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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

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Hip Dysplasia in Tripods
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Rebel Shepherd
26 November 2011 - 2:04 am
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I fear that my 4yr old rear leg tripawd may be exhibiting signs of hip dysplasia, though it could very well be another degenerative disease, or over exertion. He is a tripawd by trauma but was ok'd to return to normal activity(being a working sheepdog) after his surgery. He is very active usually getting a solid hour of exercise every day, and normally has no chronic issues. However recently when we've had a very busy day or he has been doing something he is not used to such as hiking hills he will have issues later in the day. Like today we did some lite hiking in the mountains and he had a blast, no problems getting around and really enjoyed himself showing no hesitation to engage in spontaneous play. However when we got home his gate was altered, he was reluctant to rise and had a slower pace, and he also couldn't jump his normal height(about 1.5ft-2ft) to get into bed, the car etc.


He will be going into the vet for an exam and x-rays if I can afford them. However I thought it would be good to ask what other kinds of problems could manifest in this manner, as well as how to proceed with diagnosis and treatment.

Portage Lake, Maine
Member Since:
8 December 2009
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26 November 2011 - 6:00 am
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So Rebel has been an amputee for a year or so?  He sounds very, very active.  Much moreso than my rear leg tripawd.  I do notice that hillwork is hard on my rear legger and if she gets tired, it will be from that, so I choose my walks on flatter going.  I also work my dog with PT therapy work at least 3X per week to keep her core muscles strong and have seen an incredible difference in her strength doing so.

Tracy, Maggie's Mom

Maggie was amputated for soft tissue sarcoma 10-20-09

Maggie lost her battle with kidney disease on 8-24-13


Wherever the Wind Takes Me, Dude

Member Since:
25 July 2009
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26 November 2011 - 10:34 am
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Ohhhhh wow, he sounds like a good time on three legs! He's doing a lot of fun, cool things, but they sound like they're starting to take their toll on him?

Remember, Tripawds' bodies are compensating for having a missing limb. That means that when they do stuff like go hiking and jumping they're putting extra stress on joints and spinal areas. It doesn't mean he can't go out and have fun, but it does mean that he needs you to reign him in and not let him overdo things. When out and about, take lots of breaks and if he is too tired to get up at the end of the day, it's a sign that he did too much. Don't let him participate in that kind of activity until he is himself again but in the meantime learn how to do gentle stretches to ease his sore muscles. We have lots of ideas here at Tripawds, just search around for "rehab" and "physical therapy."

He might not have hip displaysia at all, it could just be a matter of more strictly regulating his physical activity. While it's a good idea to see the vet to discuss these issues, keep in mind that if you want to know for sure if he has displaysia, x-rays to diagnose hip displaysia are done much differently than normal x-rays in a vet's office. Your vet can tell you more and refer you to an orthopedic doc and/or canine rehab specialist who can show you how to keep his joints as healthy as possible.

When I had surgery this year, it was really clear that I've got a good case of the ol' hip displaysia going on. But hopefully this isn't the case with Rebel. Let us know OK? 

Wyatt Ray Dawg . . . The Tripawds Leg-A-Cy Continues!

Read all about my adventures at my Tripawds Blog

Rebel Shepherd
26 November 2011 - 3:30 pm
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His leg was amputated around 1yr of age or so and he's been problem free for 3 years.

Thanks for the input I will definitely look into physical therapy exercises for him. I hope this is just a matter of overexertion and not a sign that he is slowing down... he's only 4 sad. He gets previcox and a nap on a heating pad if he shows signs of soreness and that usually clears up the issue, but I would love to know more about stretches, massages and more advanced heat therapy. I'm really glad I have this site as a resource.

Do you think he would benefit from slow conditioning to build up his endurance? I don't want to put undue stress on his joints but I want him to be able to enjoy activities without over exerting himself. I mean this was really light hiking about 4 hills the steepest about a 30 degree angle and less than a mile of walking overall. Would increasing his tolerance be a good thing? or would it be better to let him stay at the exercise level he is at now?

Currently he plays fetch running up and down a 100ft stretch of grass for 15mins 2x a day, walking for about another 15, and 15 minutes of work doing little things like alerting me to my medical condition, gently leaning against me, closing very light hollow-core doors(with his nose only), fetching dropped items, etc. His energy level is very high and usually after a day like that he still has energy left and would like to play more but I restrict him and distract him with low impact mental exercise instead(like playing hide and seek or working a dog puzzle).


Oh and his name is John I didn't realize our user names were supposed to be our dog names sleepy

26 November 2011 - 3:50 pm
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I remember John- he is the one that got attacked by a bear, right?  HERE is the original post.

There is no rule for names... as you can tell from mine laugh.  You can change what displays by your avatar if you want to by clicking on the profile button and changing the 'Display Name'.  You just happened to get two responses in a row with user names being dog names.


I don't have anything else to contribute... my tri-pug Maggie was sort of lazy, although she did build up to walking a mile or so on her own.


Karen and the pugapalooza

Rebel Shepherd
26 November 2011 - 4:25 pm
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Yep one and the same, I never replied back to that post after the vet visit though bad me XD.

Serendipitously our current vet(who was the family vet for years) has done many trauma related amputations and is familiar with tripawd needs and difficulties. He suggested that the hard cold surface was giving him trouble much like it would an arthritic person and that it was to be expected and to and keep him off such surfaces as much as possible. Since he's been on the joint supplement and off the tile the problem has all but disappeared.

Sunny California
Member Since:
23 February 2010
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26 November 2011 - 8:23 pm
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My front amp girl, Rosie, gets a very similar behavior when I forget to rein her in and she overdoes it. We're pretty active and she is freakishly high energy for a 'big' dog, but she sometimes goes a little too hog wild (especially during ski season). We've found that making sure we rub her down and massage her muscles post-workout helps tremendously with stiffness and soreness. Good luck.


Oh, and as a side note, if John likes water, we let Rosie swim at least 3 days a week to help keep her muscles strong. It has made a huge difference in her ability to 'keep on trucking' as it were....




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