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puppy in pain after front limb amputation

June 16th, 2008, 08:52 AM
my husband and I rescued a little puppy at the end of may. He got hit by a truck. His front right leg had to amputated all the way with his shoulder. The stiches were taken out last friday (June 13th). The spot looks fine.
Now, we ran out of Metacam (anti-inflamatory) and Tramadol (pain med) for him 2 days before the stitches came off. He started to show little discomfort. By Friday, he was in miserable pain. Our vet said he is just being a bit dramatic and just a puppy - nothing to worry about. Saturday I took him to a different vet and she said his pain comes from his healthy shoulder. They took an x-ray and nothing seems wrong. But he experiences enormous pain. Supposably due to him being a puppy and growing. The good leg is taking over all the weight, which is changing day by day. We don't know when he will get out with pain. He is back on Metacam and Tramadol, which make him very sleepy. When he wakes up, he is in miserable pain again and we are struggling to get him through until he can have the next dose of pain killers. We are concerned and don't know what to do. We don't want him to suffer his whole life and be dependent on heavy meds. We really don't want to put him down since he is otherwise healthy and happy. The vet estimates him to be between 8 and 12 weeks. He is 15 pounds and a mutt. Did anybody go through a similar thing? will he get better and when will his pain stop? What can we do to strengthen his leg to adjust? thanks for your help.

----Note; the pain comes from his healthy left front leg. It hurts him to take over all the weight, which is changing due to growth. Today, I started taking him outside more. He just lays in the grass and watches everything, doesn't want to walk much around. He really wants to eat everything (gravel, grass, weeds, pine cones, etc). I don't let him run and jump much, even though he really wanted to a couple of days ago.----

June 16th, 2008, 08:57 AM
I have a feeling the pup may have to deal with the pain for awhile, but it will get better. I don't know a lot about puppy amutation, but my nefew lost 1/2 his leg. He is doing fine but he says the phantom pain he had for a long while after was just awful. Felt like someone was ripping his leg off. I"m guessing dogs would have phantom pains too. The bright spot is,, there is lots of happy healthy three legged dogs and your pup is going to be ok, cause he /she has you to help them through this. Not sure if you can get some drugs from your vet for the pain,, but in time,, the phantom pains will slow down or perhaps even stop ( they did for my nefew)

June 16th, 2008, 09:43 AM
Sorry to hear about your little pup. I really have no advice to offer but there are members on here that have gone through leg amputations with their pets Bendyfoot in particular comes to mind and her dog Jaida Best wishes for your little guy :grouphug:

June 16th, 2008, 11:12 AM
Bendyfoot should be along soon, she has a sweetie, Jaida, who has had an amputation.

June 16th, 2008, 11:42 PM
You mentioned that he was hit by a truck. How long ago was that. Perhaps, he is still sore from the accident. Just a thought. :sad:

June 17th, 2008, 08:16 AM
Hi there! Sorry to hear about the trouble you're having with your little pup. Our dog Jaida lost her front leg when she was about 6 months old, due to a serious leg deformity.
I've chatted with a lot of amputee pup people and this issue you're describing is a new one to me. I know that some dogs have a harder time adjusting to the new three-legged stance, and it's true that initially the muscle development can be difficult for some...there is a lot of wear n tear on the remaining front leg. Think of it this way....if you had to hop on one leg to the end of the block and back, the first few times you did it I imagine you'd be exhausted and your leg would be pretty sore. It's also true that puppies are doing a lot of growing at this time, and it may make things even more sore, I suppose. I wonder if he hasn't sprained or otherwise injured the muscle in his good leg? Jaida hurt her good front leg once and she was a pathetic limpy mess for a few days.
Phantom pain is a real phenomenon and dogs can and do experience it in different ways. Sometimes it seems to be a sharp pain that can make them yip or start, sometimes they will "lick" their leg (ie the space where the leg used to be).
Personally, if it was my dog, I would go on the assumption that he's got a soft tissue injury in the good leg, and I'd do two full weeks of complete rest and a lower dose of pain meds. By complete rest I mean pup would be in a crate with a nice comfy blanket and some toys 24 hours a day, except when I carried him outside to pee/poo or to eat. If he was out of the crate I'd have him on a short leash so he couldn't get any ideas about running/jumping. Jaida spent about 2 weeks in a crate after her surgery because she had a rough recovery period, and it was sucky (I mean, she was a puppy and wanted to be a bouncy puppy and did some complaining about it), but the best thing for her. If his meds make him sleepy, that might be good during this time.
Don't worry about strengthening the front leg...that will come on its own. When he's feeling better, it would be best to have him practice walking on softer surfaces with some traction, like carpet or grass. Hardwood/tile floors can be tricky at first. Expect to see lots of stumbling and faceplanting and generally clumsiness...this is really normal and not life-threatening :-) Your pup will just pick himself up and go on his way as if nothing happened.
I suspect your little guy will be just fine, he just needs a little more time, rest and recovery.

June 18th, 2008, 01:32 PM
Thanks so much for your replies. Willie, my pup, is doing a bit better. While he was on meds the first time (the 2 weeks after surgery), he was able to walk right the next day on his 3 legs. He had no trouble and wanted to bounce around a lot. Now, he is mostly sleeping, due to meds. I noticed he started to become aggressive, because of Metacam(anti-inflamatory) and boredom. I try to keep him entertained, but all he wants is be outside and lay in the grass. If I don't do it, he is screaming all day. Starting tomorrow, I will give him metacam every second day. I try to keep him occupied at home. He has so many toys but is getting bored quickly. No mention of crate at all. He won't sit still in it. He is terrified of it. It will take me a while to get him used to it. thanks again for your help. :)

June 18th, 2008, 10:48 PM
so sorry to hear about your young little pup. I am not familiar with front leg amputation or with pupppies and their growing bones. But my sherman had his left rear leg amputated 14 days ago. He is 12-13 yrs. old.
I know that it was a brave thing for you to do and to venture into unknown territory is much harder on the owner than the dog.
Sherman did not walk on his 3's initially and that was a concern. But given some pushing, just like you are doing, litlle by little, it will come. I used liver pate to get Sherman to walk more and made him walk to the treat.
It does get better slowly and then all of a sudden, your pup will burst with energy. I know that the advice I got when I was going through it was to maybe get some physical therapy and water therapy for the remaining legs and back because of the pressure put on them to take the weight. Sherman just got his stitches out and we are just clearing up an infection, which has slowed his walking stamina, but it is important to get you pup up and walking a little each day for balance. maybe some water therapy would be a bit more soothing and less stress on joints for awhile. You can google it to your area.
goodluck. with time, and I mean maybe another week, you and your pup will be fine again.
take care