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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

Tripawds is the place 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.
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4 Legs But Only 3 Work
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Forum Posts: 5
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8 June 2016 - 9:35 am
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Hi everyone, I hope you don’t mind me posting as I’ve been reading bits and pieces of this site for a few weeks but finally plucking up the courage to tell my 11.5 year old Labrador’s story. I do feel a bit of a fraud as Corbie, technically, still has all four legs but… since TPLO surgery on his left hind last October he hasn’t wanted to use the leg at all. I blame myself everyday for putting him through the op crying 

Firstly, I want to say what a find this site has been, as I’ve found great information and exercises I can do with him. This is a brief history of what Corbie’s been through. In July 2015 I noticed Corbie had a raw paw pad on his left hind paw, I thought he had scraped it on a walk (in hindsight he had probably licked it, as he did it again 3 weeks later!), this took 3 weeks to fully heal up, trying to stop him re-licking it. I thought the slight limp he had then was due to the sore pad, but when I took him out when his pad had healed he went lame – this was 17th Aug, rested him the next day and then I caught him licking his pad raw again so I got him straight to the vets. 

Vet examination revealed nothing obvious, and he was put on complete rest for a week to see if that would help and prescribed anti-inflammatory. No change after a week, and so he had x-rays of hips, knees and lumber region, as well as the cruciate draw test. All clear and excellent condition with no sign of arthritis. Orthopaedic consultant was also shown x-rays and couldn’t see anything the vet had missed.  Possible soft tissue injury, further rest. 4 weeks later, and with his limp improving, Corbie was running in the house and put his leg on the one bit of wooden floor that we hadn’t put extra rugs on, slipping!  He held his leg up immediately, and I spoke to vet who said to give him complete rest again and more anti-imflammatories and if no improvement after a few days to let them know and next step would be to see the orthopaedic consultant. There was no improvement, and the orthopaedic consultant diagnosed a partial tear of the cruciate ligament and we booked him in for surgery as he was still a very active dog apart from this initial set back.  We live in Scotland and he loved walking the hills here.

Corbie had successful TPLO surgery a week later, 7th October.  When I collected him from the following day, he was touching the ground with his paw, but as soon as he got home he tucked his leg up again. After 3 weeks strict rest, and only occasional toe-touching with his paw, he had his first walk and used the leg about 50% of the time, then the next walk not at all. He went for his first hydrotherapy session (treadmill tank) 4.5 weeks after surgery and he wouldn’t relax his leg at all. I spoke to the orthopaedic consultant, who was concerned that there could be a neurological issue, or nerve tumor, and he would give him a good look at his follow-up xray the next week. 18th November Corbie had his 6-week post-op xrays which were all good and the TPLO surgery had healed correctly.  Orthopaedic consultant said the next step would be MRI. We haven’t put him through that, he’s 11.5 years old now and he was stressed enough with the tplo and the insurance wouldn’t cover it, as it was classed as the same condition which we had already maxed out on the cover with the tplo.

He had acupuncture for 6 months, didn’t really help, and since January he’s been having regular massage which helped ease strains he had picked up due to the weight bearing on his other limbs and relaxes his muscles. Before his op he had already developed muscle atrophy in his leg, being off it for so long, and then even longer after surgery, which I think was his main issue, he couldn’t walk on it like he did before – and it was easier for him to hop about on 3 legs. Tehre was also a confidence issue, whenever he used that leg he slipped. Unfortunately, my Lab is far too!. Now, he will use it swimming which he enjoys and it built a bit of muscle back on his leg, still very weak though, but that’s as far as it goes.  He’ll stand up and stretch it and then up it goes, I don’t think he will ever walk with it again.

We’re 10 months since his original injury and 8 months since tplo surgery.  He has joint pain in his legs now.  I wish I had found this site months ago, so I could’ve been doing the core muscle exercises with him, instead we hoped he would eventually use the leg again and never thought of him as a tripod.  The nerves in his paw are pretty much non-existent now, due to the muscle atrophy etc. I’ve got him a toe sling to wear when out to aid proprioception if he does happen to put his paw down at all, as it often knuckles under when he does.  I spent most of my time researching things myself because once we told the vet we wouldn’t MRI, they’ve been no further help  He went for acupuncture there for 6 months, but nothing else they would do without a firm diagnosis why he wasn’t using the leg.

Corbie does get uncomfortable at times, and I’ve noticed in colder weather, he’s on joint supplements, and I try and get him swimming at a local loch or the river as much as possible as he enjoys that without the strain on his legs and it has helped him to build up stamina again after having weeks with no exercise last year, when he lost all his fitness and muscle.  He was such a fit and active dog and it has really broken my heart to see him suddenly age like this and never to be able to go on our favourite walks again.  

The stories I’ve read on here about your amazing tripods are so inspiring – this site has given me some hope and advice on how to cope with a 3-pawed pup, just wish I’d discovered it sooner.

The Rainbow Bridge



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8 June 2016 - 1:08 pm
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Karen & Corbie, welcome. You are most definitely not a fraud, promise! We call the Corbies of the world “Honorary Tripawds!”

We’re always so glad when folks decide to share stories like yours. Nobody should ever be alone in their struggles to give their animals the best health possible. You have done such a fantastic job at that! Corbie is so fortunate to have such dedicated humans.

There is still quite a bit you can do on your own. You already saw much of our information here (like our e-books, right?), but did you see the latest Tripawds Downloads blog post? This course by Dr. Debbie Gross could also help you and Corbie, it’s never too late to start. Plus, Dr. Gross also does long distance consultations, so that’s always an option too.

Do you have any photos of Corbie? His avatar photo is adorable, what a handsome face!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Livermore, CA




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8 June 2016 - 1:56 pm
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Hi Karen and Corbie, welcome.

We have had several quad pups here for whom amputation wasn’t right (cancer dogs) or who are dealing with birth defects or injuries and who still have their ‘spare’.  All are welcome.

I’m sorry to hear about Corbie’s problems- it must be so frustrating!

I adopted my second Tripawd last October, a little rear amp pug mix named Elly.  She was hit by a car at 7 months old and her broken right rear leg could not be repaired. She is young, not quite a year and a half, and pretty energetic. When I got her at 10 months old she was healed from her surgery but not very strong so I went to work on her core strength and balance.  I am a big advocate of food puzzles and games, she loves them and the mental stimulation really burns energy.  I also do lots of work on her balance and proprioception with games and obedience training. Here is a post talking about interactive toys, and here is a link to a blog post I wrote about some of Elly’s activities. I even feed her meals sometimes in one of her toys.

I had a quad pug who had several medical issues including some brain damage.  She always knuckled one of her back feet to some extent, it got worse as she got older.  One thing I did with her was to touch and massage her bad foot- that is as long as she let me! Tani was quite a character and she didn’t really like being touched much and she hated being held.  Anyway- the theory is that by touching the foot you are stimulating the nerves and connecting the location of the foot in the brain…if that makes any sense.  I don’t know for sure if it helped but I think it did. 

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

Virginia




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8 June 2016 - 6:32 pm
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Hey Corbie! Glad you found your way here and are finding the support and information needed to help you and Corbie.

You’ve gotten great tips and links from Karen and Jerry

As far as feeling like Corbie is missing out on some of the things he loves, that’s more of a human “illusion” than a fact from our dog’s point of view.

Our dogs DO care about being with us, about getting loved and spoiled and about being told what good dogs they are! It’s not important to them about how far they walk. It IS important to have walks where they can stop and smell all the scents nature has to offer, with their human by their side. Sitting under a shady tree on a sunny day and getting brushed, or getting tummy rubs…ahh…pure bliss! I’m glad swimming is still on the table, not only as a fun time for Corbie, but as rehab too!

So try not to focus on what you can no longer do exactly like you used to, but what you can do TOGETHER! “Together”‘is all Corbie really cares about…especially as he is going into his “young” senior years!

You’re doing an excellent job in caring for Corbie! Your love and devotion come shining throughheart

Keep us posted, okay? We care about Corbie and are all cheering for him!clap

Love!

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!

The Rainbow Bridge



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8 June 2016 - 7:56 pm
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Sally as always you have such insightful advice! Thank you!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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9 June 2016 - 2:42 am
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Thank you so much for the warm welcome.  I will have a look at the links posted.

Sally, you are right!  I enjoy being out with him and seeing him still having fun.  I think it was because it all happened suddenly, there was no gradual slowing down on walks and not being able go far; one day we were hiking, the next he’d gone lame and was put on rest.  

Corbie loves getting out and about and having a good sniff.  I’m so glad I have a Lab who loves water!  Although I did notice at the river that he wasn’t always using his leg.  But he must use it sometimes as the muscle hasn’t deteriorated back to how it was after his surgery when you could feel the leg bones as if there was no muscle there at all.

Here’s some photos of my handsome pup smiley

Cheeky Corbie 
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Corbie’s hop – this is how he constantly holds his leg now
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Surfing the waves on the Isle of Mull in March
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Swimming at the local loch recently – so lucky to have this nearby
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“I don’t want to go home yet!”
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9 June 2016 - 9:31 am
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All I can say is “awwww awwww awww”

I love these photos, especially of Corbie in the water. I can tell it’s like heaven to him. Absolute bliss.

Kerren and Tripawd Kitty Mona

The Rainbow Bridge



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9 June 2016 - 2:43 pm
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Oh what FUN Corbie has! Your area is just beautiful.

Yep, he’s definitely an honorary Tripawd. We’re so glad you hopped over here to join us and look forward to more pics and adventures.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
Latest Tripawds News
Read my story here.

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Norene, TN
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9 June 2016 - 3:00 pm
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He’s so beautiful!!!! What a sweetie!

heart

Harmony became a Tripawd on 10/21/14 (MCT). She left us way too soon on 11/1/14.

"We miss you so much; our love, our heart, our Harmony."

- Pam, Ron and Melody, Meesha, Doublestuff and Mariah Carey

Virginia




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9 June 2016 - 9:24 pm
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You are a cheeky handsome boy indeed!! And just enough of a bit of grey on your muzzle to make you look soooo distinguished!

You clearly are in your element when you’re in the water. Quite a little surfer boy!way-cool

The way he holds his leg up is so wierd. Just wondering if having a consult with a “second opinion” surgeon woukd be beneficial. I know the surgeon who did it said it was “successful” and healed “correctly”. Seems to be that “something” was botched in the surgery and not done correctly. Also wondering if it was the correct diagnosis to begin with.

Don’t mean to be rehashing what you’ve probably gone over in your head a thousand times.

Anyway, sounds like you’re doing all the right things. Nkw you have some more activities to help Corbie have fun whike doi g some rehab work.

Thanks for posting this great pictures and introducing us to Corbie…and his wonderful human!

Hugs!

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!

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10 June 2016 - 5:32 am
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Thanks everyone. He really is a water pup!  

I think a lot of issues now are likely to be from him holding his leg in that position almost continually, such as contraction.  His massages help, best thing he ever had.

I can tell you I almost cried the first time he had massage back in January as the lady managed to get him to stretch out his leg for the first time in a couple of months.  I wish I had taken him when he’d had the surgery to help his recovery, so many what ifs!!  

The worst part is, if it is a leg issue stemming from the surgery, would we want him to go through such a major op again? He’s not how he was last time, and obviously another 6 months older, and after the follow-up xray 6 weeks post-op he had some anxiety issues.  

As you can see, he’s doing ok in himself. Still has a good appetite, wants to go out for walks/swim, and has his attitude such as telling me when he wants: his water changed, dinner, tummy rubs… laughing

Here’s a short video of him in action at the river the other day 

The Rainbow Bridge



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10 June 2016 - 8:21 am
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Love that video!  I’m sharing all over the place, Corbie is a rock star!

Another surgery is a tough call when he’s getting around so well otherwise. For most folks, as long as the leg isn’t getting caught and banged up, they choose to wait and see. Sometimes weight of that non-functioning leg can put a lot of stress on their gait so if you want to be sure, a rehab therapist can evaluate and let you know.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
Latest Tripawds News
Read my story here.

Support the Tripawds Foundation!

Virginia




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10 June 2016 - 9:45 am
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HUGE GRIN SMASHED ALL OVER MY FACE!! 🙂 🙂 LOOOOOOOOVE THIS VIDEO!!clap OMD!! So heartwarming!!

I think your thought process is spot on as far as NOT pursuing anymore potential surgeries, invasive tests, etc He’s adjusted to being a tripawd just fine! You clearly know Corbie very well and you are completely focused on his quality! And he appears to be the definition of quality!!

Doing the rehab, massage, etc that you are doing, as you’ve already seen, will continue to be beneficial. No more beating yourself up with wudda, shuddas, okay? You did the best you could with the information you had! Now you have some additional information and now you are doing the best you can with that I information now! You are doing a spectacular job of caring for Corbie! SPECTACULAR! 🙂

Gonna go watch that great video again and smile some more! 🙂

Looking forward to more great pics and videos!!

Love and hugs!

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!

Los Angeles, CA
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10 June 2016 - 9:50 am
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He looks great!!! 

Shelby Lynne; Jack Russell/Shiba Inu mix. Proud member of the April Angels of 2014.

October 15, 2000 to April 8, 2014

Our story: Broke rear leg in June 2013 - non-conclusive results for cancer so leg was plated and pinned. Enlarged spleen in September 2013 and had it removed and was diagnosed with Hemangiosarcoma and started chemotherapy. Became a Tripawd January 8th, 2014 and definitive Hemangiosarcoma diagnosis. Three major surgeries in 7 months and Shelby took them all like a champ only to lose her battle to cancer in her brain. We had 8 amazing extra months together and no regrets. #shelbystrong #loveofmylife

Minneapolis, MN
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11 June 2016 - 11:21 am
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Corbie is a beautiful, cheeky lad!  Love the photos and the vid.

Curious about what you said about a vet mentioning nerve tumor and whether that has been ruled out – is there a pain response somewhere with pressure?  I know the MRI was mentioned and it is a very expensive procedure, but can be fairly definitive.  I ask because that is my dog’s cancer and he was intermittently lame with other “red herring” issues that were assumed to be the source of pain and the reason he eventually stopped all weight bearing on the leg.  So we found his nerve sheath tumor very late and a normally slow growing tumor became very aggressive and large and metastasized to a local lymph node.  I am NOT trying to scare you – I have struggled for days with saying anything at all.

He does look so happy!!

Lisa, Minneapolis

On October 27, 2016, nearly 6 months after amputation, and 18 months since his cancer likely started, we lost Pofi to a recurrence of Soft Tissue Sarcoma in his spine quite suddenly.  His canine sister also succumbed to cancer on March 1, 2019 - we lavished her with our love in the interim, but life was never quite the same without her only real canine friend. Cliff kitty had to leave us, too, suddenly, in August 2019. Lucia kitty grieved all these losses, but helped us welcome two new Lurchers into our home and our lives, Shae and Barley.

Blog: Pofi, Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumor Amputation

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