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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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what if you don't amputate
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Forum Posts: 2
Member Since:
12 August 2021
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12 August 2021 - 3:31 pm
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 I adopted a dog with an untreated hind leg fracture. The shelter did not have many details. I wanted to repair the leg and had consults with 4 vets, 2 general vets and 2 orthopedic vets. One vet said the leg could be repaired with plate and screws. One vet said he could repair it with pins and wires. Another said the fracture was too old and fragile and any repair would likely fail. All agreed that amputation was an option. 

Mariah holds up her fractured leg most of the time. Occasionally she puts it down for balance or to scratch herself. But she is mostly three legged. She gets along great, runs and jumps and plays. She has never appeared to be in any pain according to the shelter and the vets also agreed that she does not seem to be in pain.

I decided against the repair because most of the literature says it is risky surgery with a long rehab. We don't know how old the fracture is and there is a good chance that a plate or pins would migrate or the bones would not heal correctly. So amputation is the option. 

I haven't asked the vets yet but what happens if the leg is not amputated? Mariah does not seem bothered by it. She sometimes puts weight on it and does not appear to be in any distress. It's funny looking as it just dangles but other than that why would it need to be amputated? 

Appreciate any feedback. I never had this issue with a dog before.

The Rainbow Bridge



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12 August 2021 - 5:15 pm
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Hi Mariah and family, welcome! Your future posts won't need approval so post away.

Thank you for going the extra mile to help your girl live her best life! You ask great questions, you've done such great homeworke and talked to the ideal experts. YAY! But let me ask you this:

Did any of them happen to refer you to a veterinary rehabilitation therapist? A vet who also has rehab credentials can give you another opinion about what she is going through with that bad leg, and how it might affect her quality of life if you decide not to amputate. For some dogs, the leg becomes a problem and gets in the way as muscles deteriorate from disuse. For others, not at all. It really depends on the dog, breed type, age, activity. A rehab therapist who is also a DVM can be a great source to help determine if Mariah can live with it, or not. 

Also, did either of the ortho vets discuss the possibility of her being a candidate for a prosthetic? They're not right for every dog or parent, but when the stars align, prosthetics can make a huge difference in quality of life as a Tripawd. For the best chance at adaptation by the dog, a prosthetic needs to be researched and decided upon before surgery. If this sounds like something you're interested in, that would be something to pursue before deciding on amputation.

One last thing: keep in mind that surgeons do surgery because they want to "fix" things with their talents. It's great, and they can do amazing things, but sometimes we have other options that a specialist might not present or even consider. You have a great gut instinct that should be investigated further.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Forum Posts: 2
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18 August 2021 - 2:06 pm
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 Just a quick follow up. Vet says that amputation for damaged limb is not urgent and Mariah could continue as is. The problem long term is break down of bone which would be released into circulatory system, increased risk of infection, scar tissue that constricts the leg. We are going with amputation. Losing the limb will also significantly lighten the load on the remaining leg which will be a help in continued mobility. 

The Rainbow Bridge



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18 August 2021 - 4:13 pm
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Oh cool thanks for letting us know, that's good information and something I wasn't familiar with. Bone break down...who knew? Makes sense though. Did they mention any chance of her being a prosthetic candidate or does the whole leg have to go?

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