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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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Panting and Rapid breathing
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Orono, MN
Forum Posts: 28
Member Since:
26 July 2010
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17 August 2010 - 7:30 am
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Week 1 tomorrow and he is still panting and breathing hard.  Talked to surgeon who recommends stopping antibiotics and to get checked by regular vet – appointment this morning at 9am to make sure everything is ok.


He is not eating his food – but will eat his biscuit treats.  Going to the bathroom ok – not sure what is going on – he doesnt seem like he can relax.


Hopefully its the medication messing with him – anyone else have this issue?

Golden Girls
17 August 2010 - 8:34 am
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Skyler did alot of panting after her surgery, and it was the medication that did it to her. She was on tramadol, cytoxin & prednizone. Eating was never an issue with her at that time. I'm sure someone else here can also provide some input. Hope all goes well with the appointment today. Please keep us updated.


Sending you a hug!

Cathy/Jane/Spirit Skyler/Chloe

17 August 2010 - 8:54 am
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Hi Ryan,

It's always a good idea to talk with your vet when you are concerned.

Maggie acted like that on tramadol- the panting and anxiety.  It's hard to tell the difference between pain and meds- often the same symptoms.  Is he still on pain meds?  Also at a week or so the incision my be getting itchy- is he trying to scratch at it?

On the eating- if he will eat something you are in good shape.  At this point in his recovery I would feed him what he wants to eat, within reason.  I always found with Mag the longer I had her on 'special' food, the longer it took to get her to eat her regular food. He is probably not as active as before surgery so maybe not burning so many calories.  And different meds sometimes cause lack of appatite- it does happen with anti-biotics.  There are several type of meds to help with stomach problems- again you can ask your vet.

If he is eating something and drinking, doing his business, can get around when he needs to, and the incision looks good it sounds to me like he is doing pretty well.  It often takes until the stitches or staples are out and the meds are out of the system for them to act more normal.



Here and Now

Forum Posts: 12324
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17 August 2010 - 9:22 am
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Sure sounds like reaction to his pain meds. What’s he on? Let us know what the vet says. Panting and restlessness after a week or so of medication is pretty common around here. Hopefully the vet will rule out infection or anything serious.

Forum Posts: 431
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17 August 2010 - 9:27 am
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Ajax panted and panted and panted – in faact, last week a posted a question b/c he was STILL panting more than normal – all vets (and jerry dawg) said it was fine and it has slowly decreased.  it definitely stayed while he was on the meds.  I don't want to say don't worry about it, since there are other things like the eating – but I don't think the panting alone is a matter for concern unless he seems to be having difficulty getting air (as opposed to just worrying you with the consistent panting)

western Washington
Forum Posts: 207
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7 June 2010
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17 August 2010 - 3:37 pm
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I agree that the meds could certainly be the culprit.

In addition, I have found that with my Kona, when it's hot, she seems to not be able to tolerate the heat as well as she used to…

Definitely a trip to your vet for a checkup with help to settle the nerves. We can relate all too well.


hang in there,




Kona turned 9yrs on April 16, 2010.
Kona was diagnosed Memorial Weekend 2010 with osteosarcoma.
Right rear leg amputated on June 4th. First chemo June 18th 2010
Second chemo July 9th, 2010      Third and final (yea !!!) chemo July 30th, 2010
ONE TOUGH GIRL this Australian Cattledog !

***Kona's journey/fight ended late in the evening of December 22, 2010***

                               We Love you so much Kona….always   

  Bella 9yrs, albino lab/aussie shep/pit?(abandoned in mts as a puppy) deaf & blind (from birth) in one eye limited vision in other.(laid back, ok lazy 73 lbs)

Cotton, 5yrs, albino hound/terrier of somesort/???(abandoned in mts as a puppy) deaf & blind in one eye(from birth), excellent vision in seeing eye. (ball addict…destroyer of Kong balls…yes,etc), high energy 55lbs knots of muscle)

Kona Kai's pup brother and sister as well as her buddy and playmate cat, Shaymous 12yrs (like Seamus), miss her terribly.

Forum Posts: 223
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18 August 2010 - 12:55 am
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Sophie definitely panted excessively and was anxious when she was on the meds right after her surgery. Truly the first couple of weeks are full of questions, anxious moments, second-guessing … and not much sleep for anyone. 

Definitely check in with your vet if you have any concerns, ask about the meds, and possible reactions. I agree with the others who have said that if your dog is eating anything, is drinking, is able to go to the bathroom and is getting around on their own ok – you are in good shape. Sophie's appetite came and went – off and on – from the time of her surgery until we lost her – about 3 months later. I know that others have had issues with appetite. Meds do play havoc with their appetite. 

You have a whole community of folks who have been through this, so don't hesitate to write. No doubt someone  – or lots of people – will have experienced similar things and can relate their stories and advice. 

Tana and Spirit Sophie

Sophie (1998 – 2010)

"Going Dog" def: living every day in the moment

"It came to me that every time I lose a dog they take a piece of my heart with them. And every new dog who comes into my life gifts me with a piece of their heart. If I live long enough, all the components of my heart will be dog, and I will become as generous and loving as they are."


Forum Posts: 707
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19 August 2010 - 7:41 am
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A few days after surgery we found Gus didn't get along with tramadol. We stopped that and he was alot better as far as panting and restlessness. We had him on rimidyl and Gabapentin. He was having trouble with phantom pain about 5 days after surgery. If you have things going in one end and out the other thats usually half the battle, those first 2 weeks life isn't really normal, so you just watch your buddy and roll with whatever happens, but communication with your vet is real important if you think something is wrong, but knowing your dog and understanding what he is dealing with helps make decisions, sometimes we over analyze at this part of the journey, that's why I say make sure if you think there is a problem you ask your vet. Laying around not caring about much is pretty normal also, hang in there, it ges better, Paws up, Spirit Gus and Dan 

My buddy Gus had a left front amputation on April 7, 2010 and lived a great life until July 26,2010

21 November 2016 - 6:56 pm
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About 3 months ago my beagle TEO had amputation of his leg. It was very difficult for us for the first 2 weeks, but one of the most exhausting parts was the constant panting at night. We checked many of the comments here in Tripawds and it seems like many dogs go through the same. We think it was because of the Tramadol, but even after we stop the medicine he kept panting and not sleeping at night. After trying many options finally we found one that worked immediately and the panting never came back, so I want to share it with all of you whom may need this help. By the way this is a natural remedy and may be safe for most dogs but you may want to check with your vet first.

I prepared a VALERIANA herbal tea, in a cup of water, but after it cool down, I put more water, since on my research I found out that dogs can use half of the regular dose of Valeriana, but since he was not going to drink all at once I just added one more cup of water and put it in his bowl. At first he was hesitant to drink it since it has a kind of strong smell. Valeriana is an herbal tea used for people to calm down and sleep. I remember that my grandmother and my mom used it frequently. My tactic to make him drink a good portion fo the tea as to feed him with a good size treat at night so he went for the water after it.

Another natural remedy that I used along with the Valeriana, was adding 4 to 5 drops of the RESCUE REMEDY. These are natural flower essences from Bach (that’s the brand) and they have a version for pets, which don’t have alcohol. So make sure you look for the Rescue Remedy for Pets. I gave them to Teo about half an hour to 1 hour before his time to go to bed and it worked great from day one. It not only made a big difference on his recuperation but also let us sleep through the night.  You can also use the rescue remedy about 45 minutes before you take your dog to the vet in case she gets anxious.

I really hope it help some doggies and parents on this difficult situation.

On a side note, now he was some fatty tumors on his other leg that are leaking/bleeding from time to time. One is probably turning into a tumor, since it feels attached to the muscle. I pray for his recuperation and hopefully he doesn’t suffer. Keep the good energy and be strong. heart

The Rainbow Bridge

Forum Posts: 28040
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25 April 2007
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21 November 2016 - 8:29 pm
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Thank you so much for sharing this Mao and Teo. We’re so glad you found ways to help your pup. Sounds like he’s done really well except for those pesky tumors. Please have your vet take a look just to rule out anything serious OK?

FYI , just want to reiterate this by people regarding Valarian Root…please do not administer without talking to your vet. Many pharmaceuticals will interact negatively with herbal supplements.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Forum Posts: 15
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16 November 2016
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27 November 2016 - 6:57 pm
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I think we are starting to notice the effects of tramadol with our girl, Dolly. She’s now five days out from amputation and she will pant heavily for a hour or so within a couple to few hours of taking tramadol. The crazy thing is that we never seemed to be bothered by it when she was taking three tabs every eight hours while she still had her nasty tumorous leg. our big problem is mid-night. We’ve been sleeping with her, but making her keep her cone on because we obviously can’t keep our eyes on her. I originally thought it was the cone making her uncomfortable and maybe a little claustrophobic, but this makes me think it could be something else. Our vet recommended melatonin for another situation and I wonder if that would be an option too? Has anyone ever tried that?

Forum Posts: 1601
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27 November 2016 - 7:13 pm
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I am not a vet, so this is just my own personal experience, plus what I have read from others on this site.

Did the panting start after you reduced her Tramadol dosage? It Could be that she is still painful. Five days is still pretty early in the recovery process. Our two dogs who took it at various times reacted totally differently to it. Murphy would just zonk, but Gus would be agitated and panting. Is she on any other meds in addition to Tramadol?

I don’t know anything about the use of melatonin in dogs. I do know that it gives me very vivid dreams…to the point that I will wake myself by yelling out warnings.

Kathi and the Turbotail April Angel…and the Labradork

Murphy is a five year old Lab/Chessie cross. He was hit by a car on 10/29/12 and became a Tripawd on 11/24/12. On 2/5/13, he had a total hip replacement on his remaining back leg. He has absolutely no idea that he has only three legs!

UPDATE: Murphy lived his life to the fullest, right up until an aggressive bone lesion took him across the Rainbow Bridge on April 9, 2015 and he gained his membership in the April Angels. Run free, my love. You deserve it!

Forum Posts: 1448
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27 November 2016 - 8:25 pm
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What else is Dolly taking?  And why would your vet have reduced the dose after surgery?  It seems like if anything, the dose would have gone up.  Most dogs come home on a combination of medications – Murphy came home on Tramadol, Rimadyl & Gabapentin.  Some come home with a Fentanyl patch.  Tramadol alone is not enough pain medication.


Donna, Glenn & Murphy 

Murphy had his right front leg amputated due to histiocytic sarcoma at 7 years old. He survived 4 years, 2 months & 1 week, only to be taken by hemangiosarcoma at 11 1/2 years 6/12/17  
Read about Murphy's Life on Three Legs


London, UK

Forum Posts: 1610
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15 December 2015
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28 November 2016 - 12:06 am
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I agree with Kathi and Donna. To me (not a vet etc.)  this sounds like pain rather than a reaction to the Tramadol. I would definitely speak to your vet about increasing the Tramadol and adding a NSAI, such as Metacam or Rimadyl. Five days post amp, the hospital meds will have mostly left her system and she will be feeling it more. A lot of dogs need their pain meds adjusting at this point.

Good luck! Hope Dolly feels better soon.

Meg, Clare and Elsie Pie xxx

Meg, Mutt, aged around 12, adopted 31/12/2009. Sudden explosive right elbow fracture 06/12 (caused by IOHC), diagnosed with End Stage Arthritis 03/15, Total Elbow Replacement 08/15, problems with healing leading to skin graft & skin flap surgery, Chronic Infection leading to implant breakdown. Became a Tripawd 9th March 2016. 
Lives with Mum, Clare, watched over by Angel Pie and Angel Billie
My life as a MEG-A-STAR 

Minneapolis, MN
Forum Posts: 698
Member Since:
23 April 2016
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28 November 2016 - 7:40 am
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It is so hard to determine whether pain or reaction to meds as the symptoms seem so similar.  But I would wager that it is pain / discomfort with her system clearing the stronger surgical drugs from and relying entirely on the oral meds.  There is usually a fair amount of tweaking that can be done with the different meds – staggering and even increasing or decreasing the dosage.  I would really talk through the options with your vet.  How much Gabapentin and how often?  Gabapentin has a fairly wide range of possible dosage.  

Pofi was about 70 to 75 pounds. He took:

  • 100 mg Tramadol 3 x daily
  • 300 mg Gabapentin 3 x daily
  • 75 mg Rimadyl 2 x daily

He was taking these meds 2 weeks prior and 2 weeks post amputation.  In week three post op, we weaned from the Tramadol and Rimadyl over the course of that 7 days.  We also started tapering down the Gabapentin, lowering dosage and then frequency through weeks 3 and 4.  

Whatever tweaking you do in consultation with your vet, try to keep a log so you can back into what is working and what isn’t.

Lisa, Minneapolis

On October 27, 2016, nearly 6 months after amputation, and 18 months since his cancer likely started, we lost Pofi to a recurrence of Soft Tissue Sarcoma in his spine quite suddenly.  His canine sister also succumbed to cancer on March 1, 2019 - we lavished her with our love in the interim, but life was never quite the same without her only real canine friend. Cliff kitty had to leave us, too, suddenly, in August 2019. Lucia kitty grieved all these losses, but helped us welcome two new Lurchers into our home and our lives, Shae and Barley.

Blog: Pofi, Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumor Amputation

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