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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

Tripawds is your home 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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Massachusetts
Member Since:
23 September 2011
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25 September 2011 - 7:21 pm
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Hi,

I am new to Tripawds.  My 5 year old Irish Wolfhound, Fergus was diagnosed with osteosarcoma this past Tuesday, Sept. 20th.  Needless to say, we were devestated.  We decided to amputate his right rear leg.  The amputation was on Thursday, Sept. 22.  He was doing so well (stood up as soon as he came out of anesthesia) our vet let him come home the following night.  Hindsight has taught me it probably would have been better if he spent another night at the hospital.  Each day gets a little easier for both us it, but this is difficult.  This morning he got up and came over to me to give me a kiss.  Wow, that blew me away because he hasn't been up to that until now.

My main question is what can we expect for a timeline of when he will learn to walk and balance.  He seems to be using too much energy with the hopping method he has currently adopted.  I am also wondering if the medicine makes him a little wobbly.  He had a fentanyl patch which is coming off tonight.  It seems like he is a little loopy.  Tomorrow he switches to Tramadol.

Also, he can not get up and down the 3 steps off of our back deck (I am assuming this will come soon).  I constructed a ramp to help him, but he isn't a big fan!  I think he is getting very frustrated.  Is there anything I can do to help?  Also, our back deck is slick.  Any recommendations for traction improvements?  I put down rubber back door mats, but I was wondering if there was anything he could wear (keeping in mind he is a giant breed).  I am sure there is information on this wonderful website but I haven't had the time to do all of my research. 

Thank you in advance for any comments/suggestions.  We are just starting this journey and are so thankful there are supportive people who can help answer out questions.

 

Fergus' Mom

On The Road


Member Since:
24 September 2009
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25 September 2011 - 8:13 pm
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Welcome, your future forum posts will not require moderation.

Pain medication will certainly affect stability and mobility, especially the patch! Most members report vast improvement once their dogs are off the meds. As for a "timeline" every dog is different, but the majority are well on the way to being themselves again at abut 10-14 days. You'll find many answers to other common questions by searching these forums and blogs, and in these posts...

Best Traction for Tripawds

Ramp Training Tips for Tripawds

Jerry's Required Reading List

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene
tripawds.com | tripawds.org | bemoredog.net | triday.pet

San Diego, CA
Member Since:
29 October 2010
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25 September 2011 - 8:56 pm
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Hi Ferguson's mom, Welcome to you. Sorry you had to find us. This is the site no one wants to join, bt everyone is glad they did.

The pain meds can definitely make them wobbly and out of sorts. The 10-14 day timeline that 'admin' mentioned is generally the rule of thumb. Most dogs start to vastly improve in demeanor and mobility once the stitches/staples are out and the pain meds are done. Some dogs act a bit odd on Tramadol - you might get some panting. Abby definitely was not her usual sweet self for the two weeks of recovery. She just wanted to go off and be by herself; a bit heartbreaking since she usually follows me around everywhere. But once the meds were done, she was her old self.

I don't have any suggestions on the ramp/traction as we didn't have those issues with Abby. We had a 2 story house at the time of her amp, so at first I would help her on the stairs with a sling - just a folded over bathtowel that I sewed handles onto. I've heard of others making slings out of those reusable grocery sacks - just cut the sides out. Of course, with such a big dog as yours, I don't know how easy that would be to use a sling with him. There have been other large breeds who have done very well with amp on this site and hopefully some of them will chime in.

All the best to Ferguson. Hope he recovers quickly!
Hang in there - it gets better!
Jackie, Abby's mom

Abby: Aug 1, 2009 – Jan 10, 2012. Our beautiful rescue pup lived LARGE with osteosarcoma for 15 months – half her way-too-short life. I think our "halflistic" approach (mixing traditional meds + supplements) helped her thrive. (PM me for details. I'm happy to help.) She had lung mets for over a year. They took her from us in the end, but they cannot take her spirit! She will live forever in our hearts. She loved the beach and giving kisses and going to In-N-Out for a Flying Dutchman. Tripawds blog, and a more detailed blog here. Please also check out my novel, What the Dog Ate. Now also in paperback! Purchase it at Amazon via Tripawds and help support Tripawds!

krun15
4
25 September 2011 - 9:02 pm
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Hello and welcome to Tripawds.

Actually Fergus sounds right on track to me.  My experience with my Tri-Pug Maggie was that she was pretty much a slug for the first couple of weeks after her surgery.  She could walk just fine- was walking the day of surgery- but spent most of her time in her bed.  She was on fentanyl as well, and tramadol.  She did not do well on tramadol- she was agitated when she took it.  Some dogs do fine on it- just be prepared.  There are other pain meds your vet could prescribe if need be.  After she was off all meds and the stitches came out in 2 weeks she made much better progress.

As far as stairs- I would keep helping him on the stairs until he gains confidence on his feet, you don't want him to fall now.  It took Maggie a little while but  she was able to navigate the 2 steps on my back deck, and the two steps on the front porch.  As big as Fergus probably is he should have no trouble with a few stairs once he heals up.  Maggie could not do more than about 3 or 4 steps (she was also a rear amp) but that was more because of her size I think- she was only 12" at the shoulder.  In general rear amps have more problems going up stairs (Maggie could go down whole flights of stairs on her own).

For traction - other than the rugs and booties and such- I found with Mag that keeping the fur between her toes and pads trimmed short helped her quite a bit.  You might want to wait a bit before you mess with his feet... or maybe now while he is drugged up is a good time big-grin.  Also I used Musher Secret on Maggie's pads to keep them supple- I found it really helped her traction .  You can find it in the link to Best Traction for Tripawds that Admin guy gave you above.

I hope his recovery goes smoothly.  Come back and ask lots of questions- chances are someone here has an answer.

And some pictures would be great when you get a chance- I know you have your hands full right now.

 

Karen and the pugapalooza

Chicago, IL
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5 March 2011
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25 September 2011 - 9:11 pm
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Well, I can't add much to what's been said except to encourage you.  You're in the depths of it now and recovery is not linear, Fergus may have a good day followed by a less good (a.k.a. "bad") day.  Hang in there, it does get better although this part is really difficult to deal with.  I know they say 2 weeks but it was well into the third week for Tate, although his surgery was more extensive than most (a hemipelvectomy).

http://tate.tripawds.com/
August 16, 2006 to November 28, 2011
TATE ~ Forever in our hearts.

Massachusetts
Member Since:
23 September 2011
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26 September 2011 - 5:23 am
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Thank you for your replies!  I think I just need the reassurance from other moms and dads who have gone through this journey. 

 

I have another question, Fergus has not had a bowel movement since his surgery.  The surgery was Thursday afternoon and today is Monday morning.  Is this normal.  I'm wondering if he is holding it in because he isn't sure what stance to use.  I will be speaking with the vet this am and will ask him the same question.  He has had stomach issues in the past and I am afraid to introduce canned pumpkin and then wind up in the "be careful what you wish for mode"!

 

Karen and Pugapalooza, I will post some photos when I get a chance (and figure out how to do it).  I'll try to include a photo of Fergus with his brothers Rufus (12 yo coonhound) and Shamus (2 yo Irish Wolfhound).  They have been wonderful brothers.  Shamus is big love who always wants to be toughing you.  He has realized he must deal with a little less attention right now.  It's funny, it is as if Fergus' two brothers take turns watching over him.  How can you not love these guys!

 

Again, thank you for your help.  I will be searching the links Admin provided and I am trying to get to my office to print out 3 paws & a spare.  For us, it will be easier to have a binder to look things up.

 

Tara and Fergus

Georgia
Member Since:
20 August 2011
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26 September 2011 - 6:10 am
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I agree with the others that Fergus sounds like he is coming along.  My dog, Spencer, isn't a giant breed; but he is a poorly bread, too big doberman (a rescue) - he was 85 lbs before his amputation, lost around 4 lbs with the surgery and is now down about 6 more lbs between the extra work of getting around on 3 legs and a diet change (went to grain free ).

 

Spencer lost a front leg, so it sounds like that is a little different for the stairs.  to get in and out of our house he HAD to do 3 stairs on our front porch - that was the easiest way in/out (the back deck is I think 7 steps).  In the beginning I used a sling to help him on the stairs.  I also used it to help him get around at almost all times for the first few days.  Spencer had his amputation on a Wednesday and I think he finally pooped on Sunday... maybe it was Saturday night; but I'm pretty sure it was Sunday morning.  I did end up giving him canned pumpkin to help him along - the tramadol can constipate some and then they also seem to have to figure out how to stand to do it at first.

 

Spencer never had the patch on.  I think I remember that he had something from the vet's office the day he came home (one day after surgery) and then started the tramadol the next day.  He was only on it for a few days.  He also took an NSAID for longer... dermamax maybe?  Each day he got so much better.  I was amazed by how fast he bounced back.

 

We are now 1 month and 2 days post amputation.  We have had some setbacks; but none due to the amputation.  Spencer got bitten by a brown recluse (we think) about 1.5 weeks after the amputation and had to have surgery to remove the necrotic tissue just after he got the amputation stitches out.  And now we might be dealing with side effects of his chemo (I think that his chemo is much rougher for his fibrosarcoma then what it sounds like they usually do for osteosarcoma); but his amputation has proven to be a piece of cake for him!

 

Good luck!!

Jac and Angel Spencer.  Spencer was 5.25 years old. He fought a grade 3 fibrosarcoma, started on his shoulder.  Left front leg amputated in August 2011.  15 weeks of chemo finished 12/22/11 (mytox and adria).  Lung mets found on x-rays 12/28/11.  Started carboplatin 1/6/12. Went to Heaven on 2/27/12. I miss him like crazy every day.  See his blog here:  http://spencer.tripawds.com/

krun15
8
26 September 2011 - 8:45 am
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Hi Tara,

Maggie did not have a BM until day 5 or 6 (at least).  justjac is right that pain meds can cause constipation.  But Maggie had also done a pug 'spin' before pooping.  She did it from the day I got her at 10 weeks old.  It was one of the hardest things to watch after her amputation- she would start her spin and fall down, then stare at me with a pitiful, woe is me look (she was a bit of a drama queen!). 

But on day 5 or 6 she figured out that she could still spin- she always went clockwise and she kept her back right, or pivot, leg.  So for her I'm not sure if it was the meds or the lack of spinning big-grin.

 

Karen and the pugapalooza

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25 September 2011
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26 September 2011 - 9:32 am
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Hi Fergus' Mom and Welcome! You and I are in the same schedule. My PiperGirl (PG3), who is a 11 1/2 yr old 80 lb yellow lab, had to have her right hind leg amputated last Thursday as well. Fortunately, she has doing amazingly well since the surgery, is now getting up on her own and walking a little bit around her confined room. She still needs help manipulating the 4 stairs in and out of our home, so I have been using the sling I purchased from the vet to help her. We had an appt. this morning to have her fentanyl patch removed and her Dr. told me that we can begin going for 2-3 min walks with the help of the sling to help her gain some strength. She was prescribed Tramadol and Rimadyl as well as a sedative (acepromazine). I have only been giving her the sedative at a very lose dose at night so she sleeps well. I am also giving her the medium dose of Tramadol, as I noticed the more she gets, the more "out of it" and wobblier she becomes. Hang in there, you will see that Fergus will find his way…life always finds a way! Best of luck to you and your family.
PipersMom

Life is not measured by the breaths you take, but by the moments that take your breath away.

2 days post surgery

PipersMom

bestPG3.tripawds.com

On The Road


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26 September 2011 - 9:52 am
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pipersmom said:

My PiperGirl (PG3), who is a 11 1/2 yr old 80 lb yellow lab, had to have her right hind leg amputated last Thursday...

Thanks for the feedback pipersmom! Your future forum poss will not require moderation. Consider updating your Forums Profile to include a signature with link to PG3's blog.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene
tripawds.com | tripawds.org | bemoredog.net | triday.pet

Member Since:
25 September 2011
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26 September 2011 - 11:25 am
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admin said:

pipersmom said:

My PiperGirl (PG3), who is a 11 1/2 yr old 80 lb yellow lab, had to have her right hind leg amputated last Thursday...

Thanks for the feedback pipersmom! Your future forum poss will not require moderation. Consider updating your Forums Profile to include a signature with link to PG3's blog.

I got it - THANKS!

Life is not measured by the breaths you take, but by the moments that take your breath away.

2 days post surgery

PipersMom

bestPG3.tripawds.com

Massachusetts
Member Since:
23 September 2011
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26 September 2011 - 7:05 pm
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Pipers Mom,

Wow, they will share the same ampuversary!  Fergus is doing well except when we need to go outside.  He refuses to use the ramp, stumbles and tries to jump off the back deck (4 steps).  He is too heavy (130 pounds spread over a giant body)for someone to lift on their own (even with a harness).  He has started bleeding 3 different times today.  He starts walking/hopping around outside and then his back legs gets tired and he drags himself...not good.  I am having a real hard time figuring out how to manage this when I am the only one home but am hopeful it will continue to get better.  He thinks he can do more than he is physically capable of.  Now that he is off the fentanyl patch and is taking Tramadol and Deramaxx he seems a little more lucid.

 

Karen and pugapalooza--thanks for the BM news!

 

Fergus' Mom

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