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How To Prevent Common Injuries in Tripawds

They can run! They can jump! They can swim! But sadly, many times these activities lead to the most common injuries in Tripawds. Joint stress and muscle strain are two examples. The good news is that you can do things today to prevent problems later. Today you’re going to find out how!

We wish we knew these things when Wyatt was young.

In the second of our three part interview with Sasha A. Foster, MSPT, CCRT, you will learn how to help your front or rear limb amputee avoid suffering from typical injuries in Tripawds: carpal hyperextension and hip joint pain.

Sasha is a part of the Colorado State University James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital Orthopaedic and Mobility Medicine team. As Tripawds Spokesdog Wyatt Ray Dawg’s therapist we have learned so much from her and know that you will too. 

Don’t Miss Part 1 in our series, “Do Dogs Self-Limit Their Activity?”

and Part 3, “How to Help Aging Tripawds Live Better”

How To Prevent Common Injuries in Tripawds

Read and Learn

Below is the transcript from our interview with Sasha. Take time to read what she says to reinforce the message. You’ll stay one step ahead of common injuries in Tripawds that might happen to your three-legged hero.

[Begin transcript]

The most common injuries we see in Tripawd dogs are separated into two separate categories. So dogs who have front limb amputations, the most common injury we see with the front limb amputation is the limb that’s remaining, it’s injuries to the wrist.

Front Leg Tripawd Injury Prevention

The front wrist joint on Tripawd animals is most at risk.

The muscles on the back of the wrist have to bear more weight when you’ve removed one of the limbs. In dogs with four legs, they carry 60% of their body weight on their front limbs. They split it pretty much 30-30 each limb.

But when you remove one of the legs, now one of the limbs has to carry the full 60% of the load. In order to do that, they simply need to be stronger.

To prevent them from getting carpal hyperextension injuries, which means the carpus gets laxed and it stretches too much, we should start strengthening exercises straight away.

Here at CSU, what we do is have dogs start on exercises at their 2-week post-operative appointment. They do very specific exercises to strengthen their wrists.

Rehab for Fallon
Angel Fallon gets a carpal workout.

For example, they would place their front paws up on a box. Then we’d have them do a dog push-up or lower their nose down to the box and then back up so their strengthening the muscles in their wrists.

Rear Leg Tripawd Injury Prevention

Bessie has been a Tripawd for over 2 years.

For dogs who have hind limb amputations, the most common injury we see is pain of their hip joint.

For dogs with a hind limb amputation where their legs normally kick out behind them when they are walking, because they only have one leg, they have to keep that one leg always underneath their body. When they do that, the muscles in the front of their hips get tight.

When the muscles in the front of their hip get tight, that can predispose them to hip muscle injuries and low back injuries.

To try to prevent that, we can have those dogs start exercise as soon as their incisions are healed.

Ekolu gets a rear leg workout.

For example, having them place their front feet up on a high surface so their front feet up on a chair or stool so they are having to extend their hip. This opens the muscles in the front of the hip while they are strengthening their gluteal muscles to help prevent hip and low back problems in hind limb amputees.

[End of transcript]

Preventing injuries in Tripawds is up to us! The #1 way you can do that is to get your Tripawd to rehabilitation therapy. Even if you or your general practice veterinarian doesn’t think your pet “needs” it, we say “do it!” Rehab therapy is for all Tripawds at any life stage. 

The Tripawds Foundation may even pay for your first rehab visit so what are you waiting for?

maggie moo fund for tripawd rehab

Recommended Reading

Do Dogs “Self-Limit” Their Activity? Or Are They in Pain?
Loving Life on Three Legs: a Canine Amputation Handbook


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5 thoughts on “How To Prevent Common Injuries in Tripawds”

  1. Hi my dog had front left leg amputation and since then he has had a problem somewhere in his back left leg or hip ! He widens his back left leg to make up for balance since left front leg is no longer there ! Recently he hurt it so bad he couldn’t put weight on his back left leg .. do you think it’s his hip since he has to widen his back left leg to make up for the front not being there


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