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Dog surgery | Preparing your home for a recovering dog


Barret, resting the day before his surgery

I recently found out that a lump on my dog’s leg was actually a form of dog cancer, specifically Hemangiopericytoma, a very aggressive, locally invasive cancer. Talk about devastating news! I did a ton of research and consulted with several vets in my area. All of my sources (books, forums, and vets alike) recommended amputating Barret’s front leg as the only viable option to treat the type of cancer he has.

I do not have words to describe the gambit of emotions those words and this journey in general has brought to the surface. It is really a life changing experience for anyone who has to go through it. I need to take a second here and give a shout out to a wonderful community devoted to 3 legged dogs, Tripawds.com. The founders and members of that community are the only reason I have been able to hold on to my sanity the last few weeks (and probably the coming few weeks too).

Barret had his surgery yesterday and he was supposed to stay at the hospital 2 nights, but because he is such a fighter he has rebounded quickly and we are going to be bringing him home tonight! Good thing I’ve been preparing for this for a few weeks now, I know we’re ready for him.

Many of the items that I purchased or the precautions I’m taking to help my dog recover from surgery will help for any type of dog surgery recovery, so I’d like to share these tips with you.

pet gate

Use pet gates to confine your ailing pet and decrease activity

Gate off steps, ledges or other places your pet could fall

Use a dog gate in these areas until you’re confident that your dog isn’t either too loopy from pain medications or until they are steady enough to navigate steps without assistance. Often times it is in your dog’s best interest to be confined to one area until they have had a chance to heal. It can keep them from over exerting themselves and protect them from any of your other animals getting too rowdy with them. Don’t cordon them off alone all the time, make sure they get plenty of family time while they are supervised! A happy dog is a healthy dog.

If you have slick floors, invest in some cheap, rubber backed throw rugs

A tumble can cause additional injury to suture sites or wounds depending on where the incision is on your dog. This is applicable for both new tripod dogs and dogs that have had joint or other orthopedic surgery. In addition to falling after surgery being painful, it can also damage their confidence and slow the healing process.

raised dog dishes

Raised dog bowls aid in digestion and decrease strain

Raise food and water dishes

Raised dog bowls come in a range of sizes and are made for small dogs all the way up to giant dog breeds. They generally help aid digestion in large breed dogs and can lessen strain in dogs with back issues. Even if your dog never had a problem before, bending to eat and drink during recovery may be uncomfortable for your dog. Raising food and water dishes may ease that discomfort and sometimes even encourages your dog to eat and drink more (which can sometimes be a challenge for recovering dogs).

orthopedic dog bed

Firm beds are comfortable and supportive

A firm, supportive place to rest

Invest in a firm supportive mattress or an orthopedic dog bed for your ailing pup. They provide support, but have the comfort of a fluffy pillow bed. You don’t want them to get tripped up in pillows, blankets, and fluffy beds. Firmer beds are easy for your recovering dog to get comfortable on without risking a fall.

Don’t forget check out my previous post about products to help with after dog surgery care. I have a feeling a few of these products will still come in handy again!

Wish Barret luck on his journey to recovery, and if anyone reading this has a dog recovering from surgery I wish you all the best as well! Let us know in the comments anything else that you’ve used to help a recovering dog.


  1. avatar

    HI, thankyou so so much for posting about Barrett – amputation is looking like the only solution to keep my baby also. Like Barrett, she’s my first born, and my only girl. we have our chest xray this week, and unless the cancer has metastasized, we will follow the same route.

    Thanks again, you’ve given me hope where i thought i’d lost it, particularly reading about Barrett’s recovery. Jo

  2. avatar

    Thanks for your comment, Jo. It warms my heart to know that writing down what I learned is helping someone else. Wishing you and your furbaby all the best. If you do have any questions about diagnosis or surgery, go to Tripawds.com and check out the forums for support. -Heather

  3. avatar

    I am devastated for you and Barret, but he will adapt, dogs are so amazing.
    I have the same X as Barret (cocker spaniel X mini pinscher) and wondering if the cancer your dog had femoved is common to the X breed? Obviously I would like to do everything I can possibly do to avoid Boogie becoming ill.
    Again, my sympathies and best wishes

  4. avatar

    By helping an animal you proved how big heart you have. I always admire those people who helps animals. I like animals and I’ve a lot of pets in my house. Looking forward to adapt more.

  5. avatar

    Stabilizing remaining front leg: I am facing the same amputation issue of the front leg above the elbow for my German shep. I learned that her remaining front leg which will over bear the weight can be stabilized to handle the weight. I was referred to K9 Orthotics in Nova Scotia and from a mould made by my vet they can make a leg stabilizer for Coco.
    I am more hopeful about the outcome.

  6. avatar

    I know this sounds strange but what are the options for what you do with your dogs amputated front leg?
    Thank you, Steve

About hcrotsley

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Currently an owner of 3 dogs and 2 cats, I’ve gained a plethora of pet-related experience over the years. I strive to provide the best home I can for my little terrors, and you’ll read all about our trials and tribulations as I continue down the rewarding yet rocky road of pet parenthood.
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