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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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Newly rescued/adopted tripawd "Bonnie"
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Forum Posts: 16
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14 October 2021
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18 October 2021 - 7:25 am
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As recommended, I'm re-posting in this forum. We just adopted a Tripawd from a rescue group. "Bonnie" is approximately 5 years old (according to the rescue agency) and her left rear leg was amputed an inch or two below her knee joint shortly after she was picked up as a stray. She is about 2.5 months post amputation, and lived with a foster family for the past 3-4 weeks. They described her as "not missing her leg one bit" but I'm not sure this is very true... She seems to think the leg is still there and also drags her right rear leg when she's walking slowly or might be getting tired.

Anyway, Bonnie is a very sweet dog who loves people and loves to be petted. We want to do what's best for her, but I'm feeling overwhelmed. I've ordered the two e-books and I'm poring over this site as well but wow, it's a lot! 

I didn't know Pet Insurance will accept a dog with a known issue such as an already amputated limb. I welcome info about how this works. We didn't have insurance for our golden retriever who passed last November, but boy we could have benefited from it! 

Our home is a mutli-split level with mostly hardwood floors. We have MANY stairs tho all are carpeted. Right now I'm using gates to keep her from wandering up and down and up and down. Given the vast sea of hardwood, I'm thinking boots might be the first option to try?

Sadly we do not have a fenced yard, and she loves the outdoors very much. I've read the recommendation to limit walks to 20-30 minutes, and am wondering what else we can do. (I'm thinking about kayaking. She's really fearless in almost every situation.)

Is there a summary of what Tripawds need after surgery, say 2 months out, then 4/6/8 months out, etc., so we can evaluate how we can meet her needs?

Thank you for this amazing site; I'm so grateful to have found it. I welcome all feedback; new links to read, etc. I look forward to being a part of this unique community.

Staci & Bonnie

Livermore, CA




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18 October 2021 - 8:51 am
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Hello and welcome.

How big is Bonnie?  What kind of pup?

My current Tripawd is a Pug mix named Elly who lost a back leg after being hit by a car when she was 7 months old.  I adopted her when she was 10 months old, she is now getting close to 7 years old. She was 2.5 months post amp when I got her so she was fully healed but not at all strong.  That may be what you are seeing with Bonnie.  One indicator I've used with both my rear amp Tripawds to gauge strength is how stable they are when they are standing, and how long they can stand.  My first Tri, a Pug named Maggie, would wobble when she tried to stand right after surgery, and then just sit down.  It took several months for her to gain enough strength to be able to stand for any length of time without wobbling.  Back then I didn't know anything about rehabbing a Tripawd so I just let Mag do what she wanted and what she could.  Elly didn't really wobble but she didn't spend much time standing- she would sit or lay down to play.  

As soon as I got Elly home I started working on her core strength and balance.  We still work every day in some way through trick or obedience training, food games and puzzles as well as balance and core exercises.  Games and puzzles are a great way to burn energy, challenge the mind, and work on core and balance. We do go on walks but I try to limit time on hard surfaces, I like taking her to parks or open spaces.  We also use a stroller so I can get my 2 or 3 mile walk in and Elly can come with me and ride part of the way.

We also live in a split level house.  One level is tile, one level tile and carpet, and the third level is waterproof vinyl.  I have throw rugs where I can but I live with my elderly father who tends to trip over them.  The stairs all have carpet treds. Elly navigates all the surfaces just fine, she has learned to go slower on hard surfaces. 

I would encourage you to have Bonnie evaluated by a rehab type vet or clinic.  It sounds like she has more of her back leg left than most rear amp Tripawds which might be throwing her gait off or making her think she can use the partial leg.  My first rear amp Tripawd had her leg removed mid-femur although the 'stump' was wrapped in muscle and really could not be seen.  Elly's entire femur was removed.

For some ideas on food games here is a video I made showing some games we play.

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

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18 October 2021 - 12:20 pm
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Thank you so much for responding, Karen. Your pug looks so strong in the video, it’s encouraging to see! 

Bonnie is a mix of German shepherd, husky (or malamut), and something small since she’s only ~40 pounds. She is a picky eater, which I find surprising for a stray, so I’m trying different treats/food to find a few that she will work for. 

We have an appointment at an AAHA vet hospital next Monday for evaluation and rehab consult. But 10 sessions of rehab (which is a lower rate than therapy per session) will cost $1,000. Is that the going rate?? That’s not really affordable. How useful would it be if she doesn’t know her name or any basic commands (come, sit, down, stay)?

Staci

Virginia




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18 October 2021 - 3:54 pm
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Aell hello Bonnoe, and Sracy too!

Au h great input from Karen (as always).  Realky liked her observation about  one's gait bei0ng thrown off if there is a lot of "stump" left.

Absolutely  understandable  about finances  (or lack of) being a huge hurdle  for ,any of us.  Yet another good thing about this amazing site is we have lots of video and I formation about dogs going thru some of the Rehab sessions. 

Sure, it would be great to do multiple  sessions, but you will find that one consult will give you a wealth  of information.   Explain  that at this point  one session is all you can do.  Ask that they take you thru some of the therapies yoi can do at home.  Be sure2 and take something  you can video the session with.  A lot of sessions s are about stretching. properly holding the leg when doing that, sit and stand repetitions  with proper form, ways to build their core strength, etc.

No worries about what "training" Bon ie has at this point.  The Rehab person should be able to deal with that just fine.  You can even learn how they master havi0ng the dog sit and stand.

And PLEASE I ow that not every dog os right for every home and not every home os right for every dog.  Yoi are to be commended  for recognizing  that.  It is so caring of you to try and make this work.  It IS overwhelming  and ao much of what you are trying to digest is unchar territory  for you.....for any new tripawd owner.  And on top pf that, you and Bonnie are both still adapting  to setting up a routine that works for both of you.  There's a great piece that describes how long it takes a new rescue/stray to realize they fit k to a family and jave a furever home.  I'll see of I can find it.

Keep things chunked down, okay?  Don't  try and make everything "perfect" all at once.  Patience is a beautiful  thing....we hoomans just aren't  very good at it!

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!

The Rainbow Bridge



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18 October 2021 - 8:36 pm
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Staci I'm so glad you started a new topic about Bonnie! I'll try to address your comments and questions:

I didn't know Pet Insurance will accept a dog with a known issue such as an already amputated limb. 

Of course they will. But what they cover will vary depending on IF it can be traced back to the fact that she's an amputee. For instance, our Wyatt's osteoarthritis issues were not covered because the company said it was exacerbated by him being on three legs. This is technically true, if annoying to us. But pet insurance is still worth it because other expensive things do come up. Please check out our last podcast about pet insurance to learn more about choosing a plan and how to know what's covered.

Given the vast sea of hardwood, I'm thinking boots might be the first option to try?

Honestly, using boots indoors for long term use is not the best idea. They're great for traveling, and outside on ice etc. But most people aren't good enough to put them on their dog every day, and many dogs won't tolerate them very well. Dogs feet also don't breathe in them and this can lead to bacteria growth. Instead, you can place no-slip runners on her favorite paths throughout the house. Treads on the stairs. Keep paw fur trimmed short. All these things add up to help her with mobility.

I hope you find the e-books helpful and I'm so glad you found an AAHA clinic. The cost for the rehab therapy (I assume you got the bundled package a lot of practices offer) is spot on and a good deal for that many sessions. Generally a visit ranges from $200 for the first consult to around $125 for follow ups depending on where you live. If you cannot afford that many visits that's fine, you'll still get the benefit of establishing a relationship with a therapist with even a few visits. This is so helpful because in the future you have someone who knows Bonnie's history and can help you if things go wonky on her. 

How useful would it be if she doesn’t know her name or any basic commands (come, sit, down, stay)?

They are two totally separate things you are looking at. IMO, when money is tight (as in when isn't it right?!) you can do the training on your own with her from videos and books. You can't do that with therapy. The therapist is worth the investment, whatever you can afford. Let them know that you have financial constraints, and you'd like to do as much as you can with her at home. A good therapist will work with you to make that happen, so that you can spread out the visits over time.

 I've read the recommendation to limit walks to 20-30 minutes, and am wondering what else we can do.

Our e-books and the Tripawds Gear blog have tons of ideas! And that amount of time walking is for a Tripawd in really good shape. Right now until she's evaluated by a therapist, keep those walks to 5-10 minutes, a few times a day, tops.

Is there a summary of what Tripawds need after surgery, say 2 months out, then 4/6/8 months out, etc., so we can evaluate how we can meet her needs?

That's what the therapist will tell you. Every dog is so different it would be impossible to have this kind of guideline. That's why we feel so strongly about therapy that we pay for the first rehab visit . It's just that important because each dog has different needs.

We are so glad you found us! I hope this helps you feel less overwhelmed. You can do this! You ask great questions, she is so lucky to have you for a mom.

We can't wait to see her. Here's how adding images works, we'd love to see photos:

  • Upload pics to a photo sharing site like imgur.com or your own Tripawds blog (https://tripawd...../supporter). Pictures and video have to be hosted (live) somewhere other than in the forums.
  • Once the photo is uploaded somewhere, right click and copy the Image URL or just copy the image if you’re on a phone
  • Return to your Tripawds Forum post and paste the image URL (or the image itself) in your post. It should automatically appear. 

If you’d like help figuring out the process let me know.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Forum Posts: 16
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19 October 2021 - 9:46 am
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benny55 said
Aell hello Bonnoe, and Sracy too!

Au h great input from Karen (as always).  Realky liked her observation about  one's gait bei0ng thrown off if there is a lot of "stump" left.

Absolutely  understandable  about finances  (or lack of) being a huge hurdle  for ,any of us.  Yet another good thing about this amazing site is we have lots of video and I formation about dogs going thru some of the Rehab sessions. 

Sure, it would be great to do multiple  sessions, but you will find that one consult will give you a wealth  of information.   Explain  that at this point  one session is all you can do.  Ask that they take you thru some of the therapies yoi can do at home.  Be sure2 and take something  you can video the session with.  A lot of sessions s are about stretching. properly holding the leg when doing that, sit and stand repetitions  with proper form, ways to build their core strength, etc.

No worries about what "training" Bon ie has at this point.  The Rehab person should be able to deal with that just fine.  You can even learn how they master havi0ng the dog sit and stand.

And PLEASE I ow that not every dog os right for every home and not every home os right for every dog.  Yoi are to be commended  for recognizing  that.  It is so caring of you to try and make this work.  It IS overwhelming  and ao much of what you are trying to digest is unchar territory  for you.....for any new tripawd owner.  And on top pf that, you and Bonnie are both still adapting  to setting up a routine that works for both of you.  There's a great piece that describes how long it takes a new rescue/stray to realize they fit k to a family and jave a furever home.  I'll see of I can find it.

Keep things chunked down, okay?  Don't  try and make everything "perfect" all at once.  Patience is a beautiful  thing....we hoomans just aren't  very good at it!

Hugs

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

  

Thank you for responding, Sally. I really appreciate the comment about trying to make everything perfect all at once... I also feel responsible for alleviating all my imagined suffering on her part! She's not as stressed as I am, LOL! She is quite an energetic dog, and I can only do what I can do. Yes, Bonnie has a lot of her leg remaining after the amputation so she keeps trying to rest her weight on what's left. I will try to upload photos once I figure that out. Thank you again!

Staci

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21 October 2021 - 1:55 pm
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So I had an interesting conversation with a member of Forever Changed Adoption & Rescue, the organization that rescued my Bonnie. She said that when found, Bonnie's left rear lower leg was shriveled, possibly from a birth defect or much earlier disease or disorder, but their understanding was that she hadn't used that leg in a long long time, if ever... and she's approximately 5 years old. So they didn't think any special rehabilitation was necessary. Sometimes she walks/hops quite well and quickly, when she wants to "make time" but other times she walks very slowly and drags her good right leg. Its' very strange to me and I'm going to videotape it because it's the best way to understand what I mean. I'm very much looking forward to our vet appointment on Monday. In the meantime, I've figured out how to upload pix to an old Flickr account, but they don't seem to link here successfully. Just a box with question mark... Bonnie is a sweet, lovely dog.

Staci

Happy girlImage Enlarger

The Rainbow Bridge



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21 October 2021 - 7:11 pm
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You did it, the picture is showing! Bonnie is BEAUTIFUL! I'm such a sucker for pointy ears. What a happy smile, no wonder you fell in love with her. 

I'm sure your vet will have some insight on what to do next and why exactly she is dragging the leg. It's a shame the rescue folks didn't see her mobility signals as a problem that needed further investigation. After all, when we drag a leg and don't use it (or an arm, or any other body part), it's usually because we are in pain. 

Grr. At least now she is in the best hands possible with you!

Keep us posted!

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

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