

After a few weeks she was trotting and running like normal. It's incredible. Sadly though, 7 months later, another tumor has emerged :(.

Best to you and your pup.

-Mike

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29 September 2021 - 2:03 pm
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Aww thanks for sharing and being so supportive Mike. I loved that video.

Please consider registering as a member and starting a new topic about Callie so we can help you better as you start this new treatment phase with her. We are here to help.

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

Member Since:
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30 September 2021 - 12:18 pm
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Thanks everyone for your kind words and reassurances. We have a very rough first day and following day. Today is better, and I’m appreciating every little milestone and improvement. I will say that I did a lot of reading and research (including Three Legs and a Spare ) and I was not prepared for how tough the first few days would be, and the difficulty he would have walking.

Mike- thank you for sharing that lovely video of your Callie girl. It’s so wonderful she was walking so well and clearly thrilled to see her family. I’m hoping over the weekend Atticus will be moving along that well! So sorry to hear she has another tumor. 

Atticus’ surgery turned out to be longer and more complex, due to the surgeon finding what he thinks is a sarcoma in the muscle by his hip. He was able to remove to completely remove it, but it required taking out more muscle that usual. I’m trying hard not to dwell on the fact that we might already have metastasis, and what that means long term. We’ll know more when the pathology report comes back. Chest x-rays and an abdominal ultrasound showed nothing before the surgery.

After surgery Atticus was not ambulating well, but was so anxious and upset being hospitalized that the veterinarian thought he would recover better at home. When we picked him up, he really was not walking. His remaining hind leg was collapsing, and butt falling to the ground with every step. Walking with him required pretty much fully bearing the weight of his hind end. Some of that might have been the IV pain meds he had earlier that day, and residual effects from the epidural he got in the surgery. 

The first night was rough. He cried a lot, and I stayed up all night comforting him. He was really frustrated with the cone, so I took it off and stayed up watching him to make sure he left the incision alone. He settled a bit with the cone off. 

Yesterday, the big improvement was that he would stand unassisted on three legs during our potty breaks. Today it seems we turned the corner and he cruised outside with much less assistance, and pooped! We had quite a few steps that were all him, without me supporting any of his weight.

My next concern is pain management . He seems to be doing well with what we have now- codeine, gabapentin and carprofen. I have been following the med schedule religiously, and I get the sense that when the codeine wears off he starts to get uncomfortable. We only have codeine through tomorrow, and I’m worried his pain might spike over the weekend when the vet is closed.

Virginia




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30 September 2021 - 1:09 pm
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WELCOME HOME ATTICUS!!!  Yes, the first several days and nights can be pretty darn rough.  And  Atticus had quite an intensive surgery  on top of that.  The amputation  surgery is "intensive " to begin with.  Having to cut into the miscle further...owweee.

So glad to hear he's  being more mobile.  He'll get his sea legs at his own pace.   AND he. poopicon  already!!  We love to celebrate  poopicon around here.  And it's great news that all his xrays and ultrasounds  were clear!!

You should be fine with Gabapentin and Rimadyl.  Depending on the dosage and frequency,  it can be given every eight hrs,mor every twelve, and if there's  a little breaknthru pain sooner, sometimes  every six.  How much does he weigh and what is his dosing now?    We are not Vets and  not giving  Vet advice, do run everything  by your Vet. 

Give that handsome  boybs smooch for is.  And  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!

On The Road


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30 September 2021 - 1:57 pm
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Yay Atticus is home! That is great news smiley_clap 

The first few nights can be tough but you survived! Yep, those pain meds pack a whallop but believe it or not, a dog who is over-medicated is a little easier to manage than one who is under-medicated. And you survived! AND he pooped on his own? Wonderful! Kudos to you both! I'm so glad you read our book, thank you. I hope it gave you some sense of what to expect in the coming weeks.

Is the cone still stressing him out? It really stinks to make him wear one, but stay strong. We've seen many stitches destroyed in seconds, practically under their human's nose. If you have a cone of shame alternative that would be helpful just in case. 

As for the pain meds, the goal is to stay ahead of the pain. You've got a good eagle eye for noticing when he starts getting uncomfortable. Try to get in touch with your vet today or tomorrow morning and ask about what do to as far as the frequency and dosages of the Gabapentin and Rimadyl. Let them know you are seeing breakthrough pain when the Codeine wears off, and see if you can get a small prescription to have on hand just in case. Or, if they won't give it to you (some vets are suuuuper protective of their narcotic rx's), ask for the number of an emergency vet you can call if his pain signals indicate he needs it over the weekend.

Focus on the job in front of you, not all the what-ifs, and you'll get through this! 

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

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30 September 2021 - 3:42 pm
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The vet will refill the codeine no problem, yay! I think at this point they recognize my voice as soon as I call in. It’s been a tough week!

He is 70 lbs (was? Not sure how many lbs he lost with the leg smiley13), and is getting 45 mgs codeine ever 8 hours, 300 mg gabapentin every 12 hours, and 75 mg rimadyl every 12 hours. He had the nocita injection during the surgery, which I think is worn off as of today. I generally think he’s doing pretty good in what he’s got- right he’s just chilling on his bed watching me work. 

On The Road


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30 September 2021 - 8:39 pm
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Your vet is terrific! Hopefully you won't need the Codeine but if so, it's great you have it handy. The Nocita is a 3-day so yep that's out of his system now. The Gaba every 12 hours might be too far apart if he starts to seem painful. That's great he's looking comfy right now! Chillin equals healin 😁

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

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2 October 2021 - 12:13 am
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We are four days out from surgery. It seems like every day has a new success, and a new struggle.

Walking is much improved. Atticus is able to walk without any assistance for several strides. However, he does not want to get up. We have to force him up and outside. A few times he cried and whined pitifully as we get him up and walking. Our surgical nurse said that sounds like pain, so we have increased his gabapentin to 3x a day. We are trying to get him outside for bio breaks, but it’s hard when he’s so upset to get up. He’s wound up pooping in bed twice today, which is breaking my heart. We are taking him out more now, even if it upsets everyone. The nurse suggested going outside in the sun for a while today, so we did- I got him on a dog bed, and we shared a cheeseburger. Atticus loves to spend hours outside on our patio, smelling and barking at things. I’m hoping being outside lifted his spirits a bit.

Nights have been really tough. Around 12-3am he gets very restless, cries, and keeps moving around as if he’s uncomfortable. I try to comfort him, but it doesn’t help much. His pain meds aren’t wearing off at this time, so I’m kind of stumped. My husband noticed some similar agitation after his last dose of codeine (and I’ve been regularly giving him codeine around 10:30pm), so I’m wondering if he’s experiencing some dysphoria. He seems comfortable at the moment on just the gabapentin and rimadyl, so I’m delaying tonight’s codeine to see if he can sleep through the night. 

I knew this would be tough, but I didn’t realize it would be this bad. I struggled with the decision to amputate, and I really thought I was doing the best thing to give Atticus some pain-free quality time. But this recovery has been so rough, and I’m afraid he’ll just lay on his bed forever, being miserable and angry with us. I’m full of guilt that he won’t bounce back and be able to enjoy life again, and that I forced him to endure a painful surgery and made his remaining time with us miserable. 

Virginia




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2 October 2021 - 4:35 am
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My first post here was something  along the lines of "Day Six and I feel I've  made a HORRIBLE decision'!"   The sleepless nights, the exhaustion , my Happy Hannah's restlessness, etc, etc.   This community  threw me a lifeline  and pulled me back to shore.....and we're  gonna do the same dor you!

For me and many others, the early part of recovery we were asking " What have I done TO my dog?"  It may take a couple  of weeks, but you soon will be saying, "I'm glad I this this FOR my dog!"

This is MAJOR SURGERY!!!  To expect much more than what you are seeing this early on ...well....look at it this way....a hooman would still be in the hospital.and probably on a morphine drip.

I do agree with your husband about the codeine.   That, along with the Gaba can be pretty powerful.  The Gaba may make Atticus  a bit lethargic, but won't  whack him put like codeine  might.

And yes, being outside in the sun is very therapeutic!!

Stay strong and confident, okay?  And get some rest!  You are in the hardest  part of recovery  but it doesn't  last furever!!

Hugs

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!

PS...YAY for poop,,,even of it's in the bed.

Oh, and give lots of massages all up and down his spine, shoulder, etc.  His muscles are very right from being  used in a different way

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!

On The Road


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2 October 2021 - 1:13 pm
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If I could reach out and hug you I would! I can hear the frustration in your words, I'm sorry this has been so hard. Fwiw here are some of my thoughts:

- Some dogs are really sensitive to pain meds but it's always better to start with more meds than less. He is getting good pain management but if your gut is that he is dysphoric, he very well might be. So yes if your vet is good with it, hold off on just the Codeine and see how it goes. You might see his sparkle return a little.

- How often are you making him get up and potty? If it's more than his usual number of times, then cut back to that and see if it works. Unlike the human docs who push people to get up a ton after surgery, it's really just fine to let him lay if he wants to. We see lots of people push their dogs a bit too much after surgery because that's what we are told when we go through a recovery.

If he is holding his pee more than 8 hours then yeah you want to get him outside. And yeah I agree that some poop is better than none! Many dogs have the opposite problem.

- How are you handling him to pick him up? Are you using a sling or harness? If he is a dog who doesn't like to be handled, what happens when you don't use a device? Can tasty treats bribe him?

- Take things hour by hour. Try not to think too far into the future or you will freak yourself out and Atticus will respond accordingly. This won't last forever. Nearly 100% of Tripawd parents we have surveyed through the years do not regret their decision, even after a tough recovery. Atticus WILL recover, and this will be behind you so you can get on with life. Stay as pawsitive as you can so he can be too!

Keep us posted!! 

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

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3 October 2021 - 8:35 pm
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Thanks for the reassurances everyone. It’s helpful to know that others have had the same thoughts during recovery, and ultimately decided they made the right choice. Before the surgery a lot of people told us positive stories about how their dogs bounced back after amputation, but I didn’t hear stories about how much of a struggle this first week would be. 

Atticus has a harness on we got at the vet’s office that we use to get him up. He won’t stand up on his own and go out to potty otherwise (although I did manage to get him up once on his own with some particular tasty chicken). On a normal day before, I’d let him out 5 or 6 times a day, but he never actually asks to go out. We’re taking him out maybe 4 times a day. Getting him up, especially first thing in the morning is painful for him, so we’re continuing on all pain meds. I hate to get him up when it makes him cry out in pain. Other that potty breaks and maybe walking to a bed in the sun outside, he rests all day.

Night is going a little better, and he’s still on the codeine. Last night when he started to whine at 3am we took him out to potty. Afterwards he settled down to sleep. I was able to sleep most of the night, which helps. 

One thing that appears to be going well is that his incision is healing well. The had a ton of swelling at first, but it’s going down, and the bruising is starting to fade. I can only hope that means his pain is getting better.

On The Road


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3 October 2021 - 9:33 pm
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Those rougher recoveries aren't as common but they occasionally happen, I'm sorry you guys are going through one of them. But...

I hear some pawsitive things in your update:

- You guys are handling him really well and using the right tools
- You aren't asking him to over exert himself, and you recognize that he's resting mostly which is good.
- He got some rest last night and you did too
- And the incision area is looking good without any issues there... YAY!!!

So yeah it's not easy with his mobility but other things that could possibly send him back to the vet are not happening, which is wonderful!

I would check in with your vet tomorrow and give them an update on? And remember this is something that will not last forever, you will see his sparkle return again!

Please let us know how the week is going ok?

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

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