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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

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Whining at Night 2 Months Post Amputation
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Julie Walker
22 February 2024 - 8:17 am
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My dog is 2 months post op rear leg amputation. I am struggling with this same situation and don’t know what to do. I have asked 2 vets and they are kind of speechless too. My dog will experience it randomly, both day and night , out of no where. The episodes of panting and sometimes whining have lasted approximately 2 hours up to this point. Last night it was 4 hours. I live in him the whole time trying to massage his body and soothe him along with meds and nothing seems to help. I feel like it’s phantom pain and I’m wondering if it last forever because at this point u don’t feel like he is living his best life being on meds all of the time. 
I give him Gabapentin and Carprofen morning and night. When he has an episode I give him Tramadol and Trazadone. Last night I even tried giving him CBD treats to try and calm him. I would really appreciate any suggestions or ideas. Besides his “episodes “ he seems to be happy and gets around well. Thanks 

The Rainbow Bridge

Member Since:
25 April 2007
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22 February 2024 - 1:51 pm
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Hi Julie,

OK so a few questions: what is his age/breed type and what does his activity look like during the day? Also, what is the dosage for Gabapentin? And is it only morning and night?

Trazadone is a sedative, not a pain reliever. Tramadol is not as effective as once thought. So both of these meds probably aren't doing anything at all, and the Tramadol might even make things worse because it tends to cause anxiety-like symptoms in a lot of dogs. CBD is usually not going to do anything at all in these instances. Most products are mildly helpful if at all, and treats are calories so use sparingly.

Please don't be afraid of using pain medications to get the pain under control, it's part of a pain management strategy that also often requires other therapies like acupuncture. But use meds with guidance and a vet professional who understands pain. Our most recent tripawd talk episode is a must listen (or read) for you right now:

Help Your Tripawd Avoid Pain, with Vet Expert Dr. Tamara Grubb


Often we see that painful episodes happen when a new Tripawd resumes activity that his body isn't ready to do just yet. 

What exactly did the vets recommend for helping him with these episodes?

Did you know the Tripawds Foundation can pay for your first rehab visit ? Get your dog evaluated so a therapist can figure out what is causing the pain and how to treat it. These experts are amazing and can help pinpoint issues like this relatively quickly (usually). Please let us know if you'd like help finding a therapist so they can find out what's going on with your pup.

Julie Walker
23 February 2024 - 9:00 am
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Thank you for your response and attached podcasts. I have watched them. 

My dog is a 5 yr old wired hair pointing Griffon. His build has always been on the larger size for his breed standards. He is around 80lbs. I have his weight on the low side for him to help protect his remaining leg and help him. 

I give him 600mg of Gabapentin morning and evening along with a 100mg Carprofen. When he has an episode I have Tramadol 50 mg yo give him and I start with 3. I also have 100mg of Trazadone that I sometimes give him during his episodes. I have Trazadone because he doesn’t like going to the vet. You mentioned that Tramadol might not be working for pain, what else should I ask for? I tell my vet that it doesn’t seem to work and thus far haven’t given me anything else. I did listen to the podcast and she mentioned Amatidine, sorry I don’t know how to spell it. 

I live in a small rural town in regards to options for services. A “ rehab vet” just started their business her last year and I contacted them yesterday but couldn’t touch base verbally with them. I’m hoping she can help. The problem is financially , I  don’t know what all I can do.

We have 3 dogs total, all are great dogs, but our Griffon is like no other. He is a tenacious hunter and love hunting with him. He is everyone’s favorite out of the threes I’ve never spent so much money caring for a dog or time taking care of him but he is so young and good my husband and I have made this effort.

We amputated his leg due to an injury. He tore his ACL, we didn’t know it for months. We just thought he sprained it playing with the other dogs. We did the surgery and I rehabbed him for that and then he either reinjured it or something else happened to the same leg and he struggled with pain. My husband and I opted to amputate the leg as opposed to attempting another surgery and having it fail. We had no idea that he could possibly still have pain afterwards. 

I hope that answers your questions and again, I really appreciate your time.


Member Since:
6 December 2023
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27 February 2024 - 1:08 pm
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Hey Julie, 

Just wanted to chime in - our dog Forrest started exhibiting phantom pain about 6 weeks post surgery and extremely similar presentation to your pup. 

We received advice from our surgeon that treatment for phantom pain is usually 2-3 months of increased, sustained dosage of gabapentin. We have Forrest (who is ~70lbs) on 300mg of gabapentin 5x/day (530am/1030am/130pm/630pm/9pm), as well as we give him one amantadine pill before bed at 9 pm. We also supplement with 750mg of methocarbamol (which is a muscle relaxant good for muscle spasms that could be associated with phantom pain ) 2x/day (8am & 8pm). This has been the winning combo for us and we have greatly reduced Forrest's phantom pain episodes as well as his night time anxiety. 

Would recommend speaking with your vet/surgeon about increasing the gabapentin specifically as this is the real difference maker based on the research - it is also a very safe drug and can be given in larger quantities over a long period of time with no ill effect, so long as the dog is tolerant of it. They also build tolerance over time, so if he has been consistently getting 1200mg/day for a couple months this might just no longer be enough. 

That said, our vet did express that it typically subsides within 2-3 months, so don't lose hope! 

All the best to you all. 

Member Since:
6 December 2023
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27 February 2024 - 1:12 pm
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sorry, one more thought - you may find more success even just with spacing the 1200mg throughout the day, i.e. 300mg 4x/day instead of 600mg 2x/day. The 'shelf life' in their system says 8 hours, but in my experience it's closer to 6 hours, and having sustained dosage in his system at all times is better than a double hit all at once that fades by the time the evening rolls around. It also takes about 1.5-2hrs to actually hit their system, further delaying the pain relieving benefits when spaced too far apart. Hope this helps. 

The Rainbow Bridge

Member Since:
25 April 2007
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28 February 2024 - 12:31 pm
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Hi Julie,

Thanks for filling us in. It's tough being in a small town with fewer veterinary options but there are things you can do to get him pain relief. He's been through so much, you guys have got to be so exhausted from all of the care. Hopefully things will turn around soon, with your advocacy it can.

I'm so glad Kati came here to share her experience because her Forrest also had some recovery pain issues that they were able to resolve in time with good pain management .

Your dog (what's his name?) is getting a good dose of Gabapentin but spacing meds apart (3x daily) is usually more effective to provide more consistent relief. The NSAID he is getting is good!

So the medications Katie and Dr. Grubb mentioned are super helpful for pain relief:

  • Gabapentin OR Pregabalin
  • Amantadine
  • Methocarbomol if it turns out to be a skeletal muscle strain

As far as the Trazadone, I get why you are using it (many people do it for the same reasons). But since it's only a sedative, basically what happens is that it does knock out the dog, but it doesn't do anything for pain. So if his body is still experiencing pain, the source of the problem is not being addressed, and the pain will persist even through the fog he is in, only he can't show you he hurts when he's dopey.

 I tell my vet that it doesn’t seem to work and thus far haven’t given me anything else. 

Time to advocate! In a kind and respectful way, let them know that you learned from studies that Tramadol has been shown to not be effective for acute post-amputation pain. Let them know you want to explore better pain relief in addition to Gabapentin. Be strong, request the Amantadine, and I would ask for the Pregabalin since the Gabapentin is not touching the pain. Read this post so you can explain why you are asking for it. 

Glad you found the rehab therapist! YAY! That should help tremendously and address the source of the pain, once it's controlled with medication (always the first step before rehab). Let us know what they say. Make it clear about your dog's amputation pain situation so they can get him in sooner.

Remember, this isn't a linear trajectory as Forrest's story shows, there will be ups and downs but he WILL get to a healed and happy place!

Hope this helps! Keep us posted.

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