TRIPAWDS: Home to 23085 Members and 2157 Blogs.

Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

Tripawds is your home 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.


Join The Tripawds Community

Learn how to help three legged dogs and cats in the forums below. Browse and search as a guest or register for free and get full member benefits:

Instant post approval.

Private messages to members.

Subscribe to favorite topics.

Live Chat and much more!

Please consider registering
Forum Scope


Forum Options

Minimum search word length is 3 characters - maximum search word length is 84 characters
Register Lost password?
sp_Feed sp_PrintTopic sp_TopicIcon-c
Fluid swollen front wrist joint
sp_NewTopic Add Topic
Member Since:
18 August 2012
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
19 August 2012 - 11:01 am
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_EditHistory sp_QuotePost

Hi Folks,

I'm new here, having just found and registered on the website. If this post is in the wrong location, please let me know.

I have an 18 month old St. Bernard who is a tripod. His front elbow shattered one day jumping off the footstool when he was around 4-5 months old. There was apparently a staph infection that had damaged the joint during development. Our options were limited, as were our finances. The decision to amputate, supported by the surgeon(s), was quite an emotional blow to the family (my wife and I have a 7 and 8 year old) and severely strained our finances. Our dog Bear has done reasonably well since the surgury, recovering to be as active as a my wife tells me a St. Bernard should be.

Unfortunately, Bear has developed a fluid filled joint just above the remaining front paw. The joint I'm referring to is comparable to our wrist. The swelling, located on the front side of the joint, seemed as if it were beginning to recede but has once again expanded. Not having any experience with tripods, I'm not sure what is considered normal behavior. Bear isn't all that graceful, with those long legs and heavy torso, crashing onto his jaw quite regularly during the day. A walk can almost bring me to tears. He gets a lot of credit for having such a big heart but I can see even he gets somewhat depressed from the situation.

Getting back on track here, can anyone tell me about what I'm seeing in the joint? The canine anatomy charts I've looked at on the internet do a poor job of stating exactly what the joint is called. As I stated above, it is similar to a human wrist. His condition appears to be similar to the description I've read about called elbow hygroma, except on a different joint. The dog does seem to routinely help himself up using the joint, rather than the paw and will do the same after crashing when he walks. I've also noticed he sleeps with the joint fully bent, with the paw tucked up near his leg. I don't know if this is routine for a large dog.

I'd appreciate any help in identifying this and could use tips for treating it as well. I've considered the possibility he might need some sort of sock to compress the fluid as well as a splint to force him to keep the leg extended. I just don't know if either are good approaches to the problem or if there is available hardware on the market. Everything I've seen regarding elbow hygroma suggests to leave it alone unless it gets too big (???) and considerer having it drained by a vet. Believe me when I tell you, we can't afford a vet right now but I don't want to let Bear suffer for it. I'm concerned about deterioration in the joint from long term neglect.

This post is longer than intended. I guess it will have to do as a "Hello" to all the members as well.

Thanks in advance for any help.


On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
19 August 2012 - 11:10 am
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_EditHistory sp_QuotePost

Hi Greg, thanks for joining us here. Sounds like your pup has done a great job with recovery and being a Tripawd. I know the area on the leg you're talking about, but not being able to see the area you're concerned with I couldn't even guess what it is. Is he showing any signs of pain? I.e., decreased appetite, unwillingness to move around or do his usual activities. Have you tried icing the area? Limiting his activity for a few days to see if it goes away might help too. If he doesn't seem to be in any pain, this is probably what I would try before going to the vet. 

As for laying and sleeping with his wrists bent, I know that Shepherds do this all the time, as you can see with our Wyatt. He does this all on his own. 

Image Enlarger

I wish I could be of more help, but I'm sure others here will have some additional insight. Oh, and you might want to post a shorter version of your question in our "Ask a Vet" topic, our favorite vet Tazziedog will probably have some suggestions to narrow down the issue if she's not away on vacation right now.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

Member Since:
18 August 2012
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
19 August 2012 - 11:45 am
sp_Permalink sp_Print sp_QuotePost

Hi Jerry,

Thanks for the quick response. I was just working with my daughter, showing her pictures of Wyatt. She loves him already.

I hadn't thougth to include photos of Bear and his swollen joint. That's a great idea and I will do that later today. I have some work to get after so this can be considered a productive weekendaw-shucks.

I won't worry anymore about him sleeping with the paw tucked up. I'd thought that might be normal but couldn't remember from the dog I had as a young boy.

I will do as you suggest and post to vet section later. If the suggestion comes up I may try wrapping a coldpack on the joint. We'll have to see if Bear will tolerate it. It may be necessary to sentence him to the "cone of silence".big-grin

Again, thanks for the response. I'll post soon.


Forum Timezone: America/Denver
Most Users Ever Online: 946
Currently Online:
Guest(s) 249
Currently Browsing this Page:
1 Guest(s)
Member Stats:
Guest Posters: 1272
Members: 17840
Moderators: 6
Admins: 3
Forum Stats:
Groups: 4
Forums: 24
Topics: 18635
Posts: 257066
Administrators: admin, jerry, Tripawds
Tripawds is brought to you by Tripawds.