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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My 10 year Saint Bernard got amputated two days ago. He came home today and I feel like I have made the worst decision ever.
He got diagnosed with osteosarcoma in his left front leg back in Oct 2017. We did a partial removal of the ulna but the cancer came back in December. I looked at a possible amputation only if his lungs came back clear and they did. This is our first day home and this feel horrible. He looks lost and scared.
will it get better? (I sure hope so)
18 October 2009
Hello and welcome, your future posts will not have to wait for approval.
What is your boy’s name?
You are not alone- nearly every one of us went through the ‘what have I done?’ phase. It is very early in recovery, most pups start to get their sparkle back in about 2 or 3 weeks.
Do you think he is in pain? He is most likely a bit loopy from the meds- what is he taking? Be sure you are being strong and positive around him- it is important for you as the pack leader to show him that everything is OK.
We sometimes see here that the bigger pups might take a bit longer to get their sea legs. How is he doing getting up and hopping? Is he eating and drinking?
You might look through the Size and Age Matters forum for stories of big pups.
Do you have any specific questions we can help you with?
Hang in there- the vets never seem to tell us how hard the recovery period can be. Lots of experience here to help you through!
Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls
15 December 2017
you are absolutely in the right place for support. I am nowhere near as experienced as all of these amazing tripawds and their parents, but my vet can tell you, when I got the diagnosis for sweet Otis, the first thing I said was “I would never amputate his leg” and now we are proud members of tripawd world! Otis had his surgery on Monday and I never would have done it without this community. You will get support and advice from everyone…even though Otis is recovering okay, he has spent all afternoon staring at me and generally trying to get comfortable very awkwardly, which of course makes me question our decision, but watching him hop is much better than watching him limp.
Give your sweetie some time, that’s what everyone has told me, and I believe he will amaze you. I can’t give advice but I want to pay the support Otis and I have received forward a million times over…
I can’t give advice…
Sure you can, you just did. Thanks for chiming in. Your future forum posts will not require moderation.
Start here for lots of helpful links (and an e-book coupon) if you ever need help navigating the many resources Tripawds has to offer.
Almost everyone of us here doubted our decision in the early stages of recovery. My very first post here was along the lines of: “Day six and I fear I have made a HORRIBLE decision!” Actually, it took me three weeks before I could say I did this FOR my Happy Hannaw and not TO her!!!
Moreso than “lost and confused”, is due to his good pain meds. Hopefully he’s on some good pain meds right now. Plus, he still has the hospital pain meds still in his system.
As you can see, YOU ARE NOT ALONE!! We understand the panic that can arise duriing these first days of recovery. Like OTIS’S Mom, when my Vet first mentioned “amputation” for my Happy Hannah, I also said “No way.” I can tell you now, it was the best decision ever!
As Karen said, this .is MAJOR surgery can be a bit harder on larger dogs at first. Humans would still be in the hospital on a morphine drip!!
I think Karen covered most of my questions. Tell us more about the pain meds he’s on, the frequency and doses. Did he come hom with a fentanyl patch? Is he drinking? Has he peed? Is he able to sit up yet?
We’ll be looking for your updates and then we can help you furthw with your specific concerns. STAY CONNECTED!! We’ll help you get through this rough period!
Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!
13 August 2015
YES it will get better! The first three days we were much like you. Our Max wouldn’t/couldn’t get up and when we did get him up it was like we’d taken both of his back legs. But I believe it was day four when all of a sudden he came hopping in the kitchen on his own and from that point on he had it figured out. The drugs are a necessary evil they need them for pain but they can defininately disorient them too. One thing I learned early on is if I acted like all of this was no big deal and stayed calm and positive Max followed suit. If I panicked so did he. Things WILL get better for you both shortly here you’re at the hardest part of recovery right now in these early days. Hang in there you’re doing fine! We’re here for you! Sending hugs!
I agree with everyone here. The emotions that we go through is normal. What I learned is that our boy was in way more pain than we realized and once we removed that pain he seemed to have a look of relief almost immediately. Yes, all the medications for pain made him appear to be lost and/or depressed. Once we figured out timing of his pain meds, he stayed comfortable and slowly perked up each day. We are 25 days post amputation and Bubs is happy and pain free.
I can only say “be strong and be positive”… Lean on all the wonderful folks here in Tripawds, because we’ve all experienced it, are going through it, or have been through this journey and now have Tripawds angels.
Remember, as the saying goes, “It’s better to hop on three legs than to limp on four”. So when you second guess your decision, you remember that phrase. As hard as it is right now just know you relieved your boy of the excruciating pain Osteosarcoma causes.
Bubba and Family
Hello guys, thank you so much for you guys kind words. My baby’s name is Po. Omg yes it is hard and I cannot leave his sight and checking on his at his every move. He does not seem in pain. He had his surgery Monday Jan 8th and brought him home Wed Jan 10th. He is on Gabapentin (every 8 hours) and carprofen (every 12 hours). He can get up on his own when the floor is not slippery and he can hop for like 10 meters or so when he wants to. I just hope he will find his sprite again. He seems pretty tired. He pees. I have to give him food on the floor (if I am eating a treat he will get up and try to wabble over) water the same, I just give him water on the floor. He is pretty stubborn and he seems mad at me right now. cvb5, good luck with Otis! Po does the same thing, he just looks at me like what have you done?!?!.
He is my baby and it is heart breaking to see him like this. An pic of Po https://www.pin…..931261486/
PO’IS ADORABLE!!!! ,He wore his purple ribbon with such style!!! :-):-):-)
Of course he’s rired! 🙂 He just had major surgery and he’s using a whole lot of e ergy right now hopping on three legs. Try holding one of your legs up and hopping for a couple of minutes. Or even better, get down on all fours and hold o e lf your arms upmor one of your legs and try moving forward. It’s EXHAUSTING!!
Po will gain his strength and get his “sprite” back as he continues to recover. Right now he needs complete rest.
As soon as you can, get some non-slip scatter rugs, or cheap yoga mats and cover any of the exposed hardwood or vinyl floors. Slippery floors are like walking through a mine field for a tripawd.
Everyone here will tell you he in no way is looking at you questioning what “you” have done. All he knows is his painful leg is gone and he is figuring out a new way to walk
If he does start to show signs of pain, ask your Vet about adding Tramadol I to the mix. It works well in conjunction with Gabapentin. Dogs are stoic and hide their pain very well. If he’s eating and drinking, no heavy panting, shaming, whining, he may not be having too much pain.
You might try massaging him up and down his spine, all around his shoulder and neck area to help relieve any muscle strain.
Continue to be upbeat and confident arpund Po. He’s very tuned I to your energy and needs to know everything is okay! And it is!! Po will jave his “sprite” back sloooowly but surely.
Hang in tere! Youreq doing great!
Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!
Sally has given you excellent advice and I agree, Po is adorable with that purple ribbon. As Sally said, he is in no way angry with you, it’s the medication. Definitely ask your vet if he isn’t getting enough pain management from the meds. Bub was on two pain meds, an anti-inflammatory and antibiotic. I’m pretty sure he was seeing pink elephants dancing around the room most of the time. Rest is what Po needs and each day he will become stronger and you will be amazed how quickly they adapt to three legs.
I can first hand testify the value in massage. Our Bub is 27 days post amputation of his left front leg, scapula, and lumph nodes and I message twice a day every day and started this from day one. The muscle are fatigued from having to adjust the carrying the body on three legs.
We too, fed Bubba on the floor his water and hand fed him, mainly because his cone was so incredibly large. This method of feeding and watering kept him hydrated and nourished and he never refused his food or water.
Again, listen to Sally when she says to stay positive and confident so you can ensure that everything is okay and Po will respond to that and this will aid in his recovery.
Many, many hugs from Buuba
Thanks for the advices, I will start massaging is hind legs and back. That may help. He is still pretty down in the dump but i guess it has only been 3 days he is back from the hospital. I am not sure how much pain he is in. I will call the vet tomorrow or Monday to ask him more questions.
Thanks again guys. 🙂
I am not sure how much pain he is in…
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Yes, always check with your vet with any questions and/or concerns you have. I tend to be cautious when I respond to others, because I never want to give ill advised advise. However, I cannot stress the importance in identifying Po’s pain. Read, and read as much as you can to educate yourself so you can better manage Po’s pain. I read and re-read the above links in order to identify even the slightest inclination of discomfort with Bubba. Once I equipped myself with the added knowledge, Bubba’s pain management was under control and we are 28 days post op and he continues to thrive in his pain free life now.
As far as being down in the dumps, that is the pain meds and the fact that he is still recovering from major surgery. Try to maintain and positive, and upbeat attitude so Po can feel that nothing has changed between you and that he is going to be fine. Our fur babies are so incredibly sensitive to our emotions and they react in response to those feelings. Believe me, were so saddened when Bub was diagnosed, under went amputation, and seeing him in such a confused stupor from all the pain medications. If it weren’t for the knowledge of people on this website, and all the valuable information provided here, our emotions may have taken over and Bubs recovery may have gone in a different direction. I’m so incredibly thankful for the Tripawds community and all the knowledge and support we get from here. Even though we’ve never met anyone here, I feel like I’ve formed some meaningful connections.
The power of positive attitude, to me, is by far one of the best recovery medicines we can give these babies. Love your sweet Po and embrace each day with him.
Thank you for the update on Po and we all look forward to following his recovery. You are not alone, knowing that always gives me a piece of mind. So here’s to a speedy recovery to PO!
So many hugs,
Bubba and family
I did call the surgeon this morning, sent him pictures of Po’s scar, and talked to him about my concerns. I am trying to be positive but this has been rough on Po and I. The vet said some times dogs after such a surgery loose their will to live and I hope this is not happening to my baby. The vet doesn’t think so as Po seemed interested when people came in his cage the day after surgery but again i am not sure. He doesn’t seem in pain as far as I can tell and he is walking on his own. He hates when i rush to help him. He is SO stubborn.
I just realized your bubs just got amputated as well. It is nice to hear that now 3 weeks later he is happy and well. I have talked via email to a lady who had her Saint Bernard (10 year-old, same age as mine) amputated last august I think and it took about 2 to 3 weeks for her pup to walk unassisted. Now almost he is doing very well and happy.
I will keep you guys updated on Po’s recovery.
and thanks again.