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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In desperate need of advice, our 1 1/2 year old border collie mix dog named luna had a freak accident and ruptured her back right achilles tendon. We originally planned on getting the tendon surgery but now are having second thoughts and thinking amputation may be the better option.Were mainly worried about the surgery because of the long healing process(mainly kennel), 2 surgeries(pins in and out) and the overall stress on her with the 50% chance of her injuring her other achilles.Not to mention with the potential to injure the same weak achilles.Dont get me wrong, were willing on spending all the time she needs to heal from that type of surgery but the idea of her going through something like that a second times kills me.If she was a lap dog it would probably be different but she’s extremely active, and all she knows is to sprint after frisbees.We love her to death and only want the best for her.
Hi Nik, welcome. Your future posts won’t need to wait for approval (sorry for the delay, we were offline yesterday).
Cruciate repairs are quite common and while the recovery is challenging, it’s not impossible. A good orthopedic surgeon’s practice will help you through the recovery to ensure it goes well. Yes, it’s also common for the other back leg to require the same surgery eventually, especially if her activity is not well managed and she’s doing crazy stunts all the time.
Sometimes with cruciate surgery there are complications, and on a few rare occasions we’ve had members join us here because the surgery failed and the leg needed amputating anyways.
Your girl is so young, and as a BC she needs a ton of activity and a job to do to be happy. As a Tripawd, she can still have that, but on a more limited basis. Amputees definitely have great lives, but there are things that they should not do in order to stay injury free. Luna’s life will look very different as a Tripawd if you go that route. She can be happy, but her life will take a different course. And for her own safety, playing frisbee would not be a good idea as a Tripawd.
You’ve probably done this but if you haven’t already, I would get another option from a first or even second board certified orthopedic specialist, as well as a certified canine rehabilitation therapist. If you’d like referrals let us know and we can try to help. Both of these specialists will recommend very different approaches toward Luna’s situation, but at least then you can have a full range of information and suggestions to consider before making this very big and irreversible decision.
Hello and welcome.
I’m a bit confused- your topic title says ruptured ACL but you talk about Achilles tendon in the text. I’m thinking you mean the tendon though because you talk about that a lot.
I’ve not been through that surgery with any of my dogs so I don’t have a good feel for the recovery or the success rate of the surgery. I have been through two knee repairs in my quad Pug. His problem was not really from injury but from his conformation, his second knee was repaired two years after the first one.
As Jerry said if you do an amputation there will be some reduction in Luna’s activities. It doesn’t mean she wouldn’t have a great life quality but burst activities are not the best for Tripawds, especially in one so young. That being said some allow their Tripawds to do any activity but most of them pay the price with injury and chronic pain as they age. It’s definitely a balancing act with a dog like a young BC- you want them to have a full life and do what they love but it’s wise to balance that against long term health.
I have a 3.5 year old Pug mix Tripawd who lost a rear leg at 7 months old after being hit by a car. Elly is active and energetic (not like a BC though!) but I focus her energy on lower impact activities like food puzzles and games, obedience and trick training, and for the last year and a half Nose Work. We walk nearly every day but I limit time on hard surfaces and keep the walks relatively short. We spend a lot of time at parks where I allow her to follow her nose. Hopping in deep grass and up and down hills is a great workout for her!
Keep us posted on what you decide.
Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls
Yes it really depends on if you are talking about the Achilles tendon vs an ACL. An ACL repair is fairly routine and a better option than amputation. An Achilles rupture is a far worse injury but can still be repaired by a boarded surgeon.
Even though your dog is active she is relatively small so rehab should mainly consist of proper confinement as well as stretching and gradually increasing exercise.
Karen and Dr. Pam. thank you for your insight! I didn’t even catch the discrepancy between Achilles tendon versus ACL. Appreciate the explanation.
Pam, for my own knowledge, what are the differences between an ACL and a CCL injury and surgery?
Thanks everyone for the responses, much appreciated!Sorry about the title, i made the mistake and couldn’t find out how to edit that.So if an admin could change that for others seeking advice that would be awesome. Today was surgery day and we opted to fix her achilles tendon after a stressful week of discussion.The vet and surgeon seemed confident Luna could make a full recovery with extensive care for the first full year.The vet and surgeon believed Luna to be a good candidate for the achilles surgery because of her weight(smaller at 40lbs), her good overall health, young age and because we brought her in so soon(day of injury, although she was in a cast for a week since the specialist couldn’t make it any sooner).There seems to be many techniques/methods on reattaching the achilles so every patient is different but I’m very happy with the choice of choosing the pins to keep her leg fixed vs the splint even tho she will have to go back for a minor sugary to get them removed.Although Luna will hate us for it, were gonna be keeping her in a kennel as much as we can for the first 2 months to allow the initial healing to really set in.Im currently out of town working, with my gf picking Luna up this eve.So I’m sure ill be updated with the recovery protocol, but can anyone chime in with advice for us going forward?
25 April 2007
Sorry about the title…if an admin could change that for others seeking advice that would be awesome.
Done. Thanks for the note.
Although Luna will hate us for it, were gonna be keeping her in a kennel as much as we can…
Luna will not hate you for it, she only wants to feel better. But she will follow your lead, so remember to remain strong and stable. It’s why we say it is so important to Be More Dog . And that’s not just some silly saying
Confinement is key to a quick, complete recovery, and there are many ways to keep recovering dogs entertained.
Best wishes for Luna’s speedy recovery! Please keep us posted.
Jerry FYI ACL and CCL refer to the same thing. ACL is actually the proper term in people (anterior cruciate ligament) and CCL is the proper term for a dog (cranial cruciate ligament). I think we commonly say ACL because most people know what that is from personal experience.
Thank you Dr. Pam! I appreciate the explanation, as we hear the two terms get interchanged quite a bit around here, so I just wanted to make sure.
19 July 2016
I appreciate the clarification between ACL and CCL too. Learn something new every day.
Isa tore her Achilles tendon (right rear) a couple of years before becoming a tripawd. She was a lab/rottie mix at (more or less) 85 lbs. so not a small dog by any means. Her recovery, even with keeping her kenneled, was relatively easy. Granted time blurs many, many memories (thank goodness). But then she was a very easy dog in most ways. I don’t recall specifically whether we had pins or not but I know she had a cast/splint for a period of time so maybe it was a different procedure. The surgery was very successful and we have no problems with recovery. I have a distinct memory of her running more or less full speed holding her back leg straight out behind her with a full cast. It certainly didn’t slow her down any and I am quite certain it won’t slow Luna for long.
“Be More Dog ” is far more than a “silly” saying but also easier said than done (IMHO)
I hope you (and gf) and Luna are doing well. Keep us posted.
Teri, the Roxinator and Angel Isa
Right rear leg amp 7/12/16 due to OSA. Metastatic lesion on her right front leg, January 2017. Joined the Winter Warriors January 19, 2017. Run free my sweet girl.
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So far Luna has taken the direction to lay down and rest quite well, although you can tell she is getting more and more eager to get up and move.We have been extremely careful with her, only time we allow her to stand/walk is to pee &.Even then we will support her rear end with a towel.3 days post surgery.
FYI- Tripawds does not allow for personal fundraising requests in the blogs or forums so I deleted the link to your GoFundMe page.
“The Tripawds Blogs community along with the Tripawds Facebook Page welcomes questions, advice, photos, videos and progress reports from all three legged dogs and their people. However, personal fundraising requests for purposes or organizations not endorsed by the Tripawds community will be removed without notice. Such pleas for help distract from our mission, which is to inform & educate while providing a platform of emotional support for all members.”
You can read the full Tripawds Fundraising Appeals Policy Here.
I’m glad Luna is doing well so far!
Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls
22 February 2013
Just catching up on your precious Luna. WOW! Iknow it hasn’t been easy trying to decide what to do.
You’ve done an excellent job with your research and jave moved forward with a good plan for Lunar..
You are giving her exquisite after care and doing all you can to ensure to keep her safe while healing.
There are a lot of puzzles and mind game things you can do with Lunar while she’s recovering. As she gets a little more mobile, you can hide treats in various places in the house and have her search for them. Kong toys filled with peanut butter keep them occupied for a little bit.
Keep us posted on how she’s doing. Would loooove to see pictures! Here’s a link for adding images
Hang in there!!! This will soon be in your rear view mirror and Luna will be having a vlast playing and running. Lounging around for now getting lots of tummy rubs is the silcer linings in all this for her❤
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!