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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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Front leg amputation
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Member Since:
20 December 2012
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20 December 2012 - 9:40 am
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Hi, I'm new on the forum and was really hoping someone could please offer me advice & help, my lovely 6 year old lab had her front leg amputated 3 weeks ago due to cancerous tumours, she has been an inspiration on her 3 legs right from the beginning, no problem with balance as I've never been through this before (thank goodness) I'm desperate for some advice.  I've started taking her for little walks down the drive and at first she was keen, but she now stops after a short distance and won't go any further, she will run in the garden chasing a ball etc.  but will just stand and not move. I wonder if anyone else has had this experience, I don't want to push her - please advice would be really appreciated.

Thank you

On The Road


Member Since:
24 September 2009
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20 December 2012 - 9:51 am
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Hi Clare, thanks for joining us. What type of cancer did your pup have?

Try not to worry. Three weeks is not a long time and she is probably just tired. Try to imagine how long it would take you to recuperate after a leg amputation and you'll see how much progress she really has made, it's just hard to really see it at first.

What rehab vets have told us is this; whenever a dog sits down on a walk or refuses to move, that's a sign that they have overdone physical activity. When that happens, you give the dog a rest for a few days, and start little by little all over again. So it sounds to me like some strict rest and no off-leash play is exactly what she needs right now.

Scroll through our videos and interviews with California Animal Rehab. Many of them talk about exercise and what to expect. You can also visit our Tripawds Gear blog for tips and idea like:

Best of Tripawds Gear and Fitness Tips for Three Legged Dogs

You mention that she is a lab: what is her weight? And is she overweight at all? Because if so, too many pounds can greatly affect a Tripawd's stamina. Did you know that one pound of fat on a dog is the equivalent of five on a human? If weight loss is something that needs to be explored, visit our Tripawds Nutrition blog for tips.

Others will share their own experiences here, in the meantime I hope this helps. Thanks again for joining, your future posts won't require approval. 

 

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene
tripawds.com | tripawds.org | bemoredog.net | triday.pet

concord,ca
Member Since:
18 October 2012
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20 December 2012 - 8:40 pm
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Hi Clare. The exact same thing happened to me when I took our dog out for a short walk.  She started off with so much spunk and then 5 minutes later she was sitting her butt on the ground.  She rested for about 5 minutes then got up and we went home.  I noticed that Cadence would also run around the house and not tire easily, so I was confused as to why when we went out of the house she tired so easily.  In my opinion, I think it takes time to build up there confidence.  Our dogs feel safe and secure in the house but when they are taken out of that environment, they feel vulnerable.  My dog would not go for a walk when it was dark out.  There was never any problem with that in the past.  She has gotten over that now and I think its because she has her confidence back.  Give it time and it will get better.  Keep us updated on her progress. 

“Dogs are our link to paradise. They don't know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring--it was peace.” ― Milan Kundera

Somewhere over the rainbow... probably swimming in a lake
Member Since:
18 August 2012
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20 December 2012 - 9:28 pm
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One of the things I did with Samdog (80lb golden, front am) after he started moving around was focusing on stretching and massaging his neck muscles - they were sooooo tight, it made me hurt just to feel how tight he was.  It made sense, imagine hopping around on one leg for two weeks and see if we discover new muscles we didn't even know we have!

I am blessed to have had a good friend who was experienced in horse massage and wanted to get better with dog massage.  I also sought out the help of a rehab vet.  I couldn't afford her, but she was willing to do a consultation with me for free and showed me the proper way to stretch out his shoulder.  She encouraged me to let him swim because it forced him to stretch out that front leg and pull it back towards his body, unlike the pogo stick swing he was developing. She also encouraged us to let him play tug, again it drops his weight and forced him to stretch his leg out in front of him.  He wasn't a big tugger to start with and felt really off balance, so that wasn't a natural game for him, but it might be for your lab, (if he is anything like the labs I have met).   The goal is to get her front foot out as far as you can get it and really stretch out her arm pit.

That said, I am not a vet.  It might be worth considering asking your vet if they know of a good rehab specialist.  I would bet you could at least get a consultation and see it for yourself.  She also recommended a video called "bodywork for dogs".  I bought it, but because I had my friend who loved to help, I admit to not investing the time I should have into learning more than I did.

Hope that helps.

Andy, Samdog's mom

Samdog was a 10 yr old Golden and retired SAR dog. We found a bone mass on 8/17/12, needle biopsy showed sarcoma 8/22/12, amputation on 8/23/12, post-amp biopsy confirmed osteosarcoma on 8/28/12. Sadly, we found lung mets on 11/27/12 and my Spirit Sam earned his wings on 12/2/12.

We didn't know where we were headed and we don't regret a single step along our path. It all happened too fast, but he left a legacy of love that we will always cherish. Good bye my heart.
You can find our story at http://samdog.t.....ipawds.com

Southwestern Ontario, Canada
Member Since:
22 November 2012
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9 January 2013 - 10:27 am
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Hi there.. 

My Franklin also had his front leg amputated due to osteosarcoma in his left knee.  How is your pup doing now?

They do get better as time goes on... they seem to get the tri-hop down pat!   My guy never stopped during his walks, although we have limited them to short ones as I find when he goes for too long, he tends to wobble with his front right leg.  So... short walks.. and lots of luvins.  He likes it!

Let us know how your puppers is doing!

Christine & Franklin

Franklin, he was the Happiest Dog on Three Legs! Diagnosed 09/26/2012 with Osteosarcoma, amputated 12/4/2012.  Had a wonderful 5 1/2 months painfree until he ran for the Bridge on 5/15/2013.  Always in my heart, and always a guardian angel of my pack...   You can follow his Tripawd Adventures, before and after, in my blog, Frank'n'Farter!

New Jersey
Member Since:
4 June 2011
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9 January 2013 - 5:56 pm
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My vet gave good advice...do what the dog wants to do. But I want to add to that...do what the dog wants to do halfway. Otherwise we get to his stopping point and then I either carry him home or have to call my house for someone to bring the car! This happened twice before I learned where his "halfway from home" is! :)

The Desert
Member Since:
29 May 2010
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14 January 2013 - 10:26 pm
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I have also been interested in finding some information on how to massage my old boy. He is a front-left amputee, and I have recently noticed he has developed a huge knot on his back left haunch/left of spine. I remember seeing a video around here a few years ago in how to stretch out the limbs and stuff, but I'm interested in technique in rubbing him down; as he is getting older and stiffer. Thanks in advance.

On The Road


Member Since:
24 September 2009
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14 January 2013 - 10:50 pm
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Search these forums and the blogs and you'll find lots of canine massage tips!

Jerry has a two-part series in the News blog : Relax and learn how to massage your Tripawd

There is also a Dog Massage Techniques Video Series in the Tripawds Downloads blog .

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene
tripawds.com | tripawds.org | bemoredog.net | triday.pet

The Desert
Member Since:
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15 January 2013 - 2:32 am
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Much appreciated, from both of us.

Member Since:
9 March 2010
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15 January 2013 - 2:34 pm
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I think I remember reading somewhere on here, that its much more difficult for dogs to go on a walk, than it is to just freely run and play - it requires not only physical stamina but concentration, too. It's much more exhausting than just letting them hop around at their own pace in the back yard, you know? Dante is also a front legger (Pitbull lab x) and he will go for days in the backyard (or house unfortunately!) but walks he tires pretty quickly still, and he's been a tripawd since he was only a few weeks old. It's not new to him and its really all he knows. It's just more tiring for them to focus on walking straight ahead and the leash, and all the outside stimulation, etc. I've also found trying to make him 'behave' on leash tires him much more quickly and is hard on him. We kind of have to keep to HIS pace, instead of expecting a slow walk from him. If he can hop quickly he lasts much longer. 

On The Road


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15 January 2013 - 3:03 pm
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munko said
I think I remember reading somewhere on here, that its much more difficult for dogs to go on a walk, than it is to just freely run and play - it requires not only physical stamina but concentration, too.

Good memory! Yes, it is absolutely harder. That's why rehab therapists even have a slow controlled leash walk exercise to help build stamina. Check out last week's Downloads Blog Post, Fun DIY Games, to see what I mean.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene
tripawds.com | tripawds.org | bemoredog.net | triday.pet

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