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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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Post amputation pain and side effects of gabapentin
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Canwell, Staffs, UK
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16 December 2015 - 3:17 pm
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Our beautiful nine year old lurcher, Harry, had his rear leg amputated nearly two weeks ago as we found out he had bone cancer.  He seemed to be recovering really well to start with but then started howling with pain and getting very stressed. We took him to the emergency vets and they prescribed gabapentin on top of the rimadyl and tramadol. We noticed an immediate improvement, with reduced episodes of the intense pain even though he still has strong spasms in the muscle. I presume he had phantom leg pain /pain from the cut nerves.  The problem is the morning after he started the gabapentin he refused to get off his bed and I even struggled to get him to his food – and he lives to eat!  Does anyone know if it is common for gabapentin to have such a strong reaction?  It does seem to help the pain but has had a very negative impact on Harry as a whole. He had been walking around really well until then. He’s a big dog so I can’t make him get up if he doesn’t want to.  I haven’t given him his gabapentin tonight and he has started moving around again but I’m worried that the awful pain will start again.  Is there an alternative to Gabapentin?  We are back at the vets on Friday to have stitches out!

Livermore, CA




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16 December 2015 - 7:21 pm
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Hello and welcome to Tripawds, your future posts will not have to wait for approval.

He looks very handsome in your avatar picture!

Seems like all dogs have different reactions to different pain meds.  My quad-pug Tani was on gaba for a couple years due to severe arthritis and never had any issues.

We hear more about issues with tramadol here, but sounds like Harry was doing OK on the tram.  Did the vet reduce the tram dose when he added the gaba?  He does sound like he is over medicated.  If the gaba is helping the phantom pain maybe reduce the tramadol?  Of course discuss with your vet before changing things up.

I’m sure some folks here have had issues with gaba- hopefully they will chime in.

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

Virginia




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17 December 2015 - 9:33 am
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Happy Hannah did not have any noticeable effects from Gabapentin, so I’m no help there.

I can tell you that phantom limb pain usually clears up as healing continues. I’m no vet so discuss with yihr vet, but that’s may observation from being on the site.

Is it possible he has strained a.muscle or hurt his back or neck muscles? Big dogs take a little longer ro recover and adjust to all the new mobility issues of being a tripawd. Has he been takling it really slowly, just resting and short potty breaks? Try lots of gentle massage and gentle stretching before helping him up. You may need to use a harness or a towel sling for a few days.

Would love ro hear more about your boy and, of course, pictures! We love pictures! Update when you can. And YAY for getting stitches out soon!

Hugs to all!

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle 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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19 December 2015 - 7:19 am
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My cat was prescribed Gaba after some other things didn’t work. I noticed upon the first dose, that my cat was extremely tired and slept for hours at a time he normally “prowls” and investigates around the house. He also started eating less of his food (not finishing) and usually he licks his bowl clean – oh how he loves to eat.

I went for a second opinion/acupuncture consult after about 12 days on Gaba, and the new vet said in her opinion Gaba does not work at all and she never uses it. So she took my cat off of it. He is back to finishing his food and he still sleeps a lot but it isn’t for hours in the morning right after he was given the dose. But my regular vet uses Gaba, tons of people on here use it with good results. My cat ended up not needing Gaba because he was not having phantom limb issues, but rather the second vet found a skin infection so he was given an antibiotic injection and some spray and creams. It seems to be working a little but my cat is still having the issues that brought him there in the first place.

I am beyond frustrated – all pets respond to meds differently, go through this surgery with different results, and all vets approach medicating differently, so it is all so stressful and confusing. Wish you the best though. If it really is a phantom pain issue, I know there are a few people on here that speak very highly of the Farabloc blanket. 

Good luck!

Hattie & Jerry

Hugs,

Hattie and Jerry Cat (right front leg and scapula amputation due to chondrosarcoma at age 14, lived 2 1/2 years post amputation, succumbed suddenly to suspected lymphoma at age 16)

10/2001 - 10/9/2017 R.I.P ~ Love you always

The Rainbow Bridge



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19 December 2015 - 11:33 am
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Great insight Hattie, thanks for sharing. I know what you mean about confusing/conflicting information. I yearn for the day when holistic and conventional vets will come together and share information so our pets can always benefit from both types of treatments.

As for the vet saying that Gaba ‘never’ works, could she have been talking about cats? Not sure about its effects with cats but I know here that we’ve seen it work well for many k9 members.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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19 December 2015 - 3:29 pm
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Hi Jerry-

I honestly do not remember if she was speaking solely of cats and Gaba, or just in general. I do remember that she specifically rolled her eyes when I said my cat was currently on Gaba. I was surprised at her reaction because not only was Gaba recommended on this site with much success, but I did some of my own research before requesting it from my regular vet. I was surprised that she just seemed to think it was a “fake” drug and that it doesn’t do what it is purported to do, in her opinion. 

Yes, it sure would be nice if everyone could work together for the benefit of our pets! One can dream…

Hattie & Jerry

Hugs,

Hattie and Jerry Cat (right front leg and scapula amputation due to chondrosarcoma at age 14, lived 2 1/2 years post amputation, succumbed suddenly to suspected lymphoma at age 16)

10/2001 - 10/9/2017 R.I.P ~ Love you always

The Rainbow Bridge



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20 December 2015 - 11:33 am
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I can kinda see why she reacted like that. When gaba was first used on animals many years ago, supposedly it was because the manufacturer was trying to find a new audience for it because it had recently lost its patent and had gone generic. It was used for a while without any real track record in animals, just humans, so it immediately got a bad rap in the holistic community. However since then, we’ve learned there have been a few studies with animals. In Dr. Petty’s Pain Management Book, it’s one of the drugs he recommends as well so we feel good about it.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Canwell, Staffs, UK
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20 December 2015 - 2:59 pm
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Hi All

Thanks so much for your support, it’s such a stressful time and we really appreciate you taking the time to help!  Harry had half of his stitches out and we are back on gabapentin.  He is now having 2 rimadyl, 3 tramadol and 3 gabapentin a day. He is quite bright and comfortable while resting but getting him to stand up had become a real issue.  The vet thinks the problem is partly because Harry had such strong, muscular legs so the trauma is worse and partly because he’s not very brave.   He is just going out into the garden for toilet breaks but the moment we try to get him to stand up he starts shaking in fright.  When we do eventually get him up he howls in pain for about a minute. He will then calm down and go to the toilet.   His stump has huge spasms and it does help him to massage it but he still has a lot of distress. I think it is partly psychological, he is anticipating the pain but he obviously does have a great deal of pain when he stands up.   I’m not sure if we would be better to try to get him to stand up more often, maybe the pain build up wouldn’t be so bad?  We all get so stressed and are reluctant to cause Harry any more pain than we have too.   We are back at the vets on Tuesday to have the remaining stitches out and to see how he’s doing!  I would love to know if anyone else has had a similar experience and what they did and how long it lasted?  Many thanks for the support. 

Judy and Harry



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20 December 2015 - 3:37 pm
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I’ve always wondered if distraction is useful for our pets in pain or anticipating pain.

Distraction techniques are used by people with chronic pain. For example if a person with hips problems has been sitting for too long they know it will hurt to get up. So the person can start counting backward by “3” (97, 94, 91, 88…) and gets up an walks, continuing counting backwards. Because the “pain is in the brain” and the brain is distracted with the counting the pain of getting up doesn’t register.

Could it be possible to get your dog to stand up by distracting with food or a toy? If he got up (forgetting about potential pain) he might gain confidence knowing there is no pain, at that moment anyway.

I understand this is stressful for you so make sure you are relaxed by taking a deep breath and smile. It’s easier said than done but our pets pick up on our stress and anxieties.

I hope things improve soon.

Kerren and Tripawd Kitty Mona

The Rainbow Bridge



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20 December 2015 - 7:32 pm
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Judy I think that with that kind of pain management his symptoms should subside soon. Gaba needs time to kick in so hopefully those spasms will stop. I’m gonna bet you’ll see lots of progress in the coming week.

Kerren I love that suggestion to distract with a food or toy. I think that a lot of times in a situation like this between our own anticipation and the animal’s, combined it makes for a stronger reaction. My experience with that has been when we see another dog coming down the street, Wyatt Ray will react stronger if I react as well. I have to do my best to distract both of us to prevent a scene!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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27 December 2015 - 5:25 pm
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Gabapentin made my Hannah a zombie—-but that’s what she needed immediately post op.  When she was a bit restless, the vet increased the frequency from every 8 hours to every 6 hours, and the poor thing was (barely) holding her head up, with her eyes closed.  She was so stoned she couldn’t open her eyes, poor thing!!  However, it supposedly really helps with the phantom limb pain.

We are 2 weeks and 4 days out from the surgery, and she’s doing great.  No more medications, on a diet and gradually increasing the exercise.  She’s doing really good, and I am so happy.

Gabapentin makes dog R-E-A-L-L-Y sleepy—-it is used for cancer pain and also for seizures.  It’s a great sedative, without all the issues from benzodiazapenes and opiates.

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31 December 2015 - 5:27 pm
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Gabapentin was an absolute godsend for my cat’s phantom limb pain (resolved after a month or so) and hyperesthesia (something he’s had since he was a kitten- gabapentin was the first med that actually helped… incidental finding when he went on it post-amp). I didn’t realize how tired it was making him until I attempted to wean him off once the phantom limb issues were a thing of the past. We ended up putting him back on it for the hyperesthesia (episodes returned after we stopped using the gabapentin), but at a slightly lower dose. Sedation is the most common side effect seen with gabapentin (some veterinarians will actually use high dose gaba to sedate nervous/fractious kitties for vet visits), but not all animals experience it. I have used gabapentin in two of my other cats for various reasons (severe arthritis in one- not a great candidate for long term NSAIDs d/t kidney disease, neuropathic pain in the other), and neither one of them experienced any obvious sedation. (Must say, I wouldn’t have complained if it had knocked Tyson out a little bit… laughing)

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4 January 2016 - 8:45 pm
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My pup was on Gaba for pain management when we were trying to figure out what was going on with his foot before we knew it was the nasty C. He was on tramadol, rimadyl and Gabapentn and STONED as they get!! BUT he was still limping so we stopped the gabapentin and the rimadyl was making his kidney values rise. I hope Harry will be better soon! Wishing you all the best!

Canwell, Staffs, UK
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5 January 2016 - 7:12 am
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Update on Harry!

I am very happy to say that Harry is doing really well. It is now a month since his amputation and he is nearly back to his old self!  I think that the gabapentin has helped him and I think it was probably a coincidence that as soon as he started taking it he was unable to get up.  I wouldn’t want my initial worries to stop anybody else from using it. 

We suddenly had a big improvement on Xmas Day – he was probably distracted by all the food and family around!  Boxing Day my husband asked our other dog if she wanted to go for a walk and, much to our joy,  Harry jumped up with a wagging tail! We took him for a walk down the lane  and he was really happy to be out and about again.  He is now just on 2 rymadol and 1 gabapentin a day. I plan to drop the last gabapentin in a couple of days. He does still have the occasional howl of pain and his muscle spasms but he is so much better than he was.

It was such a huge decision to have his leg amputated and for the first three weeks we weren’t sure if we had done the right thing.  We are so certain now that we did. We are able to enjoy whatever time we have left with him.  

Thanks to everyone for their support!

Judy and Harry 

Norene, TN
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5 January 2016 - 7:24 am
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Awwww . . . this is a wonderful update!!!

You are so right. It is very important for others to see the ups and downs on this journey. I can read the joy in your words. Thank you so much for posting!

I’m so very happy for you and your pack.

xoxoxo

pam

Harmony became a Tripawd on 10/21/14 (MCT). She left us way too soon on 11/1/14.

"We miss you so much; our love, our heart, our Harmony."

- Pam, Ron and Melody, Meesha, Doublestuff and Mariah Carey

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