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.
This past month hasn't seemed fair. My partner and I decided it was time to add a new puppy to our little family (We have two toy poodles) and chose the best little pup, Mylo- a Portuguese Water Dog. When we brought him home a month ago we noticed he had a limp, but the doctors assured us that this was normal 'Puppies play hard!'.
The limp didn't go away. It got worse.
Mylo progressed quickly from a small limp to having massive muscle atrophy and muscle contraction in his leg causing knuckling over a 3 week period. The doctors were baffled. The orthopedic specialist who believed it was Panosteitis for 3 weeks came to us with the news that he now thought that it must be neurological. We were devastated. The neurologist agreed and said all the signs pointed towards something wrong in his brachial plexus. He said he had never seen a case like Mylo's in his entire 40 years of practice. He said the progression was something you would likely see in a old dog with lesions on the brachial plexus or on a dog who had a severe hematoma/avulsion which was still forming on the nerve group. The hematoma/avulsion would have been caused by trauma- which we had already asked the breeder about and he said he had no knowledge of anything happening to Mylo. They recommended an MRI, which would cost $3,000.
My partner and I felt like the world was crashing around us. How had this happened? Mylo, the perfect puppy who was just 11 weeks old was now facing this. I was angry, sad, and lost. We couldn't afford the MRI as we had already put over a $1,000 into getting Mylo to all of the specialists. So I asked the doctors- if this is something like a lesion, hematoma, or avulsion what is next? Can we do physical therapy to return the use of his leg? Will he recover?
Then it felt like everything was in fast forward. Mylo's chance of regaining the use of his leg was close to zero according to over 5 different veterinarians. What's next?
Now the world really was crashing around us. How could we amputate our 3 month old puppy's leg? How is that fair to Mylo? What will his life be like? Why did this happen to him?
I called the breeder and told him everything that had been happening. I begged him to tell me if anything had happened to Mylo- ANYTHING. He seemed confused by the whole situation, having never had to deal with it with any of his puppies before. And then he told me 'Well, sometimes when I'm in the kennel with the puppies they might get underfoot and I might step on them on accident.'. I think that is when my world stopped spinning. Was this my answer? Was this why Mylo was suffering? I accepted his explanation, calmly asked for a refund for Mylo to help pay for the amputation surgery (which he agreed to) and hung up. We've all stepped on a dog's paw before or tripped over a pup when they are excitedly dancing around for a treat. It happens and I forgave it, because all we could do now is move forward.
After I realized amputation was inevitable (last week), I called the vet and scheduled him for his surgery. 7/13 Mylo will go in for a full forequarter amputation. At just 13 weeks Mylo will become a Tripawd. We have been calling him a TriPaWD, because he is a Portuguese Water Dog (PWD for short).
Now that we know what is going to happen my partner and I have begun planning for it. We bought raised bowls, a new Tripawd approved harness, and have been reading everything possible to make sure that this will be as easy as possible for Mylo. This website and its forums have provided us with confidence that Mylo will live a great life after the surgery. In fact, it will likely be better than his life is right now. As I type this Mylo is lying next to me crying, undoubtedly in pain from his leg and I honestly can't wait for him to feel better. He has never known a life where he can run, jump, and just be a puppy.
Hopefully after surgery this week and recovery a few weeks after, Mylo will finally get to be a puppy.
24 September 2009
Meg, welcome. We are SO sorry you and Mylo found yourself here. What a long, difficult road you've both traveled! I'm sorry about the accident. Nobody ever expects a young dog's life to start out this way. But at least the breeder took the high road and refunded you, that's nice to hear.
It sounds like you have done all of your homework for the surgery and life on three legs. Good for you! Be proud that you are such conscientious dog parents, you are doing good things for Mylo and I have no doubt he will be a happy PWD (Hahah love the PWD in Tripawd!).
One question though: Has anyone mentioned if Mylo is a candidate for a prosthesis? Oftentimes in situations like his dogs can keep most of the limb during the amputation, which makes it a breeze to attach an artificial limb. The decision to try a prosthesis must be made in advance of surgery, however (the surgeon has to leave a specific amount for a good fit), so if you haven't talked about that yet I would highly recommend doing so.
Thanks for joining us. We'll do all we can to make the coming weeks easier on all of you.
14 February 2016
Ok, we have all tripped on our dog at some point in time, but to do so with such force as to cause permanent damage? Having a hard time getting my head around that, but so glad Mylo is with you. A much better home! Please don't feel that Mylo will be limited by the loss of his leg. Omce he gets through recovery, I bet he does great!
Otis - 106 pound lab/Dane mix, lost his right front leg to osteosarcoma on Febuary 9, 2016. Four rounds of carboplatin completed in April, 2016. Lung mets August 25, 2016. Said goodbye too soon on September 4, 2016. Lost his adopted sister, Tess, suddenly on October 9, 2016. likely due to hemangiosarcoma.
Wherever they are, they are together.
Thanks Jerry! We're so glad to have found this community to help us through this. It's certainly something we never expected to have to go through, so we could use all the support we can get. Regarding prothesis, since Mylo has to get a full quarter amputation that seems unlikely. From the research I've done pups without any kind of residual limb don't have many options as far as prosthetics go.
Otis and Tess, thanks for the reply! And yes, I COMPLETELY agree. I was super frustrated with him right off the bat, but I decided that I can't hold on to it. Hopefully he will learn from this and be more careful with future pups.
15 December 2015
From the research I've done pups without any kind of residual limb don't have many options as far as prosthetics go.
That's correct, yes. I discussed prosthetics with Orthopets in advance of my girl's amputation, and they need to have two functioning joints to make a prosthesis viable. (or they did at the time, about 18 months ago. These things do change, as it's a developing field). Where is the damage in Mylo's leg? Is a full limb amputation necessary?
And well done for moving on from what happened to him (whatever it was). That must have been so hard, but you are absolutely right. It would be so easy to be consumed by anger and upset and what ifs. But the important thing is Mylo, and moving forward and getting him out of pain. Look at it this way, he is sooooo lucky that you two picked each other. He will soon be free of pain and able to enjoy his puppyhood properly and I just know that you are going to have an amazing life together.
Meg, Clare and Elsie Pie xxx
Ruby, Staffy, born June 2022, became a Tripawd, 23 November 2023, adopted 12 January 2024.
Also Angel Tripawd Meg (aka The Megastar), who died in April 2023, aged 14, after seven glorious years on three, and Angel Staffies Pie and Bille. In the pawprints of giants...