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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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Has anyone experienced an ACL tear?
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Forum Posts: 1
Member Since:
26 March 2015
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23 April 2015 - 11:28 pm
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 Hi, my name is Nicole and my dog Tex just got diagnosed with a rear right cruciate tear.  He lost his front left leg to osteosarcoma 15  months ago.  He did 4 rounds of carbo and has been on metronomics
 ever since.  We have a surgical consult tomorrow with surgery tentatively scheduled for Monday.  Have any of you guys gone through this? How bad is the recovery? How long is the recovery?  Any issues that I should be aware of?  It is so scary making these decisions for him.  He is such a sweet boy and we just want to make sure we are doing everything we can for him.  He had a rough time with the fentanly after the amputation surgery and he can't take nasids.  He was walking 4 hours after the amputation though, that amazed us.  It was just the drugs he had a rough time with.  He is also kind of a big dog, 70lb lab/pit/mutt.  And he is 11 1/2 years old.  We are in the sf bay area if anyone has any recommendations.
Thank you so much.

Take care,
The Rainbow Bridge

Forum Posts: 28040
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25 April 2007
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24 April 2015 - 5:15 am
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Hi Nicole, welcome. I’m sorry to hear about Tex, that’s a scary place to be in and a Tripawd pawrent’s worst fears.

You’re in a great location for vet care, which clinic are you going to? We have lots of Bay Area members and even have a Tripawd Party in Mill Valley coming up in May, watch the Forums for details.

There have been many dogs here who made a full recovery after having a surgery like this on a remaining limb, see:






I’m assuming your consult is with a board certified ortho surgeon? If so I would ask if this might be managed with non-surgical means like rehab, and who they would work with if so. See:


If it’s not with an ortho surgeon I would want my second opinion to be with one. Or even a second from another certified ortho surgeon.

I would also want to know if there is any chance this could be the osteo metastasizing to the spine, hip or other leg bone, and what you can do to make sure that’s not what it is. I believe only a MRI will tell you but I’d want to know. It’s rare but we’ve seen it here. I hate to even think that way but I’m guessing you’ve considered it. Hopefully it’s been ruled out.

Anyways, I hope you come back with a good report and he won’t need surgery. Keep us posted OK? Your future posts won’t need approval.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Martinsburg, WV
Forum Posts: 923
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24 April 2015 - 6:41 am
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Hi Nicole and Tex!!!  Welcome to the community!

I have to run at the moment but I wanted to let you know that I’ll be back to post about my experience with this type of surgery.  My first boy, Lucky, had both knees operated on (at different times of course).  He was a dobie/rott mix and around 60-65lbs if I remember right.  He had the TPLO done first (he was 5yrs old) and then the older suture procedure (around 9 yrs old) second.  My Leland had a TPLO done but he came down with an infection (along with other issues) that led to his leg needing to be amputated.

I’ll give you more detail about the recovery period when I get back.

Sahana and her Angel Leland


November 17, 2009 - June 30, 2014

May you finally be healthy and running free at the Rainbow Bridge. Until we meet again my sweet boy!

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24 April 2015 - 8:02 am
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There is also Daisy’s story. http://tripawds…..e-surgery/

Murphy is a five year old Lab/Chessie cross. He was hit by a car on 10/29/12 and became a Tripawd on 11/24/12. On 2/5/13, he had a total hip replacement on his remaining back leg. He has absolutely no idea that he has only three legs!

UPDATE: Murphy lived his life to the fullest, right up until an aggressive bone lesion took him across the Rainbow Bridge on April 9, 2015 and he gained his membership in the April Angels. Run free, my love. You deserve it!

Martinsburg, WV
Forum Posts: 923
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24 April 2015 - 9:17 am
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First, I want to say that Tex should be seen by an orthopedic surgeon who is familiar with the various procedures used to correct ligament issues within the knee.  Has the vet/surgeon spoke with you about the particular procedure they are looking at for Tex?  I believe the most common used is the TPLO and suture procedure.  There’s also the TTA procedure and the newer Tight Rope procedure.  Both the TPLO and TTA require cutting of the bone and repositioning.  These procedures use metal plates and screws to act as the knee so there is no longer a need for the ligament.  The older suture procedure (fishing line procedure as it was explained to me) is where holes are drilled in the bone and the line attached to act as the ligament.  This procedure is used more for smaller dogs.  The newer Tight Rope procedure follows the same principle as the suture but the material used is stronger so it’s able to be used with larger dogs. 

For our Lucky his first procedure was the TPLO.  The recovery period I want to say was around 12 weeks.  During this time activity needs to be restricted with leash walking.  While Lucky was on leash we also had to help him with bed sheet or belly sling to keep him from putting his full weight on the repaired knee.  It took a bit but we got it figured out on holding the leash and sling at the same time.  Because there’s cutting of the bone you have to take special care that they don’t fall or injure that leg till the bone has healed.  That’s why the recovery period is pretty long.  If there’s stairs in your home you’ll have to help Tex with the sling for a while.  We had placed our mattress on the floor because Lucky slept with us and we couldn’t have him jumping up and off the bed till he was completely healed.  From what I understand with this procedure the dog will feel immediate relief with not having the pain in their knee and some may think they’re back to normal…that’s why their activity has to be strictly monitored.

We chose to do the suture procedure on Lucky’s other knee because he was older and not as active.  I don’t think the incision was quite as big as with the TPLO since there was no bone cutting.  I also want to say the recovery period may have been a little longer but it was many years ago so I’m not sure.  We still had to follow the restricted exercise and leash walking. 

After both procedures and recovery Lucky was back to being able to walk, run, and play in the yard without pain.  He had completely ruptured both knees and had no real use of the leg till they were fixed.  Lucky also wasn’t a Tripawd.

Now Leland went in for a TPLO to fix his knee.  He had some sort of mass in his knee that even after biopsy nobody can tell us what it was.  All they were able to determine was that it wasn’t cancer but extreme inflammation.  However, after a few days Leland got an infection in the leg and we took him back to the clinic.  X-rays were taken and it was found some screws were bent.  They went back in and found that the screws were not holding in the meniscus and he was battling this infection.  After being hospitalized for 4 days trying to combat the infection (with no success) the surgeon told us our options were either to amputate the leg or put Leland to sleep.  We chose to amputate to give him a chance…we weren’t ready to give up on him.

So that has been my experiences with ACL injuries and the procedures used to correct them.  The only real difference between Tex’s amputation and a procedure to fix his knee is the length of the recovery period.  With amputation once the staples/sutures are removed our fur kids can start getting back to normal activity.  With orthopedic procedures it takes time for the healing to occur on the inside so their activity level has to be restricted.  You still should be sent home with antibiotics and pain medication along with detailed instructions for care at home. 

I hope that helps in giving you some idea of what you and Tex will be looking at.

Please keep us posted on how Tex is doing.

Sahana and her Angel Leland



November 17, 2009 - June 30, 2014

May you finally be healthy and running free at the Rainbow Bridge. Until we meet again my sweet boy!

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