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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Hello. My name is Amy and I’ve got a few questions about what to expect the first week after surgery. Let me start with Josie’s story. We found our sweet Josie about a month ago in the middle of the road. She had been hit by a car and left there. I took her to the vet and was told that she had nerve damage to her front leg and it would likely not regain any mobility. He suggested that we take her home and let her rest and give it some time to work. After 3 weeks it was clear that she had no feeling in it and she chewed it so badly that an amputation was performed on Monday. She came home and was her usual happy, playful self. She is a pup, 6 months old the vet guesses, and it’s hard to keep her completely still. She had been wonderful until today. She stays on her bed in a bedroom during the day while I’m at work, and in the evening she comes out with the family. She has tried to rough-house with her BFF, Avery our terrier, and we have limited their play. She crawls onto the couch and steps off of it, not jumping (she’s mostly lab so she’s big enough to step on.) When I got home from work today, my son had put her in the backyard for about 30 minutes with Avery and I’m worried that she hurt herself. Since letting her in, she has cried in pain, with only a few minutes of quiet. I called the vet and I am to bring her in first thing in the morning. I gave her pain meds, but she’s still whining and crying. I guess my question is…Is it normal for day 4 to be really bad, even if she’s shown NO sign of pain before now? And do you think she hurt herself in the backyard, probably playing with Avery? I’m at a loss as to what to do, and my heart is breaking for her. Thanks in advance for any advice that you have.
8 November 2010
I am certainly not an expert, but my best guess is that she pulled or strained a muscle trying to play. It takes a while for new amputees to strengthen their muscles and adjust their balance to compensate for the missing leg. It is probably not serious, although crying despite the pain meds is a concern. That may indicate something more serious. Do you have an emergency vet number or clinic nearby? I know you don’t want Josie to suffer needlessly.
Smilin' Sammy, March 16, 2004 – Dec. 5, 2011
Golden retriever, diagnosed with osteosarcoma in September 2010 — right front leg amputated November 2010. He fought valiantly to stay with us; but a second diagnosis of osteosarcoma, this time in his left front leg, was more than our golden warrior could overcome. He loved his pack — and everyone else he met.
We loved him even more.
Thanks for the pennies, Sammy. They helped.
14 August 2009
Welcome Josie and family! I’m so sorry you find yourself here. But bless you for giving this little one a home!
I’m no vet either but I’ve been here a long time and it sounds like she is in pain from overdoing it! I’m sure it’s throbbing like mad!
The youngster pups after surgery seemed to want to get back to normal rather fast but there is still a lot of internal healing that needs to be done. It was major surgery so activity should be limited and monitored.
For your immediate question of pain – Put ice on the surgical area. If you don’t have peas, then try ice in a baggie. If you use a frozen get pack make sure it’s wrapped in a dish cloth. (gel packs get colder than ice and you can frost bite the skin- according to my doctor) Don’t leave the ice on for more 10 minutes.
This will numb the pain. And that should relieve her pain for a few hours. Repeat 3-4 hours.
I hope that helps.
Comet - 1999 to 2011
She departed us unexpectedly January 23, 2011 at the age of 12 1/2.
She was born with a deformed front leg and a tripawd all of her life.
18 January 2012
I hope Josie’s vet visit is good – just strained muscles. I’m so glad you don’t have the cancer thing to fret about!
Puppies ask for more playtime all the time – and if Josie’s like a lab we once had she has more energy than sense.
It’s tough to say ‘no’ when she seems ready to play. Terriers can be fun, but tough little playmates, so really supervise their playtimes carefully.
That being said – all of us go through sprained and strained muscles as our furbabies hop and slip and trip getting used to walking on 3 legs. Ice and rest and recovery each time usually takes care of it. I’m glad you’re having your vet check it out.
Wags and Slobbers
Judy and Baby
Thanks so much for all advice. You are right, she has more play than sense! She’s already after Avery right now to play! She seems better this morning, thank goodness. I am hoping that being in the backyard with full running and playing pulled/strained something. It was odd though. She would just look at us and yelp without having moved or anything and seemed almost in a panic about something. Phantom pain, maybe? We are heading out to the vet. Thanks again for all of your help and comfort.
25 April 2007
Hi Amy and Josie, welcome.
It always stinks to hear about a dog being left like that, but thank DOG for wonderful people like you! My faith in humanity is once again restored…
Anyhow, to answer your question about fluid build up (seroma ), no it generally shouldn’t cause pain. If there is infection it could, but not usually.
I’m curious to hear what the vet said. Hope her crying out was nothing serious. Please keep up posted.
Wow! I have a tripawd Josephine, I call her Joge or Jojo. She also was hit by a car pretty young. I adopted her after she was healed up but still had to gain strength. So I can’t help you with the recovery but I just wanted to say hi because it’s just too wierd that our pups are so similar! Welcome!
The vet didn’t really have an explanation as to the pain, especially since she was playful even there. It was almost like a panic fit because she realized her leg was gone?? The vet removed the bandages and left them off. I’m a bit nervous about that, being that she just had surgery on Monday. We go back in a week for the sutures to be removed. After having to drag her back in from the backyard because she was trying to play and chase the kids, she’s chewing a shoe and has finally settled in on the couch to watch a movie with us. Lol She is our ray of sunshine around here! @skulz We call her Josephina all the time!
25 April 2007
The vet removed the bandages and left them off. I’m a bit nervous about that…
Many dogs go home without any bandages at all. Jerry never had a bandage, and from the stories we’ve heard incisions usually heal quicker when exposed. Josephina can wear an old t-shirt to keep the area clean and prevent licking.
See this Tripawds News blog post for more tips:
25 August 2010
I just want to throw this out there because it was day 3 when our boy’s fentynal patch was removed. He started experiencing phantom pain that night, burst of crying, howling for a few seconds, and his muscles twitched at the amputation site. This is about the time that the nerves are trying to find a connection. Have you asked about that? We used Gabapentin, it took about 3 days for all of the reactions to cease.
Diagnosed with osteosarcoma in the right front leg 8/23/10,
leg fractured 8/27/10,
leg amputated 8/30/10
I couldn't begin to say how special Sammy is to us. Living and laughing with and loving this wonderful boy is priceless.
I had been thinking about that. She showed all the signs of phantom limb pain, with the sudden sharp cries when she wasn’t even moving. I couldn’t see if her muscles were twitching because of the bandages, but we couldn’t find any specific source of pain. The next morning she was back to her same self, and even this morning she’s following me around biting my pants leg every time I walk through the house. Silly girl! A question though, if it is phantom pain , will they return or is this all I should expect?? You have all been wonderful and I am going to work on getting a picture up of Josie soon.