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Canine Rehabilitation: Amputation Recovery Advice with CARE

In this second of our three part series with Drs. Jessica Waldman and Amy Kramer from California Animal Rehabilitation Center (CARE), the good doctors answer popular questions Tripawd pawrents want answers to:

  • Who has it harder: front, or rear leg amputees?
  • Do dogs get depressed?
  • How can we help our dogs heal faster from surgery?

While rehab is great for Tripawds, Dr. Waldman says she wishes she could see all of her rehab clients before they have surgery; when they are still young, healthy puppies. If she could, she would warn pawrents about seemingly harmless fun that could result in injuries later on.

She would tell pawrents not to let their dogs jump in and out of trucks, or play Frisbee without warming up and cooling down. She would also tell them to use a ramp instead of jumping into trucks or on furniture. Because if pawrents wait until their dog is injured to take her advice, that’s when things get complicated. Changing a dog’s behavior patterns is another hurdle to add on top of recovery.

In the next and final discussion we have with Drs. Kramer and Waldman, we’ll address concerns about supplements and pain medication.

Many thanks to the pawesome staff at California Animal Rehabilitation Center in Southern California for helping us bring this series to you. If you are lucky enough to live nearby, be sure to visit this incredible facility and see how they can help your Tripawd stay strong and live hoppy!

Catch Part 1: Canine Rehabilitation: Exercises and Stretches with CARE

Catch Part III: Canine Rehabilitation: Pain Meds and Supplement Tips from CARE

Dr. Waldman says she wishes she could see all of her rehab clients before they are injured; when they are still young, healthy puppies. If she could, she would warn pawrents about seemingly harmless acrobatics that might result in injuries later on.

She would tell pawrents not to let their dogs jump out of trucks, or play Frisbee without warming up and cooling down. She would warn them about allowing them to jump on the bed instead of using a ramp. Because if pawrents wait until their dog is injured to take her advice, that’s when things get complicated.

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18 thoughts on “Canine Rehabilitation: Amputation Recovery Advice with CARE”

  1. There’s a lot of what seems like very helpful advice but this seems to conflict with what I’ve read elsewhere, including on this website: initially your dog’s activity should be very limited. We’re day two after surgery and I hope I’m doing right by my girl by limiting her movement. If she was left to her own devices she would be doing everything she usually does. It’s tough limiting her but I suspect the right thing because the little she’s done (she’s fast and sneaky) seems to have caused her skin to become saggy. I think ultimately it will be fine but it’s not the ideal recovery.

    • Best wishes for your pup! Please point us to any information you feel may be contradictory. Confinement and moderated actic=vity are definitely key to a quick complete recovery. Then, focus on rehab exercises and conditioning before slowly work up to longer walks. FYI: Walks do not build strength, only stamina. Consider downloading Loving Life on Three legs, or better yet – consult with a certified canine rehab therapist for a professional evaluation and specific exercises to help your dog (once completely healed). Visit a CCRT or CCRP and the Tripawds Foundation can even pay for your first visit! Start here for help finding the many Tripawds Resources an assistance programs.

  2. My 3 yr old labradoodle had her front left leg amputated a little more than 3 weeks ago. It was due to osteosarcoma. We are just walking for exercise and very short distances. She appears to have some pain and weakness in her back legs. Is this normal? Thanks

    • Yes, weakness would be normal if you are walking multiple times a day and that is all. A certified rehab vet told us long ago that walks do not build strength, only stamina. Core strengthening, weight bearing exercises, stretches and balance work are all very beneficial so soon after surgery. Check out these Starter Exercises, consider taking advantage of the Maggie Moo Fund for Tripawd Rehab, or download Loving Life On Three Legs for much more information.

  3. We just had my 3 year old dogs front left leg amputated due to bone cancer in his carpal joint. He’s healing very well and getting around pretty good. I noticed his remaining leg seems sore at the wrist joint. He seems to walk and play fine but when I try to rub it to see if it feels okay, he whines a little like it bothers him. It’s not swollen but I’m just wondering if this is normal. His amputation was 8 days ago. Everything else is great otherwise and his lungs are clear. It just worries me because I don’t want him to have the same pain in his remaining front leg! Any advice?

  4. My two-year-old Rottweiler was hit by a truck and a schedule for amputation this morning of left front front paw to shoulder. She’s a super active dog and loves to swim I’ve never had a tripod I’m not sure how to care for Or where to draw the line on activity

    • Cyndy we are so sorry about your pup and hope that she has a speedy recovery. She definitely has an advantage as a Tripawd because she’s already fit. We encourage you to find a certified rehab therapist who can guide you in her recovery and creating a happy, active life on three legs. The best part is the Tripawds Foundation may even pay for her first rehab therapy visit! Also, please drop by the Tripawds Discussion Forums to meet other members, get tips and share her story. Our e-book, Loving Life on Three Legs, is also a good reference for learning about how to keep her safe, fit and hoppy. Best wishes to you both. Keep in touch!

    • Cyndy, i’m so sorry to hear about the accident first and foremost. Thankful you still have your fur baby. Romeo is 11 days post op from his amputation, front left. I won’t lie, it’s tough but if your baby is anything like a canine, you won’t be able to hold them back. If any fur baby was gonna give up, I would have bet it would have been mine. But he didnt, it is difficult, but VERY doable. Be the dog, they don’t mourn, they just get up, wobbly at first, and go on. You learn new stuff day to day. Keep connected to this blog, it truly helos. Prayers for you all, keep us posted.

  5. We rescued an 8 week old puppy that is our foster. She just had her front leg amputated a couple days ago and at first was doing really well walking on it but now her remaining front leg is bowing out and giving out on her. I’m so worried she’s going to injure it and she has already been through so much in her short little life what should I do?

  6. Hello…., I just rescued a Great Dane that had her leg amputated a little over a week ago…..I never had to deal with this before.I just taken her off the pain killers seems to be doing very good. gets around ok………………But without having any thing to compare her to I don’t know what really is good.She seems depressed my main Questions are how much walking should I do and how can I keep her from being bored and keep up maintaining her weigh and build muscle in back leg.any help would be great to help me and her to live a fun happy life.Daisy May says Thank you!!!

  7. Thank you so, so much. My 5 lb. Toy Poodle just had her front left leg amputated. She jumped off a step (we think – no one saw the actual incident) and broke both bones in that leg just above her ankle. It was evaluated, casted and meds dispensed. At her 1 wk. check up it was found the bones had separated and actually had cut off circulation to her paw. She spent a week in the vet hospital for therapy on her paw before having a rod and pins put in. Her paw got a little better…then much worse. The hard decision was made to amputate. It was done right away and I took her home that evening! I was terrified to look after her. She had no bandage on and her wound was heartbreaking. She cried on and off through the night. I had 2 meds for pain and 1 antibiotic for her. She has been home for 5 days now. 2 days ago I thought we were making progress. Yesterday she went backwards. More crying out in pain. She has started turning her head really quickly towards the missing limb and sometimes even snapping her teeth towards it. She has never bitten anything in her 2 and a half years. Today she is quiet, sleeping, only going out if I actually pick her up and take her out. She does her business right where I put her down then just waits be be brought back in. How do I encourage her to walk? If I put her down in the house…she will basically be in the same spot a little later on. She almost seems depressed. Does this seem like something that could happen to dogs? I love her dearly. She is my companion as I live alone. I just hate to see this sadness and sleepiness in her. Any tips?

  8. Bravo on another excellent video and questions answered!

    Thank you Tripawd team for this! Makes me feel better to hear their comments like “they are going to get more sore” and don’t let them do what they could do when they had four legs..


    • Maggie, you’re so welcome, glad you like it. You know, there are soooo many things about taking precautions for Tripawds that we didn’t know until we met these docs. Who knew that letting them run wild for hours on end at a dog park was a bad thing? Wow! We love doing these movies, because we learn tons in the process.


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