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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Hello to all of you in this amazing community.
My dog, Gus, a 45lb 9 year old terrier mix, had his right rear leg amputated the day after Christmas. He had a mast cell tumor in his foot that had spread to his lymph node. TRIPAWDS HAS BEEN A LIFELINE these last ten days. The experience and advice on this site has kept me sane, and I know from poring over the forums that so many of you have found solace and comfort and information here. Thank you so much for being here!
I’m curious about people’s experience tapering off pain meds. How long were your dogs on them, when did you stop, how’d it go?
My guy is doing great. He’s hopping like a champ and it’s actually hard to keep up with him. Our biggest challenge, I can see now, is probably going to be limiting his activity so he doesn’t overextend himself.
But back to the drugs — he’s been on Vicodin since the surgery, between every four to six hours (just a quarter or half a pill depending on how he seems). At night we have been giving him Acepromazine to calm him down so he’ll sleep (he’s a pretty active guy and the drugs make him fart, which startles him and, well, it’s a whole thing — chasing him around the house after ‘the wind’ startles him has been exhausting.)
Yesterday he laid on his surgery side for the first time and it didn’t seem to bother him, even though he still has staples in (gets them out tomorrow). But we really don’t know what he’s like without the painkillers in his system. I guess I’m nervous about taking him off the vicodin too soon.
Any guidance or just hearing what your experiences have been will be helpful. If there’s already a topic on this, let me know.
Thanks in advance. Again, I am so grateful for this community–I’ve spent hours on here in the last ten days. I’m not sure how I would have survived without all the wisdom and kindness here. You rock!
Hi Gus and Pam, welcome! Thanks for the kind words, we are so glad you found us and decided to chime in. I couldn’t help but giggle when you described Gus’ reaction to pain meds
He sounds like he’s having a great recovery! Yay! And yep, with that kind of energy, you’re right, making sure he doesn’t overdo things will be a challenge.
I know it’s scary to pull the pain meds so yes it’s smart to taper off. Usually what we see around here is that dogs tend to show more pain signals at night, after a long day of getting back into their groove. So my best advice to you is to follow your vet’s instructions for decreasing the pain meds. If they didn’t give you any direction there, which isn’t uncommon, you may want to call and ask just to be sure. Vicodin isn’t like Gabapentin that requires a tapering after being on it a while, but you may want to start scaling back by just giving it at night toward the end of the usual 10-14 day recovery phase, usually around the time stitches come out.
Stay aware of how much time he’s out off leash and running around, and only allow that time to increase gradually, say by a few minutes every few days. See how he does and if he shows any pain signals , scale back and start over again.
We can’t wait to find out how things are going. Keep us posted and thanks again for joining. Your future posts won’t require approval so post away.
13 December 2019
Hi Gus and Pam,
Welcome and I totally agree with you about the community. It was a life saver for me also. You will get a lot of views on here which make it so helpful. I of course agree with Jerry on checking with the Vet but thought I would share a little about my dog cause his pain management was a little different then others. My dog Odin a 7 year old lab had his front leg amputation mid December. He went in on a Monday for the surgery and came home with me on Wednesday. He was only on his pain meds at home with me for 6 days and then stopped all medication. He seemed fine to me. Still very tired but no crying which was a difference from before the surgery. He didn’t have his stitches removed till 18 days after the surgery. I do believe some of this was due to my doctor taking some time off fo the holiday. Odin has seemed to have no change whether on or off the medication in regards to his personality. He of course isn’t as tired as when he was on them. My dog was on Gabapentin though not Vicodin but I am sure your vet will do what is right for Gus.
Can’t wait to hear how Gus is doing and you too. It is a crazy thing to go through but worth it when you get those kisses. Last thing is Odin lays a lot on the surgery side. He did it when he had the stitches in and still does today. It must feel good to them. I was worried when he did it also but knew as long as he could not get them caught and pulled out that was truly my main concern for him. My vet always says let him be a dog. If that’s how he wants to lay don’t worry to much. But the first time he did it I was so nervous about it but it seemed to be ok. Good luck to you both!
Thanks for the replies Puffer and Jerry.
Gus got his staples out today and I talked to his vet about the pain meds. She was surprised we were still giving him the vicodin (even though there were never any explicit instructions one way or the other). She was also surprised we were still using the tote bag sling ten days in (even though no explicit instructions with that either)… we went twelve hours today in between doses and he got a little shivery/shaky so we gave him a tiny bit, like an 1/8 of a pill. We’ll keep going longer and longer and giving him less and less in the next few days. The vet thinks he is doing great and encouraged us to hover less, and as your vet says, let him be a dog (I’m nervous he’ll injure himself if we just let him do his normal stuff — he’s a jump up and off of things guy).
That’s a long way to say, what I’m learning from this site is to trust our gut and let the dog guide us and combine that with vet info when we’re clueless. And come here to get the scoop from people living the aftermath of surgery. I’ve been astonished how little information we’ve gotten from our vet. It’s been pretty much, okay, the leg is gone, see ya! Another reason this site has been so valuable.
Have a good week, everyone!
Pam (and Gus)
27 December 2019
Hi Pam and Gus!
I completely resonate with your last post. We have a 9 year old boxer, Duke who became a tripawd on December 30th. He usually is all over the place, jumping on furniture and chasing lizards in the yard (thankfully the pain meds slowed him down a bit for now.) It is really challenging not to hover over him, but a little by little we have been letting him do a little more and reading the experiences others have had post op helped. It breaks my heart when he puts his face on the sofa but I still can’t let him up with his stitches.
I remember my husband and I saying to each other before we picked Duke up the same day after surgery, “They just cut our dogs leg off and they are going to send him home??? We don’t know how to care for him.” Then he walked right out of the vet to our car. Every day he astonishes us by how well he is adapting. I think vets don’t realize we aren’t animal experts like them, but just people who freak out when our pets are in any pain. Our vet has been very communicative with us, as long as we’ve shown concern. Don’t be afraid to call and ask your vet anything. And as you said this community is AMAZING!!! Duke had a horrible reaction to some medication on New Year’s Day when the vet was closed and the admins especially Jerry helped us out tremendously. There is so many real life experiences here it really helps calm my nerves.
Keep us posted on Gus and his recovery. I’m anxious to get Duke off the pain meds so I look forwards to see how Gus’ experience goes.
For now I also will try to hover less.
Alissa and Duke
22 February 2013
Just catching up and, as always, great support has been offered!
Yeah, like you, the Surgron did their job with a successful operation and my Hsppy Hannah was mobile. Then I was on my own to navig thru recovery with no direction whatsoever!! On top of that, I didn’t find this great community until day six after the amp. I was a complete basket case until I caught the Tripawd’s Lifeline!!
As far as pain meds, every dog is different and every need for them varies. H Happy Hannah needed her meds for around three weeks, with some tapering around between week two and three. Some dogs stay on some form of pain meds longer.aome less. Listen toGus and watch for pain signs. A d it sounds like he still needs them based on his signals. So no, it’s NOT surprising he still needs some pain management . It’s harder to catch up with pain once it takes hold.
Stay connected and let us know how things are going with the reduction in pain meds and withdrawal from the sling. It may be that you give him the reduced pain med at eight hours, instead of twelve if needed sooner.
You’re doing a great job!!! And YAY for stitch removal!! That deserves a cheeseburger for both pf you!
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!
15 November 2019
Congrats on the staple removal. Things will be much happier now I am sure. Eva was on her gabapintin pain meds for three weeks and a few days. We found that at night she had some phantom pains that seemed to diminish with a little night pill. so she was on it longer than we were told or given meds for. We had 10 days and ordered more from the vet. Our surgeon said that everyone is different and that it is better to step them down as the need for pain management . Each day as they feel better you can reduce. Eventually we got to one pill a day and then we had only a pill once or twice after that, but she got off them. i am glad that we listened to her needs She was good about telling us what she needed. I am sure Gus will let you know. Sounds like you are doing a great job and keeping Gus happy. And I agree it is crazy how much energy they have so quickly after surgery.
We are three weeks out from Gus’s surgery. We stopped all pain meds about a week ago and he seems totally fine, acting like his old happy, energetic self.
A friend gave us a wagon and Gus LOVES it… he hops for a couple of blocks, and then we hoist him up with his ruffwear harness into the wagon, we wheel him around the neighborhood, let him out near some good trees for another block or two, then back into the wagon, repeat, repeat. He sits in it like he’s a parade marshal. Best thing that ever happened to him : )
From where we began three weeks ago, I can’t believe where we are now. He’s doing better than I imagined he could. Fingers crossed he stays healthy for many years to come.
Pam this is WONDERFUL news! What a difference, we couldn’t ask for a better pupdate. Oh wait yes we can: we need photos! Got any you’d like to share?
18 October 2009
Geeze, I’m not sure how I missed your story! I usually comment on mast cell cases since I’ve been down that road a couple of times.
I’m glad Gus is doing so well and likes his wagon! Way back in the day I got a stroller for Tri-Pug Maggie thinking it would take lots of effort to get her used to it. But she took to it right away- I swear if she could wave a paw she would have looked the the queen in a parade!
Did the vet recommend any treatment since the lymph node in the leg was positive?
I hope he continues to do well and lead many parades!
Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls