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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

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Find out in Be More Dog: Learning to Live in the Now by Tripawds founders Rene and Jim. Learn life lessons learned from their Chief Fun Officer Jerry G. Dawg! Get the book and find fun gifts in the Be More Dog Bookstore.

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Unusual gait for a tripawd?
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22 October 2021 - 11:58 am
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Bonnie will see a vet/surgeon this Monday for her first visit since we adopted her. She's ~5 years old, and the rescue organization said that her left rear lower leg (below the knee joint) was shriveled when she was picked up as a stray, and amputate shortly after. They said the leg may have been a birth deformity or disease that happened later, and they believe she hadn't used the leg correctly in a very long time and therefore didn't need rehabilitation. 

I'm wondering if her gait is unusual or even detrimental. It appears to me that she is trying to use the amputated leg for balance and support, especially when she's walking more slowly. She will lower her entire back end and drag her right foot in order to make some contact on the ground with her amputated leg. When she hops quickly, her gait changes, and appears more as I would expect. 

I'm going to try link 3 short videos to this post (on Flickr), and would appreciate anyone's input if they have time to watch them. I will add to this post after we see the vet on Monday. Thank you!

Video 1: using amputated leg for support walking

<a data-flickr-embed="true" href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/stacidaddona/51617082527/in/album-72157720058966271/" title="Amp_leg_walk"><img src="https://live.staticflickr.com/31337/51617082527_f16bc57225_z.jpg" width="640" height="360" alt="Amp_leg_walk"></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Video 2: dragging right leg

<a data-flickr-embed="true" href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/stacidaddona/51618150548/in/album-72157720058966271/" title="Dragging leg"><img src="https://live.staticflickr.com/31337/51618150548_2046e89d3b_z.jpg" width="640" height="360" alt="Dragging leg"></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Video 3: standing then hopping

<a data-flickr-embed="true" href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/stacidaddona/51618150053/in/album-72157720058966271/" title="Standing_and_hopping"><img src="https://live.staticflickr.com/31337/51618150053_e82cafd9c2_z.jpg" width="640" height="360" alt="Standing_and_hopping"></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Staci & Bonnie

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22 October 2021 - 12:50 pm
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Here you go Staci:

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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22 October 2021 - 12:58 pm
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Ohhh icon_cry

I'm not a vet, so take this FWIW. But based on what I've seen in my own Wyatt Ray as he grew older, and what I see with Bonnie, she is having mobility issues that need addressing ASAP. My guess is that it's a matter of core strengthening and stretching, things you can assist her in doing with the guidance of an experience rehab therapist.

Please keep her activity way, way down right now and consider another harness like the Webmaster Plus or Flagline that will enable you to aid her on potty walks.

I'm glad you have a vet appointment Monday. Rehab therapy will help her so much. It will take time, and patience, but she can get there!

 they believe she hadn't used the leg correctly in a very long time and therefore didn't need rehabilitation. 

smiley7 I wish there was a biting my tongue emoji. Grrr.

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22 October 2021 - 12:58 pm
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Thanks so much for fixing the video links, Jerry. How did you do that? I couldn't find any way in Flickr to share the video, even with the paid subscription.

Staci

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22 October 2021 - 1:00 pm
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I used the "Share" link for each video and pasted it into the post. 

YouTube is a lot friendlier for uploading video if you feel like starting a channel for her. 

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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22 October 2021 - 1:02 pm
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Thank you again for responding, Jerry. I dearly hope rehab can help her because she is just the sweetest thing on 3 legs! She deserves to be more comfortable, although she never complains which may be why the rescue thought she was ok. I'm wondering about a prosthetic, but am not sure she has enough bone remaining below her knee joint. I will keep you posted. I haven't seen many posts in the forums about dogs in a similar condition. If you know of any offhand, please let me know. <3

Staci

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22 October 2021 - 1:08 pm
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jerry said
I used the "Share" link for each video and pasted it into the post. 

YouTube is a lot friendlier for uploading video if you feel like starting a channel for her. 

  

Got it... the short link with the FB, etc. I wasn't sure which of all those share options was best. If I document rehab, I'll try YouTube. Thank you, Jerry!

Staci

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22 October 2021 - 7:11 pm
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One step at a time, you're getting it!

Rehab can certainly help and it can't hurt when done by a credentialed professional. They can also assess her for prosthetics . We've seen miraculous things happen with rehab. Stay pawsitive, you're doing everything right to help her get there.

You are very welcome!

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22 October 2021 - 8:57 pm
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You did a great job of doing a video journal of her gait.  As you noted, the third one, the one where her pace was faster,  is a much more "normal" representation of what the gait should look like,  In that video, she doesn't  seem to ise her "stump" at all, but rather functioning as a true three-legged tripawd,   And yes, tripawds do need a faster pace for balance, distribution  of weight, etc

As Jerry noted, buildimg her core tummy muscles,  strengthening her back leg through rehab therapies.

Bonnie is soooo lucky to have such a loving and dev furever home♥️. She is such a pretty girl.  Really enjoyed seeing her in the videos. 

Hugs

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

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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23 October 2021 - 3:30 pm
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Thanks for mentioning about her faster pace, Sally. I neglected to comment on that and I just want to say x2, she carried herself more "normal" for a Tripawd in that one.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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23 October 2021 - 10:08 pm
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My tripawd couldn't walk slowly (she lost her leg when she was under a year) it was just too hard on her.  Even when she was very young. I had to let her go at a trot to get momentum, or a full sprint if she was chasing squirrels or a ball or fresbie. She was missing a front leg.  She would run/trot then sit or stand still until I caught up and then heat out again. There was another dog who visited the same park we did and her owner also let her go at her own pace off leash.  One time (and only one time) I saw the owner walking her dog down the side walk on leash.  It was painful to watch because the dog was having to hop slowly down the road.  I asked her way she was walking her on the sidewalk on a leash and she said she wanted her dog to know how to walk on a leash in case anything happened to her (she is an older woman probably approaching 80) and the dog needed to be taken care of by someone else.  Point is I believe 3 legged dogs struggle to walk slowly.  I came to this conclusion and gave up trying to keep my dog walking slowly by me on leash. I let her go at her own pace (not like she could get that far from me being 3-legged).

Your dog seems to choose to drag her leg and use it for some support rather than take slow hops.  My guess is because she has a bit of a stub that allows this.  The video where she hit a trot looks great.  If you have a back yard take her out there to play fetch for exercise or find a dog park or a big park where you can drop the leash.  Or perhaps use a a retractable leash to let her go fast then sit or stand to wait for you to catch up.  She doesn't look like she is in pain but I have to agree with Jerry it doesn't look healthy.

Given she has a relatively long stub finding someone who can fit her with a prosthetic is an awesome idea and would likely save her a lot of arthritic pain if you can get that set up before she is too old(start with a strap on not a surgical implant, 3D printing technology is giving great options on these).  That would probably be the best route you could take for her long term comfort.  Swimming is also a great strength building exercise.  

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24 October 2021 - 1:51 pm
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otter said
My tripawd couldn't walk slowly (she lost her leg when she was under a year) it was just too hard on her.  Even when she was very young.

Thank you so much for chiming in! 

Staci, you've gotta check out Nyaya's story:

How to Raise a Tripawd Puppy: Nyaya’s Story

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26 October 2021 - 2:08 pm
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Thank you Jerry, otter, and benny55 for responding, I appreciate it more than words can say. (I don't know how to tag you in my reply to be sure you see this update...)

Bonnie saw an AAHA accredited vet and rehab specialist yesterday. They were dismayed to see that her entire leg had not been amputated. The rehab specialist said that Bonnie believes the leg is still there, and that's why she's trying to use it. She said that rehab therapy wouldn't be successful because she won't be able to override Bonnie's brain to convince her the leg is not there and that she (Bonnie) needs to learn to walk another way. They also believe that touching down on that stump is at least uncomfortable if not painful because there is no tissue, cartilage or "cushion" between the cut edge of the bone and her skin. They are sending her X-rays to Derrick Campana in Virginia for his opinion on a prosthetic but the vet didn't believe Bonnie has enough of her lower leg bone to make a prosthetic viable. I am waiting to hear.

So their recommendation was to "finish the job" that was poorly done and amputate her leg. The estimate for the surgery is ~$3,000. Is that the typical cost? This cost will be in addition to the vet bill yesterday, the cost of adopting her, and purchasing area rugs for my home (it's all hard wood). Bonnie is the sweetest pup and I have bonded to her, and she to me, but our family has an excruciating decision to make. I'm angry that the rescue organization was so poorly informed about her medical history and needs going forward, or they weren't honest in disclosing them. 

Of course I feel that no one could love her as much as I do, but perhaps they could better provide what she needs going forward. How likely is a 5-year-old tripawd rescue dog going to find a forever home, knowing her immediate needs? I guess no one can answer that... icon_cry

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26 October 2021 - 3:01 pm
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Wow!   I dont even know what to say.  Hopefully Jerry will have some insight  as to whether she's seen this situation  before.  OR, whether another evaluation from another Rehab Specialist  OR an Orthopedic Surgeon would garner different solutions.  

Just so sorry this is happening.   You have a huge heart and clearly have invested mo ies as well as love tryi g to make her life so much better.  And do know this.you have made it better!!! 

Try and keep things chunked down for now and not leap ahead.  .there may be other solutions....maybe something  less invasive....not sure what that would be.  Just seems like there have to be other solutions as there are indeed, times when stumps like that are left.  Not second guessing the Rehab,, but maybe something  like a aling to tie the leg up for awhile as she goes thru Rehab ro build up her core strength, work on balance, etc

Let's see what Jerry and others have to add and we'll go from there, okay??  Hang in there.  You are a very, very special kind Soul.

Just to reassure you, some of "us" actually think four legged dogs look weird  and adopt three legged dogs on purpose!  My Happy Hannah became  a tripawd from osteo, then I adopted my tripawd named  Frankie, and just adopted another tripawd (with a lot of issues) a couple of weeks ago.  I think when in a shelter environment,   not  all the 'issues" are always clear when it comes to proper tripawd gait and recovery requirements as most of their time is spend in a kennel with a small run.  

((((((((Hugs)))))))))

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

PS.  IF.....IF....,further surgery is the best path, perhaps the rescue  can get that performed  at no cost.  

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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26 October 2021 - 3:21 pm
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Ohhhhh my dog I'm sorry for that news! UGH! This is not what anyone wants to hear after adopting a dog. How frustrating and sad for everyone.

OK first things first:

It's GREAT they are working with Bionic Pets. They are a terrific group who is constantly coming up with innovative prosthetics for animals. They may have something they are working on that might be perfect. I don't know, but they are always looking for ways to help amputee animals. So, keep your fingers crossed that they might be able to help you avoid an amputation correction.

Speaking of, this new member just joined us, whose dog was also left with pretty significant residual limb. See:

https://tripawd.....oulder-in/

Oddly enough I just referred that new member to this article:

Partial vs. Full Leg Amputation for Dogs and Cats, What’s Better?

So, let's see what Derrek says. My next step would be to approach the rescue with Bonnie's latest medical record / treatment recommendation, and ask for their help covering this cost.

No, it's not cheap, but I've seen amputations go as high as $6,000 in some urban areas so relatively speaking it's a good price.

If you are willing to drive to Richmond, Virginia, Helping Hands Vet is a top-notch practice that can do amputations for around $1k without cutting corners. We trust them wholeheartedly, and have met their founder a few times. Great people and worth the drive if the cost is going to mean a choice between surrendering Bonnie to a rescue or keeping her.

Our ASAP program is worth looking into to see if you qualify to get $500 of the cost reimbursed.

Something else to think about: if you are able to get an orthopedic surgeon's opinion about the case, that would be helpful when speaking with the rescue. I know it's an extra cost to meet with one, but if the clinic can refer you to a colleague if they don't have one in-house, maybe they can work out a discount on the consult fee. It can't hurt to ask.

I wish I had more helpful answers for you, but this is what I can think of at the moment.

The good news is that you have a bit of time to think about next steps. You're not dealing with cancer, Bonnie isn't in excruciating pain, you found a great practice, and you have us to lean on. Take a deep breath, and know you CAN get through this and keep Bonnie with you. 

Hang in there and keep us posted!

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