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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

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Petra having TPLO on remaining back leg
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Member Since:
19 December 2019
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5 February 2021 - 9:10 pm
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Update: Petra is doing GREAT! Getting around really well and enjoying long walks. I wrote a little something about our experience that I’m posting here in the hope it might be helpful to another tripod facing TPLO one day.

Here are some of the challenges we faced with Petra’s recovery from TPLO on her remaining back leg.

The numero uno, biggest challenge to overcome? My expectations. The surgeon who performed Petra’s TPLO told me that because she was a tripod, I could expect her to be walking and using her leg again a week after surgery. This may be true for some tripods, but I’m skeptical! Petra did not walk until almost 12 weeks post surgery, so that benchmark haunted me throughout her recovery. As each week went by without significant progress, I worried she would never walk again, worried that I’d put her through another big surgery in vain. And because there aren’t many rear tripods who undergo TPLO, I couldn’t draw on the experience of others like I could when Petra had her amputation. So if there’s one bit of advice I would give it would be to have patience and trust that your dog will use their leg when they are ready and not a moment sooner!

Second biggest challenge was the level of agitation Petra exhibited, especially in the first few weeks PO. She would have episodes of repeated barking and whining at all hours of the day and night, despite being well medicated for pain. I’m guessing it was partly due pent up energy and boredom. Regular dosing of trazadone helped curb this. It was a rough patch for us both!

Getting around was also a challenge. Petra required help/support getting around the house and outside for a full 11 weeks. A basic sling worked pretty well but using a help em up harness was a life saver, especially to get her to and from PT appointments. Booty support was critical for her.

Potty time was less challenging for me as Petra insisted on crab walking on her own to take care of business. However, I believe this—more contact with her booty on the ground—contributed to several UTIs during recovery, which impeded her progress (and caused her discomfort). After the first one, I stayed on high alert to catch subsequent infections early. Not sure if there are other factors related to recovery or meds that lead to UTIs . . .

Petra went to about 10 PT sessions, which included cold laser and walking on the underwater treadmill, which I think helped with her recovery (we finished with PT a couple weeks before she started walking again). I tried a K9 cart for her, but she was not a fan. I also tried to give her rides around the neighborhood in a gorilla cart (similar to a wagon) but she hated it! This was a dog who lived for daily walks, but until she could walk under her own power, she had no interest in my alternatives.

During recovery I picked up a couple of food puzzles and started feeding kibble on a snuffle mat to give Petra some brain exercise—the snuffle mat was especially popular.

We are now four months post op and Petra is doing amazingly well! She’s back to daily walks and is able to get around really well. I think her “new knee” is providing even more stability than she had before the injury. If I had to do it over again, I would make the same decision. The recovery is brutal but the results make the surgery totally worth it. smiley4smiley4

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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6 February 2021 - 12:59 pm
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YAAAAY! Oh this just made my day! I'm so happy to know that Petra is recovered and back to life on 3 again. 

What a team you had for Petra, it was a global village effort it sounds like. You didn't give up! You guys made it! YESS!

I wonder if a dog stroller would be more to her liking? An open wagon isn't most dog's cup of tea. I haven't met that many who will tolerate riding in a wagon but will tolerate closed, den-like pet strollers. 

What you guys went through was TOUGH and I am so grateful you shared your experience. I added it to our Remaining Limb Surgery Recovery for Tripawds post so that others can learn from it.

Got any photos of her to share? We need a Petra fix!

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Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |


Member Since:
22 February 2013
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6 February 2021 - 9:23 pm
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STANDING OVATION!!!👏👏   What you and Team Petra have accomplished   truly took  an Olympian effort !   You stayed determined,  strong, kept your eye in the goal and never gave up!!  An unbelievable  accomplishment!!

Alrhough you have summarized everything  in a few paragraphs, I cannot imagine  the toll  the day in and day out struggles took on uoy physically and emotionally, yet you persevered!!  And then to have to push aside the Surgeon 's overly optimistic  vision of Petra walking within a week....craaaazy !!!!   

Petra jusr was not going to lower her standards  and accept alternatives to her walks.  That stubborn attitude probably  contributed greatly to her ultimate success of going on walks again.

Petra is now a Legend here and will be the "go to" story for anyone fac similar situations.   Your bottome  line says it all:  

   If I had to do it over again, I would make the same decision. The recovery is brutal but the results make the surgery totally worth it. smiley4smiley4

Okay, time for videos and pictures!!!!


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!

Boston, MA
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23 February 2021
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23 February 2021 - 4:18 pm
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That's so great to hear about Petra!! That's amazing that she has fully recovered and walking around again!! Thank you so much for documenting your journey. Our tripod Penny is in the exact same situation as Petra and scheduled for TPLO on March 10th on her remaining back leg. I discovered this forum after wanting to learn about others who've gone through this, and your post was amazing!

Penny's a smaller boxer at 50lbs, so not quite as big as Petra but we've been worried about how to best support her during walks. It was really helpful to hear about your experience with various support types, expectations around recovery times and PT! We also considered Eddie's wheels but so far, have elected for a Walkabout Amputee Harness to start. We might also consider a Help Em Up harness now too. Thanks again and enjoy your walks with Petra! smiley4smiley4

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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23 February 2021 - 6:40 pm
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Hi Penny and family! Thanks for chiming in. Please consider starting an all new topic so we can learn all about you and follow along i your journey. Be sure to check out these articles for more tips about recovering from surgery on a remaining limb:

See you in a new topic!

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

Boston, MA
Member Since:
23 February 2021
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23 February 2021 - 8:05 pm
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Sounds good! I just created a post to share Penny's journey.

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