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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I have a four year old black lab mix I rescued at 5 months name Harley, who ended up needing his front left leg amputated from trauma. Last year at the dog park a man approached me asking if I had ever thought about a prosthetic for my dog. I looked at him like he was insane because my pup could run around the entire lake with me and swam faster then some dogs with four legs. This last year has been a little rough for him and I though. Harley goes everywhere with me. He is NOT a stay at home dog. I do enjoy the outdoors, biking, hiking, walking. Now Harley can go about 5-6 blocks and lays down. We have to take so many breaks that I almost feel bad dragging him along with me. I even went to the extent of buying a child buggy that attaches to my bike so he can go on rides with me. He is only FOUR and I am not ready to leave him home all summer while I go hiking and camping and enjoy the outdoors. I contacted a guy who makes prosthetics in town and we have a consultation Thursday to see if it is even a possibility for Harley to have one. He said he has done many dog and dog prosthetics , even a goat, pig and DUCK. He also said it could very well take some pressure off of that front leg and ad years of mobility onto his life. I would pay whatever it costs to get that. money is not a question for me. But I am wondering what other people's opinions are. As I read everyone's posts I see most everyone elses dogs seem to be getting around great...
Thanks for reading friends!
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I'm not very familiar with prosthesis- is Harley's whole leg gone or does he have a stump? How will the prosthetic attach?
I'm curious if the prosthetic actually help his stamina or make it less stressful on his body to get around. Please let us know how the consult goes- I'm not sure we have any active members who's pups use a prosthetic.
Welcome! Search these forums and the blogs and you'll find plenty of discussion about prosthetics for dogs. You will also find that they usually only work in very rare cases, and that the vast majority of dogs recover quickly and adapt well to life on three legs without them.
We also address the subject in both Tripawds e-books.
6 March 2013
One question I would ask before investigating prosthetics is WHY this is happening now, when he is a young, healthy dog who has lived with only three legs for most of his life. (Unless I'm misunderstanding your timeline...I am interpreting it as he had the amp done when he was young, and is now four, and it only recently is troubling him...)
To go from being able to run around the lake or swim aptly and easily and now not being able to go more than four or five blocks seems like it has some other underlying cause... is he healthy? Could he have some other overuse injury? Can he benefit from focused PT and strength training?
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16 May 2009
I'm glad to see this thread, because people occasionally ask me why I don't get Sid an artificial leg. I tell them it's not really possible for him and they don't believe me - usually because they've 'seen it on TV'.
It's my understanding that a dog which has been without a leg for some years will find it difficult to adapt to an artificial leg and that it's still really only practical to try if he has at least one functioning joint below the hip or shoulder. Time will perhaps change that - and I may already be out of date, but clearly it's not possible to educate our dogs on how best to adapt to an artificial limb, so clearly it has to be made as easy as possible for them.
I can see how an artificial foot would work, and maybe how a hock plus foot would work, but it seems to me that anything more is asking for trouble in terms of potential accidents, and even injuries caused by the prosthetic. Not that I'm a vet or any kind of expert.
Sid is not getting around great at the moment. It may be that this is the beginning of worse to come for him, or maybe he'll recover and have a few more years of getting around relatively easily. I'm thinking about finding him a cart though, in the near future, and maybe that would be a better solution for you, too.
You guys have really helped me with your comments. He is in good shape. Not over weight. and when I say he used to run around the lake with me that was when he was one. Now that he is four, this last year he just seems to be getting a lot slower. I guess my main question is, is this normal for a 3 legged pup at four? should I be doing some kind of training with him to try and strengthen that front leg. After doing lots of research I am thinking more and more that a prosthetic might not be the best answer. I don't even think it would work since his "stub" is so small... about 3 inches. I'm just bring a concerned mommy because he used to be able to go such a long distance. Thanks for all your input everyone.
I looked into getting Bert a prosthetic when he still had most of his leg. I never personally went to a specialist or anything, we opted for amputation instead. My understanding from the general practice vets that I talked to, and from my own research, is that prosthetics are more successful when there are more joints intact (for example in human terms: legs- hip, knee, ankle; arm- shoulder, elbow, wrist). People who are dealing with deformities and think that a prosthetic would be the best choice usually plan ahead and have the least amount of limb taken off. This is not always practical or possible when an injury occurs. Depending on the situation, a surgeon usually opts to amputate at the hip or shoulder, or mid femur or humerus (Mid humerus sounds like what they chose for Harley). The point is to take as much of the limb as possible to prevent future complications (the opposite goal for someone who is planning to try prosthetics ). This leaves no joints, or just one joint left. This makes it extremely difficult to not only fit the prosthetic, but also have the pet learn how to use it. It really depends on how much you are going to spend. I personally would not spend hundreds of dollars for something that had a such a small chance of improving my pet's quality of life. Please don't take this as me trying to discourage you, I am just telling you what I know.
Also, as mmrocker13 said, I would investigate what is going on with Harley's health. If he hasn't had a vet visit since he has slowed down, I would start there. Also, how is Harley's weight? If he is overweight even by a little bit, it could be causing a lot of stress on his body. If not, there are definitely plenty of other things that could be going on. Your money may be better spent on PT than a prosthetic. He may also need to start some joint supplements. Let us know how everything goes! Good luck!
Sorry to hear that Harley is having mobility issues, but I have to agree with everyone else, it sounds like there's an underlying caused that should be addressed before looking into a prosthetic. Unfortunately all Tripawds will experience some form of joint stress and arthritis but there are many things you can do to reduce mobility problems with Harley. As he ages doing so is even more critical.
Be sure to look into our posts about finding qualified canine rehab facilities for information about getting him some rehab help. You will be AMAZED at what a difference some good rehab care can make in a Tripawd's life.
One thing to consider about prosthetics for dogs is, we always run into heartwarming news stories that show a dog with a new prosthetic limb, but we never hear follow-up stories about how the dog actually did with the prosthesis. I often wonder how many of these dogs actually adapted to the limb and how many are sitting in a closet. Based on what prosthetician Meg describes in "Pardon My Faux Paw" the chances are pretty great that the limb is gathering dust. Hmmmm...
Good luck, and thanks for joining. Keep us posted OK?
22 February 2013
Hi Harley and Rebecca! What a wonderful buddy you have in Mr. Harley!
Sorry to hear about the decrease in energy. Like the others have said and as o are probably already doing, K would suggest getting a physical just to rule out any health challenges causindg the fatigue. As also mentioned , he could definitely be experiencing some joint and muscle issues and maybe a little "advanced aging" due to the added wear and tear a tripawd endures over time.
How old was he when he had thet actual amp?
Regardless, Harley is your buddy and he will be happy just being g with you even if it does mean taking things at a slower pace for awhile. I'm sure he wants to keep up with our, but for now for whatever reason , it's tiring him out. I'm sure snuggling with him on the bed and feeding him treats will suit him just fine:-)
Harley became a mighty lucky boy the day you adopted him.....or....he adopted you:-)
Please stay connected here and .et us know ow things are going,
Sally and Happy Hannah
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!
26 February 2013
Once you get a handle on WHY he seems to be slowing down, maybe you could consider a wheelchair for him? For places you go that the ground is relatively even, it could give him a lot of forward mobility without expending a lot of weight-bearing energy.
Still curious about the consult with the prosthetic doc though!