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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

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Question on muscle weakness in senior dog
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Forum Posts: 4
Member Since:
5 June 2019
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5 June 2019 - 2:30 pm
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Hello everyone.

If this topic was posted in the wrong forum, please direct me to where it should be.

My girl Ellis is 14 and was a tripaw when I rescued her at 8 months. She’s had a very active life — running, swimming, hiking, all of it. We were in Virginia hiking a mountain together in mid-February. A week after returning home, she had severe difficulty walking and became very sick with a fever for about two weeks. 

Based on the recommendation of her vet, we tried several different medications based on the tests that were done. Nothing seemed to work until we got to prednisone , which she started in early March. She has been diagnosed by an internal medicine specialist as having an immune-mediated disease. Her WBC is high (L 40s) and she’s mildly anemic (HCT high 20s). 

The prednisone had seemingly been effective in controlling the disease for awhile. Her fever was gone and she was eating and had some mobility. Her mood has been good, too. The pred seems to be doing a number on her muscle mas, however, and it’s making her only back leg increasingly weaker. Mycophenolate was added to her drug therapy last week. 

Two questions:

1) Has anyone else experienced this issue with prednisone and/or mycophenolate?

2) What are some ways to increase muscle in her back leg? We swam today some but it just absolutely wipes her out. 

Thank you in advance,

Ellie’s Dad

Here and Now

Forum Posts: 11921
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25 April 2007
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5 June 2019 - 7:00 pm
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Welcome, we’ll let Dr. Pam address your medical questions. Regarding strengthening exercises, please consider consulting with a certified canine rehab therapist for proper evaluation, treatment options, and a recommended exercise program specifically for Ellis. Visit a CCRT or CCRP and and the tripawds Foundation can even pay for your first visit, In the meantime, you can checkout these starter exercises , and the many other recommendations in Loving Life On Three Legs .

While you wait for comments from others, use the Advanced Search above to refine your forum search results with specific phrases, and you’re sure to find lots of helpful feedback. You can also search all blogs here . Or, consider downloading the Tripawds e-books for fast answers to common concerns and feel free to call the toll-free Tripawds Helpline anytime!

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Forum Posts: 1957
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22 August 2008
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5 June 2019 - 9:07 pm
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Yes loss of muscle mass is very common with prednisone .  That is why dogs with autoimmune disease are often started on other drugs such as cyclosporine or mycophenolate and then weaned off of the pred.

Which specific disease does your dog have?


Forum Posts: 4
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5 June 2019
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6 June 2019 - 12:54 pm
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Hi Pam,

Thank you for the comment. She has been diagnosed with Immune Mediated Polyarthritis (IMPA). She started on mycophenolate last week so I’m hopeful it’s effective to the point where she can begin to move away from the pred (which has only been an average of 10-15 mg per day and she’s 52 pounds). 


Forum Posts: 4
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6 June 2019 - 12:58 pm
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The specialist she’s been seeing for it also wants her to be on a physical therapy program. She’s always loved swimming so we’ve done that a few times and she does fine with it but she just gets completely exhausted the next 48 hours from it. I’m going to limit her swim time next time and hopefully build up to what he ultimately wants her doing several times a week.


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6 June 2019 - 8:18 pm
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Just want to say YAY for  having  a fourteen yr old tripawd whio clearly has been doing extremely  well on three for all these years!  Good  job!

Glad you’re  gonna slow down the swimming and limit the amount of time.  Swimming for a tripawd does exhaust them,   especially  if you’re  a fourteen yr old “mature” pup!  And if she’s  so wiped out the next day, she is clearly  telling you she’s  been doing too much.  If you can see a Rehab Specialist  as suggested above, that may even be of more value than the swimming itself as far as building up core strength.    

She’s  very lucky to have you as her hooman partner and advocate.   


Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!

Happy Hannah had a glorious additional bonus time of over one yr & two months after amp for osteo! She made me laugh everyday! Joined April's Angels after send off meal of steak, ice cream, M&Ms & deer poop!

Forum Posts: 4
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7 June 2019 - 2:24 pm
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Thank you, Sally 🙂

Those words mean more than you know!sp_hearticon2

Livermore, CA

Forum Posts: 3586
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7 June 2019 - 8:55 pm
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Hello and welcome.

My Pug Maggie was on pred for about 7 months as part of her chemo treatment for mast cell cancer.  She was 7.5 years old when she had her amp and to be honest she was a pretty lazy Pug smiley4.  She did have some down time during her chemo treatment, mostly tiredness, so it’s hard to say how much the pred affected her verses the other drugs she was getting.  It took a month to taper her off the pred and as far as I could tell she had no long term issues from the pred.

I also wanted to say that your 14 year old Ellie is awesome!  My Elly lost her rear leg at 7 months old after being hit by a car, she is now about 4.5 years old.  Elly is a little Pug mix who is pretty active, but we don’t do any hiking and she won’t go in water. 

We spend time every day on some type of balance and core strength through obedience and trick training, food toys and games, and balance exercises.  We also do Nose Work which is a great way to challenge her mind.

I’m hoping to someday take her to a rehab vet- I think we may be getting close.  She has fear issues and has severe separation anxiety. A quick trip to our regular vet used to cause weeks of heightened anxiety and she would absolutely shut down when a stranger tried to touch her.  She is better about both things now, but we still have some issues. I think some professional input would be sooooo valuable!

I love that Ellie has had such a wonderful, full life on three.  It is inspirational!

Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls

Tri-pug Maggie survived a 4.5 year mast cell cancer battle only to be lost to oral melanoma.

1999 to 2010


              Maggie's Story                  Amputation and Chemo

Forum Posts: 8
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12 July 2019 - 6:05 pm
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oops, just saw this is a vet only place.

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