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Need advice for a new tripawd on exercise/strength | Hopping Around

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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Need advice for a new tripawd on exercise/strength
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Forum Posts: 12
Member Since:
2 May 2016
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25 May 2016 - 3:35 pm
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New to the site, so here’s some background (sorry this post is so long!): My 12-year-old spaniel Charley was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in his front left leg last July. At the time, I opted against amputation & chemo b/c the two tests the vet were negative for cancer cells and the vet said even with all the treatment, he’d prob only live up to about a year (also to be frank I just couldn’t afford it at the time). So, my plan was to keep him comfortable and as long as he was happy, I was ok with that. Well, flash forward to almost a year later and he was happy and (mostly) healthy and doing great, but then the tumor started to rupture earlier this month. I decided to go ahead with the amputation b/c he wasn’t really using that leg much anyway and tests showed there was still no cancer in his lungs. The surgery was about three weeks ago and he got his stitches out a few days ago. 

OK so, my question/problem is this: He also has arthritis in one of his rear legs and it seems to be bothering him more now that he only has the three legs — he’s more off-balance and wobbly than he was before the surgery. The vet just started him on Rimadyl to help with it (and it is helping), but I think b/c he wasn’t really active for the 10 months prior (I didn’t want him to break the bag leg), he’s lost strength in the rear legs (they’re visibly more bony than they were, but he hasn’t lost weight, other than just the weight of the now-missing leg). SO what can I do to build up strength in his rear legs?? I’ve read short, regular walks are a good start, so I’ve started doing a couple of those (just down to the mailbox), but I also don’t want him to pull/tear anything in his good legs.

Also, since he’s more active now, I’ve started feeding him a wee bit more, but also don’t want him to gain weight! He’s been on a half raw/half kibble diet with joint pills for about 10 mos, and more recently (for about a week or two) I’ve added fish oil, vitamin e, a daily vitamin, powdered gelatin, and a probiotic. Any other suggestions? Any and all advice greatly appreciated!!

Oh and related: I had been using the Webmaster harness , but haven’t since the surgery b/c of the location of the incision. The stitches came out Monday, when can I use the harness again? It would be a big help with stairs (which I carry him up and down now)!

Thanks so much!

The Rainbow Bridge



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25 May 2016 - 7:29 pm
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Hi Charley and family, welcome. What a story you have, you’re a real fighter kiddo!

I apologize, I have to run for a bit but wanted to get your post approved. I will be back (Wyatt Ray just heard “Walk”!). I have lots of ideas and others will too so stay tuned. Also, hop over to the Tripawds chat right now, I think Michelle is in there.

K, back in a bit.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Forum Posts: 6640
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26 May 2016 - 5:37 am
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Hi there and welcome to our tripawds family heart

My girl had her front leg amputated 3 weeks ago and the stitches were removed a week ago today, she also started chemo that day.

I, like you, worried a lot about her losing muscle/strenght in her remaining legs. Even more so because being so big she needs a lot of strength and determination to juggle her weight. She was 77kg and yesterday was weighted again and is now 63kg. 

I spoke to both the oncologist and the vet about how much exercise we should do. 

So, one of the important points is not to overdue it. Their opinion was, better she goes back when she is still wanting to do a bit more than to get her back when she is exhausted! (and always stay fairly near the car so if she gets tired she doesn’t have to negotiate a long distance back …) 

I always, always look at whatever distance we make bearing in mind we have to walk back!

Only you know your dog so keep a close eye on his tiredness levels, start with very small walks and if he is up for it walk some more later on. Better several mini walks than a too long one … also, let him rest as much as he wants whilst walking. My girl may do a 15 min walk on a good day but will lie down 2 or 3 times for a few minutes in between.

The other thing you can do to build her muscles (especially if he suffers from arthritis) is water physiotherapy, it is absolutely brilliant as our fluffies exercise effortless and they generally love it too! Perhaps you could ask your vet whether he thinks that could be good for Charlie?

I was very sad that Eurydice has lost so much muscle on her back legs but I was told this is it, she is never going to be as toned as before as it is impossible to keep her activity levels as they used to be. So, just accept there is only so much you can do. 

The important thing is give him as much exercise as he can genuinely handle and let him rest a lot between walks.

His eyes will tell you what to do !

Regarding the harness, I would suggest you get him a t-shirt, that will protect the wound and allow you to use the harness on top without a problem. Eurydice wore a t-shirt until she removed the stitches.

Sending you and your boy hugs and cuddlesheart

Eurydice 77kg/170lb Great Dane limping end of April 2016, amputation (right front leg/osteosarcoma) 4 May 2016 6 courses of carboplatin followed by metronomic therapy, lung mets found 30 Nov 2016. 3 courses of doxorubicin, PET scan 26 Jan 2017 showed more mets so stopped chemo. Holistic route April 2017. Lung X-ray 5 May 2017 showed several tennis ball size mets, started cortisone and diuretics. Miss Cow earned her XXL silver wings 12 June 2017, 13 months and 1 week after amputation and 6 1/2 months after lung mets, she was the goofiest dawg ever and is now happily flying from cloud to cloud woof woofing away :-) 

The Rainbow Bridge



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26 May 2016 - 10:01 am
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Hi Charley! OK, so I looove Eurydice’s mom’s advice, it’s spot on. To that I would add these answers to your questions:

SO what can I do to build up strength in his rear legs??

since he’s more active now, I’ve started feeding him a wee bit more, but also don’t want him to gain weight! . . . Any other suggestions?

The stitches came out Monday, when can I use the harness again?

The first thing to remember is that it’s no so much about strength in the legs but in the core muscles. Much like we need strong abdominals to balance, stand up tall, pick up objects and move about without falling over, so do dogs. Here are some articles that shed some light on the subject:

Best of Tripawds Gear and Fitness Tips for Three Legged Dogs

Our Tripawds Gear blog and Downloads blogs (see: http://download…..m/?s=rehab) have tons of exercise tips, as does our e-book, Loving Life On Three Legs has tons of tips about getting strong.

I’d also recommend seeing a veterinary rehabilitation therapist. These skilled practitioners can tell you how to help Charlie without hurting him, assess how he’s doing and where he can improve, and what you can do at home. The link to the Downloads blog has some information about rehab therapy, as does this article:

What Rehabilitation Therapy Can Do for Your Tripawd (and how to start for free!)

As for his diet, you’re right, you don’t want him to gain weight. A Tripawd should be slimmer than most dogs of the same breed type. Any extra weight is very detrimental to the joints. Our Tripawds Nutrition blog has tons of diet tips.

You can definitely start wearing the harness when his stitches come out!

Can’t wait to see some photos! Here are instructions for adding images to the forums, let us know if you’d like assistance OK?

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
Latest Tripawds News
Read my story here.

Support the Tripawds Foundation!

Forum Posts: 12
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26 May 2016 - 10:20 am
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Thanks for the info… His stitches came out earlier this week & the vet says his incision looks really great, just wondering how long to wait before putting the vest back on; don’t want to strain the new skin! But also think he’d really benefit from being helped up right now though. Everything is such a balancing act!

I’ll def ask the vet about water physiotherapy! I want him to get stronger, but sometimes he falls… more like faceplants… and I feel really bad for him 🙁 and don’t want him to hurt himself.

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26 May 2016 - 10:28 am
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Thanks Jerry! I’ll check out those links and find a rehabilitation therapist. 

Finally figured out how to upload an avatar; I’ll work on more 🙂

Virginia




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26 May 2016 - 10:35 am
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Welcome Charley! And YAAAAAAAAAY FOR GETTING STITCHES OUT! 🙂 And gosh, to go a year without amputation and xrays are clear!! WONDERFUL, WONDERFUL NEWS!! Your Charley is quite a spunky fella’!!

You’ve gotten GREAT advice. I’ll just add to make sure your enjoy “stopping and smelling the roses” with Charley. He could care less about distance, or days on a calendar either! He just loves being with you and soaking up all that loving and spoiling you’re doi g!

As far as the harness, you could go ahead and put a t-shirt on under the harness if you want a little reassurance.

BTW, is avatar picture is just ADORABLE!!

You are doing an excellent job of caring for Charley. So glad he’s doing so well!

Hugs!

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!

Happy Hannah had a glorious additional bonus time of over one yr & two months after amp for osteo! She made me laugh everyday! Joined April's Angels after send off meal of steak, ice cream, M&Ms & deer poop!

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26 May 2016 - 1:28 pm
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Thanks, Benny! Part of the reason I was more comfortable going forward with the amputation now is just how spunky he is after 10 months with a bad leg… never seemed to slow him down! Hoping that bodes well for recovery.

I went ahead and put the harness back on him this morning and it’s already helping immensely!

benny55 said
Welcome Charley! And YAAAAAAAAAY FOR GETTING STITCHES OUT! 🙂 And gosh, to go a year without amputation and xrays are clear!! WONDERFUL, WONDERFUL NEWS!! Your Charley is quite a spunky fella’!!

You’ve gotten GREAT advice. I’ll just add to make sure your enjoy “stopping and smelling the roses” with Charley. He could care less about distance, or days on a calendar either! He just loves being with you and soaking up all that loving and spoiling you’re doi g!

As far as the harness, you could go ahead and put a t-shirt on under the harness if you want a little reassurance.

BTW, is avatar picture is just ADORABLE!!

You are doing an excellent job of caring for Charley. So glad he’s doing so well!

Hugs!

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!  

Copperas Cove, TX
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26 May 2016 - 2:16 pm
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Love Love Love Bandit’s harness.  He could not get in and out of the car without it!

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