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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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Questions for Vet re proper care of remaining 3 legs
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Forum Posts: 431
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14 June 2010
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14 September 2010 - 3:46 pm
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Hi all!

We're back with just a quick question.  Ajax's 2 month ampuversary is 9/19.  We go back for a lung xray this week.  It's the protocol; they do not expect to find anything since Ajax did not have OS but a level 1 chondrosarcoma.

Anyway, I made the appointment at the hospital instead of with our regular vet, since they are the folks who last looked at his xrays, CT's etc.  As a result, he will see his surgeon for a few minutes.  If you've seen my other posts, you know we are having a really easy time of it, for which we are very thankful, and Ajax is doing everything so we don't have any particular concerns right now.

However, since we are seeing the orthopedic surgeon, this is a good time to ask about caring for the remaining 3 legs.  I've read all the helpful things on this site, just wanted to see if:

-- anybody had any questions they wish they would have asked their vet on this topic?

-- anyone had any questions they did ask that provided helpful info on keeping the remaining legs safe?

I think my biggest concern is if/how I should limit his activity given the remaining back leg is expected to need to last a good long time.  We are swimming and stretching and walking; I'm looking for anything more specific along the lines of "I wish had known this sooner before it became a problem"

Thanks for any thoughts!  There's a lot on this topic already on the site, so if you don't have anything additional, that wouldn't necessarily surprise me, but figured it was worth a shot. 

Las Vegas, Nevada
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14 September 2010 - 9:32 pm
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anyone had any questions they did ask that provided helpful info on keeping the remaining legs safe?


K -

I'm going to sound cynical but let me tell you from experience that vet's don't know what it's really like to have a 3-legged dog long term, not even orthos.  Dr. Pam here does because she went through it.

I've been doing this 3-legged business for almost 12 years now and not one, including Comet's current ortho vet really understands life on 3-legs.  I've asked and asked and even asked if there were studies I could read.  There were none according to one vet I asked.

I have had several vets including neuros and ortho vets examine Comet and surprisingly they seemed to not know much about life on 3 legs.  The neuros that examined Comet were almost facinated with her defects and made me feel like they wanted to "study" her (at my expense of a CT and xrays).

All I can tell you is that I had to learn on my own and I didn't really do anything restrictive.  I let her do what she wanted.  As you may know, she blew her back knees out but she also would stand on them and twirl. 

So, I guess my point is, if you get info from the ortho, that's great but don't get disappointed if they kind of give you a medical text book response.

I'm so glad Ajax is doing so well!  He's one handsome and happy boy!

Her Retired AvatarComet - 1999 to 2011

She departed us unexpectedly  January 23, 2011 at the age of 12 1/2.

She was born with a deformed front leg and a tripawd all of her life.

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14 September 2010 - 11:03 pm
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Good feedback Comet, you're not cynical at all, you're a realist as Admin Guy would say. We've found that rehab therapist vets tend to have better answers than other docs.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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15 September 2010 - 10:20 pm
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I think I expected Tazzie to still want to do everything that she did before surgery, and some dogs might be able to do this.  Once Tazzie was healed I put her harness on her and loaded her into the van to go to the dog park for short visits but it soon became apparent that this was just too much for her and she wasn't really enjoying it.  She preferred to lay in the back yard and take it easy so we adjusted our schedules and spent more time with her outside.

Tazzie was very big (185#) so she might have been harder on her remaining legs than other dogs (plus she had surgery on both knees prior to her amputation).  I had her on Dasuquin (a glucosamine supplement) as well as fish oil to protect her joints but she still developed moderate arthritis in her remaining front leg.  She also developed a stiff back due to hopping around on 3 legs but she did get quite a bit of relief from acupuncture so I wish I had started that sooner.  The Power Mushrooms helped keep her energy up and might still help your dog fight cancer even though chondrosarcoma does not metastasize as often as OSA.

Each dog is different but I think that in general you should keep any extra weight off, give some sort of joint supplement with glucosamine, consider fish oil, and start acupuncture early on if symptoms of arthritis or stiffness set in.


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17 September 2010 - 12:46 pm
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Hi thanks everyone.  I'm going to do a separate post about our visit to the vet but I do understand that it is different to theorize than to live with a three legged dog day to day.

Pam, we have done the glucosamine for years and will keep doing that.  I would absolutely consider accupuncture if he seemed sore - I'm still trying to figure out how to determine if he's sore at the end of the day (other than an obvious sign like crying or refusing to move).  I am interested in your opinons on fish oil and Power Mushroom.  Our day to day vet told us long ago that she didn't believe fish oil was helpful b/c it basically wasn't possible to take it in a dose large enough to make a difference.  That being said, if it won't hurt him, and might hellp, I'm happy to add it.  Can it be people fish oil pills?  Is there a standard dose?

Re mushrooms, our oncologist basically said:  he's doing great, don't change anything.  Is there any clinical info on these Power Mushrooms you could steer me towards? 

Re weight, he weighs exactly the same as he did before.  The surgeon/ortho says his weight is good, and as long as he stays where he is, we don't wnt to reduce feeding because we want him good and strong (I should say that he has never been overweight)  He is bigger in the chest but I think that makes sense b/c he is building up muscle there to compensate for missing rear leg.

We are lucky in that our surgeon is also certified in rehab (or specializes in rehab,not sure what the terminology is).  So she is a little more knowledgable about this stuff, which is why we went there for the follow up chest xray instead of to his regular vet.

Thanks for this very thoughtful input from all of you - I read it, but didn't have time to post before going to vet.

Here and Now

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17 September 2010 - 2:19 pm
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kazy55 said:

Is there any clinical info on these Power Mushrooms you could steer me towards? 

Unfortunately, there is very little clinical data about immune system supplements. We've compiled links to the information we found here and wrote about Power Mushrooms here.

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17 September 2010 - 2:22 pm
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17 September 2010 - 5:50 pm
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Regarding the fish oil; it is important to use a higher dose for cancer so a 50 pound dog should get about 2000-3000 mg daily.  Note that the goal is to get the maximum amount of omega 3 oils so you can't just look at the total mg of fish oil.  I used to use 3V caps because they have the highest mg of omega 3 oil per capsule but they are currently off of the market.  Now I buy Nature Made Double strength fish oil and give Kona 1 capsule twice daily (she weighs 65 pounds).  Loki our 155# dog takes 2 twice daily ( a lower dose for skin) and Tazzie used to take 4 twice daily.  Most dogs readily take these in their food.  Make sure to use a brand that tests pure (mercury free).  Nordic Naturals is very good but pricey for big dogs.  I haven't seen the info yet on the product from K9 Immunity as far as actual mg of fish oil but it does also contain the mushroom supplement.

FYI dogs can take flax oil but it is not as readily bioavailable as the fish oil so you have to use a much higher dose to get good levels of omega 3 oils.


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