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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.


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Leg Braces Question
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Member Since:
14 December 2022
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1 February 2023 - 3:24 pm
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My dog Shiloh is a 10 year old collie mix. He is about 60 lbs and has long legs. He is a front leg amputee from osteosarcoma. We are 7 weeks post surgery and into chemo. He is doing well overall but I am thinking he might need support on the remaining front leg at times. He walks best in the morning but seems more labored in the evening --- possibly achy. I see his front leg seem to bow backwards at times which is what made me think about a brace. I read a blog on this site about custom braces but that seems very pricey and a long process to have made and I have to say I still have a lot of bills ahead of me. 

Has anyone used any off-the-shelf braces that they liked? I am looking at one on Chewy made by Neoally. I bought a support vest from this company when he first came home that was very good quality. The reviews were mixed. It seems those that didn't like it found it slipped down the leg too often while others didn't have that problem. It might depend on the dog. I am thinking of trying it because Chewy is great about returns and such. 

Thanks in advance for any advice. 

The Rainbow Bridge

Member Since:
25 April 2007
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1 February 2023 - 6:30 pm
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Hi Janet and Shiloh! THanks for asking a great question.

Yes, custom braces are definitely not inexpensive. And we totally understand about vet bills.

The good news is that you can do a LOT to prevent the need for a brace at all. We recommend you have Shiloh evaluated by a rehab therapist to see if he needs one. These experts can tell you why he is so tired and achy, and how to help him build stamina and strength over time. The Tripawds Foundation can even pay for your first rehab visit ! It's totally free up to $200 (rarely does a first visit exceed that amount).

We do not recommend buying any kind of pre-made brace without approval from a rehab therapist. And we wish they weren't sold to the public without a prescription. The reason is that every dog is so different, that even the slightest fit issue can result in pressure sores and a create a bigger problem. Also, any kind of brace doesn't address the real cause of weakness.

Sometimes braces are useful but only when prescribed by a therapist who understands exactly what a dog needs. So please please take advantage of our rehab reimbursement program for Shiloh.

The Rainbow Bridge

Member Since:
25 April 2007
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1 February 2023 - 6:32 pm
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Also tell us what his daily activity level is like right now. How long/far are those walks? Does he have stairs at home? Slippery floors? Does he play with siblings? Is he carrying any extra weight? Tell us more.

Let us help you try to figure out why he's so tired. And if you'd like help finding a therapist let us know!

Member Since:
14 December 2022
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2 February 2023 - 11:06 am
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Thanks so much for the information. I would like a referral to a physical therapist. My own vet mentioned there was a place not too far from my home that had an underwater treadmill and such. I don't feel good about asking for the donation from the Foundation because I do have some money but I am just trying to be judicious on overspending. When he first got diagnosed, I did go around spending a lot on anything I thought I needed but most of the purchases turned out to be good decisions - not all. 

So to answer some questions, he is not getting a whole lot of exercise. I never really took him for walks because he is very reactive to other dogs. Instead I have a trolley line in the backyard where we could play fetch and he could spend time in the yard (not fenced). So that is not happening now and the yard is full of snow anyway. In the mornings, he likes to play in the house sometimes but it's not really "exercise". He does mild fetching and tug of war. 

When I found out that he would need an amputation for a decent chance at a longer life, I realized my house had problems. There are hardwood floors throughout. So I got area rugs for everywhere. I also have these traction socks that I use at times. My house also is a raised ranch so you have to do stairs to get out the front door. This was a huge problem until I realized I could walk him out onto the deck which is level with the main floor. At first he wouldn't pee or poop out there, probably because it is wood. I had gotten some astroturf and a puppy spray as incentive but that didn't work. But after a day or two (I was using diapers) he finally peed out of desperation and then he understood. So I have been using the deck (stairs blocked off) for his potty. It is like a doggy corral and on warmer days he likes to walk around out there and see the sights. So that is a little bit more exercise. But overall not a lot of exercise. I think his weight is good. A couple of years ago I got a weight control kibble which I add canned food as a topper. He lost some weight and stabilized. By the way, he also has a seizure disorder (lucky me) which has been going on for about 2 years and is on medications to keep these at a minimum - about one seizure a month.

Also at first he couldn't do the stairs to go to the vet. I have a harness with handles in the front and back I got from the vet hospital. I am a senior and couldn't do this on my own so I have a wonderful pet sitting service that sent someone to help me with stairs and the car. I also got a ramp for the car that I trained him on. Now he has learned to do stairs but I still accompany him because he wants to go too fast down. He was doing good going up on his own, but one time he decided to turn around and took a tumble. Scared me to death. So now I accompany him both ways. Now I can get him around on my own. He asked to go down the stairs and out a few times so we were doing that but now the weather is terrible. 

So this is getting too long, but I hope some things I said will let others know the process I went through. For the rehab referral, I am in the western suburbs of Chicago, zip 60542. Thanks so much!

The Rainbow Bridge

Member Since:
25 April 2007
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2 February 2023 - 11:59 am
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Janet, thanks for sharing so many helpful details! 

You clearly love him so so much, and it shows. Our dog Wyatt Ray was reactive too, I feel your pain!

Now, exercise doesn't have to be long walks and throwing a ball. In fact those things can actually do more harm than good when a dog is not conditioned after amputation surgery. There are a lot of really fun strength-building exercises he can do inside the house right now while snow is on the ground, and once it melts, lots he can do them outside even on leash. A rehab therapist can help you learn exercises you can physically manage to do with him.

Please do take advantage of the program. It's not a donation. It's the foundation's way of making sure that every dog or cat, no matter the income of their human, get a chance at living a long, strong life on 3. So don't feel badly about it OK? Promise? Good!

Posts here are never too long. The more information we know the better we can help.

I think this might be the place your vet mentioned. They look great!

Also, this practice looks amazing:

Finally, you might want to check out:

Let us know what you find out. And again, please do take advantage of the program. It's why we do what we do!

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