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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

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Willow's Rear Leg Amputation Recovery
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Member Since:
18 May 2024
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19 May 2024 - 9:46 am
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Hi everyone, we are new members of the Tripawd community! On May 15, our sweet dog Willow got out of the house accidentally, and was hit by a truck. She is a 3 year old Dogo Argentino, about 65 lbs. Very sweet girl, very active, loves to run and play, and she is our world.

Her injuries included a dislocated right hip, multiple broken bones in her right hind leg, and severe open wounds on both hind legs, with the right side wounds being more catastrophic.

After treatment at the emergency vet, the surgeon recommended two solid options for her right hip: amputation or an FHO (femoral head ostectomy). Given the severe wounds on that leg and the multiple broken bones, we chose to amputate. The FHO probably would have worked out okay in the long run, but it would have meant MONTHS of intense recovery due to the other injuries on that side, with no guarantee they'd ever recover properly. And at 65 lbs, she's on the large side for typical candidates for FHO. We were obviously anxious about how to make this decision, but the surgeon was helpful in answering all our questions, and so far we have no regrets.

Her amputation was two days ago, on May 17. She was able to come home yesterday. She's on Gabapentin for pain, Carprofen for inflammation, Trazodone for sedation as needed, and Amoxicillin antibiotic (primarily for her other wounds). As soon as we got home, she was ready to eat and drink. With the help of a harness with a handle, we have gotten her to go outside two times to pee. She needs our support to walk since she can't put full weight on her remaining hind leg due to the bandaging there. But we're figuring it out. And she can already stand up on her own... a little wobbly, but she's getting the hang of it!

I think the sedatives and pain meds are doing their job so far; she is resting calmly on her bed in the living room. And she slept in bed with us all through the night. I imagine as she starts to feel better, she'll want to play before her body is ready, so I'm glad we have the trazodone to keep her mellow.

The incision looks good from what I can tell - the stitches seem to be holding and there isn't redness or discharge from the incision site. In her belly region next to her incision, there is some dark red splotchiness that I imagine is just pooled blood or bruising? I read that is common. I'll keep an eye on it but not too worried yet.

I've spent the last several days reading through these forums, and I just want to say thank you to everyone for posting your pets' recovery stories. It has brought me and my husband so much comfort seeing stories of dogs who eventually get back to playing and running and living their happy lives. It's been a traumatic few days for all of us, but I'm relieved to be in the recovery phase.

The Rainbow Bridge

Member Since:
25 April 2007
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19 May 2024 - 3:16 pm
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Claire, welcome to the club nopawdy wants to join! I'm sooo sorry about Willow's accident, it's truly a miracle she survived!

Yes, bruising is pretty typical. We have examples in our gallery.

Don't forget to check out our What to Expect articles to prepare you for the road ahead. Keep in mind that with her other injuries, recovery will probably be slower than other dogs so try not to compare.

Also, did the vet recommend rehab therapy? It's really beneficial for Tripawds and especially for us, so we learn how to help our dog get strong and stay injury free. And Tripawds Foundation can pay for your first rehab visit too.

Keep us posted on how things are going!


Member Since:
22 February 2013
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19 May 2024 - 5:56 pm
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Willow is doing really well this early on!.  Celebrate  that she is  mobile (wobbly and with help counts as a plus), eating and drinking, sleeping a full night WOW! 👏👏

The one thing about amputation is that it is one surgery, one recovery and done! IMO FWIW  to go this route over trying to repair the leg, risk infections, risk additional surgeries, and a long confinement... yeah amputation is the best decision!

Keep is updated, okay?

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:
18 May 2024
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24 May 2024 - 7:18 am
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Update one week post-surgery: Willow has definitely been riding the roller coaster of recovery.

  • Days 1-2: Willow was tired but happy to be home, was able to stand on her own, and we helped her walk with a sling. She was eating/drinking normally (we held the bowl for her because she was getting used to the e-collar).
  • Days 3-5: Perking up considerably more. She was able to independently stand up, eating/drinking normally, and hopping around the room more (we had to close the door to keep her confined to a single room; she really wanted to hop around and explore).
  • Days 6-7: Regression - she is much more lethargic, is eating/drinking with lots of coaxing (and some wet cat food mixed in as an extra incentive). I wonder if all her hopping strained a muscle and she's in pain? She is still on the vet-recommended Gabapentin dose every 8 hours. Or, I wonder if the Gabapentin has a cumulative effect? She's also taking Trazodone in the evening but I might skip it tonight since she's pretty zonked out as it is.

We go to the vet today for a bandage change on her other hindleg, so I'll ask the vet if we should be concerned. But, I do know that the recovery isn't a linear path. She doesn't seem distressed, just kind of depressed.

The Rainbow Bridge

Member Since:
25 April 2007
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24 May 2024 - 11:07 am
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Hi Claire, thanks for updating. Her recovery roller coaster definitely sounds normal, and very common. Usually about a week out, the body and brain catch up to each other, and some soreness sets in. Also, since she was in an accident, her recovery will likely be a bit wilder than others who lose a leg to cancer. Her body's really beat up and just learning to move in all new ways too, so that takes a mental and physical tool.

I'm glad you are seeing your vet today, let us know what they say OK? 

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