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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I adopted a wonderful (front leg amputation) tripod a year and half ago. He is a 3yr old pitbull terrier, under 50 lbs. His walking and stamina improved for the first few months and now seems to be declining. He has a hard time getting up out of bed and going for walks longer than 20 minutes. He just gets tired within 15 – 30 minutes and seems to be quite uncomfortable. He face plants alot if he shakes off water or runs for a ball. Im not sure if this normal for a dog in his situation.
So now I am on a mission to find some helpful supplements, treatments and mobility aids. I get a different and often conflicting recommendation form each vet and brace and dog cart manufacturer. The last cart place I spoke with recommended keeping him out of cart as long as possible if he can get around on his own and putting him in a compression sleeve instead. Another company is considering an elbow and wrist brace but is concerned he wont be able to lift his front leg to walk with it on. The vet would like to do xrays and blood work to see if he has a tear that may need surgery or any other obvious problem. The vet is also considering long term inflammatory meds.
Has any boy had success with any supplements, treatments (laser therapy / acupuncture), braces, front wheel cart.
Right now I am using dasequin supplements, fish oils (which he spits out), infrared/ red light treatment, laser therapy, massage and I have ordered a compression brace from Dogleggs.
Your suggestions are very much appreciated. Please share what has actually helped your tripod.
Thanks so much!!!
Heidi and Charlie
Heidi and Charlie, welcome! We are so glad you joined us because we have lots of tips to share with you. Thanks for adopting this boy, you are our hero!
The best place to begin finding out what Charlie is or isn’t capable of doing is to have him evaluated by an accredited canine rehabilitation therapist. It sounds like he may already be seeing one? If so, do you know if the practitioner is CCRT or CCRP credentialed? If not, you really want to get him to someone who is, as they possess the most current knowledge in the field. The best part is that the Tripawds Foundation may even pay for your first rehab visit !
A good rehab therapist will assess him, prescribe a combination of modalities (pain management and exercises), and work with you to get him to a point where he has good stamina and strength.
However, one thing to keep in mind is that although Tripawds can do most of the things that a four-legged dog can do, it doesn’t mean they should. For example, you mention how his walks are shorter than you think they should be. But based on what we’ve learned from rehab therapists, Tripawds should take shorter, more frequent walks of no more than 10-20 minutes at a time, max.
Our own Wyatt Ray at his most fit level around the same age, was still only good for about 15-20 minutes of walking before he showed signs of exhaustion, the same ones you are describing for Charlie (face plants, falling, sitting down…all signs of over-exertion). A rehab therapist should be able to give you guidance on how far and long to walk him, and what to do if he starts falling and sitting again (usually, cutting back and R&R helps).
Regarding the compression gear…not sure why that item was recommended so again, a rehab therapist can tell you if it’s useful to him or not. Also when it comes to wheelchairs, we recommend reading this article to learn when they are and are not appropriate. In short, wheelchairs are great for some dogs but should not be used until a therapist has confirmed that they actually need one. So the advice you got there was spot-on.
As for supplements, we have lots of ideas in our Tripawds Nutrition blog so check it out.
Take things slow, and know that in order for Charlie’s joints to stay healthy and injury free, it will be up to you to modify and regulate his activity levels. All dogs are different so again, use our information as a general guideline but know that the best way to keep him injury free is to work with a rehab therapist. If you can’t find one near you please let us know, we can usually find one nearby.
Got any photos of him? We would love to see them! Here’s a post about adding images to the Forums, let us know if you need help posting.
Thanks so much for your message!
I will check out your recommendations. Charlie is not currently seeing a rehabilitation therapist, although I would love to get a recommendation for one. We live near Seattle WA. (Redmond to be more specific). That’s really great that the first visit could be covered.
Thanks for all the information,
Heidi and Charlie
18 October 2009
Welcome Heidi and Charlie.
Jerry gave you a ton of great information- I want to expand on the exercise part.
My current Tripawd Elly is a little Pug mix who lost a rear leg at 7 months old after being hit by a car. I adopted her when she was 10 months old- full of puppy energy but not very strong. I started her on core strength and balance exercises and invested in several types of food puzzles. We also started taking classes, mostly to work on her fear and lack of confidence issues, but the classes gave me obedience behaviors and tricks to work on with Elly- another great way to work her mind and tire her out without taxing her body too much. A couple years ago I tried Nose Work and I was hooked! Nose Work is a great game for Tripawds- again it really works her mind and tires her without stress on her body. Before i was doing Nose Work I had developed a game with her where I had her sit and wait in one room and then I would hide a few treats in another room. Then I let her search for the treats- she loves it!
You just have to be careful with the amount of calories you feed in a day. We do a lot of training and games so I deduct the extra calories from her meals. It’s good to keep Tripawds on the lean side.
Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls
22 February 2013
Jist wamt yo jump in and ditto everything Jerry and Karen said!
Get him into a Rehab Specialist as soon as you can. Get him on joint supplements and also either Rimadyl, or Galliprant, or Metacam….something along those lines. He probably is developing arthritis too, as that seems to go along with dogs who have been tripawds fot several years. You can ask your Vet about Adequan injections of that’s the case.
And yes, do the xrays yo eliminate any arthritis, cruciate injuries, etc. And ask about low dose of pain meds for now.
I’m owned by a tripawd I adopted a few years ago. Not sure how long he was a tripawd before. Guessing he’s about fiveish years old. He has had all those issues you mentioned…and more. Cruciate surgery, probable meniscus issues. Lots and lots of slowing down required. Lots of “rest”. Each “issue” with his legs takes recovery time.
Update when you can. Cheering for sweet Charlie!
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!
22 August 2008
I would give him a course of an NSAID such as Rimadyl or Metacam just to see if it helps. If he is a lot better then he has some pain and he might need to take these meds long term. If he is unimproved then he might have a ligament or muscle issue that could improve with rehab. It can be hard to evaluate pain in these stoic breeds!
5 December 2018
Hi, I have a similar problem. My Piti is about 1 year old and lost his front leg at 10 weeks due to an attack by other dogs. I adopted him post surgery and he has been doing really well until about 1 month ago. The remaining shoulder has started to luxate outwards and everything seems to have stretched. I have been looking for a brace to use in conjunction with physio but have been unable to find one suitable for a tripawd.
Though I am in the process of having him assessed by my vet with X-rays etc, I am doing my research as I go. Any suggestions for a brace, or any other help, would be greatly appreciated.
Tinka and Tilu
Tinka and Tilu, welcome. Thanks for chiming in. Please consider starting a new topic so we can follow your dog’s story and help where we can.
It’s wonderful that you are providing him such a great home and working with your veterinarian to help him get stronger. He’s so young so it will be important to stay on top of that as he ages. Hopefully what’s going on with him right now isn’t too serious and can be managed easily.
When it comes to orthotic devices, your physio therapist should be able to direct you to one that’s appropriate for him. You definitely don’t want to buy one without professional guidance as it could do more harm than good. Find a good therapist if you haven’t already so that you can work together to keep him strong and injury free.
We’re so glad you joined! Keep us posted in a new topic, we’d love to hear how he’s doing.