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Surgery day and pick up day- mom’s story

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Hi, mom here. Fionn had the amputation on Oct 6 in the morning. The surgery was uneventful and he was standing only a few hours after! He did regurgitate during and after surgery which I was warned can happen. He was treated with a solution put down his esophagus during surgery to reduce the acidity and again after he woke up. He will stay on Pepcid (he was on it for about a week prior to surgery to reduce any stomach upset from all the meds) and has a new pill that has to be mixed with water and squirted down his throat. All this is to prevent any ulcerations in his esophagus from the acids that he regurgitated. He is also taking antibiotics just in case he may have gotten some in his lungs, but his post op chest x ray was clear. He will also stay on tramadol and gabapentin for a few weeks, but they stopped the meloxicam. It  is an nsaid and they can cause ulcers and bleeding.

I had my doubts about bringing him home the next day. It seemed so soon, but they said he would be more relaxed at home. I read a lot of posts on Tripawds and the book “3 legs and a spare” so I felt fairly prepared. I had lots of friends donate rugs and yoga mats to cover my hardwood floors, I bought a raised food and water dish and a Ruffwear harness. Fionn had been wearing the harness for a week before surgery so I could help him down stairs and in and out of my truck, but it cannot be worn after surgery until the incision heals. A friend donated a sling to help support him that does not interfere with his incision, but he doesn’t like it. The doctors  said he walked better on his own. I already had a dog ramp, but none of my dogs, including Fionn, liked it. It’s pretty steep. I covered it with a non skid surface, but I have a feeling it won’t be used much. I live in a mobile home so stairs are a given. There aren’t many, but enough to be a learning curve. I also stocked up on canned pumpkin and peanut butter in case he needed help to eat and take his meds. I felt fortunate that I had some time to prepare. It is really important if you have the time to make sure you have everything you may need in advance. I live alone and there is no grocery store nearby, so it was critical for me to be prepared. One thing I bought that he seems to like is a gel cooling pad. It’s XL and cools when you put pressure on it. The cooling lasts for awhile. They do have to get off of it for it to get cool again. Fionn is always hot and I knew he would miss the hardwood floors. Get one of these if your dog is the same! They have some that are water filled, but they are heavy and I didn’t want to take the chance of a break in the seams. This pad is easy to move around. The recommendations are that it is easier for them if their sleeping surfaces are firm and not too soft. I think the thick pad I used in the truck “gave” too much which makes it that much harder for them to maneuver. So firm and not slippery surfaces are key. I have some rubber slip on booties that work well to help them with traction, but he hasn’t needed them yet.

On Oct. 7 I met the surgeons at 1pm to get all the instructions. Boy, the list of meds and schedule for taking them was long! I knew this was the first amputation either of them had done so I asked how it went. I’ve been working in hospitals as an x ray/MRI tech for 37 years, so very little grosses me out. These women are obviously chose the right profession. They thought it was “neat” and “fun” to take off Fionn’s leg. Only a medical person would think that! They said he had such loose skin, they didn’t need to use staples. All his stitches are internal and absorb-able so no having to go back in 2 weeks to have them removed. I hadn’t seen him yet, but they warned me the incision was LONG. Please, if you are preparing for an amputation, look at pictures people post even if you think it will gross you out! You have NO IDEA how awful this surgery looks afterwards and it’s best to be prepared when you see your own fur baby. Here is Fionn’s incision right after we got home: img_3250

They had me bring my truck closer to where he was so he didn’t have to walk far. They do have a cart they will use for  big dogs that can’t be carried and can’t walk yet, but he had already been walked a bit so they were confidant he could make it. He got part way and just sat down so I brought my truck even closer. I was amazed how well he was hopping so soon after surgery! See the video of him less than 24 hrs after surgery here.


I can raise my back seats up and I padded the floor with pads. It still was a lot of work for the 3 of us to get him loaded and settled. It is about an hour home and he did whine pretty much the whole way. I wish I had had someone else driving so I could have sat back there with him, but they wanted him picked up early and my help was not available (like human doctors- they take Friday afternoons off!). I did have a friend meet me at home to help me unload him. This has been the only dog experience where I wished I had a small dog! We couldn’t figure out a way to get him out so we just dragged the pad he was on out slowly and he just sort of slid out onto his feet. I used the sling and some brute strength to get him up the ramp and into the house (about a 20 ft walk, then the ramp up 5 stairs, then another 10ft or so into the house). He basically collapsed in the kitchen where he had a drink of water and promptly went to sleep for a few hours. I was able to get a good look at his incision finally. It’s at least 12 inches long and there was a little bruising at the bottom. They told me there might be some drainage which is ok, but to watch for heat or pus. No cleaning or ointment is necessary, but we can’t get it wet or dirty. I bought some ice packs and he seemed to like having them on the incision.

Once he woke up, he happily ate his regular kibble. I brought it to him since he was still wobbly. Eventually, he will have to get to his food bowl on his own. I was sitting nearby and he got up to come see me. I moved his gel pad next to him and he sort of slid from a sitting position to laying on his good side on the pad where he slept some more. I put the ice packs on him again.

My neighbor came to check on him, so he got up to greet her. We decided he might need to go out to potty, so she helped me get him down the ramp. I decided to go this way instead of going down the steps to my yard. It seemed shorter and he likes to pee on a bush right the ramp. Well, he saw my truck and decided we were going for a ride! So he walked all the way down the walkway and wouldn’t leave the truck. We finally convinced him we weren’t going for a ride and he decided to pee. Unfortunately, while he is capable of squatting to pee, I’ve seen him do it, this time he lifted a leg. Before we could catch him, he fell over! He peed a little right where he landed, but it upset him and he laid there, int he hot sun, for awhile. We were freaked out we would never get him inside again, but he eventually got up and we heaved him back up the ramp into the house. More napping (there will be lots of sleeping or resting and that’s good) and a big drink. Later, he acted like he wanted to go out again. I was alone so decided to try and take him into the yard. There are only 3 stairs, but no ramp. Somehow I managed to help him, but I will admit I have grabbed the wrong spot a few times making him yelp SO loud. Makes me feel like a horrible person. He leaned on my fire pit and had a HUGE pee. Must have felt so much better. No poop yet. I had what I thought was a bright idea and, after I got him back up the stairs and inside again, I put a foam pad on my deck and sprinkled some of his pee soaked dirt on it hoping to encourage him to pee on the deck. My yard is all dirt right now as I am prepping it for new landscaping. Not the cleanest place for him, but he turned his nose up at my deck suggestion :(.

He had a little more food and his meds and settled in for the night. Check back for my day 2 post!

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