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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

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Tough love is tough
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Member Since:
7 November 2023
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7 November 2023 - 3:27 pm
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Hi everyone. I'm a new addition to the Tripawds community as this whole experience has been a whirlwind. Our girl, Cami, had to have her right forelimb amputated unexpectedly.


The short version (because I'm sure I'll post the long one elsewhere) is that about 2 months ago xrays showed she had arthritis in her elbow and a radiologist said they weren't concerned about cancer at that time. Fast forward to last Monday, when I gently threw a ball for her and she slipped and fell on that elbow. We got xrays at the emergency vet which showed that the bone was incredibly deteriorated, likely due to osteosarcoma, and that the fall had broken the bone. Because of how fragile the bone was there was nothing they could do to fix the leg. A second radiologist said they didn't think the cancer had metastasized, so my husband and I chose to have the leg amputated (full amputation since the elbow was the source of the problem).

We're 6 days after surgery and she's at home. It's been a struggle as my husband is out of town on a work training he absolutely could not miss, so I've been handling it on my own until he comes home tomorrow night. The process itself has been hard because my tendency is to baby her. I am not great with tough love -if she's hurting, I want to fix it.

The past day or two we've been driving each other crazy because she was so anxious and nothing I did seemed to help. I'd go through my normal routine of seeing if she was thirsty, taking her out for a potty break, working with a puzzle toy, but everything either helped for a minute or two or didn't help at all.

I may have turned a corner when looking through one of he Tripawds ebooks. There was a section about post-op recovery and not taking it personally if your dog wants to be alone. Crate training was one of the first things we worked on when we got Cami 6 years ago, and so her crate has always been her safe hangout (and where we normally feed her). A bunch of things fell into place remembering how when coming in from potty breaks she kept wanting to go into her crate. I thought this was force of habit, because she also did this before the surgery, but wondered if maybe she was trying to tell me that she needed to be alone.

I put her in her crate and she's been basically silent, even with me in another room. The only noise I hear from her is her snoring.

While I'm glad that it seems we've found a solution, I'm also frustrated and embarrassed that I didn't catch onto this sooner. She's been having some other strange behaviors and I'm wondering if those could also be attributed to the stress of being forced to be a velcro dog when she wanted to be alone (I am confirming with our veterinary behaviorist).

I know it's only day 6, but there is something mildly disheartening about not picking up on the cues she was giving me. At the same time, I am also anxious that this isn't really the fix and the whole thing will start again tonight. Thankfully, my best friend is coming over to be her night care person tonight so I can get some actual sleep.

I'd really like some validation that this gets easier. It feels like my entire day is devoted to taking care of her... but maybe that's also part of the problem.

The Rainbow Bridge

Member Since:
25 April 2007
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7 November 2023 - 8:13 pm
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Hi Jen and Cami, welcome. Your future posts won't need to wait for approval so post away.

I'm really sorry you are going through this. A pathological fracture is the worst way to find out your dog has cancer, it's so traumatic for everyone. Rest assured though that you did what needed to be done to help her feel good again once recovery is over.

Do not beat yourself up OK? You are doing everything right and your concerns are totally normal. Anyone who has been through this questions their decision, and worries about how they and their dog or cat are handling the recovery. 

Tell us more about her recovery, like what's her appetite right now? What is her pain management like? And how is she at night? Is she showing pain signals ?

YES, this gets easier! I promise! 

I'm glad our e-books could help you feel a little better. Yes, a little tough love goes a long way and by allowing her to sleep and rest in her crate, you are practicing it. Stay strong! We have your back, and you can do this! Stay tuned for feedback from others and please keep us posted.


Member Since:
22 February 2013
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7 November 2023 - 9:18 pm
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Hi Jen and Cami ! I’m so glad you posted here and got some reassurance from Jerry that you were doing everything you can for your Cami. It’s also very new and we all have to figure out what works best for our specific situation and for our specific dogs needs.

As an aside, I spoke with Jen this evening as a result of a helpline callm she made earlier in the day. It was several hours before I could get back to her so I’m glad she went ahead and posted everything here?  Jen did a wonderful job of assessing what could be adding to some of Cami’s possible anxiety. Based on what she told me it sounded like the pain meds were about where they should be and there was a little wiggle room for increasing if necessary. Of course, only with vet approval. Eating and drinking pooping and peeing are all on target for a good recovery.

wonderful that her friend is coming over to give Jen a little reprieve  so she can get a good nights sleep. As we all know, caring for a recovering dog after surgery, especially if you’re on your own, can be scary and definitely exhausting.

Update us when you can. And give sweet Cami some smooches for us.


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!

Member Since:
7 November 2023
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8 November 2023 - 8:01 pm
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Hi everyone,


Thank you for the support! It's really helped me feel more grounded through all of this.

I'm happy to report that Cami had NO ANXIETY last night! My friend tried to take her out a few times and Cami was very grouchy about being woken up. I got to sleep 7 hours!


She's been very quiet today,  mostly sleeping in her crate. She's eating, peeing, and pooping, and drinking a TON of water (enough that I've been told by the surgeon to contact our regular vet if it doesn't taper off).

She is very mobile and is able to get from room to room on her own.  When we go out she actually tries to run and jump. 

She's seeming mopey, but it sounds like that's pretty normal at day 7. Right now our biggest concern is how much water she is drinking and whether that is a sign of yet another issue.

I'm trying not to worry about it,  but that's a bigger concern for me than the overall surgery recovery. I'm scared this is a sign of kidney issues or the cancer spreading (it is JUST drinking water, no other warning signs).


She did wet herself today,  but I'd tried for a little over three hours between potty breaks where before we'd been at two.


Has anyone else had their dog drink more water after surgery? Did it eventually go away?


She seems comfortable.  Today we were able to go 12 hours between codeine doses and she just stayed in her crate the whole time.


Now is just helping my husband get up to speed with everything.  He's going to stay with her tonight while I sleep in our room, then we'll alternate nights from there.


We're going to ask if they can draw blood to test for kidney issues when we have her in to remove her stitches.  The surgical team hasn't been very helpful with aftercare, so my husband is willing to go to bat for us if needed.

I just want to say how very grateful we both are for this community -it has made a world of difference for us to know we have people we can go to who haft been through this before.


Member Since:
22 February 2013
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8 November 2023 - 8:45 pm
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So glad you got some sleep and it sounds like Cami is resting comfortably too! That will help both of you heal.

The only thing that comes to mind as far as excessive drinking and peeing is a UTI. They have nothing to do with the surgery at all but just a coincidence. While you’re waiting to get her blood drawn when the stitches come out you could maybe do a clean catch Pee sample and take it into the vet for examination.

Overall, everything sounds pretty normal for this early in recovery. It sounds like her mobility is good and her pain seems to be managed.

Give yourself a pat on the back you’re doing a great job


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 November 2023 - 10:56 pm
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It sounds like things are really moving along nicely! You sound good too. Rest and sleep is good medicine for the whole furmily!

Regarding the thirst ... I've never heard of a UTI causing excessive thirst, just accidents in the house. I do know that opioids can cause dehydration, but I think if it continues it's definitely worth having a more involved convo with your vet. Try not to panic. We tend to be hyper-vigilant when we are in recovery mode and most times when we think something bad is going on, it isn't. She's moving around more, she probably wasn't drinking a lot during the first five days, and now her body is catching up. Measure water you put into her bowl and keep track so you know exactly how much she's drinking and you can tell your vet. 

I hope tomorrow goes even better. I'll bet it's really great having hubby home now! Keep us posted.

Member Since:
7 November 2023
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11 November 2023 - 10:22 pm
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Update on Cami's recovery:


Her water intake has normalized! We're at 3 days in a row of standard water intake for her weight (11 cups for 88 pounds of tripawd). I'm guessing a mixture of stress and boredom? She started to drink less once my husband was back home and when I introduced some puzzle toys to keep her mind busy.

She continues to be very mobile, getting up and moving around on her own without issue. So far she hasn't tried to lick or scratch her stitches, but we're still leaving the cone of shame on when we are not actively supervising her.

Tonight we were actually able to go out to dinner! We had her in her crate and she was sleeping when we came back.

The incision is looking good, according to my paramedic and nurse best friends. The stitches come out on Tuesday and I'm having another friend come with since my husband has to work. I'm a little anxious because Cami has always been dog reactive ("loves people, hates dogs" is her motto), so vet visits are always stressful. But with another person there that helps be able to have one person run interference while the other person handles her.

We also found a rehabilitation practice that says they will be happy to work with her! They have experience working with tripawds and aren't phased by her reactivity. I'm hoping this will give us more things to do with her in addition to keeping her as strong as possible.

We also found a vet that does at-home general care and specializes in end of life and pallative care. Given her anxiety, we're thinking of moving to this for any general veterinary needs. She also does at-home euthanasia, which is ultimately what we want to do for her. We still don't know how long we have, but we want to establish that relationship so that we can plan when the time does come.

Her first oncology appointment is on the 29th and I'm not expecting great news. Given how fast the cancer decimated her elbow (2 months between "no sign of cancer" and "it is too damaged to repair") I expect that the prognosis is not good. Either way, she seems so much happier without the leg. As incredibly stressful as this past week as been, I know we made the right decision for her. 

In bonus news: we discovered that our pet insurance isn't fighting us on any of the costs! Because she had to be hospitalized for a few days it was pretty expensive and we were worried they would try to get out of paying. We got the explanation of benefits yesterday, and the only thing they aren't covering (besides our copay) is the shipping costs to have the leg rushed out for testing. We would have managed regardless, but my credit card can breathe a sigh of relief icon_lol

The Rainbow Bridge

Member Since:
25 April 2007
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12 November 2023 - 6:13 pm
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I'm so happy for you and Cami! She really is having the kind of recovery we hope all new Tripawds have. And wow what advocating you are doing for her! YAY! You are preparing for the worse but hoping for the best, and getting expert help and guidance along the way. GREAT JOB!

As for the cancer, well you just never know what it will do. Yes if it is osteosarcoma (did the path report ever confirm it?), it comes with a bad prognosis. But many pets with cancer go on to outlive their prognosis, sometimes by years. Do what you're doing, and try not to focus on those statistics. Today is all that matters, and it sure sounds like you are totally getting that. smiley_clapDon't get too overwhelmed with information, just enjoy the time you have right now and love that pup up since she really is being such a rock star! You are too!smiley10

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