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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My 7 year old dog had a fast growing skin cancer on her rear hind leg and amputaion was needed. This was a very difficult decision, but my family and I decided we rather have a 3 legged dog than no dog.
She had the surgery yesterday (Wed.) and I supposed to pick her up later today (Thurs.)
I don’t exactly have a warm and fuzzy Vet- he’s pretty straight foreward and tells it like it is.
I just wanted to know from other owners what to expect, how to best comfort her, healing time, etc.. My kids (12,and 10) are so sad about this and I’ve tried to prepare them by showing them this sight and reasuuring them it weill be okay in no time!
Thanks for the support!
Thank you for not giving up on your dog’s behalf, and give her a chance to fight!
Some vets bandage up the wound, some don’t. You need to get your kids pschologically prepared that the wound will not be pretty.
The first couple of days after coming home, she might be very groggy, weak in general, and very sleepy. Let her rest and sleep well. Just be sure to offer water to her every so often to keep her hydrated.
Some dogs might just want to be left alone quiet. Some might have poor appetite, nausea, constipation, affected by pain medications and antibiotics.
Put runners/rugs on slippery surfaces, e.g. hardwood floor, tiles. Provide with her some firm support, yet soft bedding.
When she is still weak or in the process of adapting to a different way of walking, perhaps wrap a bath towel around her waist to hoist her rear end to give her a little support. The last thing you want to happen is that she injures her other limbs or the wound itself due to a fall.
She will need to learn how to get into position to eliminate. Eventually, her remaining hind leg will build up strength.
If she feels like going out for a stroll, take only frequent *short* walks initially, don’t overdo it.
Think positive, and be strong as a pack leader. Always, offer her lots of encouragements. She picks up your emotion.
Please let us know how she is doing after you pick her up later today. Lots of tripawds and parents here will be more than happy to share their experiences with you.
Wish your dog have a speedy recovery.
Thank you for your advice and support! What would you recommend for firm support- something under her dog pillow?
A just spoke to the Vet and she is doing well, but they want to keep her at least another night- so we can’t pick her up until Fri or maybe possible Sat. a.m.! Is this normal?
Our administrator Jerry probably is having fun out there playing. That might be the reason he hasn’t got time to get his paws on the keyboard to approve your posts yet.
Please consider registering as a member of this family so that your posts can be seen the moment you post, so others can chime in?
Anyway, good to hear that she is doing well. It is normal to stay overnight at the vet hospital. Some vets might want an extra night for monitoring and also to protect the patients from "trying" to resume normal activities too soon.
The idea of firm support is kind of like our orthopedic mattress, firm enough to support the contour of the spine, yet soft enough to provide comfort. Maybe your dog’s pillow is already doing the trick.
To give you an idea, this is from Jerry’s blog The Perfect Bed for Your Tripawd Dog.
By the way, what’s her name? what kind of a dog is she?
"Shasta" is a Field English Setter- she is white with black and a few brown spots. I’m trying to figure out how to post a picture- going to the technical forum next!
Thanks for all your advice- I’m sure I’ll be on here a lot in the next couple of weeks- so bear with me!
Any other advice is much appreciated!
Whew! Thank you so much Genie, you are AWESOME! And you were right. Mamma was out playing around all day riding her bike, and just got home. She’s a slacker today, sorry Alexis! But thank you so much for joining, we’re hoppy to have you here and hope we can be of help during this journey. Thank you for giving Shasta a chance at a continued happy and wonderful life.
Well, Genie definitely offered some wonderful, thorough advice. Let’s see, what else can we say . . .
We always suggest starting with our Health Tips page, especially the part about Exercise and Fitness.
One of the biggest post-amp challenges we discuss here at Tripawds, is the fact that humans seem to have it harder than their dog when it comes to staying pawsitive and hopeful. You will be SO amazed at how Shasta will learn to adapt on three legs, try to remember to keep that feeling in your heart.
There will likely be little challenges over the next few days that may make you sad, or even regret that you went through with the surgery. That’s all normal for humans to feel, don’t beat yourself up, but remember to be strong, and know that the recovery time is just temporary.
All in all, Tripawds can do just about anything that four legged fur babies can do, but in more limited time spans. For example, after recovering, some Tripawds walks become shorter, and things like frisbee and jumping up a lot may be something that you should be cautious about. Just try to think to yourself what my Mamma thought to herself when I was recovering . . . when you start to worry about him…let him be a dog.
Remember that recovery times are all different for each dog, and progress is gradual, anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of months. Always remember to embrace the little steps along the way.
When it comes to kids, generally they are very curious around me at first. But when Mom and Dad explain that I’m very happy on three legs, and joke that I still have one more leg than they do! , they get it.
Genie’s right though, the surgery site is nasty. I think it would be good if you showed your kids some videos from my Videos page before they see Shasta tomorrow.
We are so glad to hear he’s doing well, and hope that this helps a little. Let us know if there’s anything else you’re wondering about. Mamma is hanging out on the laptop tonight, so she’ll be around.
With much love,
Thanks for helping me along the way. It looks like we wont be picking Shasta up until Sat. a.m. The kids really want to see her- they may be able to this morning- have to call at 8:30.
I showed the kids some of the videos and they feel a lot better now..thanks!!
I noticed that some dogs are wearing shirts after surgery. Would it be a good idea to get some kind of shorts/boxers for Shasta to cover the surgery site?
Thanks again -I’ll update when Shasta comes home
How is Shasta doing these two days at the vet? I bet she wants to see you and the kids too! (just a thought, if you were not able to pick her up until tomorrow, she might be very disappointed not be able to go home with you after getting excited to see you today.)
The reason most people put t-shirts on the new tripawds is to protect the wound from getting too moist from licking or worse, chewing.
You might want to put shorts on her too, just don’t forget to take it off before she goes to do her business 😉
Oh we’re so glad the videos helped!
Genie’s right, the t-shirts are to keep us from messing with the stitches or staples. Some vets will give you an e-collar, but lemme tell you, those things are the pitts! A snug t-shirt is much better. Maybe one of your kids’ shirts?
Good luck when you pick her up from the vet. Let us know if there’s anything we can do to make her return home easier.
26 July 2008
Hi Alexis and Shasta,
Not much to add to all the great advice given. Remember she may not seem to be herself for a while and like posted earlier may want to be left alone. Depending on the age of your children you may want to keep an eye on them that they give Shasta some space until you know how she is reacting to the medication.
Welcome to the forum and please keep us posted on Shasta’s recovery.
Connie & Radar
We pick up Shasta today!
We went in to see her yesterday and she came walking over to us with her tail wagging! The Vet said she was doing great- eating/drinking and up walking. She looked better than I had expected! My kids (12,10 yrs.) gave her lots of love and said her surgery site didn’t look as bad as they though it would. The Vet said they wanted to keep her for one more night and she could come home Sat. afternoon. When it was time for us to leave- she slowly got up on her own and followed the Vet with no problems.
We are all excited for her to come home- 4 days seems like such a long time!
I am so glad I foung this site- I have so much more information now on caring for her upon her arrival! I will give an update in the next couple of days and I’m sure I’ll need more advice!
Alexis, that is RAD, thank you for the wondeful news!
My Mom was thinking; do you think your kids would like to write a short blog post about their experience with Shasta as a three legged dog? Maybe like some advice they can give other kids? Mom and I both think it would be SO incredibly helpful for kids to hear other kids tell their story about life with a Tripawd. Of course, we know you’ll be busy over the next few weeks tending to Shasta, but we just wanted to mention this to see if your family is interested in writing when you have a chance.
10 August 2008
Sounds like you may have a speedy recovery! Just be careful with Shasta’s wound site, as it was a pretty big operation, and lots of muscles, tendons and skin are trying to heal. Dont let her go too overboard, or you can have a significant setback in recovery time! Just moniter her alot the first few days for swelling, and take it easy! Imagine having your leg removed, and the care you would take getting around…
Mate had some significant swelling about 3 days after her trip home, and had an infection which set her back about a week in recovery time, maybe more! Either she got an infection from the operation, or she fell on her surgery site which started the problem, I’m not sure. But, a couple days extra at the vet is not a bad thing, just make sure she doesnt have to go back with an emergency.
I dont want to freak you out, just be careful and keep recovery time to a minimum! Shasta and your kids will be happier!!
3 is the magic number…
Mate and family
First of all, you have come to a great place for information. I found this site last month after our 7 yr. old great dane, Myrtle, had her right front leg amputated due to osteosarcoma. The tips on this site were so helpful in those first weeks. My father is a retired veterinarian & I worked with him for 17 yrs., but even with my background, I found myself searching for answers when we got Myrtle back home.
Preparing your kids was a good idea. Like others have already mentioned, Shasta will pick up on your mood so try not to feel sorry for her. We put Myrtle’s bed right by the backdoor so she wouldn’t have too far to go when she needed to go. She was weak, but I didn’t have to use anything to support her for walking…we just took our time. We kept her on a leash that first week just in case she got an unexpected burst of energy. We also would only let our other dane mix, Boone, with her if they were both on a leash. Myrtle came home with a drain, so we covered her bed first with a zippered plastic mattress cover, then a quilted waterproof cover, a thick towel, then topped it with a jersey knit sheet. This worked well for absorbing fluid….but plan on changing the bedding a couple of times a day those first couple of days.
I would say our biggest hurdle was getting Myrtle to eat. She was on 2 different antibiotics & Deramaxx pain med. for the first 7-10 days. I knew the meds would affect her appetite, but she continued to refuse food even after the meds were finished. If you have this problem it can be VERY frustrating, but don’t let it get to you. It took Myrtle 12 days po to get her appetite back & even then, she was only eating a portion of her regular meals. The only way we could get her to eat in the first 2 weeks was hand feeding her baby food chicken sticks, cooked chicken, cheez-its(it was better than nothing:)), and canned pedigree dog food. She would also only eat while lying down. On day 19, it was like a light switch came on & she started eating like a horse!
Today, we are 25 days po & Myrtle is back to playing hard with Boone, eating twice a day & happy as ever. She has even started digging that hole to China that she’s been working on for 7 years! 🙂
Good luck with Shasta & remember….take it easy the first couple of weeks, try to keep Shasta from moving around too much & stay positive for a successful recovery.
Finally, I have to thank all of the contributors to this site. It was very reassuring to read your stories & the tips I found here were so helpful. Tripawds Rule!!!
I found this site last month after our 7 yr. old great dane, Myrtle, had her right front leg amputated due to osteosarcoma.
Rocknmom, you are so sweet, thank you so much for the wonderful words and advice.
I’m going to tell my friend Matey about Myrtle. Matey is going through recovery right now, and has a very, very poor appetite which is worrying her pawrents. Check out what they had do say. I think you could offer some experience and advice to them!
So glad to hear Myrtle is doing great! Please post some photos when you can, we’d love to learn more about her inspawrational recuperation.
Welcome to the Tripawds family, thanks so much for being here!