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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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TPLO, Meniscus removal or amputation?
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Forum Posts: 1
Member Since:
14 December 2016
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5 January 2017 - 11:03 pm
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Help? way-confused

We are totally over our heads and all we want is to do the right thing. My dog is 6yrs old, about 68lbs, and missing her front left paw due to injury before we met her. Obviously that throws her gate off alot, but she also has many health issues, Chronic acute pancreatitis, Uti’s due to a recessed vulva, IBD, an enlarged heart with a small blackage and lung scarring due to severe heartworms before we rescued her.

While she was at the vet in Mid December, She slipped and tore her ACL and meniscus in her left back knee, she also has a partial tear of her ACL in her right knee. We have been advised TPLO and told she had no quality of life if we didnt do it. We were also told she wont regain all of her previous usage of the leg back. Of course we dont have that money right away so we are trying so hard to get it together and a friend of ours just found out their dog may have cancer due to hardware in her leg and its making us rethink the TPLO, because of the side effects, and Lady doesnt react typically to most things and she doesnt have a great immune system. So we thought we would jsut remove the meniscus and try therapy but that speeds up the arthritis in the leg, and her muscles are beginning to atrophy some already. We have to carry her alot but when she does move, she seems to move better on two legs than 3, which leads us to question, should we amputate, rather than leave her with a leg that may not be fully functional and would have arthritis or possibly get cancer?

The Rainbow Bridge

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6 January 2017 - 8:36 am
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Hi folks, welcome. I’m so sorry you’re in this tough spot but we’ll do our best to help through it.

My first thought is: have you sought a second opinion? We see potential ACL (which is a “CCL” in dogs from what I understand) tears that some vets will say need surgery and others say they don’t require it because rehab therapy can make a difference. All situations are different but if your vet isn’t a board-certified orthopedic surgeon, that is where I would go next. If you’d like referrals to some just check out our “Veterinary Specialist Referrals” section and if you don’t see any there, let us know the area where you live and we’ll try to find you one.

It also sounds like you’ve tried some kind of therapy, but was that with a certified canine rehab therapist? If not, that’s where I would get a third opinion. A canine rehab therapist may have differing opinions from both an ortho vet and a general practice vet, but in this case it’s good to get many points of view so you can make a decision. Here’s an article about managing soft tissue injuries like this:

Treating Soft Tissue Injuries in Pets

I hope this helps. Stay tuned, others will chime in with their thoughts. 

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London, UK

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6 January 2017 - 9:12 am
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Ditto Jerry re the second opinion and exploring options for physio with a certified rehab vet. My quadpawd, Elsie, a nine-year-old Staffordshire bull terrier, was diagnosed with a ruptured cruciate a few months ago and I was told she would need surgery. I took her to a great orthopaedic surgeon (massively experienced, 80 years old and still practising…) fully expecting to hand her over for surgery and he said surgery was not in her interests. He said that he always imagines the letter we might write him after surgery, thanking him for his help and telling him all the things the dog could do that she hadn’t been able to do before and in our case he couldn’t think what we’d have to write. The cruciate was ruptured but the joint was stable because of the amount of arthritis and Elsie was perfectly happy. I am certain that another surgeon would have operated. The man I took my tripawd to would have been making Elsie a new knee if I’d given him half a chance. 

Now Cherie is of course a different dog in a different situation and what applies to Elsie may not apply to her but I tell you this just to emphasise the importance of getting a second opinion. Elsie sees a rehab vet and does regular physio at home too with exercises aimed at building muscle in her left rear leg (the one with the problems), building her core strength and also maintaining range of movement and flexibility. She takes Metacam, fish oil and Dasuquin and I’m also working at bringing her weight down, as the less she is carrying clearly the less impact on her joints.

There is no one way to treat a problem. There are a range of potential solutions each with different pros and cons. I don”t like the fact that you have been told that Cherie will have no quality of life if you don’t go for the TPLO. You may ultimately decide that this surgery is her best option. But its important that you have a chance to ask questions and explore the full range of options for Cherie at this stage. Nothing is ever cut and dry.

Sending all best wishes to you and your sweet girl.

Meg, Clare and Elsie Pie xxx

Meg, Mutt, aged around 12, adopted 31/12/2009. Sudden explosive right elbow fracture 06/12 (caused by IOHC), diagnosed with End Stage Arthritis 03/15, Total Elbow Replacement 08/15, problems with healing leading to skin graft & skin flap surgery, Chronic Infection leading to implant breakdown. Became a Tripawd 9th March 2016. 
Lives with Mum, Clare, watched over by Angel Pie and Angel Billie
My life as a MEG-A-STAR 

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