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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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When does it get better??
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Forum Posts: 10
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15 December 2016 - 9:50 pm
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My 11 year old yellow Lab (pink nose), Conan, was suspected to have Osteosarcoma in his front right leg 2 weeks ago from an x-ray.  We amputated on Tuesday and today (thursday) he is now home.   He is having SO much trouble getting around and he seems to be in pain–panting and he let out a cry when he moved earlier.   We got him one of the very nice beds that  this site recommended and he keeps getting off of it and laying on the hardwood floors.  I was worried from the get go about him with this surgery because he has always been a sensitive soul and he is older with bad knees.  He can get up and he can walk but it looks VERY difficult for him.  he is getting really tired and he can’t go to far.  Is this normal?  When does it get better??????  My husband and I are having all the bad thoughts–like did we make a mistake opting for this? what have we done?   I feel like he is in a lot of pain.  He is currently on an antibiotic, an anti-inflammatory, and tramadol three 50mg tabs 3 times a day.   Will this take care of his pain?  I don’t want him to feel anything and I can tell that he is having a hard time.  I just feel horrible about this and can hear him panting as I am typing.   I feel like everything I had researched before talking about how amazing it is that they bounce back and the incision and seeing them without a leg is the hardest part for the owners to see.  Maybe thats how I was interpreting what I was reading and being told–i feared it would be this bad from knowing my Conan so well–but I feel like we kept getting reassured that it wouldn’t be so bad.  please someone tell me this is all normal because we are only on the second day. sad

Virginia




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15 December 2016 - 10:14 pm
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Okay…DEEP BREATHS….REALLY!!! B R E A T H E…..B R E A T H E!!!

Everything you are saying that is going on with Conan right now all sounds very “NORMAL” for his third day of recovery!!

Many dogs aren’t as mobile as Conan is this early on! He’s drugged up, he’s just had MAJOR SURGERY and he’s adjusting ro three legs!!! Humans would still be in the hospital on a morphine drip!! Trying to walk on three legs IS very, very tiring at first!

He’s probably laying on the floor because it feels cooler to him. A lot of dogs gravitate to cooloer spots during the first several days.

Ask your Vet about adding Gabapentin to his pain meds. That addition usually makes a difference. It seems to “compliment” the Tramadol.
Usually ain shows up as panting, shivering, restlessness, tail tucked, ears inned back. And herer the rotten part….sometimes the pain meds can create similar symltons!!

Keep a journal on the doses, timing, etc. If you notice the panting starting up an hour or so before the next dose (for example), you can talk to your Vet about given it more frequently. If the panting seems to be excessive shortly AFTER the dose, it may be that it needs to be reduc or spread out a bit.

I knkw getting the pain meds balanced is tricky, but it is a little trial and error at first sometimes.

If you had seen my first post here six days after my Happy Hannah’s amputation, you woukd see that I thought I had made HORRIBLE DECISION !!!! In fact, it wasn’t until the third week that I coukd finally say I did this FOR my Happy Hannah and not TO her!!

I KNOW these first several days are rough! You are exhausted beyond belief, sleep deprived, second guessing everything and panicked!!!

Rest, rest and potty breaks for now. And if he ees in the bed, that’s okay! That happens sometimes too! Try and get him to drink and eat. Pooping may take a few days, so no worries there.

Again, what you jave described does sound “normal”. Of course, if you jave any concerns call your vet,

Okay…I’m still here!! I’ll watch for your reply!

A d do you jave any CHOCOLATE in the house? If yiu do, eat it all right now and doy forget B R E A T H E!!!

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!

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15 December 2016 - 10:25 pm
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Thank you so so so so much for your response.  I needed that.  And unfortunately I do not have any chocolate in the house.   

Yeah I gave him his tramadol an hour earlier than the vet told me to and that is when the panting started so maybe that is the issue right now. 

I guess the good thing is he is eating chicken and rice and treats–and his food!  I need him to lose a few but I know I am just going to want to spoil him with treats!

Also, thank you for reminding me that this is a major surgery and he just needs to rest, pee, eat.  In my irrtional mind–I think that because we cannot tell them it is going to get better–they won’t try hard enough after feeling so bad.  I don’t know if that makes sense–but I want to make sure he knows that he can do this–but rest is really important and I know that all his healing will happen during his sleep.  

thanks again–maybe I can go to sleep now oh-my

Virginia




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15 December 2016 - 10:41 pm
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Awww…he is such a loved boy and very lucky to have you as his human!

His confidence will come from you. As you stay strongwp and positive in your energy, he will absorb that energy. He WILL get better! As I me tioned earlier, for now though it is just about rest,rest, rest and maki g sure he doesn’t overdo it.

Yeah, you can deal with weight issues @ater. For now treats, chicken are great! And it’s good that he is eating!!! YAY!! Some dogs are off food for several days!

And if he does sleep some tonight, you are ahead of my Happy Hannah’s recovery already!! I doubt she or I slept more than a couple of hours over a three night period!,

Kf you nave nardwoods, you’ll want non slip scatter rugs for traction . Traction ks very important for confidence.

Again, you are in the roughest time right now. It gets better PROMISE!!!

You get some rest…If you can, okay?

We are all here for you! YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!!!!

Lots of hugs!!!

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

PS. Hammmm….no CHOCOLATE? That’s awful!! Okay, desperate times call for desperate measures! Do you have any sugar in the hiuse? How bout eating a teaspoon full of sugar? You’ll have a great sugar high!!

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!



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15 December 2016 - 11:09 pm
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I just wanted to add that you can alternate medications. For example give the anti-inflammatory in between the times you give the tramadol. Many times the anti-inflammatory also provides some pain relief. Looking back I wish I would have done this with my cat.

I believe I’ve read here that panting and whining can be a side-effect of tramadol.

As Sally says, recovery is the hard part and has made great suggestions on helping you through this.

I suspect that most of us are amazed at how well our pets bounced back because we sometimes forget about about the difficult parts. It’s like childbirth… Hurts for a time then you are happy with the outcome. 

I hope you get some sleep while you received more reassurances and suggestions. Remember to phone the surgeon if you still have concerns about the pain or medication.

Kerren and Tripawd Kitty Mona

Livermore, CA




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15 December 2016 - 11:41 pm
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When I was told that my pug Maggie needed to lose her back leg all the vets I talked with assured me that most all dogs do just fine on three legs.  I was SURE I had made a big mistake because Maggie didn’t bounce right back.  Not one of the vets said anything about a recovery period- or how hard it might be.  I was convinced I had the only dog that wouldn’t be able to be a Tripawd.

Maggie was stubborn and set in her ways, she hated any changes to her routines.  In hindsight it made perfect sense that Maggie took a little longer to adapt.  Most pups get their sparkle back in 2 or 3 weeks, it took Mag 6 weeks before she played with me again.  But she did get there and hopped happily through life for almost 4 years.

Its sometimes hard to tell the difference between pain and the effects of pain meds.  Tramadol would make Maggie very agitated, she seemed to be seeing things and didn’t sleep for hours.  I’ve had 3 other dogs on tram and they have all done fine.  Here is a blog post on Pain Signs in dogs and cats– it might help you.  Here are several blog posts on post op pain in dogs and cats with some ideas on how to treat it.

As Sally said this is a huge surgery and Conan needs time to heal and get used to his new normal. Try not to get discouraged, focus on staying positive for Conan and take note of the little improvements. Celebrate each little victory at this point- he can get up and walk! He is eating!

Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls

Tri-pug Maggie survived a 4.5 year mast cell cancer battle only to be lost to oral melanoma.

1999 to 2010

 

              Maggie's Story                  Amputation and Chemo

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16 December 2016 - 2:20 am
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I also staggered the Tramadol.  Otis got 3 every 8 hours, but I was noticing the panting about hour 7, so I started giving 2, and then 1 an hour later.  Otherwise, what you describe sounds pretty normal.  Otis rarely got up in the first couple of days.  I kept a log, so unless so much time had passed that I knew pee was mandatory, I let him sleep.  Rest is the best thing right now.  I will be hard until day 6 or 7, and then you should start seeing improvement, a bit at a time.  Many dogs really perk up when the staples come out at about day 10, so the end is absolutely in sight.  And Conan will probably amaze you!

Otis - 106 pound lab/Dane mix, lost his right front leg to osteosarcoma on Febuary 9, 2016.  Four rounds of carboplatin completed in April, 2016.  Lung mets August 25, 2016.  Said goodbye too soon on September 4, 2016.   Lost his adopted sister, Tess, suddenly on October 9, 2016. likely due to hemangiosarcoma.  

Wherever they are, they are together.

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16 December 2016 - 2:51 am
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Just to add my Max is on day 7 & it was only day 5 post op that i felt we made the right decision. It is getting better, every day we are seeing progress – today he had a walk to the park! Hang in there – every day is different. 

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16 December 2016 - 8:37 am
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Thank you everyone for the helpful replies!  This website is truly amazing.   Such wonderful support–I don’t know what I would be doing without it.  

How long did your dogs stay on pain medication?  They asked me how much tramadol Conan had from pre surgery and I told them 2 days worth and they only gave me 2.5 days worth at the surgery center.  I know its a controlled substance and all that but This just doesn’t seem right–I would think for an amputation he would need meds for at least a week.  My mom has an entire bottle that she doesn’t use for her own back issues so I can continue to give him so I don’t have to leave him alone to get meds (surgery center is 25 minutes away and I have a baby)  By the way–our daughter has always been really loving with him and likes to play all over him (more so than with our other dog) and she senses that he is hurt and she needs to be gentle with him.  Its very sweet–she will just give him one gentle pat instead of crawling all over him and vigorously petting him.  

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16 December 2016 - 9:12 am
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My Otis was on tramadol into week 3, and the vet refilled it liberally when we asked.  On the day the stitches came out, the surgeon suggested skipping the mid-day dose.  Then we eliminated the morning dose, and by the end of week 3, it was just one pill before bed.  After a couple of days, we eliminated that too.  I am surprised that they did not give you enough to get through staple removal day – that is when we refilled.

Otis - 106 pound lab/Dane mix, lost his right front leg to osteosarcoma on Febuary 9, 2016.  Four rounds of carboplatin completed in April, 2016.  Lung mets August 25, 2016.  Said goodbye too soon on September 4, 2016.   Lost his adopted sister, Tess, suddenly on October 9, 2016. likely due to hemangiosarcoma.  

Wherever they are, they are together.

Virginia




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16 December 2016 - 9:18 am
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Awwww….I loooooove how gentle your daughter is with Conanheart what a special little Soul she is, but I’m sure you aleady know that.

Okay, not vet a d all thst…HOWEVER, YES, BY ALL MEANS GET MORE TRAMADOL!!!!! AND GET RHE GABAPENTIN WHILE YOU ARE AT IT! You have great instincts in caring for Conan!!! Yiu are EXACTLY right, he needs more than a couple of days worth! GEEZ!!!

Some Vets still don’t get the importance of pain management when dogs have surgery, especially MAJOR SURGERY AND AMPUTATION!!!

Certainly hope Conan’s Vet never has to deal with a MAJOR SURGERY like this and they only give him a pain med for two days!!!! Craaaaazy!!

Anhway, back to your question. In my Happy Hannah’s case she was on pain meds for about three weeks. Yes, there were lower doses going into week three, but she still had pain meds in her system. Some dogs are on a reduced dose longer. And yes, there are some dogs who seem to do fine without any after about the 10-14 day mark, but they are in the minority.

Okay, off my soap box! You are a GREAT advocate for Conan!

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!

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16 December 2016 - 9:31 am
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thank you thank you!   You are all the best!! 

Well the surgeon was not the one that prescribed it was the associate the day of discharge.  were you all doing 9 tramadol a day at first? 

I called and they said they would give more tramadol and gaba.  going back today and taking Conan to look at his bruising.  

The vet I talked to said “well he might not need it after a few days if you isn’t showing signs of pain and his lethargy could be due to pain meds and not pain.”  Which then I brought up how when i was questioning this surgery EVERYONE told us they are good at hiding pain and he is in a lot more pain than I think with his bone cancer so with an amputation I would imagine it’s painful for a while because IT’S AN AMPUTATION.  ugh, I am not mad at them though because its a really great surgery center.  But I can’t be getting like 2 days worth at a time.  

Did your regular vet do the surgery or a surgery center?  I don’t want to keep having to go all te way to the center for meds.  I wonder when my vet can start prescribing.  

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16 December 2016 - 9:40 am
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Surgery center, with 24 hour emergency care and an oncology department.  But, it was only a 45 minute drive away.  I would go back to the same surgeon for staple removal, but your vet can probably also prescribe if he is in communication with the center (mine faxed reports to my family vet each visit) or for after staple removal.  Otis was 96 pounds post amp.  We started on 2 trams, 3x a day, but called the vet and increased to 3 trams 3x a day about day 4 or 5 (many dogs see a crash about then when the heavy duty hospital meds wear off).

Otis - 106 pound lab/Dane mix, lost his right front leg to osteosarcoma on Febuary 9, 2016.  Four rounds of carboplatin completed in April, 2016.  Lung mets August 25, 2016.  Said goodbye too soon on September 4, 2016.   Lost his adopted sister, Tess, suddenly on October 9, 2016. likely due to hemangiosarcoma.  

Wherever they are, they are together.

Virginia




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16 December 2016 - 9:51 am
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Let’s see now….be a bit lethargic because of pain meds….or be in pain because of NO pain meds??! Vets can be so silly sometimes!!winker

Reallq glad Conan is smart enough to know he just needs to lay around and rest to heal. Such a good boy!

My Happy Hannah weighed 125 lbs and was on Gabapentin, Tramadol and Rimadyl. I don’t remember her exact doses, but it was based on both meds.

And yes, I got refills and check-ups from her regular Vet. I actuaw took her into her regular Vet a couple of times those first two weeks to get reassw that her seroma and bruising were all “normal”! The stitch removal was done at the “Speciality Clinic”.

More HUGS! And dont forget to pick up yiur CHOCOLATE! 🙂

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!

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16 December 2016 - 1:44 pm
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Just wanted to check in on how you are doing?  Maybe at the vet now?  We are thinking about you and your baby.

Otis - 106 pound lab/Dane mix, lost his right front leg to osteosarcoma on Febuary 9, 2016.  Four rounds of carboplatin completed in April, 2016.  Lung mets August 25, 2016.  Said goodbye too soon on September 4, 2016.   Lost his adopted sister, Tess, suddenly on October 9, 2016. likely due to hemangiosarcoma.  

Wherever they are, they are together.

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