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Amputee August Expert Advice from a Rehab Vet

Welcome to part two of our month-long Tripawd awareness event! Today’s Amputee August Expert Advice comes directly from Dr. Amber Callaway-Lewis, founder of Treasure Coast Animal Rehab and Fitness in Vero Beach, Florida. Amputee August is her brilliant idea, and we are so hoppy to be part of the helpful information she is sharing with clients and the Tripawds community.

Amputee August Expert Advice: What to Do Before and After Your Pet’s Amputation

Bernese Mountain Dog amputation surgery candidate
Bernese Mountain Dog Ryder waits for amputation surgery.

In today’s helpful Facebook Live video shown below, Dr. Amber shares her most important information about things to consider before and after your dog or cat’s amputation, such as:

Amputation is scary, but it can make the pain go away and give back quality of life.

“If it is a painful leg, and we make the leg go away, we have the potential to make the pain go away,” says Dr. Amber.  Cancer? Amputation can get rid of the pain of a bone tumor. An injury that renders a leg useless, amputation can also be an option. Puppies and kittens born with limb difference can improve quality of life.

Most pets are already 3-legged by the time amputation is discussed.

Other than dogs or cats who experience a traumatic fracture, “they’re already offloading that limb before we even get to the point of talking about amputation,” she says.

Yes, prosthetics may be an option for some Tripawds.

“For some patients that is an option,” she explains. “But for prosthetics you have to have the right circumstances. You have to talk to your surgeon about this option. They have to have enough of a limb left for us to be able to fit something custom to allow that dog to use it as a successful prosthetic.” This decision will be different for everyone. It must be discussed before amputation surgery for the most successful prosthetic transition.

Dr. Amber’s Tips to Prepare Your Pet for Amputation

We love her most important tips for future Tripawd parents, such as: 

  • Slowly introduce mobility aids. For ramps, allow them to feel it, see it, stand on it while it’s laying flat.  When it comes to Tripawd-friendly harnesses, introduce your dog to the harness slowly. Allow them to wear it before surgery, especially while toileting.
  • Raised food and water bowls are also helpful. Get them before the limb is amputated, if possible.
  • Add traction to your pet’s environment. No-slip flooring for Tripawds helps with mobility.

Get your Tripawd to Rehab Therapy

Free Rehab Therapy for Tripawd Dogs and Cats

Rehab therapy is helpful for all new amputee animals. Dr. Amber stresses the importance of getting a new Tripawd to therapy, even if you don’t think your cat or dog needs it. That’s why Tripawds Foundation can pay for your pet’s first rehab visit!

We can monitor how the spine feels, how the muscles are doing, make sure there’s no trigger points and contractures (pain in the actual spine). A lot of what we do in rehab is just relearning balance and coordination to help your pet move as good as possible in their new body.”

Be patient. Just because sutures are out, doesn’t mean it’s time for your new Tripawd to go wild.

Bernese Mountain Dog Amputee
Ryder says “Can we go play now?”

Dr. Amber urges all new Tripawd parents to give your pet (and you!) time to adapt. “Be calm, don’t rush it. We want to see steady progress but there’s nothing worse than having a setback in a three legged dog because it’s a little more of a scramble to try to stabilize them,” she explains.

And remember, you are not alone! Join the Tripawds Discussion Forums so we can help you before, during, and after your pet’s new life on three legs! 

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