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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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Be More DogWhat does it mean to Be More Dog?

Find out in Be More Dog: Learning to Live in the Now by Tripawds founders Rene and Jim. Learn life lessons learned from their Chief Fun Officer Jerry G. Dawg! Get the book and find fun gifts in the Be More Dog Bookstore.

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Totem almost 2--too much exercise?
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12 January 2022 - 6:30 pm
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I haven't been here in a long time.  Totem is almost 2 years old, lost his hind leg at 3 months.  He is a healthy, happy dog who doesn't know he is missing anything.  Lately he has been having a great time fetching balls--running fast to hopefully catch a ball but more often scurrying around to stop it on the ground.  He brings it back and I throw it again...he loves it.

Once or twice, after a fetch session he appears to have trouble putting all his weight on his remaining hind leg--like he strained it and it hurts.  He will walk more in a crouch but then seems to walk just fine once he gets going.

My question is...can he now do pretty much what a 4 legged dog can do as our vet told us, or do we need to really limit his activity?  He LOVES running after the balls and trying to catch them.  I don't throw them so that he would have to jump up in the air to catch a ball.  Running is not a problem for him, but quick scurrying movements to grab the ball may be a problem.

The only other real exercise he gets is our morning 1 mile walk, off leash, on our country lane.

Thanks for any ideas...

The Rainbow Bridge



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12 January 2022 - 6:46 pm
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Robyn said
My question is...can he now do pretty much what a 4 legged dog can do as our vet told us, or do we need to really limit his activity?  He LOVES running after the balls and trying to catch them.

Hi Robyn, welcome back! It's so good to hear from you. Can't believe Totem is almost another year older!

To answer your question: one of the reasons we exist is to get the word out that while Tripawds can do anything a four legged dog can do, that doesn't necessarily mean they should. Vets used to say that we should just let our dog be a dog after amputation. It's old-school thinking, and times have changed. The growth and development of canine rehab therapy has taught us that allowing a Tripawd to do anything and everything a four-legged dog does is just not safe over the long term.

Dogs will run, jump, and fetch until they drop. They might be having fun, but it's not always good for them. Explosive activity like chasing and catching balls, frisbees, etc. isn't good at all for Tripawds. In tiny increments it's OK but repeated activity like this will eventually cause damage and injuries.

It sounds like Totem is dealing with muscle strain, these are pain signals you are describing. I know we sound like a broken record about rehab therapy, but based on what you are describing it's highly advisable to seek help before things get worse. He is so young and you really want to protect that remaining limb from more damage.

That doesn't mean he can't exercise, but you just need to rethink the activity you do with him. There's so much more than running and walking.

Keep his activity dialed way, way back. Avoid those explosive activities and let us know how things are going. Consider gentle massage in the meantime and book an appointment with your vet to get some pain management going on.

Also check out the book Loving Life On Three Legs , the Rear Limb Amputee Rehab Therapy Program, Tripawds Gear blog exercises, and consider booking an appointment with a therapist. Let us know if you'd like help finding one and remember the Tripawds Foundation can pay for your first rehab visit

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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12 January 2022 - 7:03 pm
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Thanks Jerry.  If you recall there is no rehab facility in our small town.  I suspect your are correct that quick starts and stops are not in his best interest.  I feel for the little guy stuck with two elderly owners.  He also loves to play rough and tumble with our neighborhood dogs..(now that his attackers are gone).  He is not aggressive and will readily submit to a bigger dog.  I know we absolutely cannot risk injuring his hind leg.  I just don't know how to "tell him" he can't play fetch or roll around with his best buddies.  Ugh.

I will check out the resources you suggest.  Ugh.

The Rainbow Bridge



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12 January 2022 - 9:30 pm
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Ohhh that's right, I remember now that you live way out in the boonies. Dr. Waterhouse's at-home program is very good. It will give you the foundations to build strength and stamina. It comes from the core muscles that support the body and in turn, protect the leg from injury. Also, watch tomorrow's Tripawds Gear blog . I have a post running about telemedicine rehab therapy consults!

It's so hard to make a young dog chill out, especially with other dogs who love to play too. You just have to give Totem leashed rest breaks when he has friends over.

I'm so glad those attackers are gone now. It's all coming back to me. WHEW! Super happy you are both safe. Must be nice to walk around the neighborhood.

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13 January 2022 - 8:22 am
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Iwassoooo delighted to hear what a Happy pupper Totem is!  You and your hubby have done such a wonderful job giving him care and love and so much joy!  Your patience has paid off!  

So glad Totem interacts with others dogs and didn't  let the trauma of those bad dogs hold him back from enjoying  playing  with other dogs.  As Jerry said, he can still play with his pals, just give him frequesnt leashed breaks inbetween. 

Good for you for throwing the ball low so he doesn't  jump up and down "catching" it.  As Jerry said, everything in moderation.  And give lots of massages up and down his spine, neck and shoulders.   Could be a little sprain of his back muscles every now and then, since he kind of walks with a "crouch" for a minute or so.  

A thought on his game of fetch.  Maybe you could sort of turn it I to a game of hide and seek.  You could "throw" the ball under a sofa, or into another room, so that part of the game is finding  ot rather than just chasing it.  

And you are giving him a wonderfully  full and happy life full of joy and love....regardless of whether you are "elderly" or not!!!!.  

Thanks for check in......made our day!!!

Hugs

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!

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13 January 2022 - 10:15 am
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Sally the idea to reinvent fetch is GENIUS! Thank you for thinking of that, I'm taking notes!

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13 January 2022 - 5:15 pm
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Thank you Sally for the encouraging words.  This dog has stolen our hearts; he is just the sweetest, least demanding pup ever.  He is a hugger and a lover with lots of puppy energy still.  Around the middle of the afternoon, every afternoon, he sits in front of me and just stares at me...no whining, no barking, just a steady stare.  I know exactly what he wants --to go outside and play....with me.  This afternoon I took a ball but rather than throwing it I gently rolled it on the ground for him to "fetch".  It gives me an opportunity to practice drop it and leave it, which he is still hesitant to do.  He is so funny...he will drop the ball but won't let me pick it up; he beats me to it every time.  Fun game for him.

Thanks Jerry and Sally.  Its nice to revisit this great site.

The Rainbow Bridge



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13 January 2022 - 8:42 pm
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You are on it! Yes, that's the way to rethink his exercise and activity. Incorporating obedience gets his mind working more and his body not so much, which is good.

We are glad you posted an update. It's so nice to know that you are both doing well.

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23 January 2022 - 12:49 pm
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Robyn, my situation is almost exactly as you describe. Alvin lost his leg at one year old and is incredibly active. (He'll be two in late February.) He wants to play roughly, outruns his playmates, swims, runs up and down stairs, but I can't help worrying if it's too much. The replies from Rene and Jim are extremely helpful, but it's so hard to slow him down. I had asked a question just today under the "Ask A Vet" resource because he seemed to be bowing/stretching a little this week and I wondered if that remaining front leg is sore. And, Robyn, our vet said the same thing: "Let Alvin be Alvin." 

Patricia

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23 January 2022 - 1:32 pm
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Hi Patricia, thanks for chiming in! It's so helpful for others to know that they are not alone in these kinds of puppy raising challenges. We raised Wyatt Ray from the time he was 8 months old so I totally get it as well.

The problem with letting a dog be a dog is that it's a way of thinking that was common before canine rehabilitation therapy rolled around (it's only about 15 years old in the vet field). Before then, vets had no idea about the long term effects of an altered gait on a Tripawd. Those taht aren't keeping up with the science of canine rehab still don't know. Plus, dogs weren't living as long as they do now. Now that canine rehab therapy is becoming more common and understood, we see the long-term effects. Even the most well-regulated Tripawds will be more prone to early osteoarthritis effects over time, like Spree

It sounds like we are asking folks to keep their dogs in bubble wrap, but that's not the case. Learn to balance the needs of Alvin's activity level with injury prevention. A canine rehab therapist is the best person to guide you, which is why Tripawds Foundation can pay for your first rehab visit . It's a real learning experience.

Check out this video from canine rehab expert Sasha Foster, about how what looks like normal activity in one dog can be different in another:

Do dogs self-limit their activity? Or are they in pain?

Also

How To Prevent Common Injuries in Tripawds

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23 January 2022 - 2:10 pm
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Thanks so much, Jim and Rene. You may remember that our first Tripawd, Keira, was 13 years old. (She and Alvin were featured in one of your Tripawd Tuesdays.) My point in mentioning that is that this is our first foray into a puppy Tripawd. I had made an appointment with a canine rehab specialist here in Westchester County early on, but canceled it when I saw how incredibly active Alvin is. But given what you've said, I am going to re-engage with her and make an appointment. I want to find the right balance that will help Alvin pursue his joyful activities while keeping him safe. In terms of reimbursement: I'd rather you guys used it for someone else, but thank you for the offer...and for all you do. 

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23 January 2022 - 4:06 pm
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Thanks for sharing your concerns.  Here is an update on Totem.  We took him to the vet and of course Totem appeared perfectly fine.  The vet who performed the amputation suggested "straight line" exercise was probably best, rather than quick stops and starts.  He gave us a Rx for a mild pain med if he appears to be in pain.  He also said he is of the school to let a dog do pretty much what makes them happy for as long as we have him.  He gave us a referral to a therapist in Dallas but we have not yet made an appointment.

Since then we have made a discovery.  Totem loves to squeeze himself in beside me in my chair and it is plenty snug.  He falls sound asleep.  When we get up to go to bed is where we see him almost unable to use his hind leg.  We now suspect the leg is falling asleep.  After about 10 minutes he begins walking on it again and does just fine.

So, who knows?

The Rainbow Bridge



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23 January 2022 - 5:06 pm
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pljdjg1989 said
Thanks so much, Jim and Rene. You may remember that our first Tripawd, Keira, was 13 years old. (She and Alvin were featured in one of your Tripawd Tuesdays.) My point in mentioning that is that this is our first foray into a puppy Tripawd. I had made an appointment with a canine rehab specialist here in Westchester County early on, but canceled it when I saw how incredibly active Alvin is. But given what you've said, I am going to re-engage with her and make an appointment. I want to find the right balance that will help Alvin pursue his joyful activities while keeping him safe. In terms of reimbursement: I'd rather you guys used it for someone else, but thank you for the offer...and for all you do. 

  

Oh my dog yes! Here is the story everypawdy:

Tripawd Tuesday: Keira Works Husky Magic from the Bridge

Tripawd Husky Adoption DaysImage Enlarger

I'm so glad you decided to re-do that rehab appointment. Your instincts are spot on. The time to meet with one is before something happens. That way, you know how to prevent it in the first place. Then, you will always have that relationship with the therapy team in case you need to reach out because Alvin did something crazy. So good for you! And you are too sweet about the reimbursement, thanks!

Update us in a new post and let us know the visit went OK? 

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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The Rainbow Bridge



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23 January 2022 - 5:08 pm
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Robyn said
Thanks for sharing your concerns.  Here is an update on Totem.  We took him to the vet and of course Totem appeared perfectly fine.  The vet who performed the amputation suggested "straight line" exercise was probably best, rather than quick stops and starts.  He gave us a Rx for a mild pain med if he appears to be in pain.  He also said he is of the school to let a dog do pretty much what makes them happy for as long as we have him.  He gave us a referral to a therapist in Dallas but we have not yet made an appointment.

Since then we have made a discovery.  Totem loves to squeeze himself in beside me in my chair and it is plenty snug.  He falls sound asleep.  When we get up to go to bed is where we see him almost unable to use his hind leg.  We now suspect the leg is falling asleep.  After about 10 minutes he begins walking on it again and does just fine.

So, who knows?

  

Awww Totem, you are such a charmer! I hope that's all that's going on with you, sleepy leg syndrome 😉

Robyn, at least you have that referral now so that's something to keep in your back pocket if you decide to go. 

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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