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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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One Week Out from Forelimb Amputation - Now Back Leg Is Sore :(
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4 August 2022 - 10:57 am
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My 11 YO pup is exactly one week out of forelimb amputation surgery to remove a nerve sheath tumor and we had many ups and downs the first few days. We've been keeping her in the basement, which has a walk-out to the backyard, and is quiet and away from the loudness of the rest of the house. She is comfortable down there, however, the last couple of days has been whining/howling a lot and trying to get up the stairs. While my partner and I have been taking turns staying down there with her 24/7, I know she just wants to be upstairs in her usual spot. She's been going on short leashed walks around the yard and for the most part, was doing really well with mobility - I was amazed at how quickly she was getting around despite the first few days being pretty bad with pain/squealing.

Yesterday, day 6 post-surgery, she was getting especially wound up. Howling at the bottom of the stairs (they're blocked off) and hopping around quite a bit. My partner took her outside for a wee, and as he was walking back up the driveway to bring her back in, he texted me and asked me to come outside. She was at the edge of the driveway standing there, somewhat shaking, and did not want to move. He wanted to pick her up and bring her back in the house but she's ~75 pounds and squirmy - I was really nervous to do this. We ended up bringing her dog bed out to the driveway so she could lie on it while we figured out how to get her back inside.

We ended up just loading her bed into our son's wagon and rolling her through the backyard and back into the basement. She spent the day lying mostly in the same spot, refusing to stand up and go outside. She did pee herself a couple of times, similar to days 1-2 post-surgery where she didn't want to get up at ALL. Today, she has stood up a few times, but I can see her back left leg is incredibly stiff, and when she is lying down, she doesn't want to straighten it at all. Worth noting one of the surgeons who examined her 1-2 months ago said she had a torn cruciate in her right leg... but this new issue is on her left leg, and the same side as the forelimb amputation (of course). The right-leg issue seemed to self-resolve (maybe because tumor limb took precedence for pain). When I expressed concern about going for amputation with this issue, the surgeon said if she was already getting around fine pre-amputation, she would probably be okay. 

I went to bed hoping she just overexerted herself and she'd be better in the morning, but she isn't. I've gotten her out the back door, but she refuses to move further to go pee. (She really dislikes the sheet I'm trying to use as a sling too!) I'm feeling so heartbroken over this, that we went through the stressful decision of amputation and now her remaining legs are starting to bother her again so soon. Getting a proper diagnosis for her tumor was HELL and took 3 months, so I'm just so sad at the thought of hauling her back to the vet for more tests, more prodding, and likely more waiting for answers.

Not sure what I am looking for here - maybe just some support. This has been such an incredibly hard year seeing my formerly spunky dog decline so rapidly. I am so grateful for this community and have read many posts over the past month while I prepared for amputation. I've read a few posts about amputees going under for TPLO but I don't know if I can do it. It is so much to ask of her, and selfishly, me.

(A positive: the surgeon called with her biopsy results and they confirmed it is a grade 1 tumor, and they removed it entirely. He doesn't expect it to come back at another site. So...that was amazing news.)

The Rainbow Bridge


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4 August 2022 - 6:19 pm
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Hi Marley's pack, welcome. Your future posts won't need to wait for approval so post away. We are so sorry for the ruff time! How is she doing now?  I have more questions at this point than answers, but here goes;

What pain meds is she on? How often, what kind, and how much?

Did you talk to your vet about her pain issues? What did they say?

How is her appetite right now? 

Have you tried ice therapy on her? A few minutes of an ice pack a few times a day may be helpful right now. 

Also, are you certain the issue is on her opposite leg? A lot of times dogs will make it look that way, like the issue is on an opposing leg, when it isn't. I forget how our therapist explained it but I believe it's like how when our back hurts we limp on the opposite side of the pain.

Sorry to have more questions than answers but maybe we can give you some direction so you can get a clearer picture to your vet team. 

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5 August 2022 - 6:48 pm
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jerry said
Hi Marley's pack, welcome. Your future posts won't need to wait for approval so post away. We are so sorry for the ruff time! How is she doing now?  I have more questions at this point than answers, but here goes;

What pain meds is she on? How often, what kind, and how much?

Did you talk to your vet about her pain issues? What did they say?

How is her appetite right now? 

Have you tried ice therapy on her? A few minutes of an ice pack a few times a day may be helpful right now. 

Also, are you certain the issue is on her opposite leg? A lot of times dogs will make it look that way, like the issue is on an opposing leg, when it isn't. I forget how our therapist explained it but I believe it's like how when our back hurts we limp on the opposite side of the pain.

Sorry to have more questions than answers but maybe we can give you some direction so you can get a clearer picture to your vet team. 

  

Thank you for your response! 

She is doing better now, a bit more mobile, but still extremely stiff when walking. She is on 300 mg gabapentin 3x a day, 5mg oxycodone 3x a day (last dose was last night), and Metacam once a day. I didn't love how she was on the oxycodone - it sapped her appetite, today is actually the first day I have gotten her to eat kibble in almost a MONTH! (Added some wet food on top and she ate all the wet food and 2/3 the kibble. Previously I could barely get her excited to eat bacon.) She was also extremely lethargic while on the oxycodone to the point she didn't want to go outside and pee, and would instead pee herself. (I know it's the oxy causing this as we tried it on her pre-amputation and pre-diagnosis just to see if it would help her feel any better and the same thing happened with the peeing on the bed.)

I tried ice and she was not a fan to say the least haha. We are trying to get a rehab appointment for next week to get her started on physio and see if we can loosen her up a bit. That vet says groin muscle strains are pretty common due to the change in the way dogs walk after amputation, so fingers crossed it is something we can manage with therapy and not more surgery!

Livermore, CA




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5 August 2022 - 8:49 pm
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Hi and welcome.

First off- congrats on the path report!

Our surgeon said that Maggie was only allowed short, leashed potty breaks for the first two weeks post op.  It's possible Marley strained something or just exhausted herself with all the 'demands' she is making.  A week out from surgery is still early in the recovery process, its not unusual for new Tripawds at this point to 'crash'.  Their new gait alone makes them tired and sore. And it is also commonly seen here that more 'mature' pups take an extra week or two to get completely back to themselves.

If she still needs help with a sling you might try a DIY sling made out of a cloth shopping bag.

I was on oxy once and I certainly didn't have any interest in moving! There was no pain, but there also was no interest in anything.

Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls

Tri-pug Maggie survived a 4.5 year mast cell cancer battle only to be lost to oral melanoma.

1999 to 2010

 

              Maggie's Story                  Amputation and Chemo

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6 August 2022 - 7:05 am
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krun15 said
Hi and welcome.

First off- congrats on the path report!

Our surgeon said that Maggie was only allowed short, leashed potty breaks for the first two weeks post op.  It's possible Marley strained something or just exhausted herself with all the 'demands' she is making.  A week out from surgery is still early in the recovery process, its not unusual for new Tripawds at this point to 'crash'.  Their new gait alone makes them tired and sore. And it is also commonly seen here that more 'mature' pups take an extra week or two to get completely back to themselves.

If she still needs help with a sling you might try a DIY sling made out of a cloth shopping bag.

I was on oxy once and I certainly didn't have any interest in moving! There was no pain, but there also was no interest in anything.

Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls

  

Thank you so much Karen. You're right - I NEED to keep reminding myself - major surgery, rest, relax, and continue to hope! I think because we've been on such a rollercoaster journey the past several months, every setback immediately sets me into panic mode. I need to trust the process. Reading posts here helps so much because I know I'm not alone. I knew surgery would be tough to get through, but wow, I really underestimated it. I guess you don't really know until you're in the situation.

I got her outside to pee and poop this AM (she wanted to go on our lawn which has quite a slope and she has actively been avoiding) which made me really happy. I could tell even this short jaunt tuckered her out which broke my heart, but...one step (hop?) at a time.

The Rainbow Bridge


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6 August 2022 - 12:14 pm
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Oh I'm soooooo glad she is doing better. Karen is right about the oxy, it's a great way to describe what it does. The peeing in bed is very likely related to the oxy too. See if you can get your vet to prescribe an alternative, like maybe a muscle relaxer to help her through this hump. 

Yes, one hop at a time is exactly right! It's good that she was able to get out. Keep in mind the lawn slope is very, very hard work so if she's tired after that, it explains a lot about why she's so tired.

Paws crossed for a very good weekend together! Keep us posted OK?

P.S. Tripawds Foundation can pay for your first rehab visit so please take advantage of the program! 

Virginia




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6 August 2022 - 12:19 pm
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As you can tell from the replies from Karen and  Jerry, YOU ARE NOT ALONE!! And you are not alone in your concerns.  We get it.

This early part of recovery (and it is early from MAJOR surgery) is no picnic.  What you are exp and the behavior  of Harley is perfectly  normal at this point.  It is soooo jard to be patient,  but Harley is recovering  at her own pace in her own way.  And your right, unti you are actually IN the recovery at hom, it's hard to "prepare" for this part of recov.  Add physical and mental exhaustion  from lack of sleep and worry....yeah....can't  prepare for that!

You do have reason to celebrate though!!...

got her outside to pee and poop this AM (she wanted to go on our lawn which has quite a slope and she has actively been avoiding) which made me really happy

True signs of the sparkle starting  to come back....slowly but surely!  Every "little" improvement is a HIGE VICTORY so be sure and celebrate it!

You are doing a great job and clearly  stronger than you realize.   Keep that strong and confident  energy  when around Harley too.

Stay connected..we are here for you!

Hugs

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

PS.  Yes, hewill tirebpvery easily at first. He's  adjusting  to three, on pain meds, gett over major surgery.   So stick with the SHORT potty breaks for now  and then back in for rest.

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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7 August 2022 - 9:13 am
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Thank you both. This is such a wonderfully supportive community. You guys are so strong reading these tough stories day in and day out and still providing advice and showing love to member after member...I don't know how you do it!

Marley had an okay day yesterday. We've been leaving the back door open down here (she is never unsupervised) just so she can sit and get some fresh air as she is pretty hesitant to actually come outside. Yesterday she gave me a run for my money, however... she went barrelling outside before I could leash her and hopped onto the lawn to go pee. I admit, my eyes lit up at her little bunny hopping. I could tell she wanted to go further but I ran inside, got the leash, and coaxed her back in. She's just not in a position to even do short leash walks around the yard with how bad her back legs are. 

Today is day 10 post-surgery. She had a good night (didn't pee herself and was quite the bed hog according to my partner - we alternate sleeping in the basement on a mattress with her so it feels like "home") and I managed to get her outside for a pee and poop again this morning. I could tell it took all of her energy to move...her back legs are incredibly stiff. We have our rehab appointment on Tuesday and I'm nervous for it. I will be asking that vet for her opinion on whether Marley will benefit from rehab or not (ie will she recommend surgery, which I'm not comfortable to do again, especially so soon, especially because the resting period is even longer than now!). I feel this immense guilt over getting her leg amputated, only to have her suffer with her rear legs now. I knew it was a risk factor going into surgery, but I felt at the time we would just try it and see. I didn't expect it to be this hard for her. It's really tough feeling like I maybe made the wrong decision. Like cancer and amputation isn't bad enough, but to have her little body failing on top of it? It makes me angry.

Her appetite is mostly fully back after discontinuing the oxys, so that is a big plus for us. I am really trying to focus on the positives but it's easy for me to become overwhelmed pretty quickly. It's been a tough year.

I can't seem to upload any more than a couple pictures at a time to my blog, but here is Marley a few days ago... always smiling (excuse the toddler shtshow in the back! Lol)

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The Rainbow Bridge


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7 August 2022 - 4:53 pm
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Ohhh how do we do it? Because of dogs like Marley. What a great photo! When they have sparkle in their eyes, and they feel good again, it's what gives us hope for others who join us in the future. Marley isn't there yet, she's not 100% but this is soooooo early and she can get there with some guidance, rest, and therapy. Look at those eyes! She's saying "MOM! I'm doing it! I can do this!"

You still have some room for pics in your blog, not sure what's going on because your photos are a small enough size. Post in Technical Support for help from Admin OK?

Meanwhile, some thoughts ...

 she went barrelling outside before I could leash her and hopped onto the lawn to go pee. I

OMD! This is GREAT! Think of where she was just a few days ago. You did the right thing by reeling her in. But overall this is progress. So are the other signs, like having a good night, eating, etc. Keep focused on them, she is getting there.

 We have our rehab appointment on Tuesday and I'm nervous for it. I will be asking that vet for her opinion on whether Marley will benefit from rehab or not (ie will she recommend surgery, which I'm not comfortable to do again, especially so soon, especially because the resting period is even longer than now!). 

Is the surgeon your rehab therapist too? 

When it comes to surgery, surgeons like to do it, it's what they do best. They have a natural tendency to recommend it first. But it's super smart to talk to a rehab therapist who can see another point of view in a situation like this. I'm so impressed you got into a clinic on Tuesday and am eager to find out how it goes. Remember Tripawds Foundation can pay for your first rehab visit .

I feel this immense guilt over getting her leg amputated, only to have her suffer with her rear legs now. I knew it was a risk factor going into surgery, but I felt at the time we would just try it and see. I didn't expect it to be this hard for her. It's really tough feeling like I maybe made the wrong decision. 

Totally understandable. This is something we would all feel. But just remember you did the best you could with the information you were given. There are no right or wrong decisions here. You were open to seeing how things went, and now it's time to be open about the next fork in the road. You can do this without beating yourself up. It leads nowhere, and it's not good medicine for her so try to be kinder to yourself OK?

Love love love the pic of your pretty girl. Thanks for sharing. Keep us posted!

Virginia




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7 August 2022 - 8:59 pm
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OMD!! That picture of Marley just lights up my world!!  I couldn't  help but smile back at her perky toothy grin! 😁 

First of all, apologies to MARLEY for calling him Harley!!  Mixng names up, making a gazzillion typos, sometimes reading my replies cam be quite....er.....er....challenging!

I really do want to ditto everything  Jerry said.  And I want to thank uoj for veing so honest about the emotions  you're feeling right now.  Whether same circumstance, similar  circumstances or different circumstances,  we cam relate to those up and down emotions of second guessing, frustration, anger, feeling overwhelmed.  Yeah, we get it!   

Again, I reference Jerry's reply as it should help "talk you off the edge" and give you some reassurances.  So much wisdom, insight and knowledge in her words.

And keep in mind, you not only made the decision  out of love for your Marley, out of knowing her strong and determined personality,   it also with Vet recommendation that she could handle this.  Almost every would have taken the amputation path. 

One thing that stood out, while part of her ossues may be the result of cruciate, it's also kist as likely that some of the stiffness, etc is very sore muscles while trying to adapt to three.  If I recall, she actually  was walking/hopping fairly well a few days ago until she all of  the sudden had to have you and your husband carry her in.

Somoften this early on the slightest muscle tweak can cause all sorts of havoc on mobility.   Have you gone up and down her spine and neck and shoulder  area with a thorough massage to see of anh signs of tension?  Regardless, massage anyway several times a day to help eliminate any tightness that may be hi during her gait.

Really hope your Rehab Specialist  is well versed in trioawds, cruciate, etc.  Again, there may be other issues going on other than possible cruciate. AndIF... IF...IF.IF..there is any issue with cruciate, there ARE conservative approaches that can be effective.  And believe it or not, allowing acar tissue to form for stab is one of them.  l TW, I have a front legger tripawd who has had cruciate rep on both back legs (not at same time) and a four legger with cruc repair in one back leg..

Okay, paws crossed for some solutions from the Rehab Specialist. Marley is very fortunate  to j5ave you as his advocate.  Without question, that dog jas a lot of spunk and quite determined....and all that's a plus 👍

Glad everyone had a good night  sleep last night.  I'm sure Marley is enjoying  having a pajama pawty each night with uiu two rotating,.  Bery sweet!!!💖

Higs

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 August 2022 - 7:34 pm
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We had another pretty good day today - for the first time, she went and laid on the grass and sat out there for an hour. It melted my HEART to see her in her usual spot, queening over the city. Of course, she barked her face off at the passersby and when I turned my back for a SPLIT second, I found her behind the shed mowing on some grass (her fave thing). It was tough getting her back in the house because of her stiffness (needed lots of encouragement) and she all but collapsed on her bed when we got inside. That damn back leg(s)! She is pretty uncomfortable and keeps changing positions while resting etc so I know she is in pain. So thankful we have an appt tomorrow, but I'm imagining now they will want to take x-rays, which would require sedation (I think) given how they would have to manipulate her legs and hips. So... I'm not sure we will even get answers tomorrow. It goes against all my "We're not going to vet ever again" proclamations after months of appointments and prodding, but I'm not sure how I will react in the moment if that's what they recommend as next steps. It feels shitty to stop now after we've invested so much time and energy, and also shitty to move forward because we've invested so much already, you know?

Thank you both for the encouragement. It is easy for me to jump to worst-case scenario. And Googling adds to that stress ; ) You're right...she was hopping along fine the first few days, so this seems like a new trauma. I was even smiling to my hubby how she was laying down like a "roast chicken" which I hadn't seen her do in a LONG time the second day after surgery! I am very curious to hear what our rebab vet has to say tomorrow (and no, she isn't our surgeon), but still pretty nervous. I actually brought Marley to see her back in May after our family vet misdiagnosed her with arthritis - my vet was intent on just using drugs but I wanted to explore other options. Upon examination, she said this isn't arthritis...this is probably cancer. And thus began our crazy journey to where we are today. I have kept in contact with her throughout the past few months and I'm super grateful they squeezed us in with only a few days' notice. I have been a pretty big advocate for Marley as well - some vets (and support staff) seemed lazy and just wanted to pass the buck way too often!

ALSO, tomorrow I'm quite nervous about how to get her into the back of the SUV :/ I don't think she can walk that far (around the house) and then lifting her up, I am not comfortable to do (squirmy). We may just put her and her bed in the wagon and then lift the bed + her into the SUV, but that too is kind of "eeee." I wish she were little so I could cart her around everywhere! Thankfully I have my hubby to help.

It is morbid, but when I was more heavily leaning towards euthanasia vs amputation, I had created a 'quality of life' checklist for Marley. Right now, I'd say she is meeting 3/8 of those checkpoints. It is really hard to know when is when. When is enough enough? Yes, she's healing from major surgery, but how much longer do we entertain the setbacks? I said it earlier but I'm saying it again - I VASTLY underestimated how hard recovery would be for us. Every dog is different, yes. This has been pretty tough on my little family and the ongoing limbo is really stressful. Marley is my heart dog through and through.

I will update tomorrow on how it goes!

PS I give her daily massages and she seems to really relax into it! I haven't found any painful parts so far (when she looks back at the body part? I think I read that is pain). I massage her neck, back, and legs/hips. There is definite clicking sounds however when she walks or shifts her hips to try to get comfortable when lying down. The clicking is new, and quite loud.

Virginia




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8 August 2022 - 9:18 pm
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So sweet you jad a good day with Marley.  Barking, mowing" the grass.........I know it did you both good to experience  that!👍

Definitely  understand the backp and forth on "no more Vet visits".....then doing more Vet visits.  She may not need "light sedation".  Actually I've found "light" is a misnomer, at least for my dogs.  Seems like it takes a solid 24 hrs or more to shake it off. 

I would definitely express your concerns about manipulating  her leg.  An xray should confirm one way or another Take this FWIW, but it seems that manipulating a potential cruciate leg can actually make the tear worse if scar tissue is starting to form for stabilization  (if trying to treat conservatively).   Again take this FWIW.  May or may not be  true. 

And no, it wasnt 'morbid" at all to make notes on what quality means specifically  to Marley.  It's called LOVE!  .It's kind of hard to determine  true quality at this point, simply because  Marley still is in "-recovery mode" just from the surgery itself..

Im sure It does seem like  being in limbo to some degree, but the reality is you are actually using this time productively  doing your research, setting up the Rehab appt, etc.  I can only imagine the toll it is taking on your family...emotionally, physically,  financially. I'm so sorry this has been so tough, so frustrating, do unexpected. 

I keep going back to Marley being a good candidate, albeit with a known "risk".  It's the type "risk" that most would take.  Marley was doing so well those first many days.  Nit sure where I'm going with this.....guess just thinking there might be something else going on that the Rehab can pinpoint and, hopefully treat.

Sending pawsitive energy to sweet Marley💖

Hugs

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

PS. Yeah, putting Marley on some sort of ved and carrying  Marley out to car may be your best bet.

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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9 August 2022 - 10:53 am
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Hey I'm just thinking of you and hoping for a good report from the visit today. Let us know when you are able OK? Thinking of you and Marley. sp_hearticon2sp_hearticon2sp_hearticon2

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10 August 2022 - 4:42 pm
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Update!

So the morning of the rehab appointment was a little crazy - we've put a few sod patches right outside the back door so Marley doesn't have to trot as far to relieve herself. She was pooping on it yesterday, and did what she usually does after a good poop (pre-amputation) - try to sprint SUPER quickly (yes, while leashed) afterward and run circles in the yard. Except........she couldn't do that. So she really hurt herself using this sudden jolt of energy and it was super tough getting her back in the house. I was worried we wouldn't be able to get to the vet's

We ended up having to coax her into her crate, and then carry the crate out through the backyard and put it into the SUV. And then hauled her and the crate out straight into her waiting room at the vet's. This dog is treated like royalty (and my arms and traps are so sore from carrying her chunk butt around!). It's a good thing we crated her vs just putting her and her bed inside because she stood up almost the ENTIRE ride there (how? WHY?) and was barking and being a brat. So for anyone who has a large, injured dog and isn't sure how to hoist them into a vehicle...try this.

The vet's diagnosis: full ACL tear : /. So, not great news, and it's on her left leg, the same side as the amputated forelimb. The vet was actually really optimistic and said for the injury she has, Marley is getting around quite well. Her right leg, which we had assessed by the same vet back in May and was told she had a slight tear in it, has actually improved since then! That was good news. The vet thinks Marley will be able to build up sufficient scar tissue to help stabilize the joint (pardon me if my lingo / translation of the diagnosis is way off icon_lol) within a couple of months with proper rest, restriction, and laser. So the vet thinks a conservative approach may very well work, so I'm off to do ALL the research on this! (Would appreciate if anyone has any to send my way too!) We will be doing laser twice a week.

Here is her first laser session yesterday... she seemed pretty pleased with herself

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The Rainbow Bridge


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10 August 2022 - 7:15 pm
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Marley has so much spunk and sparkle! She has the magic ingredients to bounce back from this. YAY! smiley_clap What a whirlwind of a day, thanks for updating. It's a very, very good sign that the vet is confident she can recover with a conservative approach. I'm sorry you're even dealing with this issue, but taking this approach is the best news in a situation like this. Most vets jump into a surgery recommendation so I'm glad yours is willing to try therapy.

Unfortunately these cruciate tears are really common in Tripawds. Most Tripawds have surgery done, a few are able to take a conservative approach like Marley. These articles are mostly about surgery but you might find some applicable info:

https://tripawd.....eg-surgery

I also searched for a conservative approach for this kind of injury, and came up with a bunch of results. They may need sifting but here's some to get started:

https://tripawd.....;include=3

Now that you have a diagnosis, be sure to start a new topic about it in Hopping Around so that we can follow her bounce-back and cheer her on!

Did the vet recommend any kind of stabilizing brace? Just wondering. 

LOVE that photo! She looks like she's in really good shape, it's such a huge plus in this kind of situation. Stay pawsitive and know that she CAN get through this!

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