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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 to Walking
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Member Since:
17 April 2018
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19 April 2018 - 9:48 pm
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Hello!

I am wanting to know how long did it take everyone's dog/family member to learn to walk again? Especially if you have an older pet. 

I have a 14 year old golden retriever that was diagnosed with OSA (osteosarcoma) 1 month ago. We caught it VERY early and at first we decided to try to medically manage him as well as explore palliative radiation and bisphosphonates injections. He did not respond and it became evident when we took another x-ray that it was growing very rapidly and were faced with the decision to either euthanize or amputate. We'll we couldn't give up on him as he still had the will to live. He is otherwise very health for a 14 year old golden and I know he is older but we felt it was the right thing to do (of course now I'm not so sure which I've seen is a common thought) He had his amputation Tuesday 4/17. He is on adequate pain control, we used Nocita (72 hour local anesthetic) during the surgery, he had multiple opioid injections post op, and went home with a fentanyl patch, rimadyl, gabapentin, and amantadine. He is very comfortable and I actually removed him fentanyl patch today (after talking with my doctor) because he is having some respiratory post op complications that we are managing. Unfortunately, this does make him tired quickly and complicates things a bit. 

I am an Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT) and work in a veterinary hospital so I have access and the ability to have any medical questions figured out. I love taking care of other people's family members and have no trouble and have even managed a few amputations at the hospital, however, when its one of my own dogs that are sick, I lose all of my tech brain and medical knowledge and cant function, and become overly paranoid that anything and everything could possibly go wrong!!! Its the negative aspect of working in the vet field! I was referred here by one of our client's dogs who had an amputation for OSA and she said this was invaluable for her. I am so happy there is this group of people out here that help with people experiencing this and I cant thank you enough for all the advice and help you give. I have been reading post and blogs and information non-stop since his amputation!!!

THANK YOU!!

Livermore, CA




Member Since:
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19 April 2018 - 11:16 pm
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Hello and welcome, your future posts will not have to wait for approval.

What is your boy's name? Did he lose a front or back leg?

Is he trying to walk at all and can't get up? Can he get up if you help him with a sling? Tell us a little more about what you are seeing when he tries to get up or if he isn't trying.

We have seen here that often the more 'mature' pups take a little longer to get moving, it's not unusual for them to not walk for a couple days post op.  Hopefully some of our members with older pets will chime in, in the meantime:

I searched the Size and Age Matters on 'older' and got these results.  There is probably some info there that will help you.

I'm glad you found us! 

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

Member Since:
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20 April 2018 - 2:41 am
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Hello

His name is Jake and he had his left front leg amputated. 

He isn't really trying to get up on his own at all. We have to coax him a lot when we know it is about time to go potty or he really should have to go and he sort of tries to stand up himself but needs a lot of assistance. We are using a sling around his front half. Once he's is standing he can take about 10 or so very assisted steps to urinate and once he is finished he will take a step or two forward and plop down. Now, he is a very stoic guy that does not like to be helped and some times when we go to help him he just rolls over to his side. (this is something he did prior!) We had to stop putting anything around his rear because he would just freeze and not move. We have to carry him back inside as he wont try and get up after he urinates and even if we pick him up and get him to stand he goes right back down. I worried that he's not really trying to get up at all and he is just laying there. Is that normal or should he be wanting to get up? Now, he is a quieter boy prior to his amputation but he use to almost always follow us around the house and greet us at the door. I just feel like he's depressed 🙁



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20 April 2018 - 8:30 am
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Hi Jake's human!

Don't feel bad, I was a veterinary tech /surgical tech for 8'ish years. I made a career change years ago because I became a single parent. Long story short when we took Huckleberry in and had to amputate, I think my brains went in the bin with his bum leg, lol. It is just so different when it is your own, and in my case I am not in the field anymore and all of the people I knew are 1000 miles away. 

You know they all react differently to anesthesia, and he still has a lot of drugs in his system. It can change their "normal" personality so drastically, or it can make their already laid back temperament even more magnified. He is older, and this was major surgery. I think once all the hospital drugs are out of his system you will probably see a turn around. Granted, the gabapentin and fentanyl may keep him a bit loopy, but honestly an older larger dog really needs to take it slow right now. You may even see a huge difference just removing the fentanyl. I have a feeling that you will see a difference very soon. I am sorry this has been so tough, it is just a rollercoaster of love that we ride during this next couple of weeks. 

Keeping him quiet is so important right now, you don't want him to get a seroma from overdoing it. It is like a double edged sword. You want him up and walking, but so important for him to go slowly. I think he will get there ok.

Try to just breathe and stay positive for him. He is going to respond to your stress and being upset. If he doesn't get up just do like you would with another patient and keep talking to him telling him how good he is and help him. I am glad you found us heart I would have been lost without this pawsome Tripawds family. 

Jackie and Huckleberry heart

Hugs,

Jackie, David, Bo, Andy, Oscar, Phoebe, and the coolest feral tripawd kitty Huckleberry

Huckleberry's Blog

Virginia




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20 April 2018 - 8:59 am
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Okay......deep breaths.......B R E A T H E.....B R E A T H E........Everything you are describing  DEFINITELY  appears to be in the "normal range".  This is soooooo early in recocery!!!  

Jake has just been through MAJOR surgery and has a boatload of good meds in him.  And good for you for advocating  for such good pain management .  Just the pain meds alone can interfere with mobility with many days in the beginning , not to mention being quite a....... hmmm....er....."mature" boy!

The visual of Jake refusing  help with the sling and protesting by rolling on the ground made me chuckle.  Jake is still Jake, that's  for sure!   My Happy Hannah also refused to move with any sling help too.

 AND no, he's  not "depreseed".  Jake IS on strong pain meds and IS recovering  from a big surgery, all while adjusting to three legs!   He's  figuring things out.  Jake IS a very smart boy and know he needs lots  of rest.   It's  important fornyih to maintain a strong and confident  upbeat  attitude .  Jake will mirror your energy .

So glad your client referred  you here.  As a Vet Tech or a Vet Surgeon, thr dogs snd cats are only seen f shortly after surgery in the Clinic.  Tney don't  go home with us and see what recovery is like for the next two or three weeks.....and it's  no picnic!   Humans would still be in the hospital on a morphine drip!!   You may see more "awareness" from Jake once the patch is out of his system.

You DO have some VICTORIES to celebrate, so here we go!!

YAY FOR PEEING!

YAY FOR STANDING 

YAY FOR AXTUALLY TAKING SEVERAL STEPS ON HIS OWN...OR EVEN WITH A LITTLE HELP,

YAY FOR JAKE STILL BEING HIS FEISTY  SELF AND REFUSING  HELP!

YAY FOR HIS HOOMANS DOING SUCH A FOOD JOB!

Is Jake eating and drinking  Okay?  Pooping may take a few days so no worries there.  Peeing and drinking  are important  though.  Feed him anything yummy he will eat....cheesevurgers, scrambled eggs and bacon, etc.

It's  soooo hard being patient and it's  soooo hard to recognize that ANY teeny improvement is a HUGE improvement!!  Yes, he'll have face plants and most likely some sore muscles too as he adjusts.    Even with that, it means he is still making an effort and he will get stronger and more confident .

Stay connected  and keep us updated, okay?  We understand like nomothers can and we're  here by your side the whole way!

Hugs

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too 

PS. My first post here was on Day Six.  The title was something like "HELP! Day Six after amp and I fear I have made a horrible decision!"   It took me three weeks before I could say I did this FOR my Happy Hannah and not TO her!!   

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!

London, UK


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20 April 2018 - 9:00 am
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Hi Alex (I'm guessing?) and Jake and Welcome!

I just wanted to add some encouragement and reassurance that things will start improving soon.

I see you are only on Day 3 post amp. Of course, every dog is different and reacts in different ways for all sorts of reasons (as you well know from your veterinary experience). My Meg was a good deal younger than Jake, (around 7 at the time of her amp), and a good deal smaller (33 pounds, post amp). She lost her leg due to orthopaedic issues, so had been one sided for a considerable time, as we battled to save her bum leg, prior to the amp. Despite this, and despite the fact she is one of the most active, athletic creatures I have ever come across, she flatly refused to walk post amp and appeared subdued. They kept her longer in hospital (three nights after the amputation) because they wanted to see her walk before they'd discharge her (and that's how long it took). When I finally got the all clear to come and collect her, she came hopping out of the hospital and never looked back. From that point on, she was blessed with an extremely straightforward recovery, and two years post amp continues to be a highly active dog with an excellent quality of life. In her case, for whatever reason, she just needed a bit more time.

I am no sort of expert at all, but I would think that Jake's age, his size, his respiratory issue, the meds he is on, ALL are likely to mean he may need a little more time to be mobile. (Meg does the rolling over thing too, lol) But he will get there, and rest right now is the best thing he could possibly be doing and it won't be long, I'm certain, before he's back to his old self, greeting you at the door.

Big hugs. I know things are tough right now, but they'll start getting better very soon,

Meg, Clare and Angel Pie xxx

Meg, Mutt, aged around 13, 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 


Member Since:
17 April 2018
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20 April 2018 - 2:42 pm
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Yes he is eating and drinking mostly normal. Appetite is slightly decreased but Im not worried due to the fentanyl and drugs. The fentanyl is probably mostly out of his system now and he seems a bit more himself which is so good to see. He also just had his first bowel movement!! YAY! (the little things we get excited about). He also was able to sit up on his own and I think is sort of figuring it out a bit.

He's going back in to the hospital so we can get another thorax film to see whats going on with his respiratory issues.  Unfortunately, I think this is having to do more so with his decreased in activity/behavior more so then the amputation 🙁 

Thank you so much for all of your words of encouragement. It is really helping me settle and breath! I am always so amazed how well owners do and how much they do with recovery for their pet! Its pretty incredible. 

I am soo happy to know you all are here to help! THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!



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20 April 2018 - 3:04 pm
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Hi Alex,

I am glad to hear he is coming around a bit. Has he always had respiratory issues or is this something new?  Yes you would be surprised (well, not anymore laughing) about the things we celebrate like poopicon_pngpoopicon_pngclap

I hope the rads look ok, when is he going in? 

Stay in touch!

Hugs,

Jackie and Huck

Hugs,

Jackie, David, Bo, Andy, Oscar, Phoebe, and the coolest feral tripawd kitty Huckleberry

Huckleberry's Blog

Livermore, CA




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20 April 2018 - 4:51 pm
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Sounds like there are some great positive signs- eating, drinking and poop!  I think the only people who talk about poop more than we do are new mothers!

It's actually a good thing that he is quiet- it will help him heal.  My little pug Maggie decided that her bed was the place to be after her rear amp (for weeks actually...she was stubborn!).  I think her limited activity promoted an uneventful recovery physically.  Of course I was a wreck thinking I had done the wrong thing with the surgery.  She had no complications and could hop the day of surgery.  But she was stubborn, did I mention that?, she took her time getting used to her new normal. She did and hopped happily through life for almost 4 more years (mast cell cancer took the leg).

Every dog is different- hold on to each of those little victories and soon you will be wondering why you were worried!

I hope the respiratory thing is nothing to worry about.

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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17 April 2018
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20 April 2018 - 7:56 pm
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Well some good news about his thorax films. He doesn't have any fluid in his chest and no signs of aspiration pneumonia which is really good. It looks like he just has some inflammation of his trachea and is just sort of congested in his trachea for whatever weird strange reason. My doctor isn't quite sure why and what could have caused it (may possibly have something to do with tube irritation from when he was intubated) but at least it is better news then what we originally were thinking! 

Livermore, CA




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20 April 2018 - 8:29 pm
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Good news!

I've always been told to expect a sore throat and some amount of coughing from each of the dog's surgeries so it makes sense to me.  Maybe Jake is more sensitive?

Anyway- you can quit worrying about that and focus on Jake's recovery.

Karen

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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22 February 2013
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20 April 2018 - 8:55 pm
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OKAY, HERE WE GO!

YAY FOR poopicon_pngpoopicon_png

YAY FOR SUTTING UP IN HIS OWN!! 🙂

YAY FOR EATING SOME!! 🙂

YAY FOR SORE THROATS! 🙂

YAY FR JAKE AND HIS HOOMANS FORSTAYI G STRONG! 🙂

Hugs

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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20 April 2018 - 10:05 pm
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Jackie,

Not to this extent. He did have occasional old man hack like how a cat would try to hack up a hairball but I had chest rads and an echo done about 6 months ago because I thought he was having cardiac issues. Everything was clear, his bloodwork was great and otherwise fine.  So this is newish. Just much more extreme. When hes doing nothing hes great. As soon as he tries to get up or if some comes home and he gets excited, the hacking starts. Of course, Im blaming myself because I intubated him and did his recovery but everything was really uneventful. 

Karen, 

YES. So true! You should see us in the hospital! We are always excited when a pet poops! That of course if its not blow out diarrhea. LOL. That is really good to know. I know its good for him to rest but I am so worried that hes just not going to adjust and then find out we made the wrong decision. (I know its not the wrong decision and we took away his pain, I just want to know he will be ok!) I should have known that Jake would act this way. He is stubborn and wants to do it his own way just like your girl! Im glad to know that she rested for a few weeks. That really makes me feel better. He is getting stronger each day I can tell and he is able to take a few more steps which is really exciting. Just have to stay positive. 

Oy, its been a hard few months. I have 3 other babies a home. A 7 year old saint bernard, a 5 year old pitbull/boxer mix and a 14 year old lab mix. I actually got Jake from my aunt almost 3 years ago when he was 11. My aunt just kind of abandoned him in her old house when she moved out to live with her fiance. Her older kids (30s) family was living there but he was just sort of kept in the backyard. When I stopped by he wasnts being taken care of so I took him in and it was the best decision ever. Our goal is to give him the best possible life we can. He is the sweetest, goes with the flow, loving dog ever. Rex, my 14 year old lab mix and Jake are only a month apart. Rex is my childhood dog and I got him when I was 12. Him and Jake use to play together as puppies and now they get to live out their golden years together. These are my first dogs and I've actually never been through the aging process. In November, Rex was diagnosed with thyroid carcinoma when he went in to have larygenal paralysis surgery. We held off on the larygenal paralysis surgery to pursue his thyroid cancer because that may have been contributing to it and of course two days later he had a complete larynx attack and ended up having to go to emergency surgery and spend 4 days in ICU.  

SOOOO needless to say its been just very emotional and challenging few months as I try and cope with the idea of losing some of my best friends. Having you all as support is extremely helpful and keeping my sanity together!!!! THANK YOU! 

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20 April 2018 - 10:10 pm
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And yes, small amount of coughing and sore throat is totally normal. His is just muuuchhh more extreme to what is normal which sucks. He just has to cough up that mucous! And thank you Sally for reminding me of the positives!!!! 🙂 I keep rereading them like yup yup yup!!!

Virginia




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20 April 2018 - 10:37 pm
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Geez, you have really jad a lot on your plate recently!!  Give yourself some credit for still standing!!  You are stronger than you realoze!!  We see it!!

I am soooo glad Jake is able to be loved and appreciated ever since yiu took him into your heart and yiur hme.  I loved reading about your pack especially how Jake and Rex interact.   These are all mightynlicjy dogs to be loved bynyii! 🙂

We'll saythisa lot right now:  It is soooo early in Jake's recovery!!  Ad he IS making improvements slooooowly but surely!!

One of THE biggest lessons on this joureynis toSTAY IN THE NOW!   LOVE IN THE MOMENT!   MAKEEVERYNMOMENT COUNT!  Dogs just flow frm one moment into the next.   They don't worry about tomorrow and don't care about yesterday.  They just live in the present.  Do NOT let the fear of their transition, whnever that may be  (years from now :-)), rob you of yiur time NOW!!  There will come a time for tears but that's not today!!!.  Today is about celebrating the bliss of having Jake and Rex,and all your pack, right by your side 🙂   To waste rime worrying about the future, robs you if the joy of yiur todays withJakeand Rex.

((((((((((((((HUGS))))))))))))))

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

PS.  Does the "throat thing" interfer with his eating at all?   Might try lots of smallmeals and soft food for a few days.

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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