Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat
Tripawds is your home to learn how to care for a three legged dog or cat, with answers about dog leg amputation, and cat amputation recovery from many years of member experiences.
I am a vet, and not an owner of a tripawd.
Recently, I have been assigned as an expert witness. The owners of a dog who was attacked by another dog, and, as a consequence, had to be amputated of a forelimb (the whole limb), had sued the owners of the aggressor.
Rehabilitation or orthopedics are not my fields of expertise, I am a behaviourist.
I have examined the amputee dog and, since the amputation was four months ago, the dog (a Yorkshire Terrier Bieber, 2 YO, entire male) has quite successfully recovered of the surgery. Regarding behavior I found lots of indicators of positive emotional states, such as play, sociability with humans and even with dogs, exploratory behavior, normal feeding behavior, no hypervigilance and so on. And very few indicators of negative emotional states, except for the nighttime sleep: Since the accident, the dog has never slept straight at night again. He wakes up 4 to 20 times every single night, apparently with no signs of anxiety, and just walks or demands attention to his owners, going up and down their bed.
Apart this, what could be pain under the CAMPPAIN (Canine Post Amputation Pain Initiative, Boesch et al, 2021), I can’t find any major damage on the dog quality of life (Well, yes, the dog cannot go anymore downstairs, and must be carried for; or the owners had to put some soft pads around beds and couch, as to facilitate de dog to go down furniture).
Nevertheless, they have visited, one month after the surgery, a vet specialist in rehabilitation and she said that, in her experience, the changes of weight distribution after the amputation can produce, in the future, early and rapidly evolving osteoarthritis in the contralateral forelimb, which would require “from time to time” physical therapy and therapeutic massages for the rest of the dog’s life.
Although I have found some scientific information about amputee dogs, and some advises a careful follow up of the remaining limbs and joints, I can’t manage to find information about outcomes in the long term for amputee dogs, or the physical therapy needed for this animals. Papers I have found only cover first monts or first year, but not the entire life of the amputee dogs.
So, in summary, as an expert witness I can claim for the medical (pharmacological) treatments needed to improve the nighttime resting, which is happening right now, but I don’t know how to argue for this future early damage in joints due to the change in weight distribution, that I don’t know when will happen or even if it will.
Any help, be it your own experience or to pointing me to scientific information I have missed, or any other source will be very much appreciated. Thanks in advance.
Ps: please excuse my bad English, is not my first language (at all)
Ps’: not sure if this is the right forum, please tell me if I should post this in other section
Boesch JM, Roinestad KE, Lopez DJ et al, 2021. The Canine Postamputation Pain (CAMPPAIN) initiative: a retrospective study
and development of a diagnostic scale, Veterinary Anaesthesia and Analgesia, https://doi.org.....021.07.003
25 April 2007
Thank you for asking and good luck with your case! Your future forum posts will not require moderation.
Hopefully our veterinary expert members will provide feedback for you soon.
Speaking from personal experience, I can tell you our Wyatt Ray benefited greatly from regular checkups and consultation with rehab therapists. Wyatt was a GSD with rear limb amputation due to neglect at 8± months old. We helped him love life on three legs for 12 years, only with the help of expert guidance from orthopedic specialists and certified canine rehab therapists (CCRT/CCRP). He developed severe osteoarthritis over the years, and would have had much degraded quality of life had we not followed the guidance of his rehab team.
Find all our Tripawds News rehab articles and interviews here.
22 August 2008
It really depends on the size of the dog and their activity level but in general I think it is harder to lose a forelimb. There is an increased risk of elbow or shoulder issue in this dog even though he is small since he is so young so has a lot of life left. Also I would worry about his neck and back since he will be using his remaining leg differently so acupuncture may be needed in his future.
Most dogs on this site have cancer and are not living 10 plus years so it is hard to say for sure how this young/small dog will do.
Thanks for your feedback Dr. Pam!
@alinata, you should read the story of Spree, a front-limb amputee from puppy to age 10. Her humans gave her extensive rehab therapy for her entire life, the best of the best, and this story explains how her life turned out. If you'd like to converse with her human I would be happy to connect you. Also, I encourage you to see if you can meet with Dr. Felix Duerr, director of the Orthopedic Medicine and Mobility team at Colorado State. They have extensive experience in mobility issues with front leg amputee dogs, including Spree. I'm happy to make an introduction with him as well if you'd like. Just PM me.
Many thanks for your kind replies, I will check calmly the rehab articles and the story of Spree (And I have read already the lovely tribute to Wyatt Ray ), and definitely it would be helpful to be contacted with Dr Felix Duerr so next I PM you, Jerry.
Thanks again with all my heart, what a wonderful work you are doing here, congratulations!
4 April 2019
Hi, I can tell you that my mom had a med size poodle who was hit by a car when he was about a year old. He did live to be about 10 years old but during his last two years his back began to curve. He was a rear amp. During that time Toby lived a happy life as a Tripawd. Now this was about 35 years ago so the veterian medicine has come a long way since then.
Good luck with your case.
My Beautiful Beloved Brownie was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma on February 26, 2019. With all odds against him he lived an additional one year and eight days with amputation, love, and prayer. I was honored to be his mom, and I have never been so proud! He will live forever in my Heart!
04/01/2007 - 03/05/2020