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Old 04-09-2010, 06:10 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Front leg amputation, what to expect?

Priscilla will be having a foreleg amputation on Tuesday.

If you have any experience with this, can you give me some idea as to what to expect, and how I can help her?

How much pain will she be in the first while?

How long before she can do stairs (with help even). Will she ever be able to jump on the bed again?

How horrible is it getting the incision to heal? How long for the conehead?

Any other thoughts?
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Old 04-09-2010, 06:16 PM   #2 (permalink)
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well i can tell you that when i worked at the vet there were many dogs and cats that had lost limbs... i was always amazed how they bounced back and moved forward ( no pun intended) ... pain managemnt is key, she will most likey be in alot of pain the first day or so... that will be managed well im sure by you vet.... she will surprise you... animals adapt so quickly to change... i will say a prayer for her, she will need some xtra mommy loving but she will fine
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Old 04-09-2010, 06:27 PM   #3 (permalink)
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This will be worse on you than it will on her.

As long as her surgeon uses a good pain management protocol during and after surgery, she shouldn't be in much pain at all. We usually have them on an opioid, an anti-inflammatory, and a muscle relaxer for about 7-10 days after surgery.

Her biggest problem will be in re-learning her balance. Dogs bear about 65% of their weight on their front legs, so she'll have to learn to place her one front leg kinda in the middle of her body and shift more weight to her rear legs. They usually catch on pretty quickly. Some dogs need a sling held under them for a couple of weeks while they figure it out. You can buy a padded one, but you could also just use a sheet or a towel if you want. She should probably be able to do stairs with help fairly soon (although she probably shouldn't until her incision heals). I'm not sure about jumping on the bed; it depends on how high the bed is and how well she adjusts her balance. You could always get a set of stairs for the bed if she can't quite make it.

We don't usually have any trouble with the incision healing. Sometimes we have to put a drain in for a few days after we do a front leg; they're sometimes a fair amount of "dead space" when you close the muscle and if you don't have a drain, you will get a fair amount of swelling. You surgeon will use their judgement. If she needs a cone (a lot of them don't), then she should have to wear it for about 10-12 days.

I'm sure she'll be fine. They do so much better than we would do with something like this, since they don't know to feel sorry for themselves. They just wake up and the leg that's been not feeling right is gone and they move on. I've seen a few hundred of these done (we did a rear leg today in fact) and they never cease to amaze me with how well they do.

Good luck to both of you. I'll send good thoughts your way.
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Old 04-09-2010, 06:47 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EmilyB View Post
Priscilla will be having a foreleg amputation on Tuesday.

If you have any experience with this, can you give me some idea as to what to expect, and how I can help her?

How much pain will she be in the first while?

How long before she can do stairs (with help even). Will she ever be able to jump on the bed again?

How horrible is it getting the incision to heal? How long for the conehead?

Any other thoughts?

Willow had her leg amputated in May 2006, 3 days before I graduated from vet school.

How much pain will she be in? Virtually none. The pain of the skin incision she has is significantly less than the pain of the bone cancer, and similar to that of a spay (actually less than a spay, since the weight of the body against the body wall isnt there for the most part).

Most dogs are walking by the next day. Do stairs? Probably within a week - my dog did stairs in 3-4 days on her own. My dog was able to jump within 3-4 weeks.

The incision heals within 2 weeks just as any other incision - the staples come out (most have staples, since its such a HUGE incision - that's the biggest thing most people are not prepared for, how HUGE and nasty the incision will look - they come out at 14 days and at that point it is healed as any other incision would be, as long as there are no complications.

I kept a cone on for the first couple of days, and then when I was home I put a tshirt on the dog and kept the cone off. When I left, I put the cone back on a ALL times.

DO NOT BABY HER. If you coddle her and act like she will never walk again, she won't. Act like nothing is wrong. Dogs are born with four legs because ONE IS EXTRA. Dogs with three legs are able to get around just as well as any other dog.

NO PAIN is going to be greater than the pain of having a bone tumor. Taking that leg off is pain management. It's amputating the most painful thing she has going on in her life. All she is left with is a SKIN incision. There is no bone pain left - she has a cut. That's in. She will adjust.


Willow was a different dog after amputation. She blossomed without the pain.

She hated having her pictures taken, so I never got good pics of her, ever. In fact, she wasn't a very affectionate dog, ever. once she had her leg amputated, she changed - she began to seek contact with her and the last 2 weeks I had with her, she was almost normal. I cannot imagine the sort of pain she was in prior to diagnosing her with Osteo. I had her for 9 months, and she had 6 weeks post-amputation, and they were the best 6 weeks of her life.

these pictures are taken 2.5 weeks post-op. these pics are when rah was 10 months old. if you can imagine any dog having to deal with a 10 month old rah, she did it - and did it well. Rah actually knocked her down the stairs 7 days post-op and she handled it just fine!






these are taken ~one month post-surgery, and 10 days before i lost her.

she was able to run on the beach!

(believe it or not, she ran away that day!)


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Old 04-09-2010, 09:08 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I don't have any information to offer. I've never been through this. I just wanted to say I'll be keeping you both in my thoughts and sending healing vibes to Priscilla. (((HUGS)))
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Old 04-09-2010, 09:39 PM   #6 (permalink)
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i cant help you with any info, but you will receive prayers and net hugs from me and Attila <3

i hope the surgery goes well and also hope for a fast recovery
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Old 04-09-2010, 09:43 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I have owned tripod before. Not dobes but expect unsteadiness, a little tilting. It may take quite a while for her to adjust, there are dogs who bounce back from the Surgery like they have been tripods their whole Life. I have worked in he veterinary field for over 7 years now and I tend to think that smaller dogs have an easier time adjusting and recovering. As a word of advice keep her weight on the lighter side. Heavier dogs often need pain medicine to manage the pain especially now that the dog has to distribute the weight to the other 3 limbs. My GSD tripod girl after I rescued her I got her from 130 back to 80lbs in a 6 month period. She now has an AWESOME home and does not need to take Deramaxx anymore. She gets underwater treadmill Therapy and acupuncture a few times a week. So I hope this helps a little bit. Oh also they tend to splay the remaining toes out on the front limb, almost like it helps with their balance. I think if the dobe is trim and fit, as well as square I could imagine that it would get around a little better than my shepherd opposed to the long back. : ) Good luck
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Old 04-09-2010, 09:54 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I have never experienced this but just wanted you to know I'll be keeping you both in my thoughts. Not only did Kim share a heartfelt & inspiring story of her experience, I think she gave you some great advice.

Just two days ago, I drove past a woman walking a boxer that had a front leg amputated. I drove slow & watched them for a second. Just amazed!

Stay strong for your baby!
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Old 04-09-2010, 10:00 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I am thinking of you guys.

As the others have said, pain management, esp in those first few days post-amputation, is key.

I had a little Beagle girl from the shelter who'd lost her front leg in a steel jaw trap, and had the vet revise/repair the amputation.

Within a week, she was running and playing, chasing balls, etc--and she was estimated to be 8-9 years old at the time of her adoption and surgery, so even the older dogs seem to adapt loads easier than we humans would.

I will think good thoughts for y'all.
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Old 04-09-2010, 10:02 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Kim, I remember Willow and what she went through. Hard to believe its been four years!
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Old 04-09-2010, 10:53 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I went through a rear leg amputation but lost my girl to complications from the surgery six days later... stupid Calgary North vet clinic.

Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers. I wish I had more advise to offer aside of them being very happy to not have the limb if they had cancer in it. The pain patch might make her depressed for the time it is on... I recall regretting ever doing the amputation for Sheena, until that patch came off. I wish our outcome was what it was supposed to have been... but it was the vet's fault.
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Old 04-10-2010, 12:21 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Hugs to you both she will do fine sending Rays too for a speed recovery.
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Old 04-10-2010, 12:50 AM   #13 (permalink)
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I thank you all so much, and please keep the thoughts/memories coming as they will help Swilly and I cope.

Interestingly enough, I had two quotes for the amputation, $1500 and $3000. When I was informed about overnight care, pain drip, etc...it was easy to make a decision not to have the chop job.
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Old 04-10-2010, 12:53 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Doberkim, your dog was so trim, Priscilla is so square, not overweight so much, just a big muscular girl. 85lbs. I worry about the remaining paw, and the weight it will bear. I can probably take off 5 lbs, but her ribs are there.
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Old 04-10-2010, 04:06 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Prayers for Priscilla and sorry that you both have to go thro this.
Be strong for your girl.... and we will pray for speedy recovery
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Old 04-10-2010, 06:49 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Good wishes and healing prayers sent your way.
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Old 04-10-2010, 07:56 AM   #17 (permalink)
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My thoughts and prayers are with both of you.
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Old 04-10-2010, 09:49 AM   #18 (permalink)
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I hope she does well with the surgery. I've never been through having to make a decision like that but can imagine how hard it's been. My thoughts and prayers are with you both.
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Old 04-10-2010, 10:55 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EmilyB View Post
I thank you all so much, and please keep the thoughts/memories coming as they will help Swilly and I cope.

Interestingly enough, I had two quotes for the amputation, $1500 and $3000. When I was informed about overnight care, pain drip, etc...it was easy to make a decision not to have the chop job.
Wait--does that mean the amputation surgery is called off?
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Old 04-10-2010, 02:07 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Oh no, sorry......

I just meant that my vet had estimated $1500 and when I was quoted $3000 at the CARE centre, I blanched, but wanted to know why the difference. She explained about the overnight 24hr supervision for the first day, and the drip for pain and antibiotics, best surgeon, etc. It made my vet look like a chop job seriously, so I went for the expensive one. Of course.
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Old 04-10-2010, 03:16 PM   #21 (permalink)
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I've never experienced this with a dog, so can't give any advice. But I just wanted to say good luck, and I hope the surgery and post-op goes well! You and Priscilla will be in my thoughts.
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Old 04-10-2010, 05:21 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EmilyB View Post
Oh no, sorry......

I just meant that my vet had estimated $1500 and when I was quoted $3000 at the CARE centre, I blanched, but wanted to know why the difference. She explained about the overnight 24hr supervision for the first day, and the drip for pain and antibiotics, best surgeon, etc. It made my vet look like a chop job seriously, so I went for the expensive one. Of course.
Of course.


Because you are crazy-in-the-good-way and that's why we love you.

Thanks for unconfusing me. Tuesday morning, right? Gotta know when to channel major vibes...
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Old 04-10-2010, 05:57 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Great vibes for you ! I'm sure this is going to be harder on you than her! IDR currently has a pit bull that had to have both a front and back leg (on the same side) amputated and he has no clue - he is a wonderful happy boy & his foster moms only issue is he insists on chasing the cats.
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Old 04-10-2010, 06:00 PM   #24 (permalink)
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prayers for you & your pup. I hope she has a speedy recovery.
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Old 04-10-2010, 06:20 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Sending prayers and healing vibes, God Bless you both !
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