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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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Colorado
Member Since:
2 February 2024
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1
10 February 2024 - 8:42 am
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Hello all, 

Marion, our sweet 9 yr old lab/golden is scheduled for a front limb amputation on Wednesday. After a year of a slight limp and many vet visits (we have done X-rays, physical therapy, ultrasounds, platelet rich injections, and nothing was helping). We finally pushed them to do a full CT of her legs and the found a very small sheath tumor in her shoulder. We met with the radiation oncologist, physical therapist (to make sure her other limbs could handle amputation) and we will meet with the surgical oncologist Monday. 
We are trying to do everything we can to be prepared, although I’m not sure I’ll ever be emotionally prepared for this. We have ordered higher food bowls, a firmer bed, harnesses, a sling and built a ramp down our back stairs. 
Our biggest concern at the moment is getting her out and back for toileting right after surgery. We have the ramp (removable) over the back 4 stairs and this has been much easier for her to walk down now with her sore leg. I’m just worried it will be too steep after surgery. It’s also still a bit of a walk from there to the yard. How do we carry her after surgery? Will the sling be enough right after surgery? Everything I have read, says not to use the harnesses until the sutures are removed. 

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! And I will continue to make my way reading everything on the site. The information has been helpful so far.

Thanks, 

Katie

Colorado 

Virginia







Member Since:
22 February 2013
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10 February 2024 - 10:09 am
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Hello Katie and Marion.  Your post has been aroved and we look forward to following Marion's journey,   You have come to the right place for support,  understanding  and information.   We've all been where you are and know how daunting  this can all be at first.

Yes, it certainly  is an emotional  time getting  to this point. You are probably exhausted mentally and physically. Just know that recovery doesn't last forever and you are doing this to ensure Marianne has a pain-free quality life.

When dogs first jave a limp they are often treated off and on for months for arthritis,  sprains, etc.  So just know you were doing everything  right and the treatments, etc  they were doing was what we often see.....actually a little "better"..  

You have done an EXCELLENT job of preparing  for Marion's homecoming  and recovery.

  Everything I have read, says not to use the harnesses until the sutures are removed. 

Yes, in a perfect tripawd world it's best to wait until the sutures are out.  However, often dogs  needs assistance so you can put a tee shirt under the harness, or maybe a dog sweater,  for protection.  

We have the ramp (removable) over the back 4 stairs and this has been much easier for her to walk down now with her sore leg. I’m just worried it will be too steep after surgery. It’s also still a bit of a walk from there to the yard. How do we carry her after surgery 

If Marion has been used to the ramp before, she probably  will be able to handle it now.  You may even fi d that by using the harness as assistance,  you can navigate the four stairs a yway.  This just may be a trial and error to see what works best.

Not sure what the distance is to the yard, So that's another thing you'll have to play by ear. It may be that she takes a couple of short hops with some rest in between andmakes her way out to her potty spot that way. Or maybe it's a combo of carrying her and letting her walk some. But yes, the first two weeks are just short least potty breaks and then back inside for more rest.

If you haven't already done so, you'll want some non-slip scatter rugs for traction in the house if you have Hardwoods or vinyls.

pain management will be crucial. Most dogs come home with gabapentin, and anti-inflammatory and probably an antibiotic. Some come home with the fentanyl morphine patch for a few days, some don't.

Let us know as any questions or concerns arise, okay we are right here by your side to help you navigate through recovery. The first two weeks are no picnic, but I have a feeling Marion will Astound you at her resilience!  

You've got this!!!!

Hugs

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

PS. 

When you do go to pick Marian up after surgery, don't even bother to draw attention to her incision. She just wants to see your smiling face telling her what a good girl she is and she's going home!! Keep your energy strong and upbeat and positive and she will feed off of that!

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!

The Rainbow Bridge



Member Since:
25 April 2007
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10 February 2024 - 8:55 pm
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Hi Katie and Marion! I'm sorry you are joining our club, but glad you found us. You sound really well prepared. And after all the rehab that Marion went through before the diagnosis, she should be in really good shape for a smooth recovery!

That is great she is using the ramp! Many dogs don't so count that as a win. I wouldn't worry about the grade of the ramp. It's much safer than stairs (how many do you have?) and if she's using it, don't stop. It will help her so much as she ages. 

How far is far to get to the yard and her potty spots? You probably won't need to carry her, but you can support her with a DIY belly sling! She may or may not want the help and that's OK. Just be there in case she needs assistance.

We don't recommend using harnesses until stitches are out but if someone has to, usually a t-shirt underneath the harness will protect the incision. Just don't leave it on all day. And thank you so much for your support by shopping with us for her harnesses!

I hope this helps! If we can answer any questions just post away. 

P.S. We are based in Fort Collins and I want to have a Tripawds party sometime in the Fall. I'll keep you posted on if we make it happen!

Colorado
Member Since:
2 February 2024
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11 February 2024 - 8:07 am
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Hello, 

Thanks so much for the information and support. We have been trying to test out the harnesses and slings. So far the sling has not gone over so well, but maybe after surgery she will adjust to it better. 

The ramp is just over 4 stairs. With her leg being sore, going down stairs has been painful and the ramp has seemed to help a lot. It’s about 40-50ft to the grass out back. 

Our house is all hardwood and tile, so we have put some rugs down and plan to layout some yoga mats. But I’m assuming traction will be important for the long haul, not just after surgery. So I’ll find some more permanent rugs. 

Surgery is on Wednesday, we will keep you posted with our journey. 

Thanks again, 

Katie 

The Rainbow Bridge



Member Since:
25 April 2007
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11 February 2024 - 3:16 pm
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You are doing everything right, good job smiley_clap

Some dogs just don't want the sling support, just play it by ear. That she's letting you use the ramp is super cool. If she showed pain signals using stairs then the ramp is a smart choice. That distance isn't too bad, I'm going to be she'll be OK getting to the grass. Might be tricky the first week or so but after that she'll probably ace it.

Yes, traction is best for long term use. It's the kind of thing you would do for any senior dog, you're just doing it earlier for her now. She's smart, she will figure out it's best to stay on the rugs. Most dogs do! 

Enjoy the next few days. Snuggle, take it easy, and know that you've both got this. We are here with any questions you have in the meantime. Keep us posted.

Colorado
Member Since:
2 February 2024
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14 February 2024 - 2:40 pm
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Hello, 

So we are officially part of the team! Marion had her surgery this morning and she is in recovery now. We had to add on a liver biopsy due to some bloodwork but the surgeons said everything went well. Now to try to sleep, before the hard part begins! 
Thanks again for your support so far. I’m sure we will have questions over the next few days. 
thanks, 

Katie 

Virginia







Member Since:
22 February 2013
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7
14 February 2024 - 3:01 pm
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YAAAAAAAY  Marion is out of surgery and on the road to recovery! She'll be seeing a lot of pink elephants tonight so yes, this is a perfect time for you to get some rest. It is exhausting mentally and physically getting to this point.

Actually, you've already done the hard part and so has Marion. You made the decision to amputate  give her a chance at a quality pain free life. Of course, that's not to say that the next week or two won't be full of ups and downs and kind of rough at first.We are here right by your side the whole way to help you navigate through recovery.

Stay connected and let us know when she's home, okay?

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!

The Rainbow Bridge



Member Since:
25 April 2007
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8
15 February 2024 - 10:30 am
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WOOHOO! That's a big hurdle you can now put behind you. How are things going?

Colorado
Member Since:
2 February 2024
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9
15 February 2024 - 2:27 pm
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Hello, 

We just got her home. She is exhausted. The vet said she can definitely walk, but she is very unsteady- I think she is just warn out right now. So we are letting her rest and we will attempt a potty break later. 

thanks, 

Katie 

Colorado
Member Since:
2 February 2024
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10
15 February 2024 - 4:27 pm
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Hello, 

We only seem to be able to do backwards hops at the point. Not sure if it is not liking the harness or forward is just hard right now. Poor girl is definitely struggling. Any suggestions? 

Katie 

Virginia







Member Since:
22 February 2013
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11
15 February 2024 - 7:41 pm
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Welcome home Marion!!!  👏👏👏

She'll get her sea legs at her own pace.  At take a few days to get her mobility  worted out, but she'll get there.  She still has a lot of strong hospital meds in her and is still quite whacked.  Did she come home with a Fentynal  patch?  Some dogs do, some dont.  Because dogs are so resilient l, it's important  to remind yourselves Marion just jad  AJOR AIRGERY, has some strong pain meds, all while trying to adjust to three

After some good rest you can maybe try to forgo the harness help.  Leave it on, stay close but try not to "help" her. My Happy Hannah would freeze upir I tried to assist .

Hang in there.  Thos early part os hard but she'll soon have all this recovery stuff behind her.

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!

Colorado
Member Since:
2 February 2024
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12
15 February 2024 - 8:30 pm
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Hello, 

Yes we are all still adjusting. And a good reminder that she had major surgery, is on lots of meds and also to give her some room to try things out (safely). She does not have a fentanyl patch. She does have on a recovery shirt and different harness than we practiced with, so I think she is adjusting to that too. Thank so much for the response. It’s very comforting to know we are not alone in this. 

thanks,

Katie 

Colorado
Member Since:
2 February 2024
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13
16 February 2024 - 6:19 am
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Good morning, 

First night home went ok. She likes to adjust in different positions at night, but can’t get up on her own yet (Before she would stand up, do a few circles, find a good spot and plop down). So still trying to figure that out. 
She peed last night and this morning. Ate all her pills and breakfast, in true Lab form. We gave her some water with pumpkin last night and she had regular water this morning. 
Back to resting for now. Her incision has been bleeding a little, sent a picture to the vet and they are not worried. 

Keep well,

Katie 

Virginia







Member Since:
22 February 2013
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14
16 February 2024 - 9:29 am
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YAY FOR EATING👏  YAY FOR DRINKING 👏  YAY FOR PEEING!👏

You are doing an excellent  job of monitoring  her.  Patience is so hard for us hoomans  during recovery, but each day brings you to full recovery. 

Hugs

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

P.S.What pain are her  meds , frequency,  dose?  How much does she weigh?

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!

The Rainbow Bridge



Member Since:
25 April 2007
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15
16 February 2024 - 10:58 am
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Katie, I'm glad Sally was able to ease your worries last night. I'm in the Tripawds Chat for another hour or so if you see this. You can always call the Tripawds Helpline if you want to talk, we return messages every day and take live calls during certain hours too.

She will be wonky and off balance for a little while as she adjusts. Give her all the time she needs. She's eating and eliminating, both terrific signs that she's working toward 100% healing. 

Sounds like she has a seroma . Way to go to let your vet know about it! A seroma is just harmless body fluid drainage, usually not a big deal.

I'm also curious about her pain meds. 

Sally, most vets are not giving Fentanyl anymore. Not just because of the opioid crisis but because dogs just don't seem to absorb it as well as once thought. Those pink elephants might be facing layoffs! 

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