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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

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help- almost 4 weeks post amputation-remaining back leg weak and buckling
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Member Since:
10 July 2010
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14 January 2011 - 6:10 pm
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Hi.  I may be the only other person on this board whose dog is currently using the Help em Up Harness, which is the one Fortis wore.  Although my Boomie is "only" a Lab, and considerably smaller than Fortis or Patou, he is also a right-rear amputee.  There really are not a lot of harness choices out there that address the issue of weakness in the rear.  I chose the Help em Up because it looked to be well made and especially because it provides support for Boomie's left-rear, which continues to be significantly impaired due to arthritis and hip dysplasia. 

While I did not experience any of the problems Brett had with the harness literally coming apart at the seams, I will say that overall, communication with the owner of the business was spotty and unreliable, as is their website, which needs to be updated and displays a harness design that I don't think they make any more.  I persisted with them because I still thought their harness would be the best for my dog, and in fact I have been very satisfied with the harness itself.   You can see pictures of Boomie in his harness here. 

I hope you find a "just right" solution to help with Patou's mobility.



Cindy and Boomie

Boomie's leg was amputated due to osteosarcoma on May 15, 2008.  He enjoyed over two and a half years of life after that, one day at a time.  He died on Feb. 21, 2011.

western Washington
Member Since:
7 June 2010
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14 January 2011 - 10:55 pm
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Get him off the tramadol. They are soon to change the classification of this drug. It is harder to kick than heroin...horrible withdrawl symtoms an online search for humans that are trying to kick it.

Also, is he taking prednosone???

If so, get him off of it.

Our Kona tweaked her remaining back leg and they put her back on tramadol and prednosone (the pred causes a lot of thirst/drinking too!) and in a week and a half, it stole her muscles and she ended up losing all ability to walk. Permanently.

Duramaxx worked well before that and it doesn't have nasty side effects. And, if he's just tweaked it, let me tell you, that worked wonders before our docs decided to change her meds.


 Sorry to rant, but I don't want anyone else to go through what we did.



Kona turned 9yrs on April 16, 2010.
Kona was diagnosed Memorial Weekend 2010 with osteosarcoma.
Right rear leg amputated on June 4th. First chemo June 18th 2010
Second chemo July 9th, 2010      Third and final (yea !!!) chemo July 30th, 2010
ONE TOUGH GIRL this Australian Cattledog !

***Kona's journey/fight ended late in the evening of December 22, 2010***

                               We Love you so much Kona….always   

  Bella 9yrs, albino lab/aussie shep/pit?(abandoned in mts as a puppy) deaf & blind (from birth) in one eye limited vision in other.(laid back, ok lazy 73 lbs)

Cotton, 5yrs, albino hound/terrier of somesort/???(abandoned in mts as a puppy) deaf & blind in one eye(from birth), excellent vision in seeing eye. (ball addict…destroyer of Kong balls…yes,etc), high energy 55lbs knots of muscle)

Kona Kai's pup brother and sister as well as her buddy and playmate cat, Shaymous 12yrs (like Seamus), miss her terribly.

Bedford, Indiana
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19 December 2010
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15 January 2011 - 7:10 am
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thanks Cindy and Denise,

    I only gave him one dose of the tramadol because we had such problems with constipation after the amputation and I think alot of it was the tramadol. Also Brett had mentioned about the prednisone and the muscle wasting. My vets have never mentioned prednisone but I am well aware of the ramifications of prednisone in the human world. It is not a drug to be taken long term.  I really don't think his pain is chronic but only when he is up trying to use that back leg. He's still doing the same thing, perhaps even a bit worse. I am going to go ahead and get the Blue Dog harness just because as you said Cindy, it does really support that pelvis area and the design seems more ergonimic not only for him but for me having to hoist #120 by myself. Oh.. and love Boomie's pic. I have two lab pups, a chocolate and a yellow. They are the sweetest things!! The yellow one is mine and the chocolate is my college age son's. My yellow is from a chocolate mommy so he has the chocolate nose and light colored lips and green eyes. He is quite beautiful. I call him Dudley but not sure if he is a true Dudley lab as they call them. I know... my house has 'Gone to the Dogs'

thanks for the tips,

janet and Patou

Mount Pleasant, Ia
Member Since:
27 October 2010
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15 January 2011 - 8:26 am
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Janet ..

I think you are right about the blue dog harness being a good choice. The walkabout that I told you about is a good harness because the handles go all the way around the harness and cross underneath the dogs abdomen - there fore they cant tear as they are pretty much one piece. But since Patou is a rear leg amp - I can see problems with the walkabout wanting to slide off the side that the leg is missing. The ruffwear and walkabout seem to be good durable choices , Cooper weighs in at 117 and I have lifted his entire weight with both of the above mentioned, but the walkabout I think would definitely give you a much more secure fit since it looks to go around and hook from the rear on both sides. Cooper has had times even as far out as 2 months that he had trouble, the last time he had such problems he saw his leash and wanted to go for a walk so I took him about 1/4 of a block, and I think he tweaked his back, and he had several days following that he seemed weak and in pain. Also one thing I have noticed since his surgeries, I have become super sensitized to every little thing that seems wrong with him, I didnt mean to come off as though I dont worry about him at all anymore, I just try really hard to keep it all in perspective.  I know and understand what you mean about your deep love for Patou, because I also love Cooper - and I am going to borrow words from Brett , Fortis' dad, I love Cooper more than words permit. I am glad you post your concerns here because everyone here cares and the support is amazing. So if what I said the other day about one minute of worry not adding a day to anyone or anydogs life sounded cold in any way it wasnt meant as such. Keep  doing the great job you are caring for that gentle giant Patou!


Cooper and Coopsdad

Coopsdad/ Kenneth Blackburn

the monkeydogs only THINK they have invaded the tripawd state

Bedford, Indiana
Member Since:
19 December 2010
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16 January 2011 - 9:45 am
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Thanks Daisy's mom, Karen and Brandy's mom,

     (sorry if some of you are dad's but when you put your dog's name and not an owner name I have to just refer to you as moms !!sorry if there are any dad's posting as there have been many 'dad posts!! which is awesome!)

  I appreciate the responses which makes me stop and think and realize that this recovery bit is just not as easy as it might seem. There are many possible set backs which alot of you have experienced and it helps SO much for those of us that are just beginning this journey. I already have a Blue Dog harness on order and am anxously awaiting that to come in. The towel and scarf bit are getting a bit old for Patou already! And Daisy's mom, don't think that I haven't already considered a wheelchair for my big guy, as I just can't put down a dog that is still healthy. You are absolutely right that at $150 per xray I could better afford a wheelchair than 2 or 3 xrays that will probably tell me what I already know. (it's either a strain or a tear in the ACL) Thanks again.

Janet and Patou

Los Angeles
Member Since:
2 November 2009
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16 January 2011 - 5:33 pm
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Hi Janet,

I just wanted to offer my support although I didn't experience this problem with Mackenzie.  It sounds like you've gotten some great advice here. I will say that from what everyone has said about weight, when Mackenzie gained a pound or two throughout her post surgery, I noticed that it did affect her mobility quite a bit so we would cut back on her calories to get her back on track, which helped a lot.   And just know that what you're going through is very common - I think all of us who are tripawd parents are much more hyper sensitive to any changes that our tripawd experiences, no matter how great or small they are during their recovery.  We've all gone through so much.  It sounds like your Patou is doing well despite what's going on.   We wish you all the best and will be keeping our paws crossed that Patou will make a smooth and speedy recovery very soon. laugh

Kami, Angel Mackenzie and Kobe

My sweet golden Mackenzie.  She became my angel on Dec 29, 2010 at the age of 8 1/2  although she was always my angel from the time we brought her home.  She was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in Sept 2009 and officially became a tripawd (front leg) on Nov 5, 2009.  She will be forever in my heart and now she's running free with all of our other tripawd heroes.  I love you Mackenzie!

Bedford, Indiana
Member Since:
19 December 2010
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17 January 2011 - 9:07 am
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Thanks Mackenzie's mom,

  You are probably right as patou has gained about 6 pounds in a 3 week period. (sounds like something that I did over Christmas holiday!!) It's nice to hear everyone's input on this. I am so glad that you are still on the site. Mackenzie's video just about put me over the edge and I hadn't cried that hard in such a long time. This is such an emotional roller coaster. Mackenzie was such a beautiful dog!!

thanks again for everything

Janet and patou


Galt, California
Member Since:
19 December 2010
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18 January 2011 - 11:43 pm
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Hi Janet,


We are wishing a speedy recovery for Patou.

We are only 12 days into our recovery so don't have much experience yet but we did have some concerns over the tremadol and what it may have been doing to Sierra that we thought we would share.  If you felt her legs when she was lying down, her leg muscles felt rock hard and never seemed to relax.  She had trembling legs and lots of panting so we spoke with the vet and he just said take her off of it.  We did start her on an herbal analgesic in place of it and even stopped the Previcox.  After two days of being off the tramadol, her legs seemed to loosen up and the panting went away.  You may want to talk to a hollistic vet if you have any in your area for alternative pain meds if you think some of it may be pain.  The herbs seem to be taking care of any pain issues and we are cutting back on them now too.  We do, though, keep Sierra relatively locked up so she does not have free roam and over do it.  You can still tell she has a long ways to go because the strength and stamina are just not there yet, although she did get a burst of energy and forgot she had major surgery less than two weeks and chased a rabbit last week!  I have to keep reminding myself that this is a marathon we are on to recondition and re-train their body.  Trying to find that balance of what is reasonable after such a traumatic change and what we might expect is something I am struggling with myself. 

It sounds like you are taking great care of your beautiful Patou.


Sierra and Brad 

Las Vegas, Nevada
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14 August 2009
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19 January 2011 - 10:56 am
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I wished I could offer you advice for Patou.  But I don't have a rear amp dog, I don't have a big dog and I don't even have a dog with an amputated leg! 

But the one thing I do understand is anxiety of having a three legged dog – I specialized in it before tripawds even existed!  I was pretty sure I was the only one in the USA that had a deformed front leg dog! 


So I totally understand your worry and want you to know we are here for you.  (And if all else fails, anxiety meds help! big-blink)


Wishing Patou lots of good thoughts, 

Comet's mom

Her Retired AvatarComet - 1999 to 2011

She departed us unexpectedly  January 23, 2011 at the age of 12 1/2.

She was born with a deformed front leg and a tripawd all of her life.

Bedford, UK
Member Since:
3 January 2011
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19 January 2011 - 11:02 am
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Hi Janet and Patou,
Regarding drugs and intolerance/vomiting - I am not sure if this will be of any use at all but thought I would mention an experience we had in case it may be relevant  - Io has a touch of arthritis and so takes glucosamine sulphate (synoquin) capsules, when we first starting giving him these he vomited just about every morning until we decided it was not worth it. Then Mitch's elderly aunt told us that she had a similar problem with her late Dog and it was actually the capsule casing that was causing the vomiting not the actual contect i.e the drugs. We tried this with Io and broke the capsule and added just the contents to his food and he has not been sick at all since.  Obviously VERY important to check this is Ok to administer the drug this way with the vet first !
Best of luck with the recovery
Io and co
19 January 2011 - 5:26 pm
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Hi Janet & Patou,

I don't have a large breed dog, Isabelle is 54# (& we're not doing chemo), but have a bit of experience with the leg buckling issue in a rear leg amputee. The first 2-3 weeks it was definitely an issue. About the end of week 3, she began to stand tall on the first try & stay up. This was about the time I noticed her medial upper leg muscle mass was increasing. This was also the point when she was back to her pre-amputation times & speeds in the underwater treadmill. Intermittently, since then she has had buckling episodes. Usually they are transient, but occasionally last a few days, almost always when the weather has been bad & she isn't getting out or after the weekend, when I'm gone 14 hours & sleep most of the day. After 5 months of watching it & one anxiety driven meltdown...these are my observations:

Weight, as everyone said, is critical. If other factors are in play, I see a difference with as little as a 3/4lb weight increase.(She's smaller)

Lack of activity exacerbates the problem. That may seem counter-intuitive, but short, nonstressful, frequent activity sessions are helpful, both with arthritis and for muscle building. Isabelle gets stiff & her rear leg is weak if she's been sitting around too much.(she has no hip issues, but severe L-S arthritis) As she moves around, the buckling improves.

Rehab, if you have access, or at home, as Tracey, Maggie's mom has done so successfully, is crucial. Underwater treadmill is great for increasing muscle mass. We've recently started using the Fit Pad at home, which is terrific. Massage also loosens up any muscle/tendon tightness, which happens frequently. Lots of passive ROM in between therapy.

Chiropractic adjustments have helped tremendously. Isabelle was buckling her leg since Sunday evening. Fairly significantly, Monday & Tuesday. It's been too icy for her to go for a walk or even run in the yard, I worked 3 days in a row and the last good walk she had was Saturday, after getting used to a week of crazy activity in N-W Michigan. I could see she needed an adjustment by the way she rotated her foot & ran at an angle. Yesterday she had one, along with acupuncture & underwater treadmill. Today she's standing tall, pivoting normally, chasing the cats & sighing heavily because outdoor activities are severely limited.

Isabelle's remaining back leg was in excellent condition prior to her amputation & she still had to learn to use her body differently & build strength. She's so much smaller than Patou & doesn't have hip problems. Maybe it will just take him a little longer to develop muscle mass & strength. I used a Thera-band to work with her from post-op day 3 (pad it, if his coat hasn't fully come in...don't ask why I know!). The flexibility will put less stress on both of you.

I don't know if any of this is helpful, just my experience.

Best of luck,


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