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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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New Tripawd with partial ACL tear in remaining hind leg
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Member Since:
20 July 2016
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21 August 2016 - 12:55 pm
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Hello everyone,

I am curious if anyone has gone through a similar situation to what we are currently dealing with.

Bracey, our 13yr old female Golden Retriever, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma and had her left hind leg amputated on Aug 9. Prior to amputation she was totally lame in the affected leg, thus was using it very little, if at all. Most of the time she was hopping along on three legs, so even though she is a senior we moved forward with amputation to give her the best quality of life. 

We learned that she also had a partial ACL tear in her good back leg, but even so all the vets we saw recommended the amputation. I was always worried that her remaining back leg would not be strong enough to handle its new solo role. While a ACL surgery was considered in tandem with the amputation - the advise was not to do all this at once, and the recovery would be too difficult. 

Bracey did really well with the amputation, once the opioids wore off she was regaining some pep and wanting to go for very very short walks. Unfortunately we do live on the second floor so she has to go up and down stairs to go outside, but she was doing great with that with the aid of the sling. This past week by Wednesday she was doing great, but the next day didn't want to get up or go outside much at all. I have to lift her up to get her going - whereas before she was getting up and moving around all on her own. She has slipped a few times, but there isn't one incident I can point to where she may have further hurt her back leg.

She eats and goes potty really well. No problems there.

I am concerned that she has further injured her ACL on remaining back leg, which would be a real blow to recovery -  and another procedure I do not want to put her through. 

She is on Gabapentin only for pain (the NSAIDs raised her liver enzymes so she can not be on them, and tramadol makes her miserable). She has been on turmeric for a while now - as well as supplements for her joints and immunity (CBD, mushroom powders, turmeric curcumin with glucosamine and MSM). She gets homemade food from Farmers Dog with her kibble and a nice amount of bone broth. 

She is extremely stoic about pain - so the only indication I have that she may be in pain is that she no longer wants to go outside or even get off her bed.

She has an appt early this week for recheck so we will see the vet then to get some actual answers. 

My main question is if anyone has gone through this with a senior dog whose remaining limb was not strong, or experienced an ACL tear post amputation? All the docs thought she was strong enough to handle this, but now I am having serious doubts. 

Not being able to get around at all is no quality of life for her, and its really concerning that she had improved so much and now seems to have taken a turn for the worse.

Thanks for any advice or experience you may have to offer,


On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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21 August 2016 - 2:42 pm
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Hi Jessica,

Try not to panic. It's very early on and at just 12 days out for a doggie her age, it's likely she just needs more time to recuperate. Remember it's a TON of work for any dog, but for a senior dog recovery can be a slower, but just as successful process.

A visit to a certified rehab vet would do a ton of good for your peace of mind and Bracey too. And Tripawds Foundation will even pay for your first consult! See: http://tripawds.....-tripawds/

As for other 3-legged dogs who've gone through this surgery, yep, we've seen old and young alike! In fact here's a post where we covered it:

Remaining Limb Surgery Recovery for Tripawds

Hang in there and let us know how the appointment goes OK?

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

Member Since:
20 July 2016
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22 August 2016 - 12:29 pm
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Thanks Jerry, I supposed I was feeling a bit panicked.

We had wanted to go to rehab - but the cost was a bit prohibitive so this may really help. Thank you!

Columbia, MO
Member Since:
10 December 2011
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22 August 2016 - 2:38 pm
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So sorry you are going thru this.  It is always scary to have one of their remaining legs injured since they no longer have their spare!  My Daisy also tore her acl on her right rear knee and it fully ruptured about 6 months later.

She was a front amp and ALWAYS used that back leg to get up from the floor and I think her tear was due to a repetitive stress type injury.  She was a big girl (80 lbs), arthritic, and a little over 8 years old when she had knee surgery so considered "senior".

We did conservative management when she first tore it including cold laser therapy.  When it fully ruptured I opted to have the lateral suture stabilization surgery.  The cost of the TPLO surgery was out of reach for me even though that would have been the best option for her size.

I will tell you the recovery from Daisy's knee was much rougher than her amputation recovery.  It was pretty much crate rest except for going outside to potty and range of motion exercises for 8 weeks.

In the end I was glad I did it because she was not really able to walk very well with it ruptured and I know it was painful.  She already had enough of a struggle with her arthritic hips being so bad and only 3 legs!

Good luck

Marla, Biscuit and Spirit Daisy

My Two Tripawds...Biscuit and Spirit Daisy

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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22 August 2016 - 9:57 pm
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Marla it is SO good to hear from you. We hope you and the pack are well. Thank you for sharing Daisy's story, it's so incredibly helpful!

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

Member Since:
20 July 2016
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24 August 2016 - 7:35 am
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Thanks for sharing Marla. Good to know the surgery was worth it, and really hoping we won't get to that point.

We had an appt yesterday to recheck post amputation and start chemo. They couldn't reproduce any pain for Bracey with orthopedic tests so the assumption right now is that she just needs more time to recover, just as Jerry suspected.

She did great getting around yesterday, amputation site looks really good - so we are feeling more hopeful. Fingers crossed the chemo is well tolerated.

Thanks so much for the support and suggestions. 


On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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24 August 2016 - 11:45 am
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I'm so glad the vet was able to reassure you Jessica!

As for rehab, even one session can be SO helpful for folks. Most rehab therapists are well aware that the cost keeps many people away, so they're always willing to work with clients to come up with things they can do at home. If you have any questions about it, just bark OK?

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

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