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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Hi everybody! I’ve had so many questions since my boy’s rear leg was amputated 6 weeks ago. Every time I Google a question this site would come up and I am so grateful!! So, I thought I should join….
I am new to discussion forums, so hopefully my etiquette is correct.
My big concern right now is that Maje has stopped weight-bearing at all on his remaining back leg. He has always been a remarkably healthy dog; hiked up to 20km a day until about a year ago when we now do 4km a day or so. Post-op he was up to a comfortable, low-impact 2.5km trail. He has never had any signs of arthritis before and has been on an all-natural raw diet most of his life since we rescued him at 11mos. He also has had immune system boosters and joint formulas. He was recovering so well, and I am absolutely terrified that the osteosarcoma could start again in the remaining leg? Does that happen??
Because he had the amputation and is undergoing chemo we really hope to get a happy year with him. His health and other predispositions support (hopefully) the possibility of him being in the longer range of survival times. But this has me stymied and I’m so scared that this is an indication of the quality of the rest of his life?
I know pulled muscles are always a concern with tripawds, but this seems to be more in his foot. I don’t want to go to the vet until at least Monday because with all our vet bills we are hurting already and I would have to pay emergency fee. Plus he is 75lbs and I would have a hell of time getting him there (we live in the middle of nowhere).
I do have a history in veterinary technology and nutrition, but when it comes to him I am always uncertain. Can anyone help us?? Thanks!!
Hi Beckie, welcome to Tripawds (this is the club nobody wants to join, but we’re glad you’re here!). Thanks for letting us know how we come up in Google, that’s neat!
I’m sorry Maje lost his leg to osteosarcoma, he is one handsome pup. When you say he’s not weight bearing, I have a ton of questions:
How bad is it? Does he rely on you for getting around, going to the potty etc.? Or can he still get up on his own? What’s his appetite like? Is he eating and drinking as normal? And how is he interacting with the rest of your pack? Is he showing signs of pain, such as hiding and isolating himself?
The best thing you can do to help your vet come to a faster diagnosis, is to really think about his symptoms and write them down over the next couple of days. Write down when they occur, what happens, and how long it takes him to bounce back after an episode. I would let your vet know what’s going on by calling first; if you can present these symptoms and explain your situation to the vet, your vet can give you a guesstimate on when it might be time for a visit.
Meanwhile, to answer your question; yes, osteo can metastasize to other bones, but it’s fairly uncommon when compared to metastasis to lungs. Please try not to let this upset you; stay pawsitive and focus on helping to find the cause of Maje’s lameness. I’m hoping it’s as simple as maybe a thorn stuck in his paw! Have you really examined his foot to see if he reacts at all when you play with it? I can’t tell you how many times folks have thought the worst and the problem was as simple as that! I hope and have my paws crossed it’s the same for you!
Please keep us posted. Thanks again for joining, your future posts won’t need approval.
22 February 2013
Hi Maje and Becky!
Etiquette? Not even a thought here! Mo worries! Plow in anywhere, anytime, anyhow:-) As yoj will soon be able to tell, good typing is not a requirement either!
Cute avatar icture y the way!
Eating? Drinking? Poopng? Peeng? Haph ? Alert? No swellng at leg or foot? Doesn’t seem to be in anyotner pain…well, except of course for his paw!
Was his preius chemo given in that leg real recent? Just kida’ throwing anything out there! Is it sore to touch? How ’bout hos back area’ spine etc.–any reaction to touchi g there?
He’s a big dog and, even though he’s been walking at a slow pace, that’s still a lot of walking fr a dog this early on in ecovery It very, very likely is something from overdoing it a bit. Of course, I’m no vet!
I understand not wanting to make an emergency room visit! Can you use a towel as a slimg til Monday to nelp him get around? Do you still have some tramadol you could give hi til then?
I’m sure it’s nothing to worry about but, to tell you not to worry ks pretty futile, huh?
Glad he is doing so well…except for this hiccup…and is having a truly remarkable recovery! He’s a strng fit voh and e’ll be just fine! He’s not worrying avout a thing!
Glad you joined us…sorry you had to!!
We are you’re new extended family walking with yu every step of the way!
Now, as soon as you can, update us Monday…oh heah, I kw you lready did…but must checks his toes, paws etc realy well for anything!
Trh and relaxx, et so e ice cream, chocolate and maybe some watermelon too!! And share with Majie:-)
Sally and Happy Hannah
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!
thank you so much Jerry, Sally and Hannah!
I’ll try to answer all your combined questions here…..
So he is able to get up when he wants to but he’s really unsteady and generally only goes 6 – 10 feet before his ass drops… It reminds me a lot of when we first picked him up after his surgery; just kinda wonky and can’t seem to get his remaining leg square underneath him. Being a german shepherd he WILL NOT have potty accidents; he’d rather his bladder explode so I’m doing my best to get him out front on the flat yard to “go” but he hasn’t gone in a long time. He can move around for a short period on his own but he tends to let his butt drop and I have to kind of “boost” him. He will not tolerate the sling, I have tried. Eating and drinking has not ever been an issue – he’d eat if he had seconds to live! There has been no reaction to touching his spine or the leg, although he seems to like the hot compress on his back. There may be a tiny bit of reaction in the foot, although very slight so it may be a sprain – there is no foreign object that I can see or feel. He is fine with the others and is not isolating in the slightest.
He is fairly sedate now as he is a “cheap drunk” and I gave him the Tramadol a few hours ago. He is also on a therapeutic dose of Metacam for life.
I am fairly sure this has been caused by “over-doing” it. Never having dealt with amputees before I have likely allowed him to control his exercise more than I should have – I’m still learning! I can’t remember all the details but he did have a fall about 2 days after his last chemo which may have twisted something…. and he’s had a few slips since then. So maybe his stabilizer muscles are exhausted. His chemo treatment WAS given in that leg. He is alert and happy, although frustrated as he is normally such an active member of the pack.
One of the scarier things for me has been when you look things like this up on the ‘net most injuries like this have happened within the first weeks of recovery, not 6 weeks? I hope I’m just fretting over nothing…..
Thanks again guys – and it’s funny you mentioned watermelon and ice cream. Watermelon is his favorite thing on earth and he always gets a DQ baby cone after chemo!!
10 December 2011
Hi Beckie and Maje! Something happening to one of the remaining legs is everyone’s worst fear. Believe me I know since that happened to my Daisy. Right now she is in week 7 of recovery for a ruptured cruciate ligament in her back right knee (she’s a front amp).
What activities were you engaged in prior to his becoming lame? Had you recently hiked and did Maje maybe step the wrong way on uneven ground? Have you felt all the way up his leg for any swelling or areas that seem sensitive when you apply pressure? I’m not a vet but those are the things I did when Daisy quit weight bearing on her rear leg. Like Jerry and Sally said check the paw. Maybe something is stuck up in there or maybe there is a cracked or torn toenail? I’ve also heard of dogs breaking a toe.
I wish I could be more help and I’m hoping it is something really simple and that Maje is back to his old self.
Marla and Daisy
My Two Tripawds...Biscuit and Spirit Daisy
22 January 2013
It does sound like he’s over done it or maybe twisted something. Have you considered bringing him to the vet? I’m going to let more experienced folk talk about what may be going on with him.
What I will say is this is not an indication of how the quality of his life is going to be. Six weeks wasn’t that long ago and you are both still learning and figuring this out. This is a journey and where you are now is not where you will be and injuries to a remaining leg can heal.
I know it’s really overwhelming but tripawds is here to support you.
1 February 2013
Welcome Becky & Maje-
Glad you joined our little crew, but sorry you had to have a reason to do so. Like everyone else said, it really sounds like this is a small injury to the foot or just over use of his muscles. There are resources here on the site that talk about stretching and exercises you can do. Also, massage does wonders and several dogs on here have used acupuncture with great results.
Hang in there and give Maje a hug from us. Keep us updated.
Luanne & Shooter
Spirit Shooter was a Miniature Australian Shepherd who was diagnosed with a MCT and had a LF amp 1/28/13 at 13-1/2 years old.
Shooter crossed the Bridge on 8/28/13, his 7 month ampuversary and two weeks from his 14th birthday.
He sounds so adorable! A cheap drunk and one who will eat everything on his plate. What more can you ask for in a Shepherd?!
You’re right: we’re going to bet that he hurt himself (but again, please let your vet know what’s going on, it’s the smart thing to do even if you only talk to them over the phone. It will also bring real peace of mind). Six weeks isn’t a long time and it’s about that time that most folks want to see their dog get back to the way things used to be, so they let them go bonkers. It’s normal, please don’t feel badly.
What you can do in the meantime to help him is catch up on your reading with our e-book, Loving Life on Three Legs, which is all about life after recovery. It has lots of exercises you can do to help him get strong. When it comes to Shepherds and their already low-rider rear-ends, they need a lot of help building core muscle strength to increase stamina and prevent injury. Tripawds Spokesdog Wyatt Ray is a great example of getting strong over time (it took him at least a year to get to the point where his rear end wasn’t always dipping down when he walked). Also, it sounds like you might have slippery floors in your house? I’m only guessing because you say he slipped recently? Please get lots of traction down to help him get around, that will do loads for his confidence and help prevent further injuries.
Keep us posted and let us know what the vet says OK?
Hi and welcome.
My little pug Maggie was a rear amp, at six weeks post amp Mag was still spending a lot of time in bed. She was slower than most to get active again after surgery, it was several months before she got past the back leg wobble and sag (of course it still happened long term when she got really tired) Seems like rear amps get their balance sooner than front amps, but it takes longer to build strength. Hopefully Maje just needs a little rest and some work on his strength.
I have spoken to an online vet (the one advertised on the Tripawds site in fact) and we are both in agreement that this is likely an iliopsoas strain or tear. Does anyone have any experience with these? They are a muscle injury in the groin area often found in working dogs, often after a dog accidentally does “the splits”.
I will be going into the vet on Tuesday (it’s a long weekend here so he is away until then) but I’m wondering about recovery time? Because his cancer is such an aggressive type we are always worried about how long he’ll be hurt – odds are he only has about a year left to begin with.
Thanks everyone for your input and support. I have so needed this.
I have spoken to an online vet (the one advertised on the Tripawds site in fact) and we are both in agreement that this is likely an iliopsoas strain or tear. Does anyone have any experience with these?
I’m wondering about recovery time? Because his cancer is such an aggressive type we are always worried about how long he’ll be hurt – odds are he only has about a year left to begin with.
Beckie, I’m so glad you found the Ask a Vet service helpful! Recovery time can vary, it all depends on the dog and the severity of the injury. For now, try not to focus on the odds. Docs said I only had 4-6 months and I lived two years! My theory: nine out of ten statistics are wrong!
Here’s a great discussion about Treating Soft Tissue Injuries in Pets