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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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The Elizabethan collars--must we?
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Member Since:
4 December 2008
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12 December 2008 - 7:06 am
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Hello gang:

 Tika here. I had a really good night last night, I'm trying to figure out how to lay down on my surgery side, but momma doesn't think I'm ready for it just yet.

I am supposed to wear my e-collar constantly (2 weeks!) per the vet's recommendation so I don't mess with my stitches or pain patch. Okay, understood, but if I'm a good girl and don't mess with it much, how bad can the occasional sniff/lick be, momma's been watching me? I'm a very fastidious dog and the collar has been preventing me from washing off other parts of my body. (I'm kinda stinky right now, I smell like a hospital)

I ask this because even though I've been a good girl about wearing my e-collar, last night I woke the house up with a panic attack or something. (Momma thinks maybe dream or meds). As soon as the collar came off and Momma calmed me down, I curled up and went to sleep. AND-because that stupid collar was off I could do it true Malamute style with my tail covering my nose.

I have a combination of stitches/staples and I look in good shape, I just don't know if we are tempting fate by letting me go collar free.

What is everyone's else experience or the advice they got concerning the e-collar?

By the way, even though I had licked my biopsy site, I NEVER tried to pull out the stitches.

Thanks, Tika

Kim and Spirit Tika

Member Since:
2 November 2008
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12 December 2008 - 8:26 am
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Hi, Tika-

My mom used some of her old T-shirts (on the advice of other tripawd pawrents-thanks!).  Per Janie and Calamity, the best way to do it is to cut off the sleeves, sew up the side where you had your surgery, and then cut the shirt length-wise up the back so you can tie it securely around your middle.  It worked great for me (my mom didn't bother with cutting off the sleeve on the side of the surgery, but I think it will depend on how the shirt fits you.)  Since I didn't read your initial posting, this will obviously work only if you are a front-legged amputee.  Good luck!


p.s.  I hated my collar too.  My mom removed it the first night and I felt so much better. . . .

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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12 December 2008 - 1:35 pm
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Tika, your Mom is really great for following doctor's orders. When I came home, I had one of those dumb collars too, but Mom and Dad didn't make me wear it. They told me "OK Jerry, if you start messing with those stitches, you're gonna have to put it on." I hate those collars so much, so I was a good boy and didn't ever need it.

Also, like Blackjack, I had a t-shirt on for a while, and then Mom found me an awesome sweater to wear, that covered up the stitches. 


Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

Member Since:
4 December 2008
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12 December 2008 - 5:57 pm
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Well, we are compromising, we take turns having it off and on. The doctor says those darn stitches are going to to start itching soon and then I'll be needing it.

Mom, in the meantime is trying to find a way to make me some nifty little britches that can be on when I can't be supervised and off easily when it's potty time. Maybe if she succeeds we can be famous! Weird anatomy I have now, one full leg and mom called me HamButt on the other side. This is NOT what I had in mind when I told her to have a sense of humor.

She gave me a bit of sponge bath to try to get some of that icky antibacterial soap they use before surgery off and some of the post surgery crud. It felt so good, I didn't want her to stop.

 Thanks for all your well wishes, I'm so happy to be home.



Kim and Spirit Tika

12 December 2008 - 11:11 pm
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You might try a NO-BITE collar - it is a stiff neck brace (but can also be worn around the middle of some dogs) that doesn't stick out in front like a cone, but rather just prevents the neck from bending where you can get at your stitches.  We used one for Cali and it worked fantasticly, but she is a front-leg amputee.

You might also try some arnica oil which will help healing following the surgery, and helps relieve itches. 

When you consider all that you both have already been through, it is not wise to risk having the staples or stitches opened up and having to go back and start over again, so if in doubt, wear the E-collar. 

Best of luck!

Metro Kansas City
Member Since:
23 October 2008
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13 December 2008 - 3:03 pm
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I'm suprised there wasn't a wrap around her when you picked her up, then I thought about it & how they would wrap a rear leg amp..hmmm?? I guess if I were you, and with her most of the time, I'd remove the E-Collar & devise a few pair of old boxer shorts for her to wear that cover the incision.

Just thinking, as I look at my dogs laying here, you could probably do something up like I did a shirt, sewing the leg closed that she doesn't need & tightening the waist to keep them on. If you need help, I'm only 20 minutes away & would be happy to help you fashion something for her. Please ask, if you need me.

I'm wondering if the "panic attack" you describe is similar to what Calamity was having?  She screamed so & it frightened me! If she keeps it up, call VSEC and ask for Gabapentin to get her through the rough time. I believe it helped Calamity a lot.

Although each dog is different, and most dogs here seems to come off the pain meds quicker, Calamity needed more of the heavy pain killers to get her through the first 2 weeks. We went back for an additional morphene injection & another fentanyl patch.

Hang in there and keep taking it day by day.

Janie & Calamity

Janie & Calamity

Member Since:
4 December 2008
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16 December 2008 - 4:44 pm
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Thanks all.

My very patient puppy put up with all sorts of design ideas this weekend. Boxers on backward and modified for that big old tail worked best, but she was doing very well not messing with her stitches so we just kept an eye on her and put her collar on when we left the house briefly.

 Now that she a bit more approved space to move around in, she isn't so annoyed by the collar.

 It's snowing here and she couldn't be happier, of course I'm so worried she's going to slip and I almost fall on my butt. I get this look like...stupid.

Take care all!

Kim and Tika


Kim and Spirit Tika

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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16 December 2008 - 5:31 pm
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Boxers on backwards sounds sooooo cute! Do take a photo if you can, we'd love to see it. Glad to hear Tika's not messing with her stitches. Good girl!

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

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