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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Hi there – this is the most helpful site I’ve come across since researching amputation – I’m just waiting for the surgeon to call so I can run some questions past him, but wondering if any of you might have some advice?
What kinds of things can I do to make Smokey’s recovery easier on him? I’m worried now because the more I read some of the posts, the more I feel that we’re not in a very good living situation – we live in an apartment and unfortunately we have to walk a little ways to get to a grassy area and Smokey is very picky about where he decides to do his business. We will be going to my parents house for him to recuperate but I’m starting to worry about how we’ll live after that, given he’ll need to walk a bit and not have a yard to just hop into.
I’m also starting to think of the little things – how easy is it going to be for him to get into a car? It’s just me and him and he’s about 85 pounds that I’m unable to pick up…. are ramps or steps good to use? And he’s 11! And I swear he and I have conversations with each other and he understands everything that is going on .
I think I’m just having a bit of a panic of how I’m reading how others may not bounce back as quickly and I’m afraid that might be my boy.
16 February 2008
A harness (e.g. from Ruffwear) will be handy to give him a lift to get in and out of the car, or even share a little bit of his weight when he shows some fatigue during walks.
However, we don’t recommend using the harness before the incision completely healed up. For the time being, you can use a bath towel to wrap around his chest evenly to give him some support.
Don’t get overly worried. Since your plan is to bring him to your parents’ place to recuperate, after a couple of weeks of recovery and gaining back some strength, it should be easier for him to adjust to going back to the apartment.
Genie was 12 and about 68 lbs when she had the surgery. I wouldn’t say she bounced back "quickly", but the progress was steady.
The only worry I had for the first 6 weeks was her roller coaster style of appetite. Her weight had gone down to 58 lbs; but when the pain meds and antibiotics were finished, her appetite was back to normal.
If Genie could recover without major problem, Smokey definitely will be able to do that, and perhaps much better.
… If Genie could recover without major problem, Smokey definitely will be able to do that, and perhaps much better.
Hi Jessie – thank you so much for your thoughts on this – very helpful! I just spoke with the surgeon and we might try to schedule something for next Wednesday. I know it’s just nervousness around a major surgery. He’s a fighter though so I’ll keep the faith and do my best to be strong for both of us.
I’m so sorry to see that it looks like Genie has moved on? I hope you are doing well and wish you the best.
Hi there – this is the most helpful site I’ve come across since researching amputation …
Thanks for the kind comments. That means alot to my people, they do most the work!
Don’t panic.You’re living situation should be fine, once you get through the first few weeks. A support harness will definitely help when it comes to getting into the car – again, after the first few weeks when the surgery wound has completely healed. Ramps are helpful too, but can awkward and inconvenient.
With the harness, you can help Smokey jump up into the car, and guide him down gently out of the car. Just don’t let him jump down on his own!
To help make recovery easy on Smokey, take it easy on yourself. Don’t show fear or grief around him. Pretend life hasn’t changed a bit. Otherwise, he will follow your lead and the whole pack will be miserable.
Depending on how far "a little ways" is to go potty, you might consider a wagon to get there the first few days. Or maybe some pads inside the house, just in case. But Smokey may surprise you. He may try to hold it for a few days at first. But when we gotta go, we gotta go and we find a way.
Keep him off the bed or couch until he’s regained his strength. Make sure he has a firm bed of his own. Raise his food/water bowls off the ground. Consider putting down runners if you have slippery floors. And search these forums using keywords for any other specific concerns you may have!
28 May 2008
Hi Smokey…best wishes to you pal. Tell your pawrents to stay as positive and upbeat as possible…we pick up so much on how they are feeling and follow suit.
Mom always stayed happy and upbeat with me and in front of me and it really sped up my recovery. I knew she snuck in another room to cry sometimes when I wasn’t looking…or so she thought, but that’s ok…I know how much she loves me and she’s entitled to a few tears.
I’m 10 and 3 1/2 months post op…I’m doing FABULOUS…knock on wood. I can do everything that I used to do except take really long walks. It just takes a time to recover and it took me time and mom was worried about making the right decision. Tell your pawrents to have faith and listen to their hearts…that’s where the answers lie.
Stay in touch here…we’re here to help in any possible way. This site is an enormous support. There is a tremendous amount of information, support and love here.
Our prayers are with you ~
Love Zeus and Mom
Heather and Spirit Zeus - Our life changing journey…from the earth to the heavens…one day at a time…always together
30 March 2008
Hi Smokey, welcome to the gang. I think my Mom is related to Zeus Mom. She also stayed very upbeat with me and never showed me whether she was stressed or nervous or worried (eventhough I knew deep inside she was poopin in her pants worried). They made sure that I took it easy for the first few weeks but like everyone says after a while we get the hang of being a tripawd. I am 11yrs old and have been a tripaws since April and you know what, my Mom and myself most of the time forget I am missing a leg. I do everything I used to do, in a more moderate way but I play with my frisbee, my ball and love life. I am just discovering the art of going up and down stairs but with the help of my pawrents I am getting the hang of it and I also have a harness to help lift me up when needed. So stay strong and positive…you and your pawrents will be fine. Besides you have the support and the best wishes of all of us…lots of licks your way! Kellie
Like Smokey, my 10 and 1/2 year female Golden, Bailey, will be joing the pack. This coming Tuesday, 7-29, she is scheduled for her surgery. The CT suggested synovial sarcoma in her left hind leg. This is the same leg she had knee surgery on when she was 5. Her other hind leg has a "partial tear" on that knee. Bailey shows not sign of pain. If you watched her you wouldn’t realize that something is not right. There is just some swelling in that leg. I was wondering if anyone else has a large, female who has lost her hind leg. OK, so I am curious about what it will be like for her when "nature calls". Guess she will have to learn how to "pee" standing up just like the boys. (sorry but sometimes humor is what I use to get through hard times, even though my heart is hurting.) I do plan on sleeping on the floor with Bailey while she recovers. She is use to sleeping in the bed between me and my husband. I was also wondering about how long to expect the pain to last? I hate this "C" word. How can something so bad happen to such wonderful living creatures? Right now I am very anxious. I have gone through so many emotions this is one I have not used yet. Like some others, this is not my first with cancer. The Golden we were lucky to share our lives with passed at 8. Now we are faced with this again with this great girl. I also have to give attention to Bailey’s older sister ("Buttons", and 11 and 1/2 year Sheltie). Has anyone used "wheels" for their dog with a rear leg amputation? I was wondering if it might help with the other knee a bit. We do plan on getting Bailey a harness for sure. I was just wondering about the "wheels" to help with the walks and she still loves to run after what ever you throw. But that other knee does give me some concerns as well. I am very thankful to Jerry, to this site and to everyone else who has given suggestions, help, and shared their stories. .
How can something so bad happen to such wonderful living creatures?
That’s a question none of us can answer. Just remember that we dogs don’t bother to ask. We live in the now by the mantra, "It is what it is" and we mve on.
Please wait until Bailey has regained her strength before letting her up on the bed at night. The last thing she needs is to hurt herself getting up or down on her own. What she does need is a good firm mattress on the ground – unless you think she may try to jump up on her own in the middle of the night. In which case you might consider crafting a ramp or steps up to the bed. After she heals a bit.
Thanks so much for your kind comments and for joining the discussion forums. We look forward rto hearing about Bailey’s progress.
Yes, thank you. I do plan on sleeping on the floor as I did after her knee surgery. As I know she will try to get to where I am. As she starts to get better I will then move to the couch and then when the Doc says she is ready will I move back to the bed. I had the discussion with my husband about a better mattress for her. So you helped my cause. When I finally do leave (only after I know she is out of surgery and doing fine) then figure shopping will help. So I plan on going to find something better for her to sleep on while she is on the "floor".
My sister uses a baby crib mattress for her older dog. I was wondering how that might be. I know it also needs to be easy for her to get on and move on. Buttons and I will share the "air bed" right next to Bailey. It still just boggles my mind as even today Bailey was happy and started to run. She still walks faster, is still strong enough to pull me (and I am not a little person), she still has a great appetite, and even tonight when I am now tired, Bailey still plays with her toys (by shaking, and squeaking them) then she goes for some good bone chewing. Yes, it is hard for a person to remember that dogs do live in the now.
I do need to learn from her about live your life to the fullest NOW. I know it will be a long day Tuesday as we wait, and then more long waiting with nerves for the pathology report.
My sister uses a baby crib mattress for her older dog. I was wondering how that might be. …
Sounds like a great idea … similar to this good mattress for a dog bed my girlfriend Lalla slept on.
I do need to learn from her about live your life to the fullest NOW.
Now you’re thinking like a smart pack leader!
Love the bed idea! Tomorrow is surgery. We can stay with her even through sedation. We could bring her home tomorrow evening, but her Surgeon suggests it is best for her to stay at least one night to help with pain management . So of course we will do what ever is best for her. However, I was wondering if anyone has taken their dog home the day/night of the surgery?
I only stayed one night. Some dogs stay up to 4, I’ve heard. I think it all depends on your vet’s perspective and the overall health of the dog. If Bailey’s vet thinks one night is sufficient, then that should be fine.
Please let us know how it goes. We are sending lots of love and healing wishes your way.
Thank you. The surgery is over! My husband and I sat with her right up till she went into surgery. Everyone was very nice. Her Surgeon even came out to talk to us. We decided to sit right out in the waiting room as there was more activity for all of us. Even after she received her pre-surgery meds. a towel was given to us in case she was sick to her stomach.
I highly recommend all to stay with their pets before their surgery. It really helped relieve Bailey’s anxiety as well as ours. It was a long morning as we needed to be there by 8:15. She would leave long enough for her vitals and blood to be checked and then for the pre-surgery shot. I sat right on the floor with her on her blanket with her favorite toy.
About 12:30 she went back for her surgery. My husband and I left long enough to grab a fast lunch and then were right back to wait until she came out of surgery. Well, we seemed to have been there a bit longer as she was moved from recovery to the ICU, where we were informed she was doing very well.
As we waited during the surgery we were given up dates from time to time. The Surgeon came out after to talk to us. He found a polyp on her tonsil which he removed. He removed her leg and femur. Also he feels instead of synovial sarcoma she has myxoma or myxosarcoma. He did explain this but at the time my mind just was not registering, thankfully my husband was there the entire time. So will now do some research about this.
I am thankful the surgery is now past so we can now move on, to heal, and then get back to enjoying life to all of our fullest. Even though I have taught special ed swimming, I have no idea how I will handle tomorrow afternoon. Is anyone ever really prepared?
When she is able there is a place I can take her for "therapy" swimming. Something near and dear to my heart. After doing this with people for so many years, I am so happy to have found a place for dogs. We are fully committed to do what we can to help her gain her strength and to continue with a good life. Of course the final word will be the result of the biopsy.
We are SO hoppy to hear that everything went so well! Yeay Bailey!
Tomorrow, we’ll be honest, it won’t be easy to see her after surgery,
only because the scar is so shocking. Try not to let it freak you out. My Mom had to do everything in my power not to cry her eyes out when she saw me
afterward. It only took a minute though, after she saw the incision, to
calm down and realize "hey! he’s alive! and he’s doing great!"
Heck, I’m one tough doggy, I even hopped out of the hospital on my own, I didn’t want the
stretcher. And that’s the other thing too; Bailey’s walk will be very
different. It’s a little surprising, and at first it might be hard not
to feel so sorry for her. My pawrents had those feelings for me at first. But
once you see how brave she is, and how strong, she will inspire you so
much, there’s no way you could feel sorry for such a courageous soul.
And swimming? Like in a real therapy pool? You are one LUCKY DOG!
Keep us posted, and do tell us more about the diagnosis when you can. Good luck.