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limb amputation in dog

June 5th, 2008, 07:44 PM
My 13 yr old cocker spaniel had a soft tissue sarcoma about 1 yr. ago. After consulting with my vet and UC davis, I opted to remove the tumor as it grew. I did this 4 times and then nothing more could be done. the tumor grew quick and burst in about 3 weeks. The vet recommended amputation of the hind leg. Sherman was perfect in every other way. this was tough so 2 days ago he had the amputation done. Now Sherman generally recovered from past leg surgeries within hours and was home. This is now a different story. While about 90% walk well within 24 hrs. Sherman is the 10% lagging. He tried to walk but after a few seconds of weght on the remaining leg, he sits down. I did get him motivated with chicken livers. It has now been 48 hrs. and his progress is slow. The vet is worried that if Sherman does not use that leg, it will atrophy. Now I know that it takes older dogs longer but should I try physical therapy to get him going and help with balannce? He is still at the vets but I am going to bring him home tomorrow but he can't walk. I thought about using a cloth shopping bag witht eh ends cut out so I could then slightly lift him to promote walking. any ideas? I can say that this was much harder on me that Sherman for I just did not expect the shock of the visual loss. But to see Sherman's determination made it all worth it but I need to know how to get him going. He is on mild pain relief and he will nip (which he never does) if I try to use my hands to lift his abdomen. He has made it this far and I want this to work for him. Help.

June 5th, 2008, 07:55 PM
I have not had this experience myself, but there are a few people with tripod dogs active on the board who will be able to advise you.
Do you think he needs more pain relief?
I have heard that swimming is excellent for rehabbing, since no weight is put on the affected limb(s). If he was a swimmer before his surgery, he wouldn't need much encouragement, would he?

June 5th, 2008, 08:04 PM
I have heard that swimming is excellent for rehabbing,

That would be perfect for him !

I'm so sorry about the cancer. :sad:

June 5th, 2008, 08:20 PM
I agree, some therapy in water might be what he needs to help him get the exercise and strength he needs to get walking for longer periods.

Is your guy okay now after the amputation?

June 5th, 2008, 10:37 PM
Thank you all for the ideas. Sherman was not fond of water but I think that would be good since it would not put undo weight on his good leg. But he can't do it until the stitches are out. I came back from seeing him tonite and he was actually standing on the leg and resting his stump on the edge. This is good. He actually did a bit m ore walking just since this morning. But he tires easily. I hope to get him home tomorrow. I will be sure to ask about the pain med issue too. But he is slowly coming around.
thanks so much.

June 6th, 2008, 05:25 AM
I'm so sorry about Sherman's cancer but very glad to hear he is doing a little better.

June 6th, 2008, 09:17 AM
Hi there,
my formerly-bendyfooted-pup is now a foreleg amputee...I can totally empathise.

While MOST dogs bound their way out to the car the day after their surgery, others have a bit of a harder time. Our Jaida had some complications with fluid buildup and pain and we all had a pretty rough go of things for the first two weeks or so after the surgery.

Your attitude is going to play a big part in Sherman's recovery. He's going to pick up on your fear and sadness (I DO understand the sadness and shock over the lost limb) and if he's a sensitive guy, that's going to affect his mood. There's no problem having a good cry (we had many), but do it by yourself. When you're with him, be upbeat, happy, silly. Smile and cheer him on and praise every little thing he does. Feed him his favourite foods. Sing little songs to him as he's out going potty. Keep it light and enouraging. It HONESTLY helps.

Now, as for helping him physically, a rear end sling is a good idea if he's feeling hesitant. It does take some pups a little more time to get used to the tripod stance, and having something as simple as a bath towel slung under his abdomen to help him get around can take some of the strain and fear of falling away. Don't worry about muscle loss in a few weeks though. Jaida spent two weeks in a crate, other than to pee/poop, and she was fine. He'll need to build muscle later, once the stitches come out, with frequent, short walks. It'll come.

How is his weight? Overweight dogs can have a harder time adjusting to the tripod stance. It's VERY important to keep Sherman lean and mean. A raw or grain-free diet and regular exercise will promote good, lean muscle and low body fat. The less extra weight he's carrying, the better.

Pain could be a factor. What medication is Sherman on now? We kept Jaida on pain meds longer than originally prescribed, because we felt they were helping her. That said, some dogs actually feel REALLY weird and off and depressed while on pain can make them feel out of sorts and mopey...most amputees are pretty weirded out and whingy for the first few nights, they tend to be the hardest. Jaida was vocal about her pain, and was more comfy when on meds. Other dogs get more vocal and panty and depressed while on them. You may need to try a few things before you figure out what works best for Sherman.

Swimming could be a great activity once the stitches are out (that will be a few weeks from now). Also, from now on it would be best to walk Sherman on grassy/softer surfaces, and avoid concrete. This will reduce the impact to the joints in the long term. Consider putting him on a good quality glucosamine/chondroitin supplement.

Let us know how he's doing today once you get him home, ok?

Here's my pup three weeks after her amputation...even though she'd had a rough start as an amputee, she was full of beans by this point!

June 6th, 2008, 09:27 AM
Thank you Bendyfoot. I'm sure ppassat will take great comfort from your comments.
And by the way, ppassat, we need a picture of your little tripod as soon as you are able!

June 6th, 2008, 09:16 PM
Dear Badger and Bendyfoot and those taking the time to comment,
thank you for the info. Actually, last night I was with him and having him out and walk and I did feel a fluid buildup in the other leg. Anyway, the vet wants to keep him just one more day to continue the pain meds and antibiotics. Sherman is tough to read. He is not a whiner or crieer, but he prefers to bite. But that has not happened. This morning the vet said that Sherman came bounding out of the kennel and is doing better. I will see him tomorrow and get a picture to all.
Sherman's weight has always been good and he is pretty svelte (when I adopted him he was 56lbs. sausage cocker. But with a good diet, he lost it in 6 weeks and has not put it back on.) so he loves walks and is active so I will be sure to watch the treats now and keep the weight down. I am looking into water therapy when the stitches come out. He does take a glucosamine supplement. He did not do well on the raw and home cooked diets, to much roughage for him. So I put him on n/d HIlls, and his energy level and alertness was astouding. Although I think it prompted some poop eating behavior! Also UC davis put him on an extra dose of vitamins.
Oh, thanks for the advice to walk him on grass! I was wondering about that. I live in the city but I am only 2 blocks from a park. Sherman is just what his name says, a Sherman tank, tough lean and mean (sometimes with larger dogs.)
I cant say how helpful this chatting has been. Vets are so used to this procedure that they forget about the physical and emotional shock. This definitely is harder on the humans than the dogs i think.
So thanks for all your help and good wishes.

the gang
June 6th, 2008, 09:31 PM
fingers crossed for doggie and you brenda and the pins

June 8th, 2008, 12:29 PM
Sherman came home yesterday. He is able to walk for about 5 min. and then he sits and refuses to get up (if we are outside). WE are on a 3rd fl. apt. and walking him was tough. He had a hard time. I carried him to his favorite piss stop and he was able to go.
He was panting alot last night. I give him anitbiotics and a pain med (nonsteroid antiinflammatory) and he slept thru the night. He is able to walk within the confines of the apt. and use the pee pads.He has great difficulty squatting to poop and his remaining rear leg just goes out from under him. So today I am putting down a rug pad and then the pee pads on top to give him some traction.
I caught him trying to jump up on my bed! I swear this is much more traumatic for me than for him. I put him on the bed and later he jumped off! He is Sherman the tank for sure.
I have found several water therapied within my home. The vet will see Sherman in 10 days for stitch removal and then see if water therapy is needed. I think it would do him good regardless what the vet thinks but I guess there are many types of therapy and I don't know which Sherm would get. It is to strengthen his back right leg.
So we will see. But he is gladto be home and he won't let me out of his site.
thanks for all the help.,

June 8th, 2008, 01:19 PM
I'm glad he's home. I think some water therapy can only help, even if the vet doesn't prescribe that for Sherman.

June 8th, 2008, 04:26 PM
I am glad Sherman seems to be doing ok,please keep us updated on his progress,pics would be really nice:dog:

June 11th, 2008, 10:28 PM
Well, Sherman had to go back to the vet this past monday due to a nasty deep infection from chewing a suture. HE is still there but doing better with the infection. But, just since monday when I dropped him off, to today, when I went to visit him and take him dinner, he came flying out of the kennel and running! He was running faster than he did with 4 legs. I could not believe what I was seeing. If he had not been missing a leg, I would have thought it was someone else's dog! He is thinner, younger looking, more alert and energetic. So all in all, it took him 9 days post op to get to this stage, with most of that time at the vets. But with all the stress now on the 3 legs and his back, I am going to pursue water therapy to keep him young. You just never know. One day they are down and the next they are back. I think that visiting him twice a day helped his moral. i just could not believe how well he balanced. At times he would sit to rest for a second, but he just rebounded.
thanks to all of you and your ideas. I did massage him when he was home,per your suggestions, and used the towel holder at times to help him walk, again, your ideas. So when he gets home, Saturday I hope, I will get the picture to you all! This amputation was a totally new territory for me. So those of you battling with this decision, well, from one 13 year old dog, he has been given a few more months/year. My vet was right, dogs do recover from such a traumatic event. So lets hope the infection gets cleared.
Again thanks to all of you for helping me adjust to my new dog.

June 12th, 2008, 05:56 AM
I'm so happy for you and Sherman. I can't wait to see a photo of the little guy.:)

June 12th, 2008, 07:41 AM
Even though he's had a rough time, it looks like that's all behind him and I'm happy he seems to be adjusting well.

June 12th, 2008, 09:27 AM
:DGlad to hear you're all doing so well!

Sherman is a wonderful example of how an amputation, although it seems like a drastic measure, can really be extremely effective in releiving the pain and mobility impairment caused by a tumour. He must be sooooo happy not to have that sore leg holding him back any more!:highfive: I'd love to see a picture...and maybe you should get him to join Cassie's Three-legged Dog Club!